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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New, Refreshed Fiat 500L Coming to US

New Fiat 500L Cross

We have confirmed a new, refreshed Fiat 500L MPV will arrive in North America for 2018. Fiat has released images and details of the new 500L which is set to debut in Italy the weekend of June 17-18. In Europe, the redesigned 500L is available in three trim levels/versions: Urban, Cross, and Wagon.

Fiat 500L Cross

Although we have confirmation the redesigned 500L will indeed be available in the US, details on which versions are coming have yet to be released. The 500L Urban and Cross models seem to be roughly the equivalent to the previous available in the US Lounge and Trekking models. While it is highly likely the Cross will make its way over the Atlantic, the longer, 7-passenger 500L wagon is more of a question.

New Fiat 500L Urban

Since its introduction five years ago in Europe, the Fiat 500L has been the best-selling car in its class. The combination of room, versatility, and comfort making it a favorite in its segment. The best way to think of the 500L is to consider it a Minivan for those who would never drive one.

Fiat 500L interior custaway

This is a very European car, meaning this family car is all about function and the driving experience. Stand out features in the 500L are the interior roominess of a full-size car and front and rear seats that adjust forward, back, recline and fold, giving 1500 possible ways to configure the seating arrangement. The 500L's versatility is unmatched.

New Fiat 500L interior

Strangely, all these family car attributes haven't resulted in any meaningful sales figures in this country, where it seems there is a preoccupation with form rather than function. Sources inside Fiat USA say the North American 500L will be redesigned to address this and take some of the quirkiness out of the car and upgrade the styling. Expect to see a more sophisticated look that fit more into North American tastes and expectations. Assumptions are the NAFTA car will look similar to the European one.

Fiat 500L Cross Bumper Detail
Redesigned Fiat 500L Cross detail

Fiat 500L Trekking Bumper Comparison
Previous Fiat 500L Trekking front fascia detail

Highlights of the new, refreshed 500L are:

  • Redesigned front and rear fascias.
  • More convenience and technologies: Uconnect ™ HD Live 7-inch high-resolution touchscreen system, Apple Car Play, and Android AutoTM compatibility.
  • New personalities: Urban and Cross.
  • Cross version introduces a new Drive Mode Selector.
  • 40% of all components are new.

Fiat 500L Urban Front

The 500L Urban edition carries a sophisticated, high-class look with chrome details and trims with almost a jewel-like quality. The front bumper takes styling cues from the recently updated 500 hatch and Cabrio models and now sports LED running lights in the shape of the stylized zeroes in the 500 logo.

Fiat 500L Urban Rear

Chrome is used tastefully all around the car and gives the car an upmarket look. New body side protection mouldings replace the older design. The fog and reverse lights are on the underside of the bumper for increased effectiveness.

Fiat 500L Cross Front

The new Cross version is geared towards crossover buyers with an athletic sporty persona and rugged good looks. There is a new bumper design featuring prominent front and rear skid plates and Cross rides an inch higher than the Urban edition. Brushed aluminum brightwork replaces the chrome trim used on Urban models.

Fiat 500L Cross Rear

Inside the Cross version is a new Drive Mode Selector that allows you to select three different drivetrain calibrations depending on the desired driving style and road conditions: Normal, Traction+ and Gravity Control. Normal is self-explanatory, while Traction+ gives enhanced take off traction in slippery conditions like snow, ice, and mud. It can be activated up to 30km/h. Gravity Control is borrowed from Jeep and allows descending steep slopes at a controlled constant rate.

Fiat 500L Dash

All versions of the 500L get a redesigned instrument cluster that consists of a round speedo and tach on either side of a 3.5-inch TFT color display similar to the one used in the 500X crossover. The TFT in the center displays the trip computer as well as other useful vehicle information.

Fiat 500L Sunroof

The lower part of the dashboard now features larger storage compartments and the introduction of new for Europe central armrest (NAFTA cars already had an armrest). The gear shift position is redesigned and placed higher up for greater driving comfort. Interior illumination has been improved with ambient lighting located in the central console and doors.
The rear park assist camera now has improved resolution in poor visibility.

A new steering wheel with chrome trim that resembles 500 hatch and Cabrio models has also been added.

New Fiat 500L 7-inch Uconnect

Connectivity is an essential requisite in any modern car, and the 500L has this well covered with what looks like an endless list of available features.

  • UconnectTM HD Live system with 7-inch high-resolution touchscreen
  • Apple Car Play integration and is compatible with
  • Android AutoTM.
  • Hands-free Bluetooth interface, audio streaming,
  • text reader and voice recognition.
  • AUX and USB ports with iPod integration and controls on the steering wheel
  • Rear parking camera.
  • New TomTom 3D built-in navigation system.
  • UconnectTM LIVE services for your smartphone:
  • music streaming with Deezer and TuneIn, news from Reuters and connected navigation with TomTom LIVE, and you can keep in touch with your friends via Facebook Check-in and Twitter.
  • Eco-friendliness and monitoring functions wherever you choose to go with eco:Drive and my:Car.

Keep in mind; these features will vary from market to market.

Redesigned 2018 Fiat 500L Urban

The new 500L can be had in 37 color combinations when you factor in the ten pastel or metallic colors it comes in combined with three types of available roof finishes: body-coloured, glossy black and white or matt black.

Redesigned Fiat 500L Urban Rear

Exact availability in the US for the redesigned 500L has not been released, but it can be assumed it will be later this year or beginning of 2018. Along with the new 500L, the US is getting redesigned 500 hatch and Cabrio models that will arrive spring 2018. We'll be watching this closely.

Source and Images: FCA

Friday, May 19, 2017

FIAT on the Dragon Celebrates 5th Year

Fiat on The Dragon

Couldn't make it to the Fiat on the Dragon event this year? Our friends over at FOD sent us a report on their Spring Drive for those who missed out. If you aren't familiar with Fiat on the Dragon, it is a family fun driving event that is the perfect place to enjoy your Fiat, Abarth or Alfa Romeo. The event takes place at one of the most beautiful areas in the country and on one of the best roads anywhere in the world. The road called Tail of the Dragon is located deep in the Smoky Mountains on the North Carolina/Tennessee state line. With 318 curves packed into 11 miles, the road is an Italian car enthusiast's dream.

I'm happy to say, Fiat 500 USA Forum and this site have been significant sponsors of Fiat on the Dragon since its first run in 2013. It really is something that shouldn't be missed as you can read below. Next year's event will be held April 6-8, 2018.

2017 Fiat on the Dragon Panorama

FIAT on the Dragon Celebrates 5th Year with Biggest Turnout Yet

By Larry Smith

Springtime came roaring into the hills of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina as the 5th annual FIAT on the Dragon event brought FIAT enthusiasts and their favorite rides back for more of the twisty mountain drives they’ve come to crave. Over 150 Italian cars made their way to this year’s event, including lots of modern FIATs, several new Alfa Romeos, and even some classics. The numbers were nothing short of impressive, considering that the first FOTD in 2013 drew around two dozen participants, mostly from the surrounding area. In 2017, drivers traveled from all over the Eastern U.S., reaching from New York to South Florida – and even as far west as Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. All in all, 26 states were represented! What is so amazing about this is that so many people willingly drove hundreds of miles for, wait for it… a driving event! It’s truly a testament to both how much FIAT owners love their cars and how much fun they have driving them.

2017 Fiat on the Dragon Corner

The presenting sponsors for FOTD were EuroCompulsion and Auto Ricambi. Both, along with several additional sponsors and friends, provided amazing support and have helped tremendously in building the event into what it is today.

2017 Fiat on the Dragon Cars

The weekend unofficially kicked off on Thursday, March 30, as many of the registered participants arrived at the base of operations: the long-standing Talley Ho Inn in scenic Townsend, Tennessee, widely known as the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies.” Of course, as waves of FIATs took to the town’s streets over the next few days, that title took on a bit of a disclaimer. As always, that first night was a great time of friends catching up and new connections being made. The anticipation was high as a steady stream of folks made their way through registration, settled into their rooms and broke off into groups for dinner at area restaurants.

Fiat on the Dragon Cars

The last of the March showers greeted the participants on Friday morning, but the weather did not dampen spirits at all. With the initial drive of the weekend being the famed Tail of the Dragon itself, it was impossible to feel anything but excitement. Still, all were thankful as the rain gradually began to taper off and the skies opened a little as the line of cars made its way to the day’s main attraction. For those who’ve never visited, the Dragon is a serpentine stretch of Highway 129 that crosses the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Its 11 uninhabited miles contain an astounding 318 curves, some much more treacherous than others. The road is extremely popular with car enthusiasts and motorcyclists alike, though even a small error or miscalculation can have dire consequences. It is definitely a road to be respected.

Fiat X1-9 on the Dragon

The merry band of FIATs and Alfas made it through without a hitch, as the group reconvened at Deal’s Gap at the NC end of the ride. Cars had departed from the hotel in smaller groups, sorted by driving styles from the most spirited to those who preferred more of a touring pace. This worked out well, as everyone got to enjoy exactly the drive they wanted. From there, the group headed to nearby Fontana Dam for lunch and group photos before continuing further on to Bryson City in Swain County and the intriguing Road to Nowhere.

124 Spider Abarth on the Dragon

A popular addition to the FOTD itinerary last year, the Road to Nowhere extends about eight miles out from town before it ends abruptly just after passing through a 1200-foot tunnel. The short version of its storied past is that the National Park Service agreed to build the road around Fontana Lake, after much of the county’s land was given up to create the lake and a portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Due largely to environmental issues, construction on the road was suspended and, once everything was eventually resolved, never completed. Though born out of unfortunate circumstances, the road is
nonetheless a fascinating discovery. To travel to the very end, the group had to park and walk through the long, dark tunnel before emerging to a forest area with multiple trailheads and a spectacular view of Fontana Lake.

Fiat on the Dragon Bonfire

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Say No to Autonomous Cars with an Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Is this what we have to look forward to with autonomous driving cars? Luckily with cars like Alfa Romeos and Fiats, you can make a statement that you still love to drive. Watch this Alfa Romeo commercial from Israel, and you will see what the future may very well be like. "Progress" is not all it's cracked up to be...

Last Chance to Drive - Alfa Romeo Giulia Video Commercial

A video that shows what you are missing when you let the Google-Mobils take over...

Source: Fiat Israel, FCA image

Say No to Autonomous Cars with an Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fiat 500e Wheel Alignment Specs

Fiat 500e

The Fiat 500e electric car is a fun, stylish car that just happens to be an EV. Packed with good looks and great driving dynamics it is the electric car for those who thought they would never drive one. Introduced in 2013 and originally only sold in California and then later in Oregon, used Fiat 500e models have now begun migrating across the country. Don't be surprised if you see one for sale locally.

The 500e looks similar to the gasoline-powered 500, but there have been extensive modifications done to it to so it can excel as an EV. Because an electric motor is nearly silent, extensive steps were taken to silent any wind and road noise that would typically be masked by the sound of an internal combustion engine and its exhaust.

Fiat 500e Cutaway

Another modification was done to the 500e's suspension so that it could cope with the additional weight of a 600lbs EV battery, additional chassis reinforcements, and extra sound insulation. Now that you can buy a Fiat 500e outside of California, information on servicing its suspension may not be readily available at your local service shop. To help with that, below are the specific wheel alignment specification for the Fiat 500e electric car.

Note, the Fiat 500e uses different alignment specs compared to the gas Fiat 500 and 500 Abarth. You can view those wheel alignment specs here.

Fiat 500e Wheel Alignment Specifications

CROSS CAMBER (max side to side diff)
-0.95° to +0.05°
-0.55 to + 0.55°
CROSS CASTER (max side to side diff)
+1.85° to +2.85°
-0.50° to +0.50°
TOE - TOTAL**0.0°-0.25° to +0.25°

* For reference only. These are nonadjustable angles.

** TOTAL TOE is the sum of both the left and right wheel toe settings. TOTAL TOE should be equally split between each wheel on the same axle to ensure the steering wheel is centered after setting toe.

Positive toe (+) is toe-in and negative toe (−) is toe-out.

CROSS CAMBER (max side to side diff)
-1.55 to -0.55°
-0.55 to +0.55°
TOE - INDIVIDUAL*+0.25°-0.05 to +0.55°
TOE - TOTAL*+0.50°+0.22° to +0.78°
THRUST ANGLE0.00°-0.18°  to +0.18°


Positive toe (+) is toe-in and negative toe (−) is toe-out.

* There is a shim kit available to adjust these angles. Fiat Technical Bulletin 17-001-14: Rear Axle Alignment Shims, part number: 68236620AA Shim Kit : (Kit contains 1 front shim, 1 rear shim, and 4 spindle bolts). Consult your dealer to verify fitment. 

Read more on the shim kit install here and Fiat tech bulletin here. 

Source: FCA

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Fiat Sales for April 2017

2017 Fiat 500 Abarth

Fiat sales for April 2017 showed some improvements over the previous month, but overall brand sales are still running behind last year. The Fiat 500X 500X crossover had its best month so far this year, selling a total of 758 units in April, a 4 percent increase over March. The Fiat 124 Spider also recorded its best sales month this year, with a total of 465 cars sold, an 11 percent increase over the previous month.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider

While Fiat 500 hatch and Cabrio sales were down in April compared to the same month a year ago, sales of these models are running 2 percent over last year. This is a good sales performance, considering the iconic 500 hatch and Cabrio are virtually unchanged since 2011. Credit a simplified model range with increased content and new, lower prices for contributing to the success.

2017 Fiat 500L Trekking

Despite these positive sales results, the brand's overall sales year-to-date are off 13 percent compared to last year. Fiat 500L MPV sales, in particular, are down a significant 77 percent this year, but even the 500X is down 38 percent.

2017 Fiat 500L

Curiously, the 500L has been consistently the best selling car in its segment in Europe, yet has not caught on in this country. Different tastes may account for that, but also an ill-timed recall at its launch three years ago and teething issues on early production cars seem to have taken its toll on sales of this versatile car.

Fiat 500L Trekking

Still, there is plenty of love for the car by owners on the Fiat 500L forum, so there is a fan base that supports the car. Fiat has added content and reduced prices for 2017, which is promising. People that own the 500L greatly appreciate its roominess and usefulness, so maybe a marketing campaign highlighting those attributes could draw more people into the showroom.

2017 Fiat 500X Trekking

The drop in 500X sales is even more puzzling. The 500X is also a European top seller, so the product is solid. We've chronicled its advanced AWD system, European handling, and numerous safety features here on this site. One thing that has got to impact sales is the fewer Fiat dealers here in this country compared to the competition. For example, Fiat has around 200 dealers in the US compared to 2,300 + Jeep dealers and 1,000+ Honda dealers. To address this, Fiat has been actively adding new sales outlets at CDJR (Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram) dealerships across the country. As with the other 2017 Fiat models, the 500X has also had its prices decreased along with more standard equipment added compared to 2016. These changes may be helping as 500X sales have been steadily increasing every month since January.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

Fiat News Recap
Fiat displayed its full model range at the 2017 New York Auto Show. What was once a single car in 2011, the 500 hatchback,  has now grown into lineup that has something for just about everyone.  We covered the show and look at each model shown.

Alfa Romeo at 2017 NY Auto Show

Alfa Romeo also debuted their new Stelvio crossover at the New York Auto Show. Follow the link below for details on this exciting car.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2017 NY Auto Show

Fiat Brand Sales in the United States, January - April 2017
Fiat 500Current MonthLast YearVol ChangeCurrent YTDLast Year YTDVol Change

























Sources: FCA US LLC.
Images: FCA and author