Mini has been stretching the Cooper in all directions for years, so it was only a matter of time until Fiat decided to get in on the action. Arriving at this year's 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2014 Fiat 500L is a larger interpretation of the pint-sized 500 hatchback. Now a whopping 26 inches longer than the standard model, the cabin measurements of the new 500L qualify this Fiat as a `Large Car' according to the EPA. Anyone who has ever been squeezed into the backseat of the standard 500 might find this incredulous. But it's true, overall interior room has swelled by 42-percent, while height and width are boosted 6 inches in either direction. The Fiat 500L will offer seating room for 5 adults, along with a good deal of their luggage in the 23.1 cu. ft. trunk. If you've always wanted a Fiat, but couldn't scale down your shopping, this could be your car...or crossover. Or is it a mini-minivan?
Power to Match the Packaging
Thankfully, Fiat didn't opt to stick the base 500 engine in the bigger and heavier 500L. Under the hood is the turbocharged 160-bhp 1.4-liter MultiAir inline-4 cylinder engine, shared with the sport-tuned 500 Abarth. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual gearbox, along with an optional 6-speed dual-clutch (DDCT) automatic. Fuel economy figures have not been released, and it's interesting to note the 500L is (at least initially) only offered in a front-wheel-drive format. A four-wheel-drive system would take the fight more directly to the competition, especially the 500L's most obvious rival, the Mini Countryman crossover. Yet sending power to every wheel also adversely affects MPGs, so Fiat might be favoring mileage versus any supposed mud-plugging capability.
Trim levels include Pop, Lounge, Easy, and the brand new Trekking variant. The latter trim level at least gives the 500L the illusion of an off-roader, thanks to more aggressive wheel arch surrounds, a revised front fascia with larger cooling duct, and a satin silver finish used on exterior trim elements. Sales of the 500L begin next year, for the 2014 model year.