Nissan cube:

2014 Fiat 500L – Whelming

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The 2014 Fiat 500L is on sale now.  Fiat unloaded the first boatload of 500Ls in Baltimore early June and by mid-June they had begun arriving at nearby Fiat Studios.  Adding this larger four door vehicle to the Fiat line-up is very welcome to Fiat dealers who have been limited to the Fiat 500 albeit with two bodystyles and a multitude of models.  The 500L is based on Fiat’s new “Small Wide” platform and shares nothing with the smaller 500 except for the “500” nomenclature and its engine.  Like the 500, the 500L strives to be very emotional in its styling with cab-forward proportions and a long floating roof that is usually in contrasting colors to the body.  Early on, it will turn heads.

For those who have not been paying attention, the 500L competes with the Kia Soul, Nissan Cube and MINI Countryman.  It is available with dark tinted rear windows meaning it is classified as a truck.  It is front wheel drive and powered with Fiat’s 1.4L Multi-Air Turbocharged 4-cylinder engine found in the 500 Abarth mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or Euro Twin Clutch automatic – a full automatic will be available in the first half of 2014.  The 160-horsepower 4-cylinder has 184 lb-ft of torque.  But the vehicle is much bigger and heavier than the minuscule Abarth and does not have near the performance.  But that’s another story we’ll address later.

Big Car Room in Micro Car Footprint The real story about the 500L is its size.  Think of it as a B-Segment four-door hatchback with a large car sized interior.  It has panoramic view windows for great visibility.  The seating position is upright and the seat is positioned so you can just slide into it.  No climbing to get up into the seat.  Once you are in, there is generous headroom and adequate shoulder room even for the largest drivers and passengers.  The steering wheel has a squarish inner diameter so the instrument cluster can be viewed without obstructions.  The ergonomics are good with controls easy to reach and operate. Fiat claims the 500L has best-in-class headroom, legroom, interior volume and cargo space.

Four Models – Pop-Easy-Trekking-Lounge The four models range in price from $19,900 (with destination included) for the Pop to $24,995 for the top of the line Lounge.  The more aggressive USA-only Trekking model – shown above with the kayak mounted on the roof – is a step down from the Lounge at $21,995.  While Fiat describes the 500L as the “Anti-SUV”, the SUV-like cues on the Trekking model are certainly a nod in that direction with more aggressive cladding and even a unique front fascia.  While the Trekking model is USA-only now, Fiat says other markets like the model and are asking that it be added to their line-ups as well.  The interiors are differentiated by material usage – hard and soft trim – and color.  But each interior attempts to be a bit playful and engaging.  Attention to detail is very good.


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2010 Nissan cube Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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Nis_10_Cube.jpgFunky First Timer – cube Wins VSA First time out of the box, the funky cute Nissan cube (with a small “c”) wins AutoPacific’s 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Compact Cars. The cube is a tour de force in packaging winning its class in ease of getting in and out, seating capacity, flexible seating and, possibly most important in this class, cupholder design and size. cube beats some serious competition – Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen New Beetle, Kia Forte, Honda Civic. It doesn’t win by sheer force of winning numerous categories. It wins by having very respectable ratings in all.
The cube is a pleasure to drive if you are just loafing around town. It turns heads and mostly gets thumbs up from other drivers. The buyers run the gamut from GenY through Boomers. GenY buyers are looking for cool transportation that doesn’t cost much and can carry their buddies and some stuff. Boomers are looking for an affordable small vehicle that is easy to live with, easy to get into and out of and can carry adults in the rear seat. When you exit a cube, you usually have a smile on your face.
cube is a FLOATER One of our analysts calls it FLOATING. This is when you just go out for a relaxing drive on the weekend with no particular place or time in mind. cube is perfect for that. It’s a perfect FLOATER.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.


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