Wagon and compact crossover SUVs are all about the maximum amount of passenger and cargo space of a small package. Generally, styles rarely play a role in this price range and utility-focused. The 2018 Fiat 500L distinguishes itself by wrapping its spacious cabin inside the body that looks like a larger version of the Fiat 500 city car. The typical Italian design brings a bit of a flair to this class, and the new front and rear fascias give it an updated look compared to previous model years.
Regardless of the exterior design, there is not much reason to choose 500L from other interesting options in its class. Major drawback include harsh driving quality, uncomfortable seats, and overall poor build quality.
Fiat offers another small crossover, the 500X, and this is the best option. Its true, the 500X does not offer a spacious interior, but is more fun to drive, has a more luxurious interior and available with all-wheel drive.
Though the 2018 Fiat 500L isn’t a terrible car in its own right, but its better to go with a competing hatchback, wagon or crossover SUV instead.
Trim and Features
The 2018 Fiat 500L is a four-door compact wagon that available in three trim levels: the base Pop, Trekking and Lounge.
Standard equipment for the base Pop includes 16-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, remote locking and unlocking, tinted windows, heated mirrors, a rearview camera, cruise control, air conditioning, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable front seats, slide 60/40-split folding rear seats, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system with two USB ports (one is charge-only).
The Popular Equipment Group adds rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone climate control, two-way power lumbar adjustment for the driver and for the Trekking it also adds manual lumbar for the passenger. The Pop Premium Group includes those features along with a navigation system, satellite radio and a seven-speaker BeatsAudio system.
The 2018 Fiat 500L Trekking trim adds 17-inch wheels, foglights, unique body panels and trim with a rugged theme, heated front seats, leather upholstery, LED ambient interior lighting, a rear-seat armrest, the BeatsAudio system, navigation and satellite radio from the Premium Group package. The Popular Equipment Group is also available.
The 2018 Fiat 500L Lounge gets chrome exterior mirrors and body accents, 17-inch alloy wheels with a painted finish, and the Popular Equipment Group features.
Depending on trim level, other available options include a spare tire, matte black finish wheels, a panoramic sunroof, and color combinations that match the roof and exterior mirrors are.
The 2018 Fiat 500L is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It mated with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive.
In performance testing, the 2018 Fiat 500L Trekking with the automatic transmission accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, a respectable time for a small hatchback/wagon. EPA estimated fuel economy at 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway).
Large doors, level roof lines and high mounted front seats make it easy to get inside the 2018 Fiat 500L. Front seats are comfortable and wide, but stiff and not very supportive when driving. They also lack the power adjustment except for the available lumbar power.
Once you seated, you will find an expansive field of vision that comes from the wagon large glass area. Unimpeded views in all directions gave the 2018 Fiat 500L a feeling almost like a minivan, though the large pillars on both sides of the windshield took some getting used to.
The 2018 Fiat 500L dashboard has a cool and contemporary design that gives it a unique charm. The dual-gauge instrument cluster provides clear information to the driver. But some of the information and the smaller details shown in the center cluster is more difficult to read. Both touchscreens work well, but the optional 6.5-inch touch screen looks better because its fast processing time and large icons that make it easier to use.
Compared with two 500 doors, the 2018 Fiat 500L interior is definitely wider, especially in the backseat, where the width adds a comfortable space for two adults or three children. There is also plenty of leg room, especially with the 60/40-split sliding seat at the rearmost position, but non-reclining backrest feels a bit too upright.
Behind the rear seat, there is an impressive 21.3 cubic feet cargo space. Folding the rear seats open 68 cubic feet of space, which is larger than the Kia Soul, Nissan Juke or Fiat 500X.
Release Date and Price
The 2018 Fiat 500L is expected to make its debut at dealerships nationwide in this fall. Key competitors include the Kia Soul, Volkswagen Sportwagen and MINI Countryman Wagon.
The 500L Pop trim starting at $21,990 (including a $995 destination charge). The Trekking carries a price tag of $23,990. The range-topping Lounge trim costs $24,690.