Are you a fan of Monty Python? (OK, we may be dating ourselves here..) Well, they used to have a segment with a newsman-like person at a desk saying, “And now for something completely different.” And you know, they could have been talking about the Fiat 500x.
Fiat 500x Exterior – Thinking out of The Box
It starts with expressive looks. While it shares the running gear with the Jeep Renegade, it won’t be confused with that, or any other small SUV. Last year, the 500x got a facelift, with new front and rear fascia that trade in a little of the cuteness for a more modern vibe. New LED daytime running lamps and taillights make it look more modern as well.
Our tester stepped up the game, being the new Sport model, that gets a more aggressive front with optional Bi-function projector LED headlamps that look like heavily-lidded eyes, that say, “Eh, you don’t mess with me.” The profile remains familiar, though body-color side moldings and dark-finish exterior accents add an upscale touch. At the rear, an aggressive lower bumper, contrasting finisher and dual exhaust add a tough look.
Finishing things off, our tester had the Rovente Red paint, black roof, and meaty 18-inch wheels. (19-inch are available) We especially like the cool Sport graphics – very stylish but not overdone. A major contrast to the Fiat Abarth models we have driven that were slathered with Scorpione badges all over the vehicle.
Fiat 500x Interior – Sporty Spice
Inside, the 500x remains bold and unique, now with an added dash of Sport. We like that the 500 doesn’t try to be truckish on the inside – there’s plenty of that to go around – and just gives a fresh, take.
You still enjoy a tall seating position with excellent visibility, and the rear seats are spacious for adults. The coupe-ish line may take away from ultimate cargo capacity, but with the rear seats folded down there’s plenty of space for most needs.
The Sport amps up the game with seats featuring added bolstering (super supportive and comfy!), simulated suede inserts and grey “500” logo. These premium perches also feature bright red stitching on the seats, while Alcantara inserts on the D-shaped steering wheel feel great in your hands. Your feet also get to enjoy with aluminum trim on the pedals. We also liked the Alcantara instrument brow, shielding the new crisp, clear speedo and tach graphics, with a handy driver assist display in between.
Tech comes along for the ride with the latest generation Uconnect 4 with 7-inch display with navi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. We like the display’s nice clean graphics – and volume and tuning knobs! It’s the little things that add up. One example, the button to turn off the engine auto-stop feature is right below the screen, an easy and convenient place. Another – the metallic finishes around the transmission and other parts of the dash look classy.
The climate control is simple to understand and use, and the USB plugs and heated seat controls are on a nice rounded panel beneath that. Overall, the 500x is a nice place to spend time.
Fiat 500x performance – Italian Flair
You’d expect a Fiat to offer some vibrant performance, and a Sport model even more so. When we first heard that our tester had a 1.3-liter, turbo four cylinder it raised an eyebrow. We thought with a decent-sized vehicle and standard all-wheel-drive, it was going to be pokey.
But Fiat knows how to make small engines that sing, and with 177 hp, and a mighty 210 lb.-ft of torque it moves quite well. Nudge the knob on the center console to Sport and it revs with brio, and the paddle-mounted shifters let you grab the next gear in a hurry. And with a 9-speed automatic, you get to enjoy the shifting process many times. An added bonus – the engine sounds sweet going about its business. Fiat points out that that it’s the only vehicle in its class to have standard AWD and 30+ mpg Highway. Bella!
There’s also a nice feel to the steering, and the ride has a nice, supple comfortable feel. We wouldn’t classify it as overly sporty – if you want that there’s the 124 Spider Abarth or Fiat 500 Abarth – but it is enjoyable, and it excels on the highway – made extra nice with our tester’s optional adaptive cruise control. Those comfy front sport seats are also great for longer trips.
Safety also adds to the comfort. Our tester included the Advanced Driver Assistance Group, which includes the adaptive cruise control, Full speed Forward Collision Plus, Blind spot and Rear Cross-path Detection, and Lane Departure Warning Plus. Auto high-beam headlamps and rain sensitive wipers are also part of the package.
Does Different mean Expensive?
Like most European vehicles, that would depend on how you spec it out. The Fiat 500x POP model starts at $24,740, and it’s nicely equipped with the turbo motor, 9-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive like our tester. You also get a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and heated power mirrors. If you want a little extra flash, the POP Blue Sky is $25,935 and adds a dual pane Panoramic Sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, Fog lamps and distinctive blue interior trim.
The Sport model is the top of the line trim and starts at $26,895 and you get the cool interior and exterior goodies we’ve mentioned. Compelling value. Our tester was pretty loaded though, adding leather ($995), Cold Weather Group including heated front seats ($295), Comfort Group, including power adjustable and power lumbar driver’s seat and dual-zone climate control (highly recommended for $795), and the Advanced Driver Assistance Group of safety features ($1,395).
Rounding it out, we had the black painted roof ($445), Compact Spare ($295) and the Navigation upgrade ($695). Add in a somewhat hefty $1,495 destination charge and we totaled $34,200. Ouch. As much as we enjoyed the loaded Sport, we’d either go for one with less options, or pop for the POP Blue Sky.
Stylish Competitors would include the Hyundai Kona loaded up, it’s $30,490, and the Kia Soul $25,535, but AWD is not available. Spec the Fiat accordingly and it’s a strong choice with both the Hyundai and Kia.
We love that Fiat goes their own way and brings a tasty brew of style and fun to the market.
In a regular cup-of-joe world of small SUV/Crossovers, the Fiat 500x Sport serves up an Espresso blend of style and fun!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.