By on April 11, 2016

2016 Fiat 500X exterior front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Dear Fiat (FIAT?),

I didn’t want to love your little 500X crossover. I frankly find the very notion of it ridiculous. In fact, the only reason why I selected it as my rental car last week was because the keys were strangely missing from the cabin of the Ford Edge SEL that I really wanted to borrow. If I hadn’t picked your bug-eyed cute monster, I would have had my choice of three different colors of four-cylinder Altimas. Not cool, Emerald Aisle. Not cool.

So, as fate had it, I picked the 500X. And like all the best romance stories, our inauspicious beginning led to a quirky, odd pairing that neither one of us wanted to end. Well, at least I didn’t. You probably didn’t give a fuck.

But this is our story.

It’s no wonder that I didn’t want to pick the Fiat 500X. It’s a strange, unorthodox entry into the subcompact CUV space from a car company lacking identity on American shores. At a time when many Fiat dealers are rolling back under the rooftops of their neighboring Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram-SRT-Plymouth-Godknowswhatelse stores, the brand desperately needs a volume seller, not a niche market car that has only sold 2,ooo units in a month one time since launching halfway through 2015.

Its stablemate, the Jeep Renegade, hasn’t been popular with writers around these parts, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s more a Jeep aesthetically than it is functionally, and the aforementioned aesthetics are almost comical in their attempts to convince you of their validity. Hey, look at me! I’m a Jeep! Really, I am!

But the 500X has none of that hype to live up to and no pseudo offroading capabilities to prove. So what if you took that otherwise appealing content from the Renegade, rounded it off a bit, and made it more attractive to different segments of the population (such as women and boomers)? Well, you’d have the 500X — and a pretty compelling little car.

2016 Fiat 500X inter front dash and seats, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

My first thought upon entering the cabin of the Fiat was, “Wow, this is much better than I expected.” Surprisingly, after a week with the 500X, I’m prepared to say that it has the best interior available in a new car south of $30,000. Not only does it look luxurious (my crappy iPhone photos notwithstanding), it also feels luxurious. Seating is comfortable and supportive. The dashboard keeps that Fiat design language from its little brother, the 500, with a metallic surface running its entire width. The steering wheel feels like pure money, with soft leather and several different steering modes that allow me to expend as much or as little effort in dancing with the Italian as I want.

2016 Fiat 500X Uconnect infotainment, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

At the center of the dash is FCA’s ubiquitous Uconnect screen. Oh, Uconnect, how I love you. Your intuitive nature, your bright screen, your menus … you’re just the bee’s knees. Uconnect alone is reason to select the 500X over other competitors in the segment. Everything about it just makes sense in the Fiat, and the user interface has just the right balance of touchscreen features and knobs. Syncing my iPhone 6S+ to Bluetooth is quick and painless, and phone call audio quality is acceptable.

However, the stereo system that the Uconnect operates is pure garbage, almost to the point of embarrassment. Any attempt to play music that’s bass and drum heavy (think Calvin Harris, etc.) comes through the speakers sounding like a drunken Cookie Monster. Classical music comes through as tinny and lacking depth. No menu setting can fix it.

2016 Fiat 500X interior rear seats, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

For a car this petite, the backseat is vast. When I hopped in the backseat, I felt that I could easily sit there for a trip of any length without complaint. In fact, two normal-sized adults can fit comfortably in the rear seats for long periods of time with no discomfort. Baby and child seats would also be no problem for the 500X. Unfortunately, a compromise that is made to have this much passenger space.

2016 Fiat 500X cargo, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

You guessed it. The cargo area is smaller than my Fiesta’s. I couldn’t fit a 27-inch suitcase in it, either vertically or horizontally. Even my colleague’s smaller Rollaboard suitcase gave the 500X fits — I had to do some repositioning of my smallish bag and laptop case to make it fit. It’s probably fine for most grocery runs, but you’re going to have to take an UberXL to the airport if you’re taking the family to Disney World, because the 500X won’t do.

2016 Fiat 500X instrument panel, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

But what about the actual driving experience? Here’s the real shocker: the 500X is genuinely boisterous.

No, it’s not particularly fast in a straight line. Fiat claims a 0-60 time of just under 8 seconds, and that feels about right to me. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder Tigershark motor, which utterly sucks in most other applications, is more than adequate in the 500X. Fiat offers three different drive modes (Sport, Auto, and Traction+) on the 500X, selected with the turn of a dial on next to the gear selector. When placed in Sport mode, the 500X immediately downshifts about three gears and becomes annoying raucous for daily driving. The auto mode is just fine for 95 percent of the time. However, the Sport mode is a lot of fun when pretending you’re Francesco Bernoulli on the highways between Detroit and Grand Rapids. Downshifts are quick (if not smooth) and passing maneuvers are easily executed.

The transmission never wanted to make its way into 9th gear — in fact, I wasn’t even entirely sure that it had a nine-speed until I double-checked it against the Fiat website. Even steady state cruising at 70 mph in auto mode was typically done in eighth. Even so, highway driving is much more stable than cars of similar size.

The suspension is tuned to feel and drive a good deal sportier than other micro-utes. It’s more fun to drive than the Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax or Nissan Juke, and it’s comparable to the Mazda CX-3. It manages to feel more solid than its stablemate, the Jeep Renegade, too, not only in the suspension geometry but also in its general construction. Panel gaps are consistent, materials feel soft, and everything just works the way you’d want it to.

Well, except one thing.

Yeah, that’s ridiculous. But even that goofy horn sound fits into the overall charm of the 500X. It’s one of the few rental cars that I’ve been sad to return. It’s quirky, it’s cute, and it’s not the manliest of cars to drive (cue the B&B chorus of I DON’T CARE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF ME), but I’ll be damned if it isn’t one of the most fun little cars I’ve ever driven. If I were in the market for a subcompact CUV, it would be right at the top of the list.

But that’s a big “if,” isn’t it?

The problem with the 500X is that it’s hard to imagine anybody actually being in the market for it. The Little Fiat That Could is up against some of the heaviest hitters in the industry. Nearly every major manufacturer has a very good entry in this category, and the 500X doesn’t necessarily do anything that much better than the HR-V, Trax, Encore, Juke, or — every autowriter’s favorite — the CX-3. Once you realize that those minuscule sales numbers I referenced a bit earlier include fleet sales, the 500X becomes almost invisible in the American marketplace. I doubt that most Americans even know that Fiat offers some sort of crossover, and those that do will find very little reason to stop by the Fiat store — assuming they can find one.

So what does it cost? This is where it gets a bit tricky. The base model Fiat Pop FWD, with its 1.4-liter turbo four that you’ll eventually find under the hood of the Fiat 124 Spyder, is just over $20,000. Unfortunately, so many of the things that I loved about my rental — the leather-wrapped wheel, the stiffer sidewall-tires, the chocolate-brown interior — induce a price premium. A Fiat 500X Lounge AWD optioned out like my rental? It’s a somewhat mind-boggling $30,055. I wish I had the chance to drive the Pop base model to see if I would love it as much. If any of the fun of the Lounge model has found its way into the Pop, it makes sense to consider it as a Kia Soul competitor. But at thirty grand?! No. However, with all the struggles that Fiat is having moving metal lately, real transaction prices are likely to be around $2,000 under sticker.

I’ll miss you, 500X. Your little smile, your drive modes, the little touches that make you unique. I don’t know if I’ll ever be lucky enough to find you on the rental car lot again.

But we’ll always have Detroit.

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138 Comments on “2016 Fiat 500X Rental Review...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    “Any attempt to play music that’s bass and drum heavy (think Calvin Harris, etc.) comes through the speakers sounding like a drunken Cookie Monster. ”

    clearly you’re not a fan of death metal.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Wouldn’t I be better off just getting the Jeep Renegade instead? At least I’d have a Jeep, arguably a better brand with better resale than a Fiat.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Overall, I think this looks more grown up/sophisticated than the Renegade – but as Mark mentions, more cutesy as well. And that won’t play well with male shoppers. It’s almost like an AWD Mini (CountryStone Sport X or something).

      Between the two if I had to pick, I’d end up in the Jeep I think. Finding a FIAT dealer for service in five years might be an impossibility. Jeep, not so.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Well, it uses corporate FCA interfaces and powertrains, so I wouldn’t think servicing it would be too much trouble (similarly to how Saab 9-5 owners could take their cars to any other GM dealership after the brand went under).

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          That’s true.

          One other ding on the 500X is the country of manufacture – Italy.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            That’s where the Renegade is built too.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ah crap. I didn’t realize that, though I should have. May as well get the 500X then, on account of too much cartoon in the Renegade. It falls in the same category for me as the Terrain.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I thought it was built in Croatia? or is that the 500L?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The 500L is built in Serbia in the Yugo factory. It is also near the Zastava Arms factory that builds Ak47s.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yeah, the L is on the next level of avoid at all costs.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            To me, that’s not a ding, Corey. Fiat’s reputation in global markets isn’t nearly as bad as it is here in the US and the only reason the US rep is so bad is because people don’t want to let go of a 40-year-old viewpoint.

            I own a Fiat 500 (not even an X but a base 500Pop) and find it an incredible little car for two people

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        I’d imagine you can get a similarly equipped Fiat out the door for significantly less money than the Renegade though, since Jeep is so popular and Fiat is, well, decidedly not.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      The Renegade is hideous. This is cute. See?

  • avatar
    Verbal

    You and your 500X need to get a room.

  • avatar
    RS

    Is a version of this going to turn up as the new Jeep Compass? Maybe they’ll use a different horn.

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    I’ll never forget the fit and finish issues that plagued one of the previous FIAT 500X’s reviews here on TTAC.

    One statement in particular caught me off guard.

    The “flash”, the plastic material that escaped the mold during the injection molding process, wasn’t trimmed off of the e-brake handle.

    Now I’m not terribly picky, but if you can’t figure out how to have the Goddam emergency brake handles (you know, a part which your hand makes contact with frequently lol) trimmed of excess flash, then what other areas of the car had you failed to inspect?

    No danks for the ‘Lil Mop Bucket.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    “cue the B&B chorus of I DON’T CARE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF ME”

    That’s not a chorus. That’s BigTruck. He’s just very loud, so he sounds like a chorus. We love him, though.

    Meanwhile, I had a 2016 Sorento as an insurance rental, but it developed a recurring flat-tire issue, so I swapped it for a 2016 Cherokee. I hate the way it drives—it seems like FCA tried too hard to make it feel like an old XJ Cherokee—but the design and ergonomics are well-executed. It’s the Limited model, so it has leather, keyless-go and the larger Uconnect screen. I imagine the 500X drives quite a bit better than my Cherokee rental.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s not completely true.

      I do care what others think about me so long as it puts more cash in my pocket.

    • 0 avatar
      NetGenHoon

      Kyree,
      Have you tried the Trailhawk Cherokee offroad? It may justify the XJ-ness of the on road handling.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I would imagine that if you OWNED that Cherokee instead of renting it, it would learn to drive a lot better for you. Because it’s had so many different drivers, every time it ‘thinks’ it has someone’s driving habits down, it gets handed off to another driver whose habits are significantly different, so it has to un-learn one set of habits and learn new ones–and sometimes (most of the time) never gets a chance to make all the adjustments it needs. As I understand it, the computer needs roughly a month to accommodate itself to its driver, depending on how much it’s driven.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I rented one of these a few months ago. It had been like my “Eleanor” of compact rental cars. I drove it around in search of Smart Cars to menace/intimidate/bully.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “it has the best interior available in a new car south of $30,000”

    – 2016 Mini Clubman?

    “If I were in the market for a subcompact CUV, it would be right at the top of the list.”

    – Even considering that it has been named least reliable car?

    “…and the 500X doesn’t necessarily do anything that much better than the HR-V, Trax, Encore, Juke, or — every autowriter’s favorite — the CX-3. ”

    – but didn’t you just said above – “For a car this petite, the backseat is vast. When I hopped in the backseat, I felt that I could easily sit there for a trip of any length without complaint.”

    – Make up your mind. Because in CX-3 spending more than 10 minutes in the rear seat equals torture

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      For all that there is massive prejudice against the Fiat 500 models (all versions) the car really isn’t as bad as its reputation–and that includes CR’s report.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Good point, Vulpine,

        But I do wonder about the styling. What demographic did they think would actually like it?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I’ll grant the styling is quirky… then again, so is the Cooper Mini. However, it does grow on you and it does get surprising attention–especially when you squirt away from a traffic light quicker than that giant, gas-drinking pickup truck that pulled up beside you. Sure, it’s not fast, but 80mph is easy to reach and you still have pedal available. It’s agile as sin and practically glued to the road unless there’s a strong cross wind. And that’s with the 1.4 engine at 101 hp.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Given resale values, I am tempted…

            I’ll be in Rome next week with the family, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to try one on its home turf.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Here is the way I look at it, what are your long term plans for it and what do you expect to get out of it after an ownership period? Most “terrible resale” type buys end up being the kind you run into the ground. If that’s your plan and you’ve research how whats going on with Tony Fixing It Again these days i say have at it.

      • 0 avatar
        HeyILikemySaturnOK

        Is there anything available to contradict the highly negative Consumer Reports, JD Power, and TrueDelta ratings re: FIAT reliability? I really want to like this vehicle, but all the ratings by these go-to sources would keep me awake at night if I owned one. Plus, being made in Italy parts would generally be harder to come by when repairs are needed (one would think).

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          @HeyILikemySaturnOK

          Yes. You’re right. That was about to happen. When low quality Chrysler/Dodge joins low quality FIAT, it is self-defeating to think that between these two, they can create an automaker that produces quality cars. In fact, tell me one thing Italian that is durable? Ferrari? – no. Closing – no. Furniture? – no. These things are pretty to look at and fancy, but not durable in any way.

          The parts will be easy to find but they will not be cheap. The problem with it is just simple fact that not many will be made and price per unit will be high. It is like Mazda3 vs Honda Civic. Civic parts cost 30-50% less because they are produced en-mass. There is a lot of aftermarket pressures to sell them.

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            My experience is not scientific, as its a sample size of two. however, I will say that both my and my parents 500s have been reliable. my parents have a 2012 500C lounge with probably 130k miles on it and its still going strong as my dads daily driver. My mom has actually commented on the quality of the materials, in particular the seats. my dad is heavy and normally destroys the leather of a car seat. Their 500 is showing minimal wear. I bought my 2013 Abarth used and have put over 25k miles on it (currently has 51k). I’ve only had one problem, a bad turbo that was fixed under warranty and didn’t really cause operating issues. Just occasional cruise control problems and a CEL. Otherwise, the car has been good. Both of ours are dealer maintained on Fiat’s maintenance schedule and are stock except K&N drop in filters.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    They need to make an Abarth version with the 3.6L.

    Ha ha, who am I kidding, I would still get a Q5 or something for family duty anyway.

    The subcompact CUV is a paradox. Who wants to pay CUV money and have CUV driving dynamics and fuel economy for something that generally has no back seat or trunk? This has a better back seat than most, but no trunk… if this is a family ride, where will the strollers go?

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      The X is for the single ladies: cute looks, lots of room for girlfriends in the back, room for little but their purses in the boot.

      The L is for the parents: Homely outside, but inside a paradise with a mammoth rear stroller storage area and an elevated rear bench for easy car-seatage and scenic views out the bus-sized windshield for the kiddos. Plus the rear seat flips forward completely for footwell-to-roof cargo space when you need to go buy a crib-in-a-box from Ikea. Not that much fun to drive, partly because the jackass who drove it before you didn’t fill it up with premium (mandatory for the little turbo motor to do its thing), and partly because the seats are unsupportive, but it does have a faint Abarth engine note, and you can get a million trim combinations. I’ll take Trekking trim, polished wheels, back or green with white roof, brown interior, and, uh, a Stage 2 kit for the motor. :-)

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        HotPotato just described why this two-time Nissan cube owner is lusting for a 500L pretty hard right now.

        I got an offer from a cousin who was thinking about buying my 2010 cube. So I messaged a Facebook contact of mine who happens to be a salesman at the nearest Fiat dealer. I asked for a quote on a Fiat 500L Trekking, stick-shift, no additional options. He said even considering the fact they’d have to truck it in from another dealership a few hundred miles away, my out-the-door would be $15,800.

        That’s an exceptional value for a family of four like mine. More room inside than the cube, by all accounts a better suspension/handling package than the cube, and certainly more fun to drive than the cube’s N/A 1.8 and CVT. If my cousin makes good on her offer and buys the cube at the price we discussed, I’d be in for $150 car payments on five years.

        I love the 500L. Like our cube, you either “get it” or you don’t. Most people don’t, and that’s why it sells so poorly. To hell with CR’s “avoid” recommendation — that was based mostly on the 2014’s “Euro Twin-Clutch” automated manual transmission that nobody bothered to learn how to operate. E.g. you don’t sit for long periods in a traffic jam with the gear selector in “D” because it’ll burn out the clutches. Stick it in Neutral, and that problem is solved. Same with shifting into “R” or “D” before the car had fully stopped rolling forward or backward, respectively.

        I’ve been crushing on the 500L pretty hard for a couple of years now. We bought a 2014 cube when we learned we’d have our second child — selling my regular-cab Ford Ranger that would NOT be good for baby-carrying. I tried to get my wife to check the 500L out back then. She was afraid of owning a car whose dealer support was two hours away from us.

        In the intervening couple of years, I have almost convinced her that life’s too short to own boring cars. Nissan has been good to us and mostly reliable, but the 2014 cube “S” trim was $19K OTD (!) and Nissan isn’t making anything quite as quirky or fun as the cube anymore. Sure, nowadays we could score a freakin’ Altima S for less than we paid for the cube, but who wants to drive around in an Altima every day? Lol.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Good to hear how nice it was but yes there are likely few people who even know that it exists and are willing to pay a premium to get one.

  • avatar
    laserwizard

    I have a coworker who has a 500L – her 500L is homely on the outside and rather nice on the inside. The kicker and deal killer for me would be the tires – there is something about this vehicle that REQUIRES tires to be purchased through the dealer – unique size I guess? This lady was stuck on the road for nearly 12 hours before a dealer could be contacted to get the tire – it could not be found elsewhere (she tried).

    I’ll pass on it – she’s had no real issues, but the looks make me gag and the though of having to buy tires from a dealer makes me want to scream.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      Pretty sure you can buy tires for your Fiat anywhere now. My 500L’s tires are the rather common 205/55R16. Tire Rack has a ton of choices.

    • 0 avatar
      S197GT

      laser…

      tirerack shows 161 tire options including snow tires for the “pop” size 205/55-16. “trekking” has 225/45-17: 163 options.

      i think your co-worker doesn’t know what the hell she is talking about.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Somebody’s telling your coworker fibs, laserwizard. Bridgestone/Firestone has tires that fit and possibly provide better performance. Granted, I don’t have the L model, I have a base 2-door version. I would expect that she ran into a quirk of the location rather than any real requirement to go to the dealership.

  • avatar
    sbspence

    Bark,

    You have an interesting flair for writing. I mostly enjoy reading your quick reviews ,but , a little advice? Lose the four letter sentence enhancers you lose a little credibility each time one pops up. It works over beers with your buddies, or at a truck stop , but not with the wide audience you have here. You’re too talented to resort to that!

  • avatar
    seth1065

    For 30K I could find better choices for my seat time, and I would take a GTI interior over this in a minute.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Sounds nice, but yeah, pricey. I’d rather see the tach/speedo combined and moved to the center, since you look at those the most, and the ancillary gauges moved to the sides. Do like that steering wheel.

    I think they made the right choice on the back seat vs. trunk. You can always add a carrier or trailer, hard to add more leg room.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Not one word about the performance of the AWD system?

    What system is it?
    Is it reactive or is it permanent AWD?
    Did it provide good traction?
    Did you try it in the snow?
    Did you try it in the rain?
    How does it compare to say an Impreza?
    etc.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      It’s reactive with a rear axle disconnect as found on other FCA products. Putting it into “traction” mode allows more wheel slip before the traction control kicks in; it also starts out in 2nd gear instead of first.

      I believe that using cruise control gets you access to 9th gear.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      It’s a rental review. The writer gets a rental and tells us about it. Not all that comprehensive, but you get what you pay for. He’s not going to take it 4-wheeling. Rain? I’ve logged about 100K miles in the Pacific Northwest, and AWD has kicked in due to rain maybe a half dozen times. Snow? Sure, but look at the first pic. Where you can see all the ground not covered in snow.

  • avatar
    craiger

    That horn made me chuckle. It sounds exactly like the horn in my 2006 Cayman. I never did find out if it was defective or not.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      Yeah the video make me giggle too. I go again to Bill Maher, ok we have to drive smaller and more economical cars, just dont make me feel like a little bitch about it.

      That 500x horn makes me feel like a little bitch.

      That horn is probably fine bombing around the Arc de Triomphe or a villa in Tuscany but in the middle of Detroit? Nah.

  • avatar

    I rented one in SanDiego a couple months ago and felt completely the opposite. While the interior isn’t bad, the rest of the car is terrible. It was one of the most underpowered new cars I have driven in a long time. Almost dangerous trying to merge into traffic at times. And gas mileage wasn’t even that good 18-20 mpg over the week I had it because you always had to wring it out to get power.

    Overall I hated it. But to each his own.

  • avatar
    cwallace

    Is that… Naugahide on those seats and door panels?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I was not aware the Nauga’s herd numbers had returned to a size sufficient to allow hunting again. They were an early entrant to the endangered species list after being driven to near extinction as the 1970s dawned.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        Surely you’re aware that Naugas shed their hides voluntarily:

        farm6.static.flickr.com/5128/5350027175_c7d7937da8_b.jpg

      • 0 avatar

        The introduction of farm raised alcantaras has significantly reduced pressure on nauga populations. Of course, there are those who insist that skins from only wild, free-ranging alcantaras, prepared with traditional brain-tanning, are the most supple and have the best “hand”.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        Are these as truly awesome as the “Corinthian Leather” Richardo used to describe in a silky tone in the Seventies?
        Who knew Corinthians did other than goat and that they did tanning for Chrysler!!!???
        Now that was some really exotic material….made outside New Jersey!

        From the internet: When Montalban was asked by David Letterman on Late Night with David Letterman what the term meant, the actor playfully admitted that the term meant nothing.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Pretty much sums up my impression of the car. I had one as a loaner from the dealer once and it was quick enough, taut, comfortable, solid, and surprisingly fuel efficient. However, like all the other vehicles in the segment, it was dull and uninspiring. If you had to buy a compact CUV it seemed like a good choice, but I’ve been pretty vocal in my questioning the point of this whole segment. Unless you need the 4wd and do some light off roading or need the minimal towing capacity, I’d get a Prius. None are inspiring to drive, so I don’t feel like I’d be giving any meaningful driving pleasure up, and the Prius has even more cargo space and twice the fuel economy.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I love that green paint. Even better with the brown leather on the inside. It looks like these cars are priced pretty reasonably, if you can live with FWD, no leather, and go easy on the option list. This appears to be the top-of-the-line trim, identified by that silver bar across the front.

  • avatar
    madman2k

    Never driven anything with the 2.4L tigershark, but the 500L we test drove with the 1.4 turbo was pretty entertaining. Good sounding engine and though it’s not really that fast it is fun to rev up.

    The 500L was ruled out because the cargo area was not big enough for a stroller.

    Strange, because it had a built-in fisheye mirror to see the back seat occupants, perfect for a family vehicle.

    This 500X looks OK, but it does sound overpriced.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      The 500L’s rear seats need to be moved forward to accommodate larger strollers.

      The 500X has even less cargo space.

      The thing with the 1.4T is that off-boost, it is a 1.4L gas engine which requires more leadfoot than Americans are used to. Then the boost comes on stronger than the driver may expect.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The 1.4T manual Pop piques my interest for two reasons:

    1. It’s substantially cheaper than the blinged versions that always appear in reviews. I don’t want cold-until-they’re-heated leather seats, or a sunroof, or AWD.

    2. The few reviews on the 1.4T in this car (and the Renegade, NOT the Dart) give it good marks. I will not buy the awful 9-speed automatic.

    The 9-speed auto doesn’t engage 9th gear until 80 mph, IIRC. FCA screwed up this transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      The big problem with the 1.4t pop is the lack of features. it has no bluetooth and a pretty pathetic 4 speaker stereo. The Jeep at least allows the 1.4t with the mid level trim and some features.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Yeah, I was playing with the configuration tool. There are 5 trim levels. The 1.4 only comes in the lowest trim level, which basically has no options other than the sunroof.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “Yeah, I was playing with the configuration tool. There are 5 trim levels. The 1.4 only comes in the lowest trim level, which basically has no options other than the sunroof.”

          Options such as what? Sport mode? Air conditioning? Cruise Control? Power windows and locks? Multiple power outlets? USB connection? Exactly what kind of options are you looking for that aren’t already there?

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Well I’m not looking for a car like this at all.

            Doesn’t mean someone else might not want: AWD, dual-zone A/C, blind spot monitoring, lane control, heated seats & steering wheel, parking sensors, a back-up camera, adjustable lumbar, bigger wheels, leather, navigation, a larger screen, satellite radio, premium (Beats) stereo, collision warning, automatic lights and wipers.

            Here’s the option list for the base Pop model:
            “No Packages are available for the 2016 500X POP FWD”. At least the sunroof and Italian flag badges can be selected individually.

  • avatar
    Chan

    The 500X’s biggest weakness is its cargo capacity. It does, however, have a relatively spacious back seat which cannot be said of the doomed CUV-sportscar-that-nobody-wants Mazda3. Fiats also have more ergonomic quirks than Japanese cars, but it’s not anything that an owner cannot get used to.

    In the age where most cars are generally very well-made and reasonably reliable, journalists are running out of things to pick on, so casual readers get the impression that Italian cars are still as weird and unreliable as they were in the 1980s.

  • avatar
    b787

    I drove a version of the car equipped with the 1.6 diesel engine, and I walked away with a remarkably similar impression. Although rather expensive, it was full of character and quite fun. However there was a dealbreaker for me – I just couldn’t find a good driving position. It just shows that no matter how good a review is, it’s still no match for a test drive.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Drives better than a Juke? Wow I wonder how an Abarth version would do. Still sounds like the Trekking Plus might be a viable alternative.. I just find the CX-3 too underpowered.

  • avatar
    Paddan

    My 82 year old mother leased this exact car (green/brown leather) 4 months ago. It’s been trouble free, handles well and she absolutely loves it. It has a decidedly European feel and hers seems well made. She came from a series of Mercedes Benzes and she is happy to be out from under that expense. She gets lots of random positive comments and likes that she doesn’t see herself coming and going. It also did well in IIHS crash testing. In the unlikely event that Fiat pulls out of the US, it shares enough parts with the Jeep to keep her going through the end of her lease obligation. It won’t win any racetrack contests but it’s unique and makes her happy.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    If you want one, enjoy FIAT’s fabulous depreciation rates. AutoTrader.com lists several 2015 & 2016 models with under 10k miles for about 2/3 of what they go for new – about $22k

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      Part of me definitely wants to enjoy their fabulous depreciation rates by picking up a cheap used Abarth.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      ” AutoTrader.com lists several 2015 & 2016 models with under 10k miles for about 2/3 of what they go for new – about $22k”

      Wanna bet they’re almost all rental units?

      By the way, why is the rent on a Fiat 500 almost double that of a Ford Fiesta?

      • 0 avatar
        here4aSammich

        Stumbled across a ’15 Trekking model here, leather, sunroof, 1500 miles on the clock (yes 1500) for under $20k. for those of us who buy and keep our cars, it may well be an option. It uses the same drivetrain as a lot of other USDM FCA products. It’s not tricked out with a CVT or turbo. It really shouldn’t be too expensive to drive for 150000 miles. I’ll assume it runs the same brakes as the Renegade even. It shouldn’t live up to a 40 year old reputation.

  • avatar
    SSJeep

    I hate to admit this Bark, especially since I own a “real Jeep”, but I did get stuck with an almost new Renegade from the rental lot recently. I ended up having the Renegade for 5 days. And it was a pretty basic Renegade – it didnt even have 4wd.

    But I really liked it – the Renegade was a lot of fun to drive, had plenty of interior space, averaged 24.5mpg, and just felt right. The Renegade seemed to have a good set of features for a basic version, and the stereo sounded great.

    I admit that all of the “easter eggs” are a little much, but they also render the Renegade unique in its class.

    I dropped off the Renegade wondering why so many people dead-panned it in the press. The Renegade is the best CUV I have rented, and I end up renting a lot of cars…

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      It’s good enough for Bruce Wayne. A Renegade can save you from collapsing skyscrapers, even without AWD.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Did he drive a Renegade in the new Batman V. Superman movie? If so, that’s shameful.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          This is completely bogus. Everyone knows that a unibody-constructed, part time AWD quote unquote Jeep could never dodge collapsing skyscrapers like a REAL Jeep.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I was more thinking he shouldn’t be seen in such a poor car, with his great wealth and general status.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          Yeah, he did. I’m assuming he grabbed it because it was the only thing at hand as he was racing into the war zone. Although I couldn’t help thinking that the car didn’t exist when Man of Steel came out.

          There is some pretty heavy FCA product placement in that movie though . You should see what happens to a Challenger when it gets hooked by the Batmobile.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          There was, in fact, an entire “city destruction” sequence where all the cars were current FCA models. Lots of Chrysler 200s biting the dust.

          Ah, well, at least they went out fighting, versus sitting on some lot for a year.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Good way to get rid of them, I suppose. Next up, Blues Brothers IV, sponsored by FCA! Have we got a Journey for you.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            A Journey is NOT the new Bluesmobile, heretic!!!!

            I’m thinkin’ an old police-spec Charger, with the Hemi.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You’re right, the old Charger is a very close facsimile of the Dodge St. Regis.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Corey, you disappoint me…the old Bluesmobile was a ’74 Monaco.

            With a cop motor, a 440 cubic inch plant, cop tires, cop suspension…it’s a model made before catalyic converters, so it runs good on leaded gas.

            Lighter’s busted, tho.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That ain’t what I’m talkin about! I was referring to all the patrol cars they destroyed. I thought they were the St. Regis or the Diplomat.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Not really. Most of the cop cars in the movie were old-school, pre-downsizing mid-’70s Dodges, with some Chevys mixed in.

            The story I heard was that the Chicago PD sold the production all their soon-to-be retired units, which pretty much all ended up nuked in that last chase scene.

            Plus one flying Pinto.

            http://s1087.photobucket.com/user/SteamMcQueen/media/P14/ford047.jpg.html

            Word had it that something like 20% of the movie’s budget went right up the noses of everyone involved in the production. Makes sense – you’d have to be tuned up to conjure that “flying Pinto” bit.

            Yep, I’ve seen that one WAY too many times.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I have never actually seen the movie, I admit. Never had the urge to watch it. Other movies in this category I haven’t seen include Airplane and Blazin Saddles.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      But didn’t you want to take a Phillips screwdriver and fix those tail lights? The 1st and most egregious styling error.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Clearly the writer understood one thing about the Fiat 500x; It’s fun to drive. It’s easy, it’s sporty in handling, it’s quick maneuvering and incredibly capable in a way more specialized cars can’t be. You want to fit bigger things? Fold down the back seats. Both fold nearly flat or you can drop just one in order to allow for a back-seat passenger. I’ve carried three people, two bowling bags with three 15-pound balls in them, a duffel bag and other personal luggage in a Fiat 500 Pop reasonably well, if not exactly comfortable for the back-seat passenger. Doing so in a 500x would be the height of luxury by comparison.

  • avatar

    I rented a fiat 500 for a month in January 2012. It was sluggish, got about 32-33 mpg on the highway–lousy considering how sluggish it was, and just wasn’t fun at all. I’m sure it was quite different from what Bark was renting, but if base 500s today are similar to what I was driving, I’d say avoid them at all costs.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      That’s a bit like saying a Malibu is a risky buy because you drove a Spark.

      The 500 and 500X share no parts. It’s unfortunate that Fiat couldn’t come up with a more creative naming scheme for their products.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I tried out a 500 a while back, and it was fun in the “go slow / have fun” mode. My main issue was the clutch and transmission – they were uncoordinated, making it hard to drive smoothly.

  • avatar

    See, THIS is the Fiat that should’ve followed the 500, not that rolling Picasso drawing of an abortion that is the 500L.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Other than styling, what is the difference?

      • 0 avatar

        That garbage DCT the 500L launched with.

        I think styling is a HUGE factor in my argument, though. The 500X is natural progression of the 500 and offers a beefier look, 4-door utility, and optional AWD.

        I don’t have any idea the point of offering the 500L.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I’m just speculating but 500L is still built by Fiat Serbia and the 500X is built by Fiat in Melfi, IT. The 500L may have come about as a way to utilize slack production in Serbia since both models extend from the GM/Opel Fiat Small Car platform. The 500L is also classified differently as an “MPV” but of course both models are very similar.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_500L

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_500X

      • 0 avatar
        Chan

        The 500L has a significantly larger rear passenger/cargo area.

        Unfortunately, the 500X wears its styling much better than the L does. Not that it should stop you from buying an L (it didn’t stop me), but it is undeniably awkward and takes some getting used to.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yeah, but the Pope likes his.

      http://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/story_large/public/thumbnails/image/2015/09/22/22/popefiat500.jpg

  • avatar
    PriusV16

    I guess I’m the odd one in the lot here because I REALLY like the design of this car. It harkens back to the age of automotive romanticism, especially from Italian designers, when cars didn’t all look like polished weapons.

    There’s absolutely nothing aggressive about the 500X, it actually looks quite elegant for a CUV and not like something straight out of thelatest Transformers movie.

    Good to hear it seems to be a very capable car, too.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      I’m of the opinion that car designers inadvertently listened to too many teenage boys by sourcing their design feedback from the open internet.

      Most real car buyers don’t really care for all that aggro.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I have to admit to perusing the used car listings and salivating at the low cost of some lightly used 500 Abarths. I owned one for a couple of years and do miss it. I was somehow able to sell it before the values really fell off the face of the Earth. I only sold it because I was moving to the Snow Belt with my two kids and only had room for one car for a while.

    I drove the 500x Pop (1.4 manual) and liked it a lot. Other than the basic interior trim and cheap fill panel where the nicer UConnect screen would normally go, I felt like it had all of the basics covered. The sticker was around $21k and the dealer was quick to offer $5,000 off that price. At $16k it seemed like a bargain, actually. At $30k, though, it just seems like an absurd choice, but I say the same thing every time I see a Buick Encore, and the Fiat seems a lot more attractive to my eye.

    I do wonder what Fiat was thinking only offering the 1.4 manual in a stripper FWD model. Jeep offers that combo in middle trim and with AWD. When the 500 was first introduced, FCA mismatched supply and demand by bringing over too many loaded automatic models only to find that demand was more like 40% for manuals. Perhaps they did this again?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      There could be a good reason all those Abarths are “lightly used,” you know. Just sayin’.

      • 0 avatar
        stevelovescars

        If you’re suggesting that they don’t get miles because they were always in the shop so “Tony” could “fix it again,” I have no idea. I can only speak from my personal experience which was flawless ownership experience. I bought an early Abarth and didn’t need a single repair in the 2 years I drove it. I liked the little 1.4 Turbo, it was a fun engine, made me smile, and even gave good fuel economy, averaging mid 30s even when I drove it hard.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I am far from a prude, and I drop F bombs frequently. But in an article about some lame crossover, if an F bomb really necessary? Pimpled amateur is writing, is what I am thinking.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I’ve said that many times on here, and I agree. “Adult language”? Nope. Crass, ignorant and immature, but that seems what human society has degenerated into.

      I’m sure TTAC doesn’t care that I spend less and less time on here because of that very thing, but it means a lot to me.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’ll admit to being a bit enticed by this one at the car show a few weeks back. Nice looking, sounds like a decent drive.

    That Fiat name, tho…I’m old enough to remember when those were a blight on the land.

    I just checked the used listings and I found quite a few with low miles (we’re talking under 10,000) that weren’t former rentals. That means someone bought and ditched it a few months later.

    Not good.

    I’d take a CX-3.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Two friends have bought these. One a loaded car like this one, the other a no options 1.4T stick. I have driven neither, but rode in the loaded one. I liked it from the passenger seat. First is a family with one teenager, second are DINKs.

    I’d probably buy a VW Tiguan instead, more my style, but I like the 500X.

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