SUV Smackdown: Fiat 500L v. Fiat 500X

The small utility vehicles segment is growing fast and Fiat is well represented by two models, the 500L and 500X. Yes, you can make an argument that the 500L is more wagon-like than SUV, so we won’t argue that point.

What’s important is that both models are small, reasonably priced, and seat five. From there, you’ll find other points of distinction, which we’ll examine here.


2020 Fiat 500L.

Click here to review the 500L’s specifications.

2020 Fiat 500X.

Click here to review the 500X’s specifications.


Fiat 500L v. Fiat 500X


L Before X

Fiat relaunched its U.S. operation in 2011 with the debut of the diminutive 500. Since then, Fiat rolled out the 500L in 2014 followed by the 500X in 2016. A fourth model, the 124 Spider, debuted in 2017. However, the last model is based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata and is not at all related to the other three.

Engine Dynamics

Both the Fiat 500L and the 500X come with turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Though they displace 1.4 and 1.3 liters respectively, it is the latter with a distinct power advantage. Indeed, the 500L’s engine makes 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, while the 500X benefits from 177 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque.

The 500L routes power to the front wheels utilizing a six-speed automatic transmission, while the 500X has a 9-speed transmission, which sends power to all four wheels. In all, the first powertrain is lethargic, while the second one offers a spirited response.

Gas mileage differences are a factor

Choose the 500L and it gets just 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. We’ve seen V6 engines get nearly the same mileage. Choose the 500X and it gets 24 mpg in the city despite the added weight of all-wheel-drive running gear.

One cabin is nicer than the other

The 500L and 500X may be similar in size, but there is a significant design difference between the two. Where the 500L seems cheap, the 500X has a more premium vibe.

On the other hand, we give the nod to the 500L for passenger space as the 500X seems downright cramped in the second row.


2020 Fiat 500L.

2020 Fiat 500X.


Tech features on par

Both models come with a 7-inch display screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a six-speaker audio system, and one USB port. The list of options includes a navigation system, Beats Audio, and satellite radio.

Cargo space differences are noteworthy

The two models are nearly identical in length, although the 500L is 1.6 inches longer between the wheels.

Amazingly, the 500L has a noticeable edge in cargo space with 22.4 cubic feet to just 14.1 cubic feet for the 500X. Drop the rear seat and the differences are even sharper: 68 to 39.8 cubic feet.

No, you can’t tow

Like every other Fiat model sold in America, you can’t tow with either vehicle. Size is a big consideration why you shouldn’t, so just don’t.

The Better Value

The 500L costs less than the 500X, but you’re comparing front-wheel drive with all-wheel drive. The 500X is more modern, has a nicer interior, and has the edge in safety scores, according to the IIHS.

Unfortunately, Fiat’s quality scores are subpar, which is a concern for both models. In any case, the 500X is our pick over the 500L, despite its much smaller cargo space.


2020 Fiat 500L Specifications


Fiat 2020 500L
Segment Small SUV
Price Range From $22,200 (est.)
Destination Charge $1,495
Standard Engine 1.4-liter, turbo I4
Horsepower 160 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 184 lb.-ft. @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) 3,254
Wheelbase (inches) 102.8
Length (inches) 167.0, 168.3
Width (inches) 70.2
Height (inches) 65.3, 66.1
Headroom (f,r…inches) 40.7, 38.7
Legroom (f,r…inches) 40.0, 36.7
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 57.3, 54.6
Hip room (f,r…inches) 54.9, 49.4
Storage (cubic feet) 22.4, 68.0
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) NR
Towing (pounds) NR
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 13.2
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 22/30/25
Manufacturing Plant Kragujevac, Serbia

Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications supplied by the manufacturer.


2020 Fiat 500L.

2020 Fiat 500X.


2020 Fiat 500X Specifications


Fiat 2020 500X
Segment Small SUV
Price Range From $24,800 (est.)
Destination Charge $1,495
Standard Engine 1.3-liter, turbo I4
Horsepower 177 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 210 lb.-ft. @ 2,200 rpm
Transmission 9-speed automatic
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) 3,305
Wheelbase (inches) 101.2
Length (inches) 167.2, 168.2
Width (inches) 70.7
Height (inches) 63.7
Headroom (f,r…inches) 39.1, 37.8
Legroom (f,r…inches) 41.4, 34.8
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 54.3, 52.8
Hip room (f,r…inches) 53.3, 52.2
Storage (cubic feet) 14.1, 39.8
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) NR
Towing (pounds) NR
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 12.7
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 24/30/26
Manufacturing Plant Melfi, Italy

Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications supplied by the manufacturer.


See AlsoAbarth Life in a Fiat 500

Photos copyright Fiat Chrysler.

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.