I'm already a Fiat fan. My Fiat 500 was a cute, stylish hatchback that I would recommend to anyone. I never had a serious problem with it; it's an easy car to own and operate. However, I felt that I needed something larger. My other half went from a mid-sized car down to a smaller car recently (a Mazda 2), so I decided to go up a size so we had more room for our dogs and whatever cargo we wanted to haul along with us. That's why I looked closely at the 500L when it launched.
Driving position & visibility
This car has amazing visibility. I haven't found any serious blind spots yet. The view out front is especially noteworthy because of the narrow front pillars that have additional glass. The back-up camera & rear parking sensors are a great help and they are included at no charge on select 2014 Fiat 500L models.
The 500L has a quiet ride; much more so than its raucous (but incredibly fun) smaller sibling. I hear some mild wind noise occasionally but that's about all unless I'm on extremely rough pavement. Road and engine noise are nicely muted without being completely removed.
The roomy interior is where the car really shines. With its two-toned color scheme, it looks upscale without an inordinate amount of hard plastic. Surprisingly, one of my favorite things about the interior is the parking brake. Instead of the typical "stick," it's a large, flat square that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. The "squircle" steering wheel is a perfect size and feels good in your hands. So far, I've found very few interior controls that feel insubstantial or cheap.
The dual-clutch automatic transmission takes some getting used to, but I've been pleasantly surprised by it. It doesn't make a sound when you shift it into reverse and then into drive. It really does feel like a manual transmission, though I never shift it manually. This is my first car with a turbo engine and there is some turbo lag, but the turbo does kick in and it moves this car reasonably quickly.
For 2014, all Fiat 500L models except for the Pop model come with some interesting freebies: back-up camera, rear parking sensors, and an upgrade to a 6.5" UConnect infotainment system with built-in navigation. I guess it's a reward for being an early adopter. The Trekking edition has fog lights, and I've discovered an interesting feature when you're driving at night with the fog lights off. When you make a turn, the corresponding fog light comes on to give you additional illumination. This feature is handy, especially in areas where streetlights aren't always plentiful.
Front seat support & comfort
This isn't a problem for me exactly, but I've noticed other reviewers have mentioned it. The front seats are firm and I've been told that the seat fabric in some of the other models can be a bit slick. It took me a few days to get fully accustomed to the seats and find the position that works best for me. I like the firmness because it gives extra support. It's certainly something you'll want to pay attention to when you test drive it.
The gas mileage is nothing to write home about, but it's nothing to scream and shout about either. It's about average for this size of car. I'm seeing the upper 20s so far in a mix of city and highway driving. Fiat recommends premium unleaded, but it does run fine on regular unleaded.
I may be in the minority, but I like the way the car looks. It's stylish without being overwhelming, and the style doesn't get in the way of the car's versatility or visibility. It comes in several fun Fiat colors.
Safety & braking
This car has numerous airbags and excellent anti-lock brakes. It feels solid on the road and the handling is responsive enough that I have a good chance of avoiding dangerous situations. Overall, I feel very safe in it.
This is an exceptionally roomy car with great cargo room. The rear seats fold and flip forward. With the rear seats in their normal position, I have plenty of room for groceries.
Rear seat room & comfort
Four people can easily ride in comfort. The rear seats are fully adjustable and have a great view of the road.
So far, I've been very pleased with my Fiat 500L. It's stylish, quiet, and roomy with responsive handling. If you need a bit more room than a midsized sedan but you don't need a full-size SUV or minivan, I'd recommend the Fiat 500L as an appealing alternative.