I’ve been a fan of Fiat 500s since they revived the brand and brought them here five years ago—actually, as reported here, since even before then. Given the funky Italian design and their practical nimbularity for city driving, they (continue to) demonstrate great value for money. I was not a fan of the crossover 500L when they came to Canada in 2014 because they sacrificed a bit of both for space. I accused Fiat of elongating the design from a huggable, streetwise drumlin shape to a bloated suburban Masada, and of pandering to size-greedy North Americans.
However I began warming to the L over Christmas 2014 when I took one through the mountains and highways of Sicily* with my family. Turns out, the Ls are all over the place it Italy, not just available here, and here’s why: Unless you’re a diminutive couple (or solo artist) who does little traveling, you need the extra room.
After driving the 500L Trekking Urbana, I’m even warmer now to the big L.
It’s not as nimble or fun as its littler sorella, the regular 500, but so what? It matters to me that you can pack more than your smokes, comb, cell phone, suit jacket and two bottles of franciacorta. The backseats are less roomy but spacious and comfortable enough to accommodate anyone up to 6ft tall.
The small 1.4L 4-cylinder engine is turbo-charged. There’s a notable touch of lag when you want to accelerate suddenly, but it’s certainly adequate for urban tootling. If you do take it to the track—no it stayed the city—at least you’ll be pleased with how it corners (for a crossover). But don’t take it to the track.
Plus it still represents very good value for money if you crave style.
Taxes and destination charges in, the price below is more $5,000 over the base model. If you have two hours to spare and want to save $1,600, learn how to drive a standard transmission. It’s fun and can help render better mileage. The power sunroof is another $1,300 that you can probably do without.
If you’re style-conscious, consider keeping the $1,400 preferred package with its distinctive “Urbana Trekking” seats and muted outer accents, plus the $750 rear park assist. (You don’t want to scrape it.) On the other hand, if you’re not style-conscious, you probably haven’t read this far.
Total price including destination charge and taxes: $32,380
* (Last year’s L in Sicily was a domestic diesel and decent on fuel—not available here. Given recent news about the VW debacle and air conditions in cities like Milan, maybe that’s not a bad thing.)