Review: 2014 Fiat 500L

Thursday March 13th, 2014 at 9:33 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Incredible Greenhouse, Two-Level Rear Trunk Platform
Gripes: Pulsation in Steering, Uncomfortable Rear Seats

The L version of the Fiat 500 is a completely new offering for 2014. Although it shares many styling cues with the 500, like a snub nose and bobbed tail, the 500 is substantially larger, hence more practical as a family transport. Parking the L next to a standard 500 drove home the size difference in a way no set of statistics could. With the tails of both Fiats aligned, the L’s nose projects half a parking slot past that of the 500. The extra length of the L gives you 21.3 cubic feet of storage with seating for 5. The 500 offers just 9.5 cubic feet when 4 are seated. Unfortunately, what’s been lost in the enlargement is cuteness. Where the diminutive 500 looks adorable from any angle, the L looks like a 500 that’s eaten too much pasta. In fact, the L is reminiscent of the Multipla, an inflated version of the original 500 Fiat built back in the 1960s.

When you buy an Abarth version of the 500, Fiat reminds you of that fact with close to 20 separate ID badges. When you buy the L, which is powered by the same 1.4 liter turbo that propels the Abarth, you won’t find a single indication of that historical lineage. Like the Abarth 500, the L produces a healthy 160hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s more than enough to expedite freeway merges. Even back roads passes are possible, provided you’re in the right gear for maximum acceleration. Our test Fiat’s base price of $24,195 included a 6-speed “Euro Twin Clutch Transmission” which was both a blessing and a nuisance. In the blessing department, the automatic saved us from miles of clutch thrashing during a rush hour descent toward the Golden Gate Bridge when 5 lanes merged into 2 at rush hour. On the other hand, we would have preferred the available 6-speed manual gearbox for most of our week with the L because the automatic was frustratingly slow to respond to specific gear selection commands. Having driven an Abarth 500 with a manual stick shift, I know how much fun this engine package can be. In comparison, the L’s Euro Twin Clutch is rather a disappointment.

When seated in the cockpit of the L, you feel like you’re flying an airplane. The view from the front reminded me of a glider flight I piloted thanks to the greenhouse-like airiness of the Fiat’s window structure. In particular, a couple of enormous vent window panes promote vision to frontal quadrants usually obscured from view. A similar pair of panes wrap around the rear pillars of the roof, affording excellent sight lines to the rear. A $950 optional Power Sunroof completes the transparency formula. Out on the open road, the L buzzes along in the 60-70mph range with minimum wind and road noise. Thanks to its interior spaciousness and its all around vision, the L is much easier to drive on the freeway than the cramped 500. Lane changes in the L are especially easy. By contrast, the post behind the driver’s door in the base 500 makes every lane change a dicey proposition. Handling, however, is just adequate, even with extra cost ($500) 17 inch alloys wheels with 225/45R17 Goodyear Eagle LS2 tires. A curious pulsation in the power steering system on curvy roads eroded confidence in the L’s level of grip.

After 3 straight hours in the L on an extended drive from San Rafael to Carmel, the new Fiat proved its mettle by using just half a tank to reach destination. In fact, I made the return trip on the same tank as well, and averaged close to 33 MPG for the duration of my week with the car. However, extended time in the back seat is definitely not recommended. The seat cushions are rock hard, the back rest angle is barely adjustable and too upright, and there are no courtesy lights for reading. This hostel-like lack of amenities is a shame, because rear leg room is spacious. The front seat situation is considerably better, thanks to supportive lounge chairs with standard heating, one-touch electric power windows, and remote keyless entry, all included in the base price.

You do, however, need to insert the switchblade-like folding key into the ignition slot in order to get started. A minor ergonomic annoyance develops when you manually position the steering wheel in its lowest position. This setting, which is the least bus-like of those available, obscures the upper half of the dashboard from view. If it weren’t for the digital speed read out, which duplicates the hidden speedometer needle, you’d never know how fast you’re travelling.

Despite such minor ergonomic quibbles, the 500L is a practical, sizeable and affordable addition to the Italian brigade. While it may not be as cute as its little brother, the L will prove infinitely more practical to own in the long run.

2014 Fiat 500L

  • Engine: 1.4 liter Inline 4 MultiAir Turbo
  • Horsepower: 160hp
  • Torque: 184lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 24 MPG City/33 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $27,445
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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2012 Fiat 500 Abarth Review

Tuesday January 1st, 2013 at 8:11 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Turbo Transforms the 500
Gripes: Invisible Tachometer, Poor Side Vision

It’s been a long time since the name “Abarth” meant anything to motorists in North America. Back in the 1960s, Karl Abarth’s tuning firm, which got its start in Italy by modifying Fiats for road racing, also sold high performance exhaust systems for almost every economy and sports car. These exotic looking exhausts were expensive, but worth the extra cost for the great improvement they provided in sound if not actual performance. When Fiat recently returned to North America to sell the diminutive 500 sedan, it was only a matter of time before they resurrected the Abarth name for a high performance version of the 500. The resulting combination of Fiat style, Abarth performance and bargain pricing has resulted in the performance deal of the year. And yes, it sounds great when you gas it.

In basic form, the Fiat 500, with its 101hp “MultiAir” 1.4 liter 4, is a beguiling car to behold, but ultimately unsatisfying to drive, due to the performance limitations of its underpowered engine’s 98 lb.-ft of torque. The new Abarth version retains the same small displacement 4, but turbocharges it to gain an extra 35hp and 52 lb.-ft. of torque. At 135hp, the Fiat 500 Abarth becomes a much more interesting prospect for drivers seeking kicks. Turbocharging infuses the performance envelope with such a rush that the Abarth will gleefully scoot through openings in traffic that simply don’t exist for the base model 500. Ladling out further enjoyment is the close ratio 5-speed manual transmission, which seems to have a cog for every occasion and a gate precise enough to preclude missed shifts.

Although the Abarth still sits a little high, and thus feels a bit tipsy, its contact patch grip level is substantially augmented by the addition of Pirelli P Zero Nero tires (205/40R17) at each corner. These rubber G-force generators mount on $1,000 optional 17 x 7 inch “Forged Aluminum Hyper Black Wheels” which carry an Abarth inscription on the rim and an Abarth Scorpion insignia on the hub. Inside each black rim glows the red painted caliper of a disc brake. On a “Rosso” red car like our test vehicle, the contrast effect is beguiling. The Abarth is the perfect car for an owner suffering from an identity crisis. There are no less than 19 separate “Abarth” ID medallions, stickers or signs adorning the little speedster, including 8 on the wheels, 6 on the body, 1 under the hood, and 4 more inside. If you like scorpions, you’ll love the Abarth 500. I loved all these medallions.


At an all-in price of just $26,200, the Abarth is a terrific buy. You can even shave the price by eliminating the $1,000 optional “Performance Leather Trimmed High-Back Bucket Seats” which look great in black with red piping, but don’t offer as much side bite as the Fiat’s chassis does. If you can live with just 17 Abarth ID tags instead of 19, you can drop the bottom line price by $350 by eliminating the “Black Mirror Caps With Body Side Stripes.” If you need a navigational aid, Fiat offers a unique Tom Tom which uses an adaptor to slide into a receptacle on the dash top near the steering wheel. This extra will cost you $400.

There is room for improvement on a couple of fronts with the Abarth. The instrument cluster places a large speedo front and center with a tachometer mounted inside the speedo. In daylight, the tach is difficult to read, and at night, impossible, since the gauge glows the same color red as the tach needle. Fiat has thoughtfully provided a separate boost gauge, hung off the left side of the dash where it is easy to see and read. Why not switch the positions of the tach and the boost gauge?

For spirited drivers, the Fiat 500 Abarth is THE performance deal of the year: affordable, cute and nasty all at the same time.

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

  • Engine: 1.4 liter inline 4, 16 Valve MultiAir Turbo
  • Horsepower: 135hp
  • Torque: 150 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 28 MPG City/34 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $26,200
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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2012 Fiat 500 and 500 Gucci Video and Review

Thursday August 30th, 2012 at 3:88 PM
Posted by: Francois

Update: August, 2012
Fiat, gave us the fabulous 500c Gucci Edition and we had a great time with it. The Gucci package is a $4000 addition on top of the $22,500 500c. It includes Gucci leather interior, Gucci paint and body kit and many upgrades like the shift knob, hand brake, etc.

Mechanically, it is the same as the 500c so it’s really a glamorous facelift to a solid chassis. We had a ton of fun with it as the 500c charm was stepped up a couple of notches. Women loved it as they would stop in their tracks as we rolled slowly in downtown areas. The roof was awesome too as it gave the sensation of a convertible but none of the downsides like more weight and added chassis flex. We felt safer too as this Fiat 500c had a very secure structure with all the pillars still present.

YouTube Preview Image

The 2012 Fiat 500 is a car that manages to deliver driving passion and excitement with 101 horsepower.  That is a new paradigm and that is an exciting development today. In this polarized nation of exciting V8s and gutless hybrid cars, the Fiat 500 stirs the pot and says: “Hey, I can be fun to drive, help the environment and not put you in debt all in one package.”

The good news is we agree. This is the most fun per horsepower we’ve had in the history of Allez!

The better news is more Fiats are coming and the The angry 500 known as the Fiat Abarth is coming too.  We can’t wait!

2012 Fiat 500C convertible 2012 Fiat 500C Convertible Review
Rating: 4 stars
By David Colman
“There isn’t another $25,000 car on the market today that will garner as much attention as this convrtible Fiat 500C. Paint it Giallo (yellow) like our test car, and the petit bumblebee’s cynosure quotient jumps off the map.”
2012 Fiat 500 hatchback  2012 Fiat 500 Lounge Review – Italian movie star on four wheelsRating: 4 stars
By David Colman
“The 500 is so small and nimble that a pair of them could square dance in your living room.”
2012 Fiat 500 Sport 2012 Fiat 500 Sport First Impressions Review
Rating: 4 stars
By Danny Chang”I was super glad to see the manual gear shift when I got in the tester 500. It’s so rare these days to see a car outfitted with a good old-fashioned 5-speed and clutch.”

The 2012 Fiat 500 is a 2-door, 4-passenger family coupe, available in 3 trims, ranging from the Pop to the Lounge.

The Fiat 500 is the new small car that marks the return of the Fiat brand to the U.S. market. On sale in early 2011 as a 2012 model, the Fiat 500 combines Italian styling with functionality, efficient design and innovative technology for a vehicle that is unique to the American market.


Standard Engine:

$15,500 – $19,500

1.4-liter, I4, 101-horsepower engine that achieves 30 city and 38 highway mpg. A 5-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard on the Pop. A 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is standard on the Lounge

Average Consumer Rating: 0 stars

Expert Rating: 4.0 stars

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2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

Wednesday April 18th, 2012 at 8:44 AM
Posted by: berrichondanny

By Danny Chang

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth
BASE PRICE $21,500 (est)
PRICE AS TESTED $23,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front engine, FWD, 4-pass, 2-door hatchback
ENGINE 1.4L/160-hp/170-lb-ft turbo SOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 5-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 2564 lb (64/36%)
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 144.4 x 64.1 x 58.7 in
0-60 MPH 6.8 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.3 sec @ 89.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.9 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 27/32 mpg (est)
ENERGY CONS, city/hwy 125/105 kW-hrs/100 mi (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.67 lb/mi (est)

Read more:

  • Endearing styling
  • Rev-happy engine with good MPG (30/38)
  • Fun 5-speed gearbox


  • Lackluster interior doesn’t match great exterior styling
  • Tight rear seat
  • No trunk space

Although Fiat introduced the Nuova 500 back in 2007, 2011 is the first time the cleverly styled mini-compact is coming to the US. With its arrival, Fiat makes its return to the American market. The new 500 is styled after the original rear-engine Nuova 500 introduced in 1957. Although the new one is front-engine and front wheel drive, it looks like a giant next to the original city car. But that doesn’t mean it’s big in any way. The 2012 Fiat 500 slots in nicely between the Smart ForTwo and the MINI Cooper.

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Fiat-Chrysler Announces Electric Car and Plug-In Hybrid Truck

Tuesday March 23rd, 2010 at 6:33 PM
Posted by: michael.leroy

Fiat 500An electric Fiat 500 and plug-in hybrid Ram are in development

Fiat-Chrysler announced that the company will build an all-electric car based off the Fiat 500 by 2012 and a plug-in hybrid Ram by 2011. The Fiat 500EV was revealed earlier this year at the North American International Auto Show, but details are still scarce on the car. What is known is that the 500EV is co-developed by Chrysler and Fiat. The engineering work will be done at the Chrysler Group headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan and not in Italy.

The 500EV will run off a lithium ion battery, but the current range is unknown. It’s possible for the 500EV to have a range of 60-100 miles. Last year a Swedish company named Adapt converted Fiat 500′s to electric. The company claimed an almost 125 mile range for their Fiat 500 conversions. Unfortunately the electric 500′s Adapt produced cost almost $50,000.

Chrysler has said the 500EV will be priced competitively for an electric vehicle of its size. The 500EV will likely be in the same price range as Nissan’s Leaf, which will have similar specs. Pricing will be withheld until the car comes closer to production.

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Posted in Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Press and News |Tags:, , , , , , , , || 3 Comments »

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