“Can practicality be sexy?” Just as U.S. sales of the “flirty, fun” Fiat 500 have started to pick up, this longer, wider, and taller edition arrives offering to cart around a lot more of our stuff. From the Italian automaker’s standpoint, that’s probably not a crazy plan. Built on a different platform than its smaller older sibling, and equipped with both a more potent engine and two extra doors, the 500L “makes a convincing cut-rate Mini Countryman.” To a point, it feels equally “Euro-stylish.”
The “airy, spacious” cabin proves to be “a pleasant place to spend time,” thanks to soft-touch materials and ample expanses of glass. Though the “squircle”-shaped steering wheel is “a bit clunky to use” and a driver gets “no feel at all” from the electric power-steering system, performance is fairly impressive. The 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine can manage “zippy maneuvers around town,” and ride quality nicely balances sportiness with comfort.
There’s still “plenty of body roll in hard cornering,” but potential buyers probably won’t mind. “Where the Fiat 500L excels is being very usable in everyday life.” Compared with the Countryman, it’s also “a lot less expensive”—especially with Fiat currently throwing in a $1,745 premier package, including a backup camera, completely for free.