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
  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 21, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 21, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 21, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Poll