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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Things Not (Yet) Available In The U.S.: Fiat 500L

If you think the scrappy Fiat 500 is the height of pint-sized sophistication, the Italian auto maker has a surprise in store.

Fiat plans to bring a roomier five-seat version to the U.S. in 2013.

The 500L ("L" stands for "large") debuted earlier this year at the Geneva Auto Show and is available currently only in Europe.

U.S. sales of the original chic but slight 500 coupe have proved disappointing. Fiat is counting on the longer, taller four-door L model to drive more customers to its showrooms.

The move echoes the course BMW charted when it followed the Mini Cooper Hatchback a few years later with the bigger Mini Countryman.

Styling-wise, the 500L lacks the aren't-I-oh-so-cute? appeal of the 500. Some will find it downright unattractive.

Car and Driver likened it to a 500 that "stuck its thumb in its mouth." Ouch!

It remains to be seen whether U.S. buyers will stand up and salute the 500L or give it a raspberry.

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