Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Best-Looking and Most Versatile Fiat

Introduced in 2015, the 2016 Fiat 500X is the fourth model to come from the storied Italian company, joining the 500, 500C Abarth and 500L. The 500X shares a platform with the Jeep Renegade (or maybe it’s vice versa), both of which are built in Melfi, Italy. Each have differences that make them attractive to different buyers. We earlier drove the Jeep Renegade and will now take a look at the 500X and some of those differences.


Smarticd drove the 2016 Fiat 500X for a week, and, along with the 2015 Jeep Renegade, at a FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) press event at Willow Springs Raceway in the California

The style king?

desert. There are several advantages of side-by-side drive opportunities, including jumping from one car to the other to experience handling and engine performance. Both the Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade come with the same engine packages—a four-cylinder turbocharged 16-valve 1.4-liter inline, multi-air, single overhead cam engine with sequential multiport electronic fuel injection; and the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder, normally aspirated 16-valve engine with multiport electronic fuel injection. Both run on unleaded regular. The 83 cubic inch (1.4L) produces 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque through Fiat’s six-speed automatic transmission, delivering an EPA rating of 25 city/34 highway/28 combined. The 144 cubic inches (2.4L) kicks-out 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission. The larger of the two engines is rated at 22 city/31 highway/25 combined. The all-wheel drive version with the 2.4L turns in 21 city/30 highway/24 combined.

The 1.4L turbo was smooth at both around town driving and cruising at highway speeds, but we would have appreciated more power, which is where the 2.4L comes in. We felt this engine, along with the nine-speed automatic, provided some extra grunt necessary to move these 3,000-pound cars with more confidence and ease, especially when selecting the Sport and Traction+ drive modes. However, neither engine and transmission combination could be considered fast. An interesting note on the nine-speed automatic is that I never could get it to shift into the ninth gear. I tried long, flat highway straightaways at 55, 60, 65 and 70+ mph, but the best I could eek out was eighth gear.

Driving Experience: On the Road

A slow, but stable cruiser

Smarticd’s front-wheel drive 2016 Fiat 500X was equipped with 215/55R17 all-season tires mounted on 17-inch aluminum wheels with a five-slot design for a nice-looking wheel and tire combination. Fiat says the “touring tuned suspension” on the 500X “delivers driving excitement…and a superior ride and handling.” Having the chance to drive the 500X and Jeep Renegade back-to-back, I would say the 500X is designed more for city driving. The 500X’s taut suspension was a bit softer than the Renegade, which carries with it Jeep’s more rugged DNA and was tighter while cornering and more rigid of the two.

The 500X was stable at highway speeds with all high-speed cornering and maneuvers performed as desired. Aiding the handling was the electric rack and pinion steering (with Variable-speed Assisted Sensitivity) that was thankfully not so neutered to lose the feel of the road, MacPherson front suspension, struts and stabilizer bars front and rear. My take was the 500X handled well to its limits, but to say it was exciting might be stretching it a bit. Wind noise was minimal until anything above 35mph. With the sunroof open, it became a tough ride where even cranking-up the stereo made things worse.

Stopping was through the single-piston, vented front and solid rear rotor power-assist brakes. The 500X comes with anti-lock brake System (ABS), brake assist, all-speed traction control system (TCS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control (ESC).

Driving Experience: Interior

Access was easy through wide doors leading to a high driver and front passenger seat positions. The cloth front seats have six-way manual adjustments, and, with the manual tilt and telescoping

A comfortable position

steering column, a good seating position was not hard to find and long trips did not cause noticeable leg or back fatigue. The front passenger seat folds flat and there are two glove boxes and a front center sliding armrest with storage.

The rear seat can accommodate five adults with ample leg room, with the caveat that if the driver or front passenger are tall, then leg room could be compromised. There is good storage with the 60/40 folding rear seat in its upright position. When folded, the extra storage easily allows for larger items. Sightlines are very good, especially calling-out the A pillar design not being so beefy as to block the frontward view.

The Fiat 500X dash has a clean, straight-forward design with everything laid-out in logical, easy-to-read locations. The combination of knobs, switches and buttons for the climate and radio controls are exactly where you want and need them. Our car was equipped with a six-speaker sound system and a 6.5-inch color touch screen for the Uconnect operating system with navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio (One year subscription included), AM/FM/CD/MP3 HD radio and voice command with Bluetooth for hands-free phone and streaming audio. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has controls for audio, phone and cruise control that are easy to use on a system with a quick operational learning curve.

Room for three

The 500X had convenience features such as a dual-pane power sunroof, power windows with one-touch express up and down, power door locks, heated power exterior mirrors with turn signals, dual zone automatic temperature control, front and rear floor mats, remote keyless entry, 12V power outlet, multiple cup holders and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

Driving Experience: Exterior

The 2016 Fiat 500X has a fresh design and a stance that says aggressive while also being slick and almost Audi-like, especially when looking at the side panels. The

Some Italian fashion

front has the familiar Fiat mustache and logo badge above dual horizontal air slots and bi-function Halogen projector headlamps set wide on the rounded, sculpted fender corners. The 500X has no unnecessary cladding or chrome work, with tasteful black insets below the rear hatch.

The 500X is offered in 12 different exterior colors, including our test car’s Grigio Argento (Grey Metallic) with the smoke-black tinted sunroof. Other colors are Blu Venezia, Verde Toscana and Bronzo Magnetico, several other exotics in the color palette.

Safety and Convenience

The 2016 Fiat 500X has not been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but has earned the Top Safety Pick by the , Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The 500X is equipped with seven airbags, a ParkView rear backup camera, ParkSense rear park assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection, an engine immobilizer and security alarm, tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), tire service kit (no spare tire), brake assist, hill start assist and cruise control.

Pricing and Warranties

Open for functionality

Available in five trim levels, the 2016 Fiat 500X has a base price of $20,000 for the Pop model all the way up to $27,100 for the Trekking Plus. Additional equipment and packages will affect your final price, including an all-wheel-drive option. Smarticd was driving a 500X Easy with the Easy Collection 3 Package having a MSRP of $24,900, including the $900 destination charge.

All 2015 Fiat 500X models come with these warranties:

  • Basic – Four-year/50,000-mile
  • Powertrain – Four-year/50,000-mile
  • Rust-Through – Five-year/Unlimited mile
  • Roadside Assistance – Four-year/Unlimited mile

Observations: 2016 Fiat 500X

Designed at Fiat’s Centro Stile in Turin, Italy, Fiat says its “designers leveraged the character and iconic features of the Fiat 500 into a larger and more mature package.” Breaking down this

A new player in an increasingly crowded space

statement into its pieces, it is easy to agree that the 500X is arguably the best looking of the three Fiat (four if you count the Abarth as a separate model) models. The 500X has a flow of sculptured lines that looks more natural and comfortable than the 500L and is better proportioned than the very compact 500. The 500X is part of the FCA Global Small, Wide Architecture design platform which will undoubtedly show-up in more Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles in the years ahead.

The 500X has some steep competition in the small Crossover category including the , , , , , Buick Encore and Mini Cooper Paceman.

So does the 2016 Fiat 500X rise above any of these? Smarticd will let you cross-shop these and other crossovers to decide for yourself. But if you are looking for Italian automotive design with a lineage of Ferrari, Lancia and Alfa Romeo, or maybe recalling the great Italian fashion icons such as Armani, Gucci and Versace, then the 500X is for you.

With a base price of $20,000 and fully optioned for around $30,000, the Fiat 500X should be on your shopping list.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

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Smarticd is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle, which does not address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology, during which we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements. Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at [email protected].


John Faulkner is Road Test Editor at Smarticd. He has more than 30 years’ experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent’s 1950 Studebaker. He is a journalist member of the Motor Press Guild.

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