Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Z_CNHI News Service

October 21, 2013

Fiat 500L adds space, practicality to fun Italian design

This is a car that can't be judged by the pictures.

If you haven't seen it in person, you might assume the Fiat 500L is an ever-so-slightly larger version of the Fiat 500, the cute, lovable Italian car that's one of the smallest vehicles on the road.

But that one letter makes a huge difference.

The 500L is not only a whole lot bigger than the 500 — six inches wider, six inches higher and a whopping 27 inches longer — but it drives like a dramatically different vehicle, more like a van than a car.

Part of that feeling comes from the sheer amount of volume inside. The 500L has 42 percent more interior space than the ordinary 500, enough to be classified as a "large car" according to the federal government, yet its styling makes it look deceptively small. It has the same adorable puppy-dog face as its compact sibling.

The bigger size makes it eminently more practical, starting with the fact that the 500L actually has back doors, unlike the two-door 500. The extra width and height makes the cabin feel spacious and airy, and the extra length gives it a surprising amount of cargo space — enough for Fiat to claim best-in-class honors.

The downside of all that space is that the 500L loses some of the driving fun of the 500, which is one of its best attributes. With a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, the 500L is not quite as zippy as the 500 because of its added heft and size. 

Still, by large-car standards, it's fun to drive, with a firm, very European-feeling suspension that nicely transmits texture from the road. 

Fiat could do a couple of things to improve it. One is shorten the throw of its manual transmission, which feels a bit long and truck-like for an Italian car. The other is to tighten up the feel of some of its dials on the dash, a picky thing that some of its competitors do a better job of.

Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Golf turns into snooze-fest without celebrities like Tiger and Phil

    The Masters lumbered on last week without two of pro golf's biggest names, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and fans changed the channel. The PGA needs someone with star power if it's going to lure people back to the game.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

Poll