Many people say they really like the Fiat 500, but it's just too small for their daily lives. Today Fiat is looking to rectify that issue with the introduction of the new 2014 Fiat 500L at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The 500L is closely related to the new European variant of the same name, which made its debut at March's 2012 Geneva Motor Show, but some changes have been made due to the differing markets. But what exactly is a 500L? Fiat told us the car is a MINI Countryman and Kia Soul competitor.
While the 500L is a b-segment car, meaning it's a subcompact, it actually is packaged in a way that by EPA standards it's considered a full-size car (due to relatively it's large interior). This is made possible due to Fiat's new "small-wide" architecture which gives the 500L 26 inches more length and 6 inches more width than the regular 500. This also helps the 500L achieve best-in-class headroom and front legroom.
Inside, you'll note the stadium seating positioning that helps with interior packaging and space. Even though the 500L does share its name and some styling with the 500, it's actually built on the Fiat Punto hatchback platform.
Powering the 500L is a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder rated at 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed dry dual-clutch transmission (DDCT) or a six-speed manual transmission. While all-wheel drive is not available, we believe it might be offered in the future.
The 500L will be available in two distinct models: the Touring and Trekking. The Touring model is the more mainstream of the two, while the Trekking is being dubbed the more adventurous side of the 500L. Aimed at those with active lifestyles, the Trekking model features unique front and rear fascias, flared wheel openings, body-side sill moldings, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Inside the Trekking model are a unique black and brown color scheme and an all-new Uconnect 5.0 infotainment system with a 5-inch touchscreen display. The new Uconnect 6.5 system is also available and comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display with dealer-activated navigation and media hub.
The 500L may be a small vehicle, but it doesn't skimp on the safety technology. There are seven standard airbags along with reactive head restraints. Also standard is electronic stability control, a ParkView backup camera and hill-start assist.
The 500L goes on sale next summer and will be produced in Serbia. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.