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Is the 500L a good family car? - Page 4
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Thread: Is the 500L a good family car?

  1. #31
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    Wow! What a great write up! Your experience is the same as my experience with the 2014 Trekking, 6 speed manual. I bought it in 2017 for $5,800 with about 55,000 miles and it's at 100,000 now. It needed a PCV valve o-ring (20 minute job) and a wiring repair to the flexing area of the door loom that was causing the lock not to function. I did both these repairs myself. The only time it saw a dealer was to get a key programmed for it. They did software updates then as well.

    I agree that the ride is really good. I suspect the stock Koni FSD tech is responsible. I also find the noise level to be fine running Nokian WRG3 tires. Nokian summer tires on another one of my Fiats also reduced road noise. Perhaps as a maker known for snow tires they've tried extra hard to bring noise levels down.

    Complaints about power make no sense, considering that the 500L has more horsepower and torque than all of its competitors, at least with their stock engines! You have to rev the engine to get that power, so perhaps this is what reviewers didn't understand. But I think your explanations make a lot more sense. I find that car reviewers seem to read what someone else wrote and then simply repeat it!

    Again, you nailed it with this write up. Would like to hear more about the differences between the X and L. 1.3 firefly in your X?


    Quote Originally Posted by ronbo10 View Post
    Having a 2017 500X and a 2014 500L, my opinion is that they are both fine cars. I'll give you a kind of mini-review here of the 500L.

    I'm sort of more emotionally connected with the 500L- I guess it's the big greenhouse. Puts me in a good mood. I like the 1.4 liter turbo engine over the 2.4 liter naturally aspirated engine, and as I've mentioned in many posts, I really like the 6-speed DDCT. I know smark had a real clunker, and a few of the early examples seemed to be plagued with problems, which was unfortunate as the car is now rated by J.D. Powers to be above average in reliability. Surely you have read that in the auto press headlines? "Fiat 500L now has a reliability rating of "above average" as reported in J.D. Powers survey!" No? No, of course you haven't. The press here seems to enjoy ragging on Fiat, but they'd rather die before they'd give the marque any praise. Why? One can speculate. It might be because Fiat hasn't really invested much in the USA market, both product and marketing, and as such their offerings are arguably a better match for the Euro market. Which is not to say they're bad cars- on the contrary I think they're very good cars, but they are different from anything else offered here. They have a distinctive Euro flavor. And by that I don't mean high end Euro, I mean what everybody else drives over there. But that's part of the charm, I think.

    Nearly every stateside auto publication, online or print, says the 500L rides poorly. I swear reviewers are like kids that want to be in the cool crowd, so they make sure not to say anything that makes them outliers. So there's maybe a "bandwagonism" going on there. Occasionally I've found a reviewer that doesn't seem so affected. One online reviewer I respect stated in an early review that Fiat really nailed it with the 500L's ride, and I'm totally in that camp. It is a little firm (the 500X feels a little firmer still), but it's very planted and never harsh. And I know what a well-riding car feels like as I've owned several models that have been particularly well regarded by the auto press with respect to the ride. And I like the 500L best of them all, no doubt in my mind.

    The 500L is noticeably more spacious inside relative to the 500X. I've done some serious Ikea runs that had me wondering if the stuff was going to fit, and it did, though it was a bit tight. For passengers, the 500L is very spacious, especially for its footprint. My wife and I have found our Trekking's seats to be very comfortable (we're shorties- my wife 5'1", me 5'7"), so our MY 2014 is a good fit, but enough folks complained about too-short seat bottom cushions, so the MY 2015's and on have the longer seat bottom cushions. I personally really like the seats in the 2018-2020 500L's, and the grade of leather seems to be of high quality. The rear seat of the 500L provides great leg room, and if you don't opt for the sunroof, great headroom as well. The rear seat is sort of "theater seating", as it rides a little higher than the front seats do, so the sunroof can encroach on headroom if you're over 5'7" or so. But no sunroof- no problem.

    We're a family of 3 plus a dog, and our total passenger weight is probably, what? Less than 400 pounds, for sure. So I've never felt like the car is under-powered. A thousand pounds of payload over the Rockies, yeah it'll feel a little strained, I'd guess. In those circumstances just think "125cc Motocrosser!". We used to keep those bikes pinned back in the day . In any case, the engine has decent mid range torque, and that's where I drive it mostly, 2000-4500 rpm or so. It's a pleasant drive when driven in that range. With the loud pedal to the floor it can sound a bit raucous, but to me not necessarily unpleasant. Many pubs have called the 500L under-powered, but low 8 second range to 0-60 times isn't "slow" to me. Compared to what most Euro's drive, we have completely forgotten what "slow" means.

    I have become accustomed to see a bump in fuel economy in the summertime, trailing off again as winter approaches, reflecting the Winter/Summer fuel blends the refineries put out, but this year I haven't seen the bump-up. I suspect our nation has been consuming so little fuel during this pandemic that we're still pumping winter fuel blend into our tanks. I'd be curious if anyone else has noted the same. To be on the safe side I'm going to be putting in some Lucus Fuel System Cleaner, but I think it's just the gas. Back when I was driving from SE Pennsylvania to JFK Airport on Long Island (just about 100 miles on the nose), I'd seen a personal best FE of just over 40 mpg (calculated) for the round trip. I'm certainly happy with that figure. The DDCT is a little more fuel efficient than the Aisin 6-speed auto, but I'd bet less so than the 10% suggested by the EPA ratings. The Aisin is a fine transmission.

    I really like the steering of our 500L, and I've noted when I test drove a 2018 model year Elle that the steering felt noticeably lighter- I prefer the greater resistance and "feel" I get through the wheel of our 2014, but it certainly wouldn't be a deal breaker.

    The 500L has reasonable noise levels while cruising, though I wouldn't call it quiet. Maybe someday I'll put in some noise dampening tiles in the door panels (like Dynamat, though there are other, cheaper options out there). I think the Beats Audio is quite good for an OEM sound system. I run the bass EQ about 4 notches below the zero reference, otherwise the bass can sound tubby and can shake the door panels if you're blasting music with a lot of bass content. Adjusted as described the bass still goes reasonably deep, and sounds more balanced with the top end.

    Wish our Elle had the Apple Car Play/Android Auto that the 2018 and later model years get. What no Elle has is any of the modern driver aids, with the exception of a backup camera and proximity alerting while in reverse, but no autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring or the like, but I'm OK with that. You can get that stuff in the 500X, but ya gotta pay. The retail price then gets quite expensive. But nobody pays retail for a Fiat these days. Do a search with Cars.com, or Auto Trader etc. and you'll find a lot of dealers that advertise retail, but almost assuredly will be willing to deal. There are also plenty of dealers that are offering deep discounts, at which point the 500L becomes (in my mind) a bargain. And it's a pretty unique car- you won't see yourself coming and going, that's for sure.

    Ours, at 70,000 miles, has held up very well, with just the most minimal of issues (had an o-ring seal in the PCV valve assembly replaced, otherwise just a few module flashes and a new shift control module that fixed some known issues, taken care of during the first year of ownership).

    The 2019 and 2020 500L's (there are some leftover '19's out there) are offered in the same 3 trim levels that they've been for some years now (Pop, Trekking, and Lounge. Urbana is a variation on the Trekking trim level). What the Lounge offers over the Trekking is that the Popular Equipment Group is included (A/C Auto Temperature Control w/Dual-Zone Control, 2-Way Manual Lumbar Adjustable Passenger Seat, ParkSense Rear Park-Assist System, 2-Way Power Lumbar Adjustable Driver Seat, Rear View Auto-Dimming Mirror with Compass), whereas on the Trekking it is a $795 option. Otherwise there really isn't much difference between the two, other than the exterior styling. Both offer the optional $1,395 panoramic sunroof, the Lounge has some wheel options, but the two trim levels aren't as differentiated as they once were (In 2014, for example the Trekking had its own seat style and dash trim, the Lounge had leather throughout, including on the dash).

    I think the 500L can be an excellent family car. I wouldn't hesitate to get another one, but I'll probably drive the one I have until I retire it, as the resale isn't good (maybe I could get $6,500 for it or thereabouts). Good think I love the car!

    Will Fiat be around here in the US for the long term? I sure hope so. I really love their cars, and the new 500 all-electric is going to be awesome- I hope they bring it stateside. That said, I think anyone who buys a Fiat today understands, or should, that there's a risk of Fiat quitting the U.S. once again.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulbob View Post
    Would like to hear more about the differences between the X and L. 1.3 firefly in your X?
    Thanks for the kudos, Paulbob. It was a labor of love. 6-plus years of ownership and I'm still enthusiastic about our 500L.

    As for our 500X, I'm afraid the 2017's weren't available with the 1.3 liter, or I certainly would have opted for it. I believe MY2019 was the first year that engine became available in the X. It'd be awesome in the Elle's, but that's not going to happen. I have yet to drive an X with the 1.3 liter. Pretty sure I'd like it.

  3. #33
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    I completely forgot that only the latest Xs received the Firefly! To be honest, I wasn't as crazy about the 500L when I bought it. It was a car my girlfriend liked. She's Italian and hasn't liked my assortment of sedans and hatchbacks over the years. She's ok with my little 500s but not crazy about them like I am. The Trekking that I bought had just turned 3 years old and was only $5,800 or I would have preferred a Lounge or Pop. But I've learned to love the space efficiency. Parking is extremely tight in my 18th century neighborhood so having something that has this much space in such a short package is great. I have two old houses, 1,100 miles apart, and I find that the 500L is great for traveling between them on I-90. The 6th gear is tall, ride is great, it's reasonably quiet and the seats are comfortable, fuel economy is good. I've had turbos ever since driving SAABs in the 80s so, best of all, the 500 L has a turbo!

    What's not to like unless you are uncomfortable with the looks. Nothing in the category was particularly good looking anyway. The Mazda 5 looked cheap and bland, as did the Scion. The Cube is my favorite because it is willfully ugly!

  4. #34
    Senior Member Rocco Reviews...'s Avatar
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    Me and my family might be taking a trip (40 miles away) tomorrow to see an Elle to get an idea of it's size. Does anyone know how big the Elle really is compared to a regular 500?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocco Reviews... View Post
    Me and my family might be taking a trip (40 miles away) tomorrow to see an Elle to get an idea of it's size. Does anyone know how big the Elle really is compared to a regular 500?
    Rocco Reviews, to be honest I've always thought it's a bit of a stretch to compare the 500L with the much smaller 500. More marketing on Fiat's part, IMO. I'd guess that they're trying to achieve cohesiveness across the lineup (in the North American market, at least- other markets have Fiat offerings such as Panda and Tipo that don't try to be 500's in any way). So I guess you could say that the 500 and 500L have similar design language, especially in the details (e.g. the stylized "500" moniker proudly displayed on the dashboard), but the 500L to me is its own car.

    I like the 500's quite a bit, but to say the 500L is a larger 500 almost does the 500L (and Fiat) a disservice, like a Smart for 4 or something. People still will think "small!", but in reality the 500L is substantially larger, enough so to not really invite comparison to the 500. It's in a different class. For example you'd never think of traveling across country with 4 in a 500 unless you were in a real pinch, but it wouldn't be a problem in the 500L- there's plenty of legroom in the back seat, and decent headroom. The trunk is quite large- leave the parcel shelf home, and you can go with 3 wheel-aboard's in the trunk on your trips to the airport, for example.

    Hope this helps.

  6. #36
    Senior Member Rocco Reviews...'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronbo10 View Post
    Rocco Reviews, to be honest I've always thought it's a bit of a stretch to compare the 500L with the much smaller 500. More marketing on Fiat's part, IMO. I'd guess that they're trying to achieve cohesiveness across the lineup (in the North American market, at least- other markets have Fiat offerings such as Panda and Tipo that don't try to be 500's in any way). So I guess you could say that the 500 and 500L have similar design language, especially in the details (e.g. the stylized "500" moniker proudly displayed on the dashboard), but the 500L to me is its own car.

    I like the 500's quite a bit, but to say the 500L is a larger 500 almost does the 500L (and Fiat) a disservice, like a Smart for 4 or something. People still will think "small!", but in reality the 500L is substantially larger, enough so to not really invite comparison to the 500. It's in a different class. For example you'd never think of traveling across country with 4 in a 500 unless you were in a real pinch, but it wouldn't be a problem in the 500L- there's plenty of legroom in the back seat, and decent headroom. The trunk is quite large- leave the parcel shelf home, and you can go with 3 wheel-aboard's in the trunk on your trips to the airport, for example.

    Hope this helps.
    We didn't have the time, to see the car today, but I did see one on the street. It's looked small, it's definitely bigger, than the Kia Soul. I did only see it driving past us, in our car. The pictures make it seem bigger than it actually is.

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