2020 FIAT 500L

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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
September 16, 2019

Buying tip

The 500L is not selling well, so serious incentives should be readily available.

features & specs

Lounge Hatch
Pop Hatch
Trekking Hatch
MPG
22 city / 30 hwy
MPG
22 city / 30 hwy
MPG
22 city / 30 hwy
MSRP
$24,645
MSRP
$22,500
MSRP
$23,825

The 2020 Fiat 500L has largely been forgotten by American buyers, and for valid reasons.

The 2020 Fiat 500L hasn’t sold well in America since its launch in 2014. Besides the bulky styling of the subcompact crossover, it doesn’t offer much apart from impressive interior space and decent value in the base Pop trim. Trekking and Lounge trims are available. We give it 3.8 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020 the 500L gets no changes even though parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles discontinued the 500 microcar that was the inspiration for the more American-sized 500L. 

Other than being the Pope’s ride of choice during his visit to the U.S. a few years ago, the 500L doesn’t have much going for it, and that starts with the styling. While the cute, rounded Cinquecento influence works well on the standard 500 city car and 500X small crossover SUV, it’s bloated and ungainly on the 500L, which is essentially a subcompact hatchback with stretched proportions for more interior space. The cabin at least provides some visual intrigue but not nearly as much as its 500 siblings, which feature a body color dashboard and other quirks. The 500L is dark and sedated, more staid minivan than fun city runabout.

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A 1.4-liter turbo-4 is the only engine option, and with just 160 horsepower it’s on the slow side, but the 500L has a comfortable suspension and responsive driving dynamics that help make up for its lack of grunt. At 25 mpg combined, this small engine isn’t particularly efficient either.

Four adults fit comfortably inside the 500L – or should we say comfortably for a short while. The hard and flat seats make longer journeys tiring, but 22 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats make it more practical than the raised 500X crossover.

All 500L models come with a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and optional navigation. Power features, USB chargers, and more all come standard, but active safety features are conspicuously missing from the options list. For a car that needs all the help it can get to be sold, this is a big oversight, not to mention the few concerning crash test scores that do exist for the 500L.


3

2020 FIAT 500L

Styling

The 2020 Fiat 500L could be described as cute, but most would say awkward or ungainly.

The 2020 Fiat 500L is tall and oddly proportioned, but its cabin is bright and airy as a result. We give it X out of 10 here as such. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 500L is clearly a Fiat: its round headlights, bubbly design features, and chrome bars front and rear are unmistakable for almost anything else on the road short of a Mini. Unfortunately, its tall proportions and low ride height look less cohesive than the same treatment applied to the 500X crossover. Some might call it cute, many have called it ugly. 

The interior is normally a bright spot for Fiats, and while it is quite literally bright thanks to all of the glass and great visibility, the details can’t be described as such. Where the 500 and 500X are fun and playful with their rounded infotainment centers, body-color dashboard, and colorful details, the 500L is more minivan-esque and dark inside. If you’re going to make the exterior so bold, at least fit an interior to match.

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3

2020 FIAT 500L

Performance

The 2020 Fiat 500L is sluggish around town and runs out of steam on the highway, but at least it’s comfortable.

The 2020 Fiat 500L uses an outdated powertrain that’s not well-suited for its size and shape. At least ride comfort is good, warranting a rating of 3 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

A 1.4-liter turbo-4 mated to a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive is the only powertrain available for the 500L. It  makes 160 horsepower. That’s nearly on par with many economy cars, but the bigger 500L is sluggish around town and runs out of steam on the highway thanks to its considerable heft over a smaller hatchback. The turbo is neither quick nor efficient. Those looking for all-wheel drive should turn to the 500X, which includes it as standard and has a more powerful, newer engine.

Thankfully, the lack of pace is made up for by a comfortable and compliant suspension. Thought old-school in its design, it still absorbs road imperfections with aplomb. It’s not as fun to toss around as a 500 or 500X, but you wouldn’t expect it to be from the ungainly proportions.

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4

2020 FIAT 500L

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Fiat 500L is spacious and tall inside with good maximum cargo room, but comfort is lacking.

The 2020 Fiat 500L offers surprising interior space for people and cargo in such a small package, but comfort is lacking. We give it 4 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

From the driver’s seat, the 500L almost feels more like a minivan than a compact car. The high seating position, great outward visibility including see-through pillars up front, and wide dashboard are to blame for this, but the flat seat is very un-minivan-like. In fact, all seats are relatively flat and uncomfortable, making the 500L better for short trips around town than long highway drives.

The tall greenhouse design makes for great headroom and decent space for four adults, and the rear seats slide nearly 5 inches fore and aft as well as recline. Behind the rear seats, the 500L holds 22.4 cubic feet of stuff, which is only average for small hatchbacks, but folding the second row flat makes for 68 cubic feet, as much as some larger SUVs.

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2020 FIAT 500L

Safety

The 2020 Fiat 500L doesn’t have complete safety data, nor does it offer active safety features.

The 2020 Fiat 500L doesn’t have complete crash test data due to its low sales volume, so we can’t give it a score here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What we can tell you, however, is that the IIHS gave the 500L a “Poor” small front overlap score for the driver’s side, and the video of said test is harrowing to watch. What’s more, the 500L doesn’t offer any active safety features aside from rear parking sensors.  The 500X is better equipped, making the 500L a tough sell for a safe small family vehicle.

On a car that only sells around 1,500 units per year, Fiat should be making as many of these features available as possible to get them off dealer lots.

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5

2020 FIAT 500L

Features

The 2020 Fiat 500L is well-equipped as standard and higher trims don’t offer much more in terms of features.

The 2020 Fiat 500L is best had as cheaply as possible. While base models offer impressive features (minus active safety), look for a deal on a better-equipped model. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 500L comes in three trim levels, Pop, Trekking, and Lounge, all of which come standard with a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. Pop models include cloth upholstery, 16-inch wheels, one USB charging port, power features, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto capability.

The Trekking model adds rugged-looking styling cues, 17-inch wheels, ambient LED lighting, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a Beats audio system, and satellite navigation. Stepping up to the Lounge trim nets unique wheels, power mirrors, and some chrome styling pieces instead of rugged plastic or aluminum effect like the Trekking.

The difference in price is only about $3,000 between the Pop and Lounge, so a great deal can be had with incentives regardless of the trim you choose.

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4

2020 FIAT 500L

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Fiat 500L is not as efficient as it would seem at just 25 mpg combined.

The 2020 Fiat 500L isn’t as fuel-efficient as it should be with such a small, turbocharged engine. We give it 4 out of 10 here as such. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 500L’s single powertrain makes 22 city, 30 highway, and 25 combined mpg, largely a result of its tall stature and relatively high weight compared to the smaller 500. Other competitors manage better and often make more power, and the requirement of premium fuel is another off-putting consideration.

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$22,500
MSRP based on Pop Hatch
 
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3.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 3
Performance 3
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety N/A
Features 5
Fuel Economy 4
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