Fiat 500L MPV
“If you’re after a spacious and characterful family car that stands out from the crowd, look no further than the Fiat 500L”
- Noisy at speed
- Rivals are better to drive
- One available engine is slow
The Fiat 500L shares many styling cues with the Fiat 500 and is aimed at buyers who like the looks of the popular hatchback but need more room. Potential customers are those in the market for small people carriers like the Vauxhall Crossland X.
The 500L range comprises two core models. The standard car is known just as the 500L, while there’s also a seven-seater version (which we’ve reviewed separately), known as the 500L Wagon. One of the trim levels is called the 500L Cross Look, and it features butch styling cues and a slight dose of off-road ability – although don’t confuse this with the Fiat 500X SUV, which is an entirely separate model that we've reviewed separately, too.
Since launch, the 500L received criticism that it stretched Fiat 500 design cues beyond breaking point and ended up looking rather contrived. However, a facelift in late 2017 claimed to "reinforce the family feeling of the model". This update was also boasted to have replaced some 40% of the car's components, although many of them presumably look very similar to the previous ones.
Visually, the biggest changes are to the car's front end, but you could be excused for not noticing the chrome headlamp surrounds and modified lower front bumper, while the tiny front 'grille' has a different insert than before. The interior received similarly subtle changes, too, with a updated instrument cluster that gained a more informative centre display and a gearlever raised to be easier to reach.
So, aside from its association with the ever-fashionable Fiat 500 hatchback, what else does this bigger model have to offer? Well, it’s definitely a comfortable car thanks to its soft suspension, while the one petrol engines on offer makes it a fairly affordable car to buy and run.
The flipside to those qualities is that rival cars are more engaging to drive and quicker than the 500L. The 94bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine keeps the cost of the 500L down but it takes almost 13 seconds to power the car from 0-62mph.
It's not quick, but the 500L isn't particularly cheap to run either. Claimed economy is 35.8mpg so it's not ideal for higher-mileage drivers, although insurance premiums should be low. It’s also a practical car thanks to its folding front passenger seat, sliding rear seats and roomy boot.
Too few Fiat 500L owners responded for the car to be ranked in our 2019 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey and Fiat came 15th out of 30 manufacturers in our brand rankings, a decidedly middling result. The 500L should be a very safe car, though, as it was awarded the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests and numerous safety technology upgrades are available.