2018 Fiat 500L
Fix it again, Tony!by Robert Moore, on
Fiat reintroduced the 500 nameplate back in 2007, and since then the subcompact has seen just one update that came for the 2016 model year. As such, it’s now time for Fiat to begin updating other variants of the 500, and we’ve finally got a tip on the next model that’s up for revision: The 500L. With the 500 being nearly 10 years old, you would think Fiat would have seen fit to give the car a full update, but instead, it got a mild facelift. And, the spy shots we have received of the 500L show that Fiat is following suit and giving the 500L the same minor updates that came to its smaller counterpart. This means you can expect updated fascias and light units outside to go with new color options, a new steering wheel, and a refreshed dashboard inside.
The standard 500 is a funky little car that harkens back to the original in some aspects while providing a modern feel that we all love. But, when it comes to the 500L, let’s just say it’s not the best looking car out there. It’s disproportionate in some areas and just odd looking in others – that’s just the nature of MPVs, though. Some might argue that Fiat really needs to ditch the MPV altogether and redesign the 500 L into a full-fledged SUV, but the facelifted version won’t hit the dealers until the 2018 model year, which means a redesign could be as much as a decade away if history is any indication of Fiat’s motivation to update the 500.
With that said, let’s take a good look at these spy shots and talk a little more about what’s to come to the updated Fiat 500L.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Fiat 500L.
2018 Fiat 500L
As was the case with the standard 500, the 500L will get just minor refreshing on the outside. This means that biggest change outside will be a revised front fascia. To be more specific, the air dam should grow a bit, get a new mesh layout, and have the fog lights integrated into each side – giving them a floating look. As such, the fascia will lose that weird insert looking part of the fascia that sits below the tiny radiator grille. The radiator grille should get just a little wider and a little shorter, as will the chrome trim that holds the Fiat emblem. The running lights below the headlights will get the LED treatment and look to have shrunk a bit compared to the current model. The headlights will get a slight redesign and will feature LED accenting.
The air dam should grow a bit, get a new mesh layout, and have the fog lights integrated into each side – giving them a floating look.
The side profile should carry on virtually unchanged, but out back, the 500L should get new LED taillights with a new layout, while the rear fascia should take on a new look with a nice chrome strip for garnishing and a polished exhaust outlet. There will likely be some new exterior color options and Fiat should also offer its “second skin” option that will allow consumers to apply various accent lines or full vinyl wraps available in various themes. New wheels will help to round out the exterior modifications.
Note: Interior from current 500L shown here.
The inside will also get minor revisions, so don’t expect to be wowed when Fiat actually drops all of the official images and details. Expect to see revised air vents, a slightly larger and curvier infotainment display (depending on trim level,) and a slightly revised instrument cluster. Other than that, Fiat could bring some new color options to the interior to go with a slightly different seat design. The HVAC controls could be updated to be slightly smaller, while the center console might be altered a bit to include new technology like USB ports, or even inductive phone charging. The steering wheel will likely get an update that will give the interior a more luxurious feel and expect there to be new materials offered inside on higher trim levels.
Expect most of the amenities from the current model to carry over. This includes things like air conditioning, power windows and locks, cruise control, six-way adjustable seats, and a 60/40 split rear seat to make room for extra cargo room on demand. Upper trim levels should get the choice of various vinyl wraps for the dashboard and a premium audio system. On the current model, that audio system puts out 520-Watts, so it’s likely to be the same in the revised model. The range-topping model should get leather upholstering with heating and power adjustability to go with dual-zone climate control. Interior dimensions should carry over unchanged, including the 98.8 cubic-feet of interior volume.
|Head room front/rear (Inches)||40.7/38.7|
|Hip room front/rear (Inches)||54.9/49.4|
|Leg room front/rear (Inches)||40/36.7|
|Shoulder front/rear (Inches)||57.3/54.6|
|Passenger Interior Volume (Cu ft)||98.8|
|Seat Cushion Height from Ground (Inches)||27.9|
|Seat Cushion to Rocker Panel (Inches)||9.6|
If you’re hoping to see any drivetrain upgrades as part of this refresh, you’ll probably find yourself as let down as a fat kid without cake on his birthday. We expect Fiat to carry over the same 1.4-liter, MultiAir four-cylinder that delivers a mundane, but supposedly class-leading, 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It will be available in all five trim levels, but the trim level will determine which transmission comes standard and what other options you might have. Of the five trim levels (Pop, Easy, Trekking, Urbana, and Lounge) the first four will come standard with a C635, six-speed manual transmission. Easy, Trekking, and Urbana trims can be optioned with the Aisin, six-speed automatic – the only transmission available for Lounge models. The entry-level Pop trim level can be optioned with a six-speed, Euro, Twin-Clutch transmission – something that can’t be had on any other trim level. All models achieve an EPA rating of 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with the exception of the Lounge trim level that gets 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
We expect Fiat to carry over the same 1.4-liter, MultiAir four-cylinder that delivers a mundane, but supposedly class-leading, 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.
On the suspension front, the 500L should get Koni MacPherson struts in the front to go with equivalent shocks in the rear. According to Fiat, this system on the current model makes the 500L the most Nimble in its class and has the tightest turning diameter.
The current 500L has a ton of standard safety features across the lineup, so the refreshed model should get the same treatment. As such, expect to get active head restraints, front and knee airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, electronic roll mitigation and stability control, hill start assist, keyless entry, alarm, and speed control. There will also be tire pressure monitoring as standard equipment t go with a standard tire service kit. There is a rear parking assist system and a rear backup camera. However, this system isn’t available on Pop, Easy, or Trekking models. There are optional on the Urbana trim level, and standard on the Lounge trim level.
Despite the fact that there will be few changes brought as a result of this facelift, chances are that pricing won’t change too much either. The current 500L starts out at 19,495 and climbs to as much as $24,795 for the Range-topping Lounge trim level. Pricing may increase marginally by as much as $500, but I wouldn’t expect much more of an increase than that.
The Countryman is a relatively new model with being introduced just back in 2010. It was updated again in 2014, which also brought about a model that included all-wheel drive. Mini likes to keep things fresh, though, so it was no surprise when it introduced the second-gen model for the 2017 model year. The most notable changes included new exterior styling, a revised interior with modern features and technology, and even more room, as the Countryman grew a bit compared to the outgoing model. The Countryman is offer with one of four different engines. At the bottom end of the spectrum, there’s a 1.5-liter with 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet. Then there’s a 2.0-liter four-banger with 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet. There are also two diesel models; the base 2.0-liter diesel offers 148 ponies and 243 pounds of twist while a range-topping diesel model offers up 221 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. The new Mini Countryman starts out at $26,100 (a $3,350 increase over the previous-gen model) and climbs to as much as $31,100 for the range-topping Cooper All4.
Read more about the Mini Countryman here.
The Kia Soul is currently in its second generation, which kicked off for the 2014 model year. But, we’ve already seen spy shots of the facelifted model testing in the wild, so by the time Fiat unleashes the updated 500L on the market, the Soul should already be sporting its updated look as well. It won’t be anywhere near as cool as the Kia Soul First Class that we saw at the 2016 SEMA show, but it should see some refreshing inside and out. Under the hood, you’ll find either a 1.6-liter with 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque or a 2.0-liter with 161 ponies and 150 pound-feet on tap. A six-speed manual is standard on the 1.6-liter but an automatic is optional. If you go with the 2.0-liter, you’re stuck with the six-speed automatic. There’s also a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter available in the “!” trim level that gives you 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, routed through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Pricing for the soul starts out at $15,990 for the base model, $19,650 for the + model, and $22,650 for the ! model.
Find out more about the Kia Soul here.
The Nissan Versa Note is basically one of those weird little hatchback/ MPV-type vehicles that fit into a very small niche. The Nissan Versa Note is actually the continuation of the first-gen Nissan Note here in the U.S. It’s a little smaller than the 500L, Soul, and Countryman, but comes with an impressive price point. It comes standard with some pretty decent amenities for what it is. Things like air conditioning and Bluetooth phone connectivity is standard across the line while moving up to the Versa Note SV gets you things like keyless entry, a five-inch infotainment system, rearview camera, power doors and locks, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. As you move up the line, things get even better with the SR trim getting 16-inch wheels and synthetic suede trim. The range-topping model gets NissanConnect with navigation, push-button start, and SiriusXM to go with an around-view monitor. And, that’s what brings me to why I mentioned this model as a competitor. It’s range-topping model is cheaper than the entry-level 500L at $18,710 and is much better equipped as long as you’re able to and willing to sacrifice on the size front.
Read our full review on the Nissan Versa Note here.
At this point, Fiat is really reaching hard if it thinks the minor updates in store for the 500 will do much of anything for the 500L. The MPV look in itself is outdated and far from pretty. Fiat would have been much better off waiting another year or two and redesigning the 500L into a proper SUV or Crossover instead of updated such a dated-looking model. But, if the past is any indication, the 500L will probably carry on well into the next decade without anything but some minor technology and safety updates here and there. Considering Fiat is owned by FCA, I was really hoping to see the brand evolve more than it has over the past few years. But, then again, FCA hasn’t exactly been that impressive with all of its models either. At the end of the day, the 500L will serve its purpose as far has hauling a family or cargo, and it will do it at a decent price. It won’t exactly look good doing it, but you don’t really buy a Fiat for its looks anyway – it’s more about heritage than anything.