The Fiat 500L is one of those vehicles that, upon first glance, can fool anybody into thinking that it’s all about looks.
But to drive it is to quickly learn that this compact car with the bumper-to-bumper flair packs a punch under the hood, is fuel efficient, and — true to its maker’s description — “delivers on the posh amenities and details of contemporary Italian design.”
This weekend, this reporter got the chance to test drive the four-door Fiat 500L, putting close to 300 miles on it while zipping along the island’s city roads and highways. And the ride was no doubt sweet.
According to its specs, the Fiat 500L is powered by a 1.4L MultiAir Turbo engine that yields 160 horsepower with 184 lb-ft of torque. In terms of gas mileage, the car comes in at 24 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway. Its braking and stability control systems work together to produce a smooth, steady drive that gives a sense of safety, regardless of road conditions. All of this translates into a powerful car that is good on gas and offers a stable ride.
On the inside, the Fiat 500L features leather-trimmed seating that is spacious enough to fit five passengers comfortably — even long-legged people whose turn it is to sit in the back. Behind the rear row is a roomy trunk that rounds out the car’s nearly 123 cubic feet of total interior volume.
For the driver, the Fiat 500L’s front panel is a combination of practical data and thoughtful details. The multi-function, 5-inch digital screen makes it easy to switch from the GPS navigation map — which may need slight updates to include newer island roads, like the second leg of Route 66 — to menus for setting up hands-free features, and connecting external devices (a music player, for example.)
Another smart feature on this vehicle is the “blind spot” detector that is built right into both rear view mirrors, which essentially create a “split-screen” effect that enables the driver to see another car passing by on either side. That detail ties right into the sweeping visibility that the Fiat 500L provides through its all-around large panes and front lateral cutouts.
The Fiat 500L starts at around $19,500 in Puerto Rico.