If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, the 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge might just be the ticket, especially if your tastes are somewhat whimsical. Unlike the standard Fiat 500 (which is more of a chic city car), the 500L rides on a larger platform and offers up seating for 5 in a package that is both boxy and tall. The looks and proportions are cartoonish in nature, but that doesn't mean it's not cool. Other vehicles in this space are the Scion xB, Honda Element, Mini Countryman, Kia Soul and Nissan Cube.
The Fiat 500L has a European vibe to it (the vehicle is actually assembled in a new Serbian factory), from its small, but powerful 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine to its 6-speed twin clutch automatic gearbox. The Fiat 500L is happiest when it is revving high and scooting along at freeway cruising speeds thanks to its 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque.
L is for Large
The roomy interior features bolt-upright seating. I found the front buckets a little stiff, but I appreciated the fold down center armrest, easy to access controls both on the center stack and steering wheel, as well as the 6.5-inch touchscreen radio with nav, back-up camera and park assist. This unit is part of a premiere package that normally would cost $1,745, but is thrown in for free. In fact, our Lounge model was well-equipped for its $24,395 base price, which includes dual zone a/c, heated seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, tilt/telescope steering, one-touch power windows and U-connect Bluetooth connectivity. The only options included are a panoramic power sunroof ($1,100), black painted roof ($500), a Beats audio system ($500), compact spare ($450) and painted aluminum wheels ($500). With $800 destination, the out-the-door price is $28,245.
While the sunroof is absolutely mammoth, the shade beneath it is nearly translucent, which allowed a lot of heat to build up inside the vehicle and didn't provide much shading. Still, it does give the tall cabin an airy feel. Then there is the windshield which is supported by flying buttress A-pillars. These take a little getting used to as they constantly frame your forward view. The interior is well-equipped, however, some of the surfaces and finishes range from plasticky to rubbery and handles for both the hood release and the parking brake are a bit clunky. But there's also leather on the seats, easy access to USB ports, a 12-volt power point and SD card slot, as well as a ton of cubbies and two gloveboxes to secure loose items out of sight.
Fuel economy is a respectable 24 city/33 highway for a combined mpg of 27. The 2014 Fiat 500L is not only fun to drive, but offers plenty of space, utility and funky Euro attitude that sets it apart from the competition.
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