Posted Dec 4th 2013 12:01PM
The saying goes that man cannot live by bread alone, and neither can automakers live by selling one car alone. This holds especially true for automakers with a budding dealer network to support, like the Fiat brand, which returned to North American shores in 2011 after a 28-year absence. The company's one car to sell at the time was the Fiat 500, a cute retro rebirth of the original, iconic 500, which your toddler now calls Luigi thanks to Pixar.
Since then, the new 500 has sold reasonably well here in Canada and the US, and the Fiat brand has been following the same playbook that another purveyor of pint-sized autos, Mini, has used: sell as many variants as you can of the one model you've got. So we have the 500, 500C drop top, high-performance 500 Abarth, all-electric 500e and a few trim levels and special editions to further fill dealer showrooms. But the axiom that automakers cannot live selling one car alone still stands, and so Fiat has finally introduced its second model, the larger 500L.
When we completed our First Drive of the 500L back in June, our team was left pleasantly surprised by its combination of utility, off-beat style, fun-to-drive demeanor and value. We've also, however, read some scathing reviews, like this one from The New York Times. I wasn't sure where the truth lay when the keys for this top-trim 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge were handed to me, but finding out would be but a short week of together time away.