Fort Myers Florida Weekly

Fiat 500X is a tasty remix with Italian flair




Cars are often like recipes. Take similar ingredients, then substitute some regional flavor and the results can be two distinct products that still share many common pieces. It’s the difference between Yankee bean soup and pasta fazoli. And the Fiat 500X is doing the same in the car world.

Last year we tested the Jeep Renegade, and even mentioned that the Fiat 500X is built at the same Italian factory. But just because these two vehicles are joined at the hip from birth until they get off the cargo ship, does not mean they are the same crossover.

The Fiat 500X is an exercise in extending a singular vision. The original Fiat 500 has an iconic design that made it instantly endearing when the retro car was brought to the U.S. in 2010. So to get the “X” crossover, they took the subcompact dimensions and super-sized it. That meant making the cute Fiat 500 taller and wider. Plus, there was a new set of rear doors and cargo space to add behind them. The result is something beefier, but the DNA is still quite clear — sort of like the difference between a poodle and a labradoodle.



Inside the gain in size makes a huge difference. The dash still matches the exterior color in a very stylish way, but now there’s more space so that the climate control, gearshift, and radio display do not feel squashed together. There’s real space in the back to carry a few extra family and friends, and the cargo area is surprisingly useful for the small crossover class. And since the 500X only looks like its economy-minded sibling, it comes with plenty of nice options that aren’t available on the Fiat 500. It includes, power seats, dual zone climate control and a rear view camera.



Upper trim levels have interesting features like European-inspired leather and a dual pane sunroof. All of this creates a very comfortable and fashionable atmosphere. But all of these extra features come with an extra cost. So while the base model is $20,995, anyone having fun with the option sheet can easily take the price over $30K. The result is an extremely comfortable 500X with all-wheel drive, but that might not be the best target market for most people.

On the road is where the Fiat 500X will find most of its fans. As we noted with the Jeep Renegade, it makes for a fine small four-wheel drive vehicle because the motor seems to want to emphasize low-geared torque over allout speed. The 500X has the same powertrain combos (1.4-liter turbo mated to a six-speed manual transmission and a more powerful 2.4-liter that only gets a nine-speed automatic) but the feeling is quite different.



The Jeep is fortified with extra offroad packaging, which also adds weight. Thus, with comparable trim levels, the 500X is always the more sprightly choice. That makes the Fiat a little bit quicker, and more importantly, it feels faster than the Jeep because the engine isn’t working as hard when accelerating to highways speeds. So the goal for most people looking at the 500X is likely going to be about keeping the weight (i.e., options) down to maximize the fun.



Plus, the steering and suspension are set more to European car standards, instead of the Jeep’s American 4×4 prowess. It means the 500X is not as capable as an off-road machine, but for the majority of us who don’t leave the pavement that often, this is the more exciting one to drive.

The Fiat 500X is not the fastest, largest, or most economical of the compact crossovers. But what it does have going for it is an intoxicating mix of popular ingredients that result in genuine appeal. Like Guy Fieri, the Fiat 500X does enough to proudly flaunt its Italian heritage mixed with American flair. And that passion, more than anything else, creates a true attraction.



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