I drove a $33,000 Fiat 500X and the subcompact SUV was extremely disappointing
- I tested a 2019 Fiat 500X, a $32,755 subcompact crossover SUV that's made in Italy and shares a platform with the Jeep Renegade.
- My Fiat 500X tester started at $25,995, but options took up the price by thousands of dollars.
- The vehicle had a 177-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission that didn't get along well.
- The ride was uncomfortable, and the SUV was a chore to drive.
- The Uconnect infotainment system, however, was excellent, although the 500X's screen is rather small.
- I was disappointed with the Fiat 500X, which has far too many flaws and few redeeming qualities.
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The Fiat 500 is a nameplate that dates back to the 1950s. The plucky original put the Italian car industry back in business after Word War II.An updated 500 came to the US after the financial crisis, reestablishing the brand. Fiat, a division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, then added models, including the 500L, an SUV; the Abarth performance trim of the 500 coupé; a 500C convertible; and a 500e all-electric vehicle.Advertisement
The original 500 and 500C are leaving the US market amid poor sales and a pretty bad reliability record. But other vehicles are sticking around, and for the 2019 model year, the 500X received an update.
The 500X shares a platform with the Jeep Renegade, a vehicle I had sort of liked when I reviewed it, so I was looking forward to the 500X.Read on to learn what automotive disappointment feels like.
Hello, Fiat 500X! My tester tipped the price scale at $32,755, well up from the base sticker of $25,995. The color? A handsome "Grigio Moda" ("Graphite Grey Metallic").
The 500X draws on the design of the perky Fiat 500, itself based on ...Advertisement
... The Fiat Cinquecento, an important vehicle Fiat introduced in the late 1950s. The original 500 helped Italy's manufacturing economy recover from World War II; it was the Italian VW Beetle, sold until the mid-1970s.
With a set of 17-inch, blacked-out aluminum wheels, my Fiat 500X presented relatively well for a vehicle that's also the basis for ...Advertisement
... The Jeep Renegade.
Elevated, bug-eyed, and overall rather odd-looking, the Fiat 500X is a subcompact crossover. Effectively, a 21st-century hatchback with an Italian accent.Advertisement
I'm not a fan of the design, but there's no argument that the Fiat badge is among the auto industry's most historic and beautiful. Fiat is a 120-year-old brand, and its name is actually an acronym: FIAT, or "Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino."
The headlights are high-tech: halogen bi-function projectors with LED daytime running lights. They are among the few commendable features.Advertisement
Even though I like the wheels, the 17-inchers leave a lot of wheel-arch space.
While the 500X looks OK from the front — if you dig that Fiat 500 vibe — the rear is pretty standard-issue Euro-hatch.Advertisement
The tail lights are unremarkable rectangles of red.
My Fiat 500X was equipped with all-wheel-drive, perhaps because it's built on the same assembly line in Italy as the Jeep Renegade. I don't know if AWD for a subcompact style-mobile like this is needed. It probably degrades the 24 mpg city/30 highway/26 combined fuel economy.Advertisement
Still, that's an attractive badge!
Let's investigate cargo space.Advertisement
It isn't great: 14 cubic feet with the rear seats up. That's smaller than the trunk on some compact sedans. With the seats down, the capacity rises to almost 40 cubic feet.
The interior was black. Or "Nero," which sounds better.Advertisement
The seats, front and rear, were uncomfortable. A passenger likened the cabin, unfavorably, to a box.
The split sunroof was welcome.Advertisement
Visibility through the Fiat 500X's backlight was not good. All in all, I didn't much enjoy my time in this dark, cramped realm.
The steering wheel itself felt good in my hands, but the steering was vague, numb, and cumbersome.Advertisement
But my oh my! That badge!
It might resemble a Nintendo DS, but that seven-inch unit is the 500X's infotainment screen.Advertisement
It runs FCA's generally excellent Uconnect system. GPS navigation was fine, Bluetooth connectivity was a snap, there's SiriusXM satellite radio, and you have available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is the car's finest moment.
The Beats audio system, surprisingly, did not beat much. It's a six-speaker configuration.Advertisement
The drive-mode selector offers Normal, Sport, and bad-weather choices.
Two-level heated seats are a nice touch. Even if the eight-way adjustable drivers seat with lumbar support was a disappointment.Advertisement
The 500 logo is actually quite cool, rendered in a sort of gold-bronze.
It reappears on the seats.Advertisement
And the X-factor shows up on the exterior.
The 500X has a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making on paper a respectable 177 horsepower. The transmission is an easily flustered nine-speed automatic.Advertisement
So what's the verdict?
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