Fiat has simplified the 500X lineup for the latest model year.
Up front, the 500X shares a number of styling cues with the retro-styled 500 city car including elongated oval headlights, a thin radiator grille and a prominent strip of chrome trim inspired by the rear-engined Fiat city cars of yore. Out back, the X stands out with a discreet trunk-mounted spoiler and large vertical tail lamps not unlike the ones found on the MINI Countryman, one of its closest rivals.
Underneath its curved sheet metal, the 500X rides on an evolution of the platform that underpins the 500L. It stretches 168.2 inches long, 70.7 inches wide and 63.1 inches tall, making it noticeably bigger than the Lilliputian 500.
The 500-inspired treatment continues inside with a simple, straight-forward dashboard characterized by numerous curved surfaces. The steering is commanded through a three-spoke multi-function wheel, and the driver is greeted by an analog instrument cluster that integrates a configurable thin-film transistor (TFT) screen.
The 500X can carry up to five passengers. Cargo capacity checks in at 18.5 cubic feet with five occupants on board and 50.8 cubes with the rear seat backs folded flat.
Fiat-Chrysler's excellent Uconnect infotainment system is available on all but the lowest trim level, integrating audio, navigation and climate control functions into one unit. A standard 5.0-inch or optional 6.5-inch touchscreen mounted on the dashboard is the central component of the system, but redundant buttons and knobs for climate and audio volume and tuning are also included.
When upgraded to Uconnect Access, the infotainment unit features a voice command system that allows the driver to place phone calls, use the sound system, input navigation destinations and more without taking his or her hands off the wheel. Other notable aspects of the system include the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot over a 3G network - for an additional monthly fee - and downloadable applications such as Bing search.
Under the Hood
The 500X is available with a pair of four-cylinder engines sourced from the Fiat - Chrysler parts bin.
The entry-level engine is a turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder unit that makes 160 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 184 lb-ft. of torque from 2,500 to 4,000 rpm. The four-banger is linked to a six-speed manual transmission that spins the front wheels.
More expensive trim levels use the same 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder engine as the Dodge Dart and the Jeep Cherokee. The Tigershark pumps out a healthy 180 horsepower at 6,400 rpm but only 174 lb-ft. of torque at 3,900 rpm. The mill is bolted to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is found on the list of options.
The 1.4-liter returns 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, while the 2.4-liter is rated at 22 and 31 mpg, respectively.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Fiat 500X is offered in three trim levels: Pop, Trekking, and Lounge.
The rather Spartan 500X Pop comes standard with a manual transmission, front-wheel drive, a manual tilt and telescoping steering column, a capless fuel filler, daytime running lights, 16-inch steel wheels, one-touch up/down windows, A/C, an illuminated cargo compartment, a black and white display in the instrument cluster, sun visors with vanity mirrors, cloth upholstery, non-tinted windows, a fold-flat passenger seat, six-way manually-adjustable front seats, 60/40-split rear seats, a urethane steering wheel, a four-speaker sound system, an old-fashioned AM/FM radio in lieu of a touch screen, remote keyless entry, and hill start assist.
The 500X Trekking receives the 2.4-liter engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, a drive mode selector, tinted windows, cornering fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a height-adjustable trunk floor, a color display in the instrument cluster, illuminated vanity mirrors in the sun visors, black cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a six-speaker sound system, a five-inch touch screen, a remote start system, and keyless entry and start.
Finally, 500X Lounge trims benefits from specific 17-inch alloys, automatic dual-zone A/C, a cargo compartment cover, ambient interior lighting, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, heated front seats, an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, a heated steering wheel, an eight-speaker sound system, a 6.5-inch touch screen, navigation, and a rear-view camera.
500X Pop buyers who want more content without stepping up to the next trim level can order the Popular Equipment package, which bundles a rear-view camera, rear parking sensors, a five-inch touch screen, six speakers, automatic headlights, carpeted floor mats, and 16-inch alloys.
Another popular option package is the Cold Weather Package, which includes heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a windshield de-icer. The Cold Weather Package is only offered on the Trekking model.
The Premium Package includes a dual-pane panoramic power sunroof, a Beats sound system with nine speakers, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
There is no shortage of Fiat 500X competitors. Fiat's first-ever compact crossover can be cross-shopped against the more rugged Jeep Renegade, the upscale MINI Countryman, the Chevrolet Trax, the Nissan Juke, the Honda HR-V and even the hamster-approved Kia Soul.