The automotive industry has never been a stranger to change, meaning revolution is as much a part of the car world as evolution. Back in 2011, consumer tastes were much different than what they are these days. Crossovers and SUVs were available, but not nearly as popular as they’ve become in recent years. There was still plenty of interest in small cars.
In March of 2011, FIAT introduced the modern version of its charming little 500 to the North American market. The Italian two-door was small in terms of size, but huge in terms of style and appeal. Its popularity soon led to FIAT trying to make its dimensions match its attractiveness to consumers by creating the four-door, five-passenger 500L. It had a definite family resemblance to its smaller sibling and offered 42 percent more interior space.
Over the years, the 500L itself has changed. Colors have joined and left its color palette. Three transmission options have given way to a single gearbox offering. The 2018 model year in particular is a big one for the 500L, which is available in Pop, Trekking, and Lounge trim. Keep reading to find out more about the big changes to the 2018 500L and our week in a 2018 FIAT 500L Trekking.
2018 FIAT 500L Trekking Exterior
Here in the U.S., Italian cars are known for being special. Ferraris and Lamborghinis are exotic and fast. Everybody of a certain age either used to own an Alfa Romeo or has a story that involves one. The FIAT 500L is special in its own way. It may not be made out of carbon fiber or have 12 cylinders under its hood, but it does stand out. The fact is that nothing else on the road looks like it, from the four slots of the Trekking model’s grille to its tall sides to the glass pillars that attach its body and roof.
FIAT’s designers have updated the 500L for 2018 by giving it new front and rear fascias, bodyside molding, and wheels. They even tweaked the looks of the daytime running lights’ lenses and rear side reflectors. There are three new colors: Blu Denim, Bronzo Metallizzato (Metallic Bronze), and Arancio Pastello (Pastel Orange), the color of our test vehicle. FIAT made our 500L even more distinctive by topping it with the optional Nero (black) roof, which matched the black mirror caps and coordinated with the two-tone 17-inch wheels wrapped in 225/45R17 all-season rubber.
2018 FIAT 500L Trekking Interior
The 500L Trekking is nearly six feet wide, 14 feet long (almost nine of those are wheelbase), and 5.5 feet tall. On the inside, those dimensions translate to nearly 41 inches of headroom and 40 inches of legroom in the front row and nearly 39 inches of headroom and 37 inches of legroom in the second row. In case you can’t tell from those numbers, the 500L offers plenty of headroom. Yours truly is 5’10” and had more than enough in both rows of the 500L. Legroom was adequate.
With both rows of seats up, the 500L offers 22.4 cubic feet of luggage space. When the second row is folded down, that figure increases to 68. The adjustable load floor in the cargo bay made putting groceries in the back of the 500L nice and easy.
Interior updates for the 2018 500L include a new steering wheel and gearshift, as well as a new position for the cup holders, another USB port, and LED ambient lighting. All 500Ls now come standard with the Uconnect 4 infotainment system coupled with a seven-inch touchscreen. Even better news: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are part of the 2018 updates, too.
Standard equipment on the 500L Trekking includes features such as a tilting/telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, TomTom navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a Beats premium audio system that made listening to our favorite tunes even more enjoyable.
FIAT equipped our 500L Trekking review vehicle with the optional Convenience Group. That includes dual-zone automatic climate control, an automatically dimming rear view mirror, and two-way lumbar adjustment for the front seats (power for the driver’s seat and manual for the passenger’s seat).
2018 FIAT 500L Trekking Performance
FIAT updated the 500L’s interior hardware, but unfortunately it did not do the same under the hood. The 500L rolls into 2018 with a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder engine. That generates 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive turn those figures into forward motion.
According to the EPA, the 500L Trekking is capable of getting 22 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined.** We averaged 24.2 mpg with mixed driving.
Acceleration was predictably modest. Ride quality was pleasantly gentle and composed. Pressing down on the left pedal revealed how well weighted it was. The calipers clamped down on the vented 12-inch front and solid 10.4-inch rear discs progressively and did a great job of communicating what they were doing in real time.
2018 FIAT 500L Trekking Safety
Safety equipment on the 500L Trekking ranges from a collection of seven airbags to Electronic Stability Control to Hill Start Assist to tire pressure monitoring. In addition to the standard ParkView backup camera, which is now standard on all 2018 500Ls, our evaluation vehicle also had the Convenience Group’s ParkSense rear park assist system.
2018 FIAT 500L Trekking Overall
Change is inevitable, especially in the automotive world. If you want to make a change in your driveway and bring a distinctive, comfortable, and fuel-efficient 2018 FIAT 500L home, make sure you get it at an AutoNation FIAT dealership. Prices for the 2018 500L start at $20,995.* The Trekking model has a base price of $23,325*; our 500L Trekking media loaner had an as-tested price of $25,460.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.