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Is the 500L a good family car? - Page 2
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Thread: Is the 500L a good family car?

  1. #11
    Senior Member Rocco Reviews...'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smark View Post
    Personally, you parents should shop around. Lots of really nice vehicles to choose out there. It’s sad, not sure how much longer Fiat going be here. I thought you didn’t care for the Aisin 500 automatic transmission. You complained about mothers transmission, a lot.

    I would purchase a 500X over the 500L. To me it’s better looking car.
    The gearbox doesn't work very well with a car with low hp and torque, it's hunting for gears trying to see what has the best low end power (it just revs to car 5k whenever it can't find the power); my mom tells me that it lags quite a bit, it's a Heavy Duty transmission, it's designed for cars with more power, and torque. Look at how good it is in the 500 Abarth. We are looking at other cars (Audi, VW, Mercedes, etc) but they are going to be much more expensive to fix in the long run, we have had great experiences with previous Chrysler products (Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Liberty), and are attracted to it's features, versatility, power, cargo space, price, and interior room.

  2. #12
    Senior Member smark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocco Reviews... View Post
    The gearbox doesn't work very well with a car with low hp and torque, it's hunting for gears trying to see what has the best low end power (it just revs to car 5k whenever it can't find the power); my mom tells me that it lags quite a bit, it's a Heavy Duty transmission, it's designed for cars with more power, and torque. Look at how good it is in the 500 Abarth. We are looking at other cars (Audi, VW, Mercedes, etc) but they are going to be much more expensive to fix in the long run, we have had great experiences with previous Chrysler products (Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Liberty), and are attracted to it's features, versatility, power, cargo space, price, and interior room.
    Never had that issues. Smooth Shifts though out all the 6 speeds. Never hunts for gears, up shifts, or down shifts. One of the best automatic I’ve owned. It’s perfectly matched for the 101 hp engine. It not a heavy duty transmission. It was matted to the turbo Abarth model years later.

  3. #13
    Senior Member Rocco Reviews...'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smark View Post
    Never had that issues. Smooth Shifts though out all the 6 speeds. Never hunts for gears, up shifts, or down shifts. One of the best automatic I’ve owned. It’s perfectly matched for the 101 hp engine. It not a heavy duty transmission. It was matted to the turbo Abarth model years later.
    Like i've said before we do go up light to moderate hills often, it could also be as simple as moving your right foot too far forward or too far back. It looks like it does well on freeways and is fast shifting in manual shift mode. I remember when I checked FIAT's website in 2017 a year after we purchased it when the 101hp engines were still around and it said "AISIN Heavy Duty Automatic Transmission"for the 500 Pop, just like the colour options FIAT may have changed the name a few times around though. It seems to perform well at low speeds and at high speeds but at around 25-55 mph and maybe up a small incline, it likes to do a lot of shifting. But not every car reacts the same, it could be as simple as the programming between the different years.

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    Senior Member Rocco Reviews...'s Avatar
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    Screenshot 2020-06-30 at 11.26.23.jpgA fully loaded 500L Lounge (w/ out Graphite package and coloured roof) is $26,230. I have three questions, does the Lounge have everything the Trekking has, what configuration can you put the seats (including front passenger seat), and is Traction+ exclusive to the Trekking? Americans don't give this car enough credit. It looks great in white.

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    You are right. Many folks in this country don't know about the 500L. It was the best selling car of its type for many years. You can read all about that on the blog.

    Traction Plus is a Euro feature available on some models. The US cars all get similar functionality as that but it isn't called Traction Plus. It's just the standards ESC system here.
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    Senior Member Rocco Reviews...'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fiat500USA View Post
    You are right. Many folks in this country don't know about the 500L. It was the best selling car of its type for many years. You can read all about that on the blog.

    Traction Plus is a Euro feature available on some models. The US cars all get similar functionality as that but it isn't called Traction Plus. It's just the standard ESC system here.

    Thank you for your help!
    Our list is slowly narrowing down a bit closer to the 500L now.

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    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.

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  10. #18
    Senior Member Rocco Reviews...'s Avatar
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    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.
    Thank you for putting in all that time to write that review! We would be getting a 2020 500L Lounge fully loaded, for $27,000 it's a steal! Id did see the "About Average" reliability ratings. Aside from a few electrical issues (fixed with a restart), leaking vacuum pump and misfire (we never changed the plugs so that's why it misfired), those ratings are 100% false.

  11. #19
    Senior Member Fabio13's Avatar
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    Wow! That's quite a review. Thanks for your time. I rented one for a week when they first came out (Enterprise) and I liked it.
    2013 Fiat 500 Sport AT, Xpel Ultimate Clear Bra, 3M Crystalline Window Tint, Black top stripes, Black "500" (wide) side stripes. Fiat "500" Stainless door sills by Mopar. BlueTooth music streaming. OBDII BlueTooth Torque gauges streaming to smart phone. BF Goodrich Sport Comp II tires, STS rear sway bar, Euro+Drive NA 500 Tune, BMC reusable air filter and Spare Tyre with cover.

    Blast to drive! 25 years newer than last car!

  12. #20
    Senior Member Rocco Reviews...'s Avatar
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    Is parasitic drain still an issue on the newer cars (2015-2020)?

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