THE ITALIANS ARE COMING… AND EVERYONE ELSE!
You have to love the FIAT vehicle branding. You know, the commercials with beautiful Italian women seducing nerdy guys in front of a Fiat 500 Abarth, and the most recent ads with a scene from the days of Paul Revere yelling “the Italians are coming” featuring several of the 2014 FIAT 500L in “redcoat” red. Does it make you want to rip off the bottom of your matronly dress, cut your hair and date an Italian star like Peter Facinelli? Does it actually make you want to buy a FIAT? Yep!
Since I couldn’t seduce Barney Fife or date Peter Sellers, no less Peter Facinelli, I thought it best I test drive the new 5-door 2014 FIAT 500L and see for myself what all the yelling is about. I’ve enjoyed testing the two-seater 500’s over the years, but felt I needed a bit more room for work, passengers, golf clubs and travel in general. The 500L has all that and yet is still cute, economical, sturdy and affordable with the additional room and a more muscular Italian stallion stance.
There are four models under the 500L , and even those names are unique; Pop, Easy, Trekking and Lounge. I drove the Lounge model and I can see how it got its name. The seats were comfortable, leather trimmed and heated; I tried out the heated seat, but did not use it on 112 degree days. This model has euro twin clutch, 6-speed automatic transmission, dual zone automatic temperature control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear seat armrest with cup holder, Sirius XM Satellite Radio for the first year free and 16” aluminum wheels with all-season tires. What no panini’s in the glove box?
The front of the FIAT 500L has additional width compared to its FIAT little sisters, a more athletic stance with some very cool color choices and combinations. The rear has very distinct looking tail lamps with chrome exhaust and the liftgate badge with the backup camera right in the middle of the center numeral “0”. I was pleasantly surprised with the width and depth of the front windows that extended to the side view mirrors. There were no blind spot problems considering the span of the windows and the sunroof (optional). I felt that between the glass and the sunroof; if the British or the Italians were coming, they couldn’t miss me.
Watch the Director’s Cut of Fiat’s Italian Invasion ad…
When you are in a small vehicle you worry about safety , so I was very pleased with their seven standard airbags including driver and front-passenger advanced multistage airbags, driver’s knee airbag, full-length side-curtain airbags and front seat-mounted side pelvic-thorax airbags. This and the steel cage made me feel safe when transporting people, especially children. The knee airbags are so important, especially as you get older. The other standard feature that impressed me is the ParkSense and ParkView which gives you a wide-angle view of the area behind the vehicle when backing up. I believe that should be standard on all vehicles no matter which brand or model.
Don’t let this FIAT’s size fool you, the 500L has the 60/40 split seat so you can still make trips to Lowe’s, Home Depot or take your ski’s with your vertically and safely. There is a turbo-charged powertrain engine that packs 160 horsepower and gives you an outstanding 33 highway and 25 city driving miles per gallon. I took my 500L locally to the Valley Youth Theatre and then out to Chandler for a birthday party. I got better mileage on the highway, about 35mpg, but a little less than 25mpg to and from the theatre.
Since I test drive all makes and models I would say this new 500L is comparable to the Kia Soul, MINI Countryman, Nissan CubeS and the Scion XB Base model. The L stretches 27.7 inches longer than its own brand siblings, is 5.7 inches wider and stands 5.9 inches taller. I don’t know about you, but I think the FIAT 500L is in an affordable price range starting at about $19,000 to $27,000.
All this talk about features and increase in size, let us not forget this car is fun, easy to drive, gets stares from all age groups and fits in to parking spots I normally pass by. The visual appearance of the 2014 Fiat 500L both inside and out is so exciting and you can’t stop making excuses to drive it. I say, go and test drive one and forget about any of the commercials you’ve seen. When you are in the driver’s seat, it doesn’t matter who is coming, you are the star.