The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.0
The Fiat 500L is one of the cheapest compact MPVs you can buy, although it doesn’t have much in the way of direct competition. Get a good deal on the list price and it gives you a fair amount of versatility for the money, if not the last word in tech or street cred.
Reasons to buy
- Comparatively cheap
- Light, airy cabin
- Distinctive looks
At a glance
Running costs for a Fiat 500L
Five-seat compact MPVs are a real rarity these days, so the 500L doesn’t have much in the way of direct competition. It does undercut cars such as the Citroen Berlingo and Volkswagen Golf SV by a healthy margin, albeit the Fiat is notably smaller than either.
As SUVs have become the car of choice for families over recent years, MPVs such as the 500L are harder to shift, so you can bag massive discounts on the list price. Bear in mind that the same shortage of desirability means that residual values will be poor, however.
Running costs won’t be punitive, but the 500L’s petrol engine isn’t very efficient by modern standards, with none emitting less than 140g/km of CO2. Fiat offers an 'Easy Care' service payment package on all its cars, which is reasonably priced and covers the car for all its scheduled servicing for the first three years of ownership. All parts and labour are included, and this can also be extended to five years for an additional cost.
Reliability of a Fiat 500L
Fiat doesn’t enjoy a particularly glowing reputation for reliability, and this is borne out by a second-from-last place position in the J.D. Power 2019 UK Vehicle Dependability Study. The Warranty Direct Reliability Index paints the brand in a more positive light, with the brand occupying in a respectable mid-table position.
Warranty cover is a bog-standard three years, although there’s no mileage limit.
Safety for a Fiat 500L
The 500L performed well in Euro NCAP tests, earning a maximum five-star rating. That was way back in 2012, however, and things have moved on since then. Standard equipment includes six airbags and all the usual stability and braking systems. An automatic braking system is a cost option across the range – it’s very cheap so we’re not really sure why it’s not included as standard.
How comfortable is the Fiat 500L
The 500L is just about the smallest MPV you can buy, so it’s no surprise that it’s not actually that spacious. You do get a raised seating position and tall doors that make access easy, but the amount of outright space on offer isn’t much more than you’d get with a typical family hatchback.
It’s also rather mean that, on cheaper models, Fiat makes you pay extra for additional seat tumbling functions and a movable boot floor that provide extra versatility. The boot itself isn’t especially large, with many compact SUVs offering a larger capacity.
The 500L’s cabin feels pleasantly light and airy, and higher-spec versions are available with an optional glass roof that gives you an even more open feel (albeit at the expensive of rear headroom). Visibility is obstructed by the big pillars at the front of the car, but rear visibility is fine.
On the whole the interior has a rather functional feel, with seats that could do with a bit more support and a dashboard and infotainment system that don't look as modern or swish as many newer rivals. Everything is well placed and easy to use, however, and the 500L feels built to withstand family use.
The driving experience, like the interior, is workmanlike rather than inspiring. The steering is light and the suspension provides reasonable comfort, but the 500L doesn’t like taking corners too quickly, or roads that are especially bumpy.
Features of the Fiat 500L
The basic 500L model isn’t actually too basic, with features such as air-conditioning and alloy wheels as standard, but you need to move up a trim level to gain Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and the SUV-style makeover and raised ride height that marks out ‘Cross’ models.
A better bet may be the special-edition 500L models that Fiat continues to offer – these throw together all the desirable items of equipment for little more than the cost of the entry-level model.
Power for a Fiat 500L
There’s only one engine available for the 500L – a 95-horespower 1.4-litre petrol. It’s quite a willing engine, but outright performance is nothing special. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard.