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2020 Fiat 500L Review

Fiat discontinued its core 500 model for 2020, but the 2020 Fiat 500L soldiers on unchanged. As SUVs continue to grow in popularity, smaller passenger cars are being squeezed out of the market place. Fiat has been a low-volume seller since its U.S. relaunch in 2009 and has struggled with quality. Its parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, doesn’t seem interested in updating Fiat’s remaining models and outright killed the 500 here. That would seem to make Fiat’s future in the U.S. somewhat uncertain.

Be that as it may, the 500L is an adequate, affordable small car. Although others in its segment offer measurably better fuel economy, the 500L’s numbers aren’t bad. The interior is stylish, and the various systems are easy to navigate. One reason for the 500L’s comparatively low pricing is the lack of any of today’s many safety/driver-assist technologies, such as blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist or automatic emergency braking.

The 2020 Fiat 500L is simply a car well suited to those looking for a bargain-basement price for basic transportation.

What’s New for 2020?

The 500L is unchanged for 2020. See the 2020 Fiat 500L models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Large and versatile interior
  • Quirky design elements
  • Good visibility
  • Easy-to-use touchscreen

What We Don’t

  • Lackluster resale value and low reliability ratings
  • Rough ride
  • No advanced safety tech

How Much?

$23,995-$26,140

Fuel Economy

Things are pretty simple under the hood, as every Fiat 500L comes standard with the same combination of a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (160 horsepower, 184 lb-ft of torque) engine, front-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration and driveability are well within its competitor set, but fuel economy is a bit mediocre for this segment at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 Fiat 500L is available in Pop, Trekking and Lounge trim levels. Prices include the $1,495 factory delivery fee.

Standard equipment on the base Pop ($23,995) includes 16-in alloy wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, height-adjustable front seats, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 60/40 split folding and sliding back seats, Bluetooth, a 7-in Uconnect touchscreen interface, a rearview camera, two USB ports, an auxiliary audio jack, a CD player and a 6-speaker sound system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Trekking ($25,320) adds vaguely more rugged looks plus 17-in wheels, fog lights, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a garage door opener, satellite radio and a 9-speaker Beats Audio system upgrade.

Available only with the Trekking is the $595 Urbana Edition, adding some black exterior accents, 17-in black aluminum wheels and black leather seats with copper stitching.

The Lounge ($26,140) trim is pretty much the same as the Trekking regarding feature content, but it ditches the rugged looks for more chrome and body-colored pieces. We suppose it’s somewhat more premium in appearance. It does add an auto-dimming rearview mirror, driver’s seat power lumbar adjustment, rear park assist and dual-zone auto climate control.

The Popular Equipment package (for Pop and Trekking) adds rear parking sensors, a backup camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, 2-way power driver lumbar support and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Premium package (Pop) includes all of those items, plus a navigation system integrated into the standard Uconnect touchscreen and a 9-speaker Beats audio system. You can also add contrasting black or white roofs to the Trekking and Lounge trims. The Trekking can also be equipped with an Urbana package that adds black wheels and a red roof.

Safety

The Fiat 500L has not been rated for crash safety by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, it has been crash-tested by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, where it received the best possible "Good" marks in all tests, save for the newer, more stringent small-overlap test, where it received the worst possible "Poor" rating.

As for safety features, the 500L offers the basics of safety technology. It does include necessities such as front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control or a backup camera. Rear park assist is optional on the Pop and the Trekking but standard on the Lounge. The 500L is also not available with any of today’s increasingly common safety technologies, including forward-collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning or blind spot monitoring.

Behind the Wheel

Although discontinued for 2020, the smaller 500 was fun to drive. The 500L doesn’t drive like a larger version of the 500. Unlike the exited 500, the 500L is a bit sloppy around corners and not as engaging to drive. Even the 500X sub-compact SUV provides a little more verve behind the wheel. We’ve also found the 500L’s ride to be on the rough side.

Fuel economy still isn’t that great, but power from the 160-hp turbocharged engine flows smoothly. Acceleration is also pretty good, as the 500L feels peppy compared to some subcompact SUVs.

We’re also impressed with the 500L’s interior. It looks big on paper, with ample legroom and headroom. In practice, though, it’s somehow even bigger. The 500L may owe this to its impressively large windows, providing excellent visibility in every possible direction. They give the cabin a light, airy feel, making it seem like a vehicle twice its size.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Honda Fit — Want to get the biggest and most versatile interior with the smallest possible exterior? You’re looking for the Honda Fit. It boasts better driving dynamics, fuel economy, resale value and reliability than the 500L.

2020 Kia Soul — It’s not the chic FIAT brand, but the Kia Soul is tremendously popular for a reason. The hatchback combines practicality, equipment and style into one well-priced package.

2020 Hyundai Accent — Available in both sedan and hatchback, the Accent offers plenty of space and exceptional driving manners for the segment — plus, its cabin is functional, with loads of quality and style.

2020 Fiat 500X — If you dig the Fiat look and vibe but long for a stronger all-around effort, it’s definitely worth considering the 500X. It’s more akin to an SUV, it’s available with all-wheel drive, and we think it looks considerably better inside and out than the 500X.

Used Fiat 500L — Given the 500L’s rate of depreciation, it makes a financial sense to consider a lightly used one, if you think it’s the car for you. Sure, you may need to deal with the wonky old automated manual transmission, but you’ll also be saving some serious bucks.

Autotrader’s Advice

Because there is so little daylight between the price of the base Pop and the top-of-the-line Lounge — if we were writing the check, we’d get the 500L Lounge. The top-trim-level prices are reasonable, especially with sharp discounts often offered by Fiat. And the Lounge comes surprisingly well-equipped, touting a lot of comfort features that enhance the driving (or riding) experience. Find a Fiat 500L for sale

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