Friday, September 30, 2016


Since reintroducing the brand to the U.S. market with its 2012 500, Fiat has continued to expand its portfolio with several variants of the trendsetting subcompact coupe, often adding a letter to the "500" to distinguish the different models.

Thus we have the 500L (a slightly larger version), the 500e (electric), and 500c (convertible).

For 2016, Fiat introduces the 500X, a subcompact crossover that offers a bit more in the way of interior room than the others while still maintaining the Italian design flair and touches that set the original 500 apart from its rivals.

It may be just the solution for those who would like a smaller car not just for fuel economy but for less stressful urban driving conditions yet not so small that it brings with it a fear of being squashed between semis.

It has a pretty solid feel to it on the road, though it still retains the nimbleness typical of the segment, and when it comes to parking, it's tough to beat.

The 2016 500X comes in five flavors all with rather distinctive labels. The base model is designated Pop and is followed by Easy, Trekking, Lounge, and Trekking Plus going up the scale. Pop comes with a 1.4-liter turbo four as the base engine. The 2.4-liter naturally aspired four that is standard on Easy, Trekking, Lounge, and Trekking Plus is an option on the Pop.

Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive available on all but the base Pop model. The Pop also gets a six-speed manual transmission as standard with a nine-speed automatic, again standard on the other trims, as an option. You can manually shift gears with the automatic via the shifter on the console. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters aren't offered.

The turbo is rated at 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque and is expected to get a respectable 25 miles-per-gallon city, 34 highway using regular fuel.

The larger engine is rated at 180 hp and 175 lb.-ft. and drinks fuel at the rate of 22 miles-per-gallon city, 31 highway with FWD. AWD versions get about a mile less in each category. Those aren't particular impressive numbers for the genre, and some critics have been unhappy with the kind of performance the 2.4L delivers.

But I found that switching the knob on the console from Eco to Sport mode does enliven the performance to a more respectable level. A third setting is Traction-plus for snow and ice, but this being South Florida, I never got the opportunity to really see how that works. Imagine that.

I left it mostly in Sport or Performance setting until I got a complaint that the ride was a bit on the "jerky" side. Sigh.

Among standard features on the Lounge model that served for my test drive were such niceties as a backup camera, keyless ignition with push-button start, remote start, the U-Connect infotainment system from Chrysler that included a 6.5-inch screen for the navigation map, voice command operation, satellite radio, an eight-way power driver's seat with four-way lumbar support (the passenger seat is manually adjusted), 17-inch aluminum wheels, and automatic on/off Halogen headlights.

That all was included in the base MSRP of $27,105 (including the $995 destination and delivery charge). The optional Lounge Collection Package (leather trimmed bucket seats, rear parking assist, and blind spot and cross path detection) added another $1,650 which ran the total MSRP up to $27,655, making the 2016 Fiat 500X competitive price-wise.

The Pop starts at $20,995, the top-of-the-line Trekking Plus at $28,095.

The 500X's cabin, by the way, is quite nice with evidence of high-grade materials used throughout. and the front seats are comfortable with nice legroom provided. The backseat is on the snug side when it comes to legroom with a little less than 35 inches offered, but it's not really cramped.

Cargo space is what you might expect from a subcompact. Only 12.2 cubic feet is offered behind the second row expandable to 32.1 cubic feet with the second-row seats folded.

What I liked about the 2016 Fiat 500X: The A/C vents on the center stack, which I regularly find end up blowing directly on my hands on the steering wheel, essentially freezing them, are mounted lower on the stack than usual so that is no longer an issue. This is a small thing, but I really appreciated it. In fact, I loved it! The UConnect system also is easy to operate and responds to voice commands well.

What I didn't like about the 2016 Fiat 500X: In Eco (standard) mode, the engine labors to get up to speed. The nine-speed transmission can be slow to respond, though neither is a major problem.

Would I buy the 2016 Fiat 500X? Yes, I would consider it for a second vehicle for sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment