Fiat has been facing an uphill battle in the US with its 500 and 500L, but the new 500X might be its chance to truly shine. It’s still inherently cute, but manages to pull off the idea of a stylish crossover.
There are 5 models of the Fiat 500X, each with features designed to appeal to a certain buyer. Our Fiat 500X Trekking sported a beefier front with chrome accents to make it more aggressive and help it stand out from the crowd. The rear end also has extra chrome so it looks very SUV, but this is more about style than off-road prowess. Available all-wheel-drive does give it a boost when the weather turns foul. It’s still cute, because there’s no way to make the 500 anything else, but not quite as huggable as its smaller siblings.
The interior continues the theme with rounded buttons and knobs that are, you guessed it, cute. Sense a theme here? The styling is neat and tidy with nothing fussy and overdone. Seats are comfortable, though in no way plush. They are also nicely adjustable despite being 6-way manual seats rather than power seats. Even tall guys can fit up front, though once they push the seat back far enough for their long legs, there’s not a chance anyone is sitting in the rear.
Entertainment comes from the Uconnect system via a 5-inch color touchscreen with AM/FM and SiriusXM with a free 1-year subscription. Our test model featured an optional 6.5-inch screen. Its placement makes it easy to reach with touch sensitivity that won’t leave you angrily jabbing the screen to get a response. The 6-speaker audio system provides good sound quality that easily fills the small cabin space. Integrated voice command with Bluetooth helps keep attention focused where it should be, on the road.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel includes audio controls that are mounted on the back of the wheel. It sounds weird, but it’s the absolute best placement for these controls. Instead of having to move your hand to put your thumbs or fingers on forward-facing controls, these are exactly where your fingers naturally rest on the back of the steering wheel.
The Fiat 500X Trekking is powered by a 2.4-liter I4 with 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and is well-timed. The exception to this is when the driver selects Sport mode rather than the default Auto. The only noticeable difference is a higher RPM before shifting gears accompanied by a louder engine that sounds like it’s working too hard. Shifts are also rougher so rather than enhancing the car’s driveability, Sport mode makes it worse.
The same button that gives you Sport also gives you Traction+ which does the reverse of Sport. This dulls down the throttle, allows second-gear starts, and will help manage snowy winter roads. This button might have three modes, but stick with Auto and Traction+ and forget that Sport mode exists.
Once you stop playing with the drive modes, the Fiat 500X is an enjoyable drive. There’s enough horsepower to get it moving for merging into highway traffic, but it does take some time to get up to speed. Engine noise can be loud if you’re heavy on the gas, but it quiets right down at cruising speeds.
Although small, this crossover feels taller taking corners. There’s body roll that will have you easing up on the gas in tight turns, but the Fiat 500X is otherwise a manageable drive. It’s not as much about drive as it is style, which will be disappointing for those expecting something as fun as it looks.
The crossover part of things comes into play with folding rear seats and a rear hatch that offer up plenty of room. It’s not going to fit a 60-inch television that your husband tries to convince you to buy on Black Friday, but there’s still 18.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up or 50.8 cubic feet with those seats folded.
The Fiat 500X looks fantastic and will fill your need to have a crossover that doesn’t look like a mom-mobile. It’s got loads of style and enough cargo room to make it a useful crossover. It doesn’t shine quite so brightly if you’re looking for a fun driving experience, but still provides an attractive and enjoyable drive.
2016 Fiat 500X Trekking AWD
Base Price: $25,100
Price As Tested: $27,795 (not including destination charge)
- Great Styling
- Easy Access Cargo Space
- Urban-Friendly Size
- Sport Mode Isn’t Sporty
- Short Rear Passenger Room
- Lots of Engine Noise