First Drive: 2014 Fiat 500L

If you've noticed an uptick in the number of diminutive runabouts populating the roads, you are not alone. The subcompact city car is ganing popularity, from Mini to Smart and now Fiat. But while these brands make their bones on the small car core, profit is earned through expansion and when you deal with city cars, the only way to expand is upward. Hence Mini's recent explosion of newer, larger models. Fiat is taking a page out of this growth playbook with the all-new Fiat 500L- a multi purpouse vehicle that may share little with the standard 500, but is the perfect key to the Italian automaker's American invasion.

My, How You've Grown: First thing you need to know, the four-door 500L actually does not share any major components with the standard 500. It is actually a re-skinned version of Fiat Europe's Panda. You can quickly tell that the 500 and 500L are different animals. the 500L is 20 percent longer, 11 percent taller and has a kindov-obvious 121 percent more cargo space. The purpose of the 500L is to offer Fiat owners who may have started a family an opportunity to stay within the brand while going upmarket. The European underpinnings allow the 500L to have a small footprint while maximizing space in a way that almost seems unimaginable in a car this size.

First Drive: 2014 Fiat 500L

Cabin space is the 500L's defining feature. There is plenty of head and shoulder room for this writer's 6'3" frame. It was never cramped, even in the rear seat. The latter is a rarity even in larger cars. The trunk ...