The Fiat 500X is a compact crossover that appears actually good on paper. It comes with normal all-wheel drive, a strong infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an elective suite of superior driver-assistance tech and hey, it is fairly reasonably priced, too. For 2019, the 500X will get a brand new, turbocharged engine that guarantees enhancements in each energy and gas economic system, and it helps make this little man Fiat’s most well-rounded providing but.
However whereas the elevator pitch sounds nice, it does not take lengthy to find the Fiat’s shortcomings. And in opposition to a rising crop of fiercely aggressive compact crossovers, even this up to date 500X is more durable to suggest than ever.
Puffing up a small automobile doesn’t lead to a very fairly SUV. In the identical method that Mini’s bigger fashions look bulbous, so too does the Fiat 500X. The general look is extra dorky than quirky, and I do not like the way in which Fiat has integrated body-colored squares into the middle of the taillight housings as a part of the 2019 mannequin yr updo. No, the 500X is not fairly as ugly because the ungainly 500L, however let’s be sincere, that is actually simply damning with faint reward.
The 500X stands comparatively tall, nevertheless it’s narrower and shorter in size than different subcompact crossovers. This implies entrance passengers have loads of headroom, however sit shut collectively. The identical goes for back-seat riders, who may even discover a scarcity of legroom. Cargo house is in brief provide, as properly; the 500X has much less room in your baggage than simply about each different subcompact crossover, apart from the dreadful little Ford EcoSport.
The cabin itself is hit and miss by way of materials high quality. The Fiat’s seats are snug and decently supportive, and I just like the soft, leather-trimmed armrests on the doorways. The dashboard has a bizarre, rubbery, faux-soft-touch end to it, however I believe it is cool that Fiat matches the accent panel to the automobile’s exterior coloration. The switchgear all appears to be like and feels low-cost, from the buttons on the middle stack to the wiper and switch sign stalks on the steering column. Oh, talking of, the Fiat 500X wins the award for having the cheapest-sounding flip alerts of any new automobile, nonetheless nitpicky that criticism is perhaps.
Fortunately, each 500X comes with a Fiat-skinned model of Chrysler’s glorious Uconnect multimedia system, housed on a 7-inch touchscreen atop the dashboard. The colours and fonts are particular to Fiat’s design language, however the easy-to-use Uconnect performance is identical. And since each Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are normal, you may fortunately skip the $695 upcharge for embedded navigation.
Fiat affords an abundance of driver help tech, too, although it is all locked right into a $1,395 possibility package deal, even on the top-shelf Trekking Plus trim. Nonetheless, that improve will get you adaptive cruise management, automated high-beams, blind-spot monitoring, ahead collision warning, lane departure warning and automated windshield wipers, so it is cash properly spent.
A giant change for 2019 is what’s below the hood: each 500X will get a brand new, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. The 1.Three-liter I4 is smaller than each the 1.Four-liter turbo and a couple of.Four-liter naturally aspirated powerplants from final yr’s 500X, however packs extra energy the place it counts. The Fiat’s 177 horsepower at 5,500 rpm is about common, nevertheless it’s the 210 pound-feet of torque at 2,200 rpm that actually seals the deal. The 1.3T offers loads of motivation for easily pulling away from stoplights, and it means you do not have to rev the hell out of this motor to summon additional oomph for scooting previous slow-moving Priuses round city.
Sadly, the nine-speed automated gearbox continues to be a sore spot. The transmission by no means appears to know the place it needs to settle, consistently upshifting for the sake of gas economic system, after which instantly having to step down a number of gears when additional energy is demanded. You may mitigate this a bit bit by switching the 500X into its Sport drive setting, because the transmission is extra prepared to carry a gear for longer durations of time on this mode. However the Sport programming is not excellent for on a regular basis driving. In some methods, it truly makes issues worse.
Fiat says the fun-to-drive issue is what units the 500X aside from different crossovers. Drawback is, the 500X is not enjoyable to drive in any respect.
The 500X’s steering is already fairly heavy in its normal tune, and Sport mode amplifies this. It is not heavy in a great way, both — deciding on Sport provides resistance to the wheel’s motion, however does not truly make the 500X extra prepared to show in. Moreover, this added sensation of heft is not matched with any sense of suggestions; regardless of the drive mode, the steering is absolutely numb.
On the stunning stretches of California’s Pacific Coast Freeway north of Malibu, you may really feel each little bump and street imperfection by means of the chassis. The upsized 18-inch wheels of my Trekking-spec check automobile have 255/55-series tires with loads of sidewall, so it truly is the suspension tuning itself that is the issue right here. And whereas the tradeoff for a brittle journey is commonly sharp dealing with on winding roads, the 500X falls aside there, too.
Fiat representatives inform me the fun-to-drive issue is what units the 500X aside from different crossovers. Drawback is, the 500X is not enjoyable to drive in any respect. This automobile actually hates being pushed by means of corners, with noticeable physique roll and a basic lack of composure accompanying the obscure steering and harsh journey.
At the very least the 2019 500X is extra environment friendly than earlier than, its 1.3T engine incomes EPA-estimated gas economic system scores of 24 miles per gallon metropolis, 30 mpg freeway and 26 mpg mixed. These are will increase of three, 1 and a couple of, respectively, over the 2018 500X with the two.Four-liter engine and all-wheel drive. Besides, the 500X affords mid-pack effectivity amongst subcompact SUVs.
I would be prepared to miss a few of these issues if the 500X was priced under the competitors, however as soon as once more, Fiat disappoints. The 2019 500X begins at $24,720 (excluding vacation spot) for the standard Pop mannequin, which is dearer than the bottom, all-wheel drive variations the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-Three. A totally loaded 500X Trekking Plus is available in round $33,000, and once more, equally outfitted variations of the aforementioned opponents value a number of thousand much less. On prime of that, all of them have comparable tech, higher interiors and much superior on-road dynamics. Heck, even the Fiat’s platform mate, the Jeep Renegade, is cheaper in most trims.
So it is no marvel that Fiat has moved fewer than 1,500 500X fashions by means of June of this yr, whereas over that very same timeframe, Honda bought roughly 48,000 HR-Vs. The brand new turbo engine makes the 2019 500X extra aggressive than earlier than, however with an total package deal so usually meh, I nonetheless cannot think about shopping for one over the rest at this value level.