2016 FIAT 500L Performance

#6 out of 8 in 2016 Wagons

$11,832 - $15,100

2016 FIAT 500L Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 FIAT 500L was new.


Performance: 6.8

Some critics say the 2016 Fiat 500L has a comfortable ride while others say it rides roughly over uneven roads. Most also think the 500L isn't particularly sporty, and some add the engine feels strained at high speeds.

  • "Compact hatchbacks aren't known for their driving dynamics, but the 500L is among the worst offenders. Its combination of an awkward driving position, limited visibility and mediocre handling qualify it for bottom-of-the-barrel status in a pretty deep barrel." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "The Fiat 500L uses the same turbocharged engine as the 500 Abarth, but the 500L doesn't share the performance traits of its feisty little sibling. Blame it on physics and tuning. The 500L is bigger, heavier and made more for touring than sharp cornering." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "Granted, once the road turns sporting and you want to push the 500L the way you might do your Abarth, you soon see that the 500L setup - as it shares its architecture with the Euro-only Fiat Panda micro crossover - is meant more for country cruising versus carving curves and lap times." -- Autoblog (2014)
  • "The 2014 500L borrows the engine and some suspension bits from the 500 Abarth, though in the 500L, the aim is less performance than comfort and capability." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)

Acceleration and Power

A 160-horsepower, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission come standard in the 2016 Fiat 500L. A six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission is optional in the base trim and a conventional six-speed automatic is optional in other trims. When equipped with an automatic transmission, the 500L earns an EPA-estimated 22/30 mpg city/highway, which is a little below average for a wagon.

A few auto journalists report the four-cylinder engine delivers decent acceleration for trips around town but note it's not as capable at higher speeds. Some reviewers say the manual transmission operates smoothly and the automatic available in upper trims is responsive, though they're disappointed by the base trim's automated manual, saying it doesn't shift very quickly.

  • "With just a couple of passengers aboard, accelerating up to highway speeds requires some patience. Also disappointing is the automated manual transmission. It can be slow to respond when you're pulling away from traffic lights or trying to creep at parking lot speeds." -- Edmunds
  • "The Fiat's 6-speed manual transmission is smooth and easy to use. We didn't find the Euro Twin Clutch automatic intrusive, but there's no denying that we prefer the shift response of the new automatic available on all but base-model 500Ls." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "There's plenty of power to make the Fiat a competent, capable everyday subcompact family car.-- Popular Mechanics (2014)
  • "The acceleration feels lively at city speeds but trails off after that." -- Car and Driver (2014)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers disagree over the 2016 500L's ride comfort, as some say it rides smoothly and is composed at high speeds, but others say it doesn't absorb bumps well. A few critics think the 500L is less nimble than some competitors. The steering doesn't offer much feedback but is properly weighted, according to test drivers, and the brakes are responsive and strong.

  • "Although it's still considered a small wagon, the 500L feels several times larger than the 500 hatchback and also larger than its peers. As such, the 500L's ride and handling traits are softer and less nimble than what we're accustomed to in this class. Unfortunately, the L's ride quality gets busy and bouncy on uneven roads. …" -- Edmunds
  • "The electric power steering is well weighted and doesn't feel over-boosted or artificial, although it's somewhat uncommunicative." -- Automobile Magazine (2014)
  • "[The brakes] … actually do an excellent job of stopping the car. They're nice and grippy with a surprisingly strong pedal feel." -- Jalopnik (2014)
  • "Where the 500L does excel is in ride comfort. While other small cars can succumb to jitteriness at freeway speeds, the 500L feels solid and at ease. Unlike the Mini's stiffer suspension that can be jarring over rough roads, the 500L's softer setup tames imperfections with aplomb. " -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)

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