I love the smaller Fiat 500 because it’s charming and fun to drive, and I expected this 500X to just be a bigger version of that, but I was pretty wrong.
Engine: 2.4L 4-cylinder
Power: 180 hp, 175 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy (MPG): 22 city, 31 highway
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 11 city, 7.9 highway
US Price: Starts at $20,000, Trekking Plus with AWD starts at $28,210
CAN Price: Starts at $22,995, Trekking Plus with AWD starts at $32,690, $37,720 as tested
Very little of the cuteness or personality in the tiny 500 translates to the larger 2016 Fiat 500X, and instead, you get a car that’s just kind of mediocre. Where the flaws in the smaller 500 are easier to forgive because the car is so charming, the 500X just doesn’t have the same flair, so you’re left with a bunch of flaws that are not easily forgivable. It might be compared to a baby that never smiles, sleeps or giggles or cuddles you — you’re just left with a crying, pooping blob you have to deal with 24 hours a day, which I imagine is not a lot of fun.
One of the things that bothers me about the 500X is that it feels kind of half baked, as if it was rushed or FCA didn’t really think everything through.
First off, it has an extremely stiff suspension — no one’s going to be off-roading this thing and, in this case, it definitely doesn’t pay dividends in the sporty driving department, so having such a stiff suspension doesn’t make a lot of sense. Driving over rough roads, I just get tossed around, which makes the ride pretty uncomfortable.
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Secondly, the way it behaves is somewhat unpredictable. It’s very jumpy and the way it drives feels unnatural. For example, when you take your foot off the brake, it doesn’t gently roll forward like regular cars, but it leaps forward quickly and even when you lightly tap on the gas, there’s always a very hard start, no matter how easy you are on the pedal.
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Putting the car in increased traction mode for snow or wet weather seems to help these jumpy starts, but it takes a lot of getting used to. I think Fiat did this on purpose to give the CUV a sportier feel, but it just ends up feeling unrefined and over-excited.
Besides that, the nine-speed transmission never actually hits its top gear unless you’re doing pretty much illegal speeds. And the fact it never hits the top gear probably affects the car’s fuel economy, which isn’t very impressive for a car this small.
I have a lot of complaints with this car, but it’s not all bad.
The 2.4L four-cylinder engine is a pretty decent pick for this car, as it gives the 500X a good amount of power so that passing people or darting around town is stress-free. It puts out 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. You can also get it with the base 1.4L turbo, but that’s really not enough engine to get this car going, so you’re going to want to upgrade to the bigger motor. The downside is that it does drink more fuel and it is a very noisy engine.
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Another big bonus is that it comes with a version of UConnect, which is the most user friendly infotainment system on the market. The interior has a clean layout that is functional and easy to use.
Fully loaded, the 500X comes with a bunch of useful features like heated seats and a heated steering wheel, a big sunroof, parking sensors and leather seats. But with all these features, it really drives the price up quickly. A base 500X with the small engine starts at about $20,000 in the U.S., but as-tested, this top of the line, fully loaded Trekking Plus model with all-wheel drive will set you back about $33,000, which is a lot to pay considering how many flaws it has.
The Verdict: 2016 Fiat 500X Review
The subcompact crossover segment is huge now, with really strong players like the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3. Although it has style and a good interior, the wonky driving dynamics, poor fuel economy and price are just not enough to make the 500X stand out in this segment.