I drove the Fiat to Denver today, and enjoyed the view from the driver’s seat. The car has three windshields, essentially, and up top is a mammoth double power moon roof with shade. The glass opening is nearly as big as the roof, and the front half powers open. I liked the Beats 6-speaker stereo/XM radio, the heated black cloth seats, the dual glove boxes, the crisp 6.5″ navigation/backup camera screen, and the console-mounted emergency brake. I wasn’t that enamored with the switch-blade key ignition, the inverted tach/speedometer with uninspiring information display between them, or the somewhat non-supportive buckets up front. The tilt/telescope column, floor shift, 23.1 cubic feet of trunk space, and folding back seat were all on target. INTERIOR GRADE – 85.
Styling of the 500L is unconventional, and gives the car a funky personality. It’s hard to not like it, and hard to not notice everyone staring at the car while you tool around. The “Easy” model that I tested had thirteen-spoke aluminum wheels and Continental ContiPro Contact 205/55R16 radial mud/snow tires. The white paint on the mirrors that matched the roof color was great, and the tailgate look and glass top were satisfying. STYLING GRADE – 90.
Base price of the 500L is $20,195.00, and options/freight bring the total M.S.R.P. to $25,545.00. Those options are a popular equipment group, Premier package, automatic transmission, the moonroof, heated seats, and the two-toned bronze and white paint. All of the luxury items are on hand such as navigation, rearview camera, tilt/telescope, power windows/locks/mirrors, and the hands-free phone setup. The power door locks are not located on the doors, but on the dashboard. VALUE PROPOSITION GRADE – 88.
Initial impressions of driving the Fiat are nice, as are the week-long impressions. The turbo engine (1.4 liter, 160 horsepower), however, has some lag to it, and guidance down the road could be more pleasing to this writer. The aforementioned visibility is great, the transmission is pleasing (the manual mode is excellent), and interior noise is minimal for a little car. Ride and handling are above average, as well. Listening to that Beats stereo while on the road makes the trip seem shorter. DRIVING GRADE – 86.
Fiat creates interest, and buyers, for the 500L by offering a “personality”, as I see it. It is a fun car, is fine for travelling in, and the back seat and trunk are surprisingly functional. FIAT 500L GRADE – 88.25 (B+).