By on August 11, 2016

2016 Fiat 500X, Image: © 2016 Rebecca Turrell/The Truth About Cars

Fiat is marketing its new crossover as bigger, more powerful, and ready for action.

If you caught Fiat’s Super Bowl ad for the 500X, it relies heavily on sex appeal. The implication: that the 500X is more … erm … “excited” than the 500. So I was intrigued when a rental car branch recently told me the only SUV they had left was the 2016 Fiat 500X.

My rental, an Easy-trimmed 500X, exists on the second rung up from the base Pop trim, yet comes with all the features I require in a short-term, contract-bound, automotive affair: audio controls on the steering wheel, Bluetooth, and some power options. It starts at $24,635 with all-wheel drive and powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine pumping out a breathtaking 180 horsepower.

I’m always excited to drive something new and unique. When else would I get the chance to drive a Fiat? So the 500X was my daily driver for three days, which included a mix of highway and suburban driving, tight parking situations, and rush-hour traffic in downtown Boston.

They say you need to make deposits before you can make a withdrawal, so here goes: The 500X is not the worst car I’ve ever driven, because I’ve driven a Dodge Dart. It didn’t have the horrible Chrysler “Rotary Dial” shifter. Also, it had an adequate amount of cup holders and cargo space.

Alright, it’s time, Fiat fans. We’re going to break her down before we can build her back up. This might get rough.

I needed a larger rental car to take some customers and co-workers out (neither of my own vehicles are passenger friendly). When I reserved an SUV, my expectation was one of the usual suspects: Explorer, Durango, or one of the 4Runners I’ve seen popping up in rental fleets. I’ve never driven a Fiat before, and it seemed to have enough space for grown men, so why not?

Well, here’s why not.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first.

The 500X is really slow. I get it — no one is going to buy a 500X to take to the track, but it’s a lot of car for that little four banger to lug around. It’s really ugly, though beauty is in the eye of the beholder and some might consider it cute. And it’s definitely a Chrysler underneath all its hip European styling.

We need to talk about the transmission.

As a loyal stick shift driver, I find it difficult to acclimate to most automatics. I easily become irritated (to say the least) when they decide to shift illogically and erratically. Well, you can only imagine my frustration when I found out this was Chrysler’s maligned ZF-sourced nine-speed automatic. What does that mean to you, the driver? It means that you’re never in the proper gear for power. The slightest amount of input through the skinny pedal will cause a downshift, or two. Bark told me he heard it was hard to get it into ninth gear. I thought that sounded like a challenge. What I found out was that getting it into ninth wasn’t the problem. Keeping this car in any single gear for more than a minute is a test for your right foot. Just cruising on the highway you might be in eighth, to fourth, to seventh, to ninth, back to sixth — it’s madness.

2016 Fiat 500X, Image: © 2016 Rebecca Turrell/The Truth About Cars

Which brings us to my next source of frustration: the interior.

Although the headlights weren’t on, the car took it upon itself to dim and brighten the gauges. Because it was early evening, they were constantly flashing bright, dim, bright, dim, bright, dim. Or maybe it was synchronized with the shift pattern. Apparently this is a common issue. After some poking around online, I found forum members trying to figure out ways to trick the sensor so the gauges would just stay lit. This is another item I’d prefer to control myself as the driver.

The 500X did come equipped with Bluetooth streaming audio, but I couldn’t easily pair it with my Android or iPhone. I gave up and tried the USB port instead since I had to charge my phone anyway. The problem is the car can’t distinguish between audio files, videos, and photos. First, I had to wait about 10 minutes every time I got in the car for it to go through the contents of my phone. Then, as it was cycling through all the files, I’d realize that I was driving in silence. The car would get an error trying to play one of my photos, or I’d realize that it was playing the audio from a video that was on my phone. This was excruciatingly annoying. If there’s a way to remedy this, it was not made clear in the three days I spent with the car.

Finally, let’s face it, these cars aren’t targeted to larger drivers. I’m about 5’2″ and figured I’m the size of the target customer, yet I had a lot of trouble reaching everything. The turn signal stalk was so far forward that I thought the high beams had been left on. I found myself constantly pulling it back just in case. Recently, I had a Dodge Durango rental for a couple of days, and the turn signal situation was similar. I could barely keep my thumb on the steering wheel and reach the turn signal. Additionally, with the seat moved far enough forward for my short legs to reach the pedals, it was uncomfortable for me to reach the cup holders. I had to bend my arm back in an awkward way and carefully bring it forward so I didn’t dump my coffee out in the process. It just didn’t seem well suited for someone with my build.

But wait, there’s more!

Fiat fans, if you’re still reading, this part is for you. At last, on my third and last day with what we had named The Ugly Blue Bubble, the Fiat shined for a glimmering moment! I was picking up my coworkers in downtown Boston to take them to the airport. In true Boston fashion, traffic was a nightmare. Under 20 miles per hour and in rush hour, the Fiat was fantastic. My team had spent the day walking around and exploring Boston, so I had to find them in the North End. After accidentally turning down a road that closes down during the day, I maneuvered backwards down a one-way street and into a spot to pick them up. Once we were on our way, the Fiat filtered through traffic with ease. Some aggressive driving was necessary, and we were cutting off other cars like pros. Blind spots weren’t a problem, as the Fiat’s rump offers good visibility through its hatch. Space was decent inside the cabin, and yet we were still narrow enough to squeeze into tight parking spaces.

Despite some initial setbacks, I will give the Fiat 500X some credit. In the right situations, this could be the perfect car for some. Boston has inclement weather, rough roads, horrible traffic congestion, and a lot of people. A compact “SUV” with all-wheel drive, room for passengers and cargo, that’s good on gas and easy to park in tight spaces is ideal for the northeastern city. However, if you do a lot of highway driving with a heavy foot, you probably should consider something with fewer gears and more cylinders.

[Images: © 2016 Rebecca Turrell/The Truth About Cars]

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126 Comments on “2016 Fiat 500X Rental Review – It’s Definitely Bigger...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Interesting and different impression than Bark’s.

    FCA is a mess. Why is it so difficult for Chrysler to make good small cars????

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    I like the looks of the Renegade better, but, I’d probably get an HR-V or wait for Ford’s EcoSport. Oh, and the Chevy Trax no longer looks mentally disabled, so maybe I’d have to try it too.

    Does Fiat offer the 500X in manual/AWD form? Maybe that would make it an acceptable choice.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      The only manual offering is the FWD 1.4T.

      • 0 avatar
        stevelovescars

        Yeah, I thought this was a dumb move. Granted, manual sales are rare, but I would think that Fiat intenders would be more skewed this way. The Renegade offers the 1.4T Manual option in two trim levels and with FWD or AWD. The 500X only comes in base Pop FWD with the 1.4 manual. With sales the way they are, I won’t hold my breath for a 500X Abarth.

        Personally, I think that drivetrain is far preferred. I drove the 500X FWD with the manual and it scooted along nicely. I also drove the Renegade AWD manual and thought it was also a nice package even with the added weight.

        To be fair, C&D rates the 500X with the 2.4 at 0-60 in 7.8 seconds. I wouldn’t consider this slow or underpowered, though with four people and luggage aboard it might be a different story.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    OK I’ve been gone awhile. Why isn’t BTSR first anymore?

  • avatar
    kpkelsey

    I’ve rented these twice in the last couple of months. I didn’t have any of the weird interior problems that you had, and I actually kind of enjoyed the interior. OK, the audio is classic Chrysler, but it worked fine with bluetooth (better than the Infiniti that I had this weekend, but I digress – how is bluetooth audio optional on a $70K SUV?!?).

    The big problem that I had with the Fiat is the engine. It’s WAY underpowered and too loud. There’s no way that I could stand it for my regular car. I’m not a speed demon by any means, but I do expect it to be able to keep up with traffic while holding a conversation…..

    I want to like Fiats. I want the new Spider very badly. But this thing is not for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The engine ECU and transmission are programmed for maximum fuel economy, probably to make up for the Jeeps and Ram trucks. That makes for an underpowered car with loopy shifting performance – if you’re a bit of a leadfoot, or an aggressive driver.

      Most drivers I’ve encountered in Boston are a bit of both, and keeping up with them requires more power and a simpler shifting automatic. As Rebecca points out, the size is very helpful on streets laid out by meandering cows a few centuries ago.

      But bottom line, it’s not the car but how it’s set up, and for what purpose. FCA apparently doesn’t have anyone with exceptional programming capabilities, or maybe not the time to troubleshoot problems, or the ones pointed out could have been fixed before the first 500X left the factory. As for Sergio’s slams, he’s not a car guy but a master dealmaker, and he’s taken too long to pull off his deal of the century and hand off the controls to someone who knows how to run a car company.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        Yes. I have to roll my eyes at the author’s sarcasm about the “breathtaking” 180 horsepower. That’s an ample amount of power to make a relatively small and lightweight vehicle scoot–if it’s geared to do so. But the tradeoff is MPG, so they DON’T gear it that way. Consider the Miata, which is considerably quicker than most people realize and also gets considerably worse MPG than most people expect. Why? Aggressive gearing wringing the most zoom-zoom out of a small engine. The horsepower isn’t the problem; whether the transmission is geared to let you access it is more the problem.

        • 0 avatar
          Blackcloud_9

          While the the italics “breathtaking” might have been a little snide, the reported horsepower can often be misleading. When I was helping my brother shop for a used car a few years ago, we found the reported horsepower had little to do with how strong the engine felt
          2009 Honda Accord – 2.4L 177 hp – felt quite spritely from a stop. While a 2011 Hyundai Sonata – 2.4L 198 hp – felt quite lethargic.

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            Sure. I suspect gearing’s to blame there too–although I imagine that predates Honda’s CVT, which is always at the optimal gear ratio.

            Less likely, I suppose it’s possible that Hyundai overstates horsepower (they’ve been busted for it once before) and Honda understates, maybe to stay within a de facto insurance-rate bracket (e.g. 180 hp). Car & Driver once suggested that Ford understated the horsepower of its old Probe Turbo because it would be uninsurable for its young buyers otherwise.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Marketing your CUV as an engorged wang *is* kind of odd.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      “I’d realize that it was playing the audio from a video that was on my phone…”

      And in a similar vein, that could get awkward quickly. ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “Marketing your CUV as an engorged wang *is* kind of odd.”

      As is the implication that all the other 500s, as yet untreated by sildenafil citrate, are schmucks.

      But FCA is no novice at trashing its own products.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    You just don’t get, it’s all about the passion. All those little annoyances don’t make any difference.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    It seems like the biggest complaints are about what it’s not: large, fast, etc. Those kinds of issues come-up well before people buy a car, so they aren’t totally relevant. Same thing with seating position, I would never buy a car that isn’t comfortable for me. Being tall, that means most Japanese cars.

    The original 500 has the same issues with instrument panel lighting. It switches between dim and bright, and back again, with no shades in between.

    Do you know which of the two available entertainment systems you had? The premium U-Connect usually gets rave reviews, and the base one often gets panned. I know it’s an up-sell for FCA, but maybe they should only offer the one people want. Do they really expect millennials to buy a car that doesn’t pair with their phone?

    That, to me, is an issue with the Detroit 3. Some old-school VP always specs stuff that no-one would ever want in the base model, just so they can move people up to the premium model. The problem with doing that (after 1970 or so) is that customers just keep moving to “import” dealers. And they never come back. Ever.
    Fiat was FCA’s chance to stop that BS, but instead they decided to sell a European car the American way. Big mistake.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      “The original 500 has the same issues with instrument panel lighting. It switches between dim and bright, and back again, with no shades in between.”

      The reason for that is probably because, in some cars, eventually when it is too dark out they go dim to encourage you to turn on the lights (my Golf does that). So in the evening it flickers some as the light sensor cycles between too dark (dim instrument panel), too bright (dim instrument panel) and in between (bright instrument panel).

      The easiest remedy if it is bothering you is to just turn on the headlights.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        The 500 does that with the headlights on.
        I think the problem is that there aren’t enough brightness levels, and the system is too reactive.
        Drive around a city around dusk and it will blink as you go from sun to shade and back again. If the sun is low, it can blink when you turn a corner and the sensor goes from sun to shade. It’s annoying.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          Odd. I have never driven a car that adjusts the brightness once the lights were on. Usually it turns on the backlights that you can then manually adjust as desired.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          It’s controllable via buttons on the rim of the speedometer bezel as well as certain menu settings in the speedometer display. Granted, it’s not exactly obvious but knowing a little something about the car helps a lot.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        My Golf SportWagen has auto lights, so I’ve never used it in manual mode, but it would be completely dark (save for the MFD) if the lights were off.

        In auto mode, it has the cluster more or less unlit during the daytime, when the headlights are off.

        Around dawn and dusk, the instrument cluster lights up somewhat brightly, but the headlights stay off.

        When it gets dark, the headlights come on, and the instrument cluster dims to an appropriate level, so as not to blind you.

        I find that it works well.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          Its the exact same in manual mode (also have auto lights but I don’t typically leave it on auto), except in the evening if you don’t turn on the lights eventually the instrument cluster lights will go back to dim when it is dark out (noticeable if I’m under shade at a stop light or something, I always make sure the headlights are on when appropriate at other times)

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          Kyree…

          Hoping to hear more from you on your sportwagen.
          I was searching the internet today to see where it all settles on pricing.
          I saw a few reviews around the internet these last few days and it seems like it has landed on my must test drive before any next car purchase list.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          The 500 has a sort-of “glass cockpit,” so it’s always lit-up. The speedometer needle disappears behind the steering wheel, you end-up using the digital speed readout instead.

          Haven’t tried the ’16 updated 500 dash. It’s all digital, so it’s probably even worse.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      heavy handle

      No….to my eyes it seemed the transmission was THE issue.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “these cars aren’t targeted to larger drivers”

    Based upon your size and subsequent comments, I think you meant “smaller”.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The only configuration of this car that I’d consider is the 1.4T/6M “Pop”, which gets decent driving reviews.

    The 9-spd ZF transmission is a pox on every car that uses it.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I’ll disagree, SCE, though with the caveat that the transmission needs time to learn the driver’s driving habits. A rental unit doesn’t usually get that time and sometimes is forced to ‘break’ old habits to accommodate the new.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @Vulpine:

        Edmunds has had this transmission in a long-term Renegade for over a year. Every other blog entry describes how awful it is. Now this recent one includes reports of it ‘whamming’ so hard the occupants feel like they’ve been rear-ended.

        http://www.edmunds.com/jeep/renegade/2015/long-term-road-test/2015-jeep-renegade-trailhawk-more-transmission-woes.html

        It’s the same story with their Honda Odyssey 9-speed:

        http://www.edmunds.com/honda/pilot/2016/long-term-road-test/2016-honda-pilot-ex-6-speed-transmission-vs-elite-9-speed.html

        And, again, they had similar complaints on their long-term Acura TLX:

        http://www.edmunds.com/acura/tlx/2015/long-term-road-test/2015-acura-tlx-transmission-makes-abrupt-upshifts.html

        Good transmissions live in the background, or perhaps earn a few compliments. Bad transmissions make headlines. This one is so bad the reviewers have difficulty describing it, and it ruins otherwise nice cars.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Guess I’ll just have to buy one for myself and try it out. By everything •I• have been reading, those issues were resolved with the re-flash about four months after they hit the market.

          I also tend not to trust professional reviewers because they tend to go into the car with preconceived ideas.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “The 500X is not the worst car I’ve ever driven, because I’ve driven a Dodge Dart. ”

    I like how you say this while linking to a review that explicitly doesn’t call the Dart a bad car.

    this drum has been banged so many times it’s in pieces.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    What is wrong with the rotary gear selector? The people I know that have them seem to like them just fine.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      it’s different and that’s BAD.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        In concept, a rotary selector is a brilliant idea. It’s easy to understand (versus other monostatic gear selectors) and saves lots of space on the console.

        In practice, the 200’s implementation of it is a bit flawed from a UI / UX perspective. It is too close in position and appearance to the dials that control the radio and HVAC—because those controls are lower than they should be—and that is its flaw. From experience, it’s very easy to go for the gear selector instead of the temperature control.

        On the Ram trucks (which have had it since 2013), FCA did a better job of differentiating it. They did an even *better* job on the 300 (as of 2015), which has it on a fully-separate plane near the cupholders…sort of like how Jaguar and Land Rover have been doing theirs, and they were the first ones to have it.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        When one lives in a society that passes laws or regulations that require that step ladder manufacturers attach labels that warn users of the ladders that they could fall off and cause injury to themselves, one can see where folks would be challenged by that rotary dial.

    • 0 avatar
      Rebecca Turrell

      Whenever I’d had one there are two other large dials: volume, fan speed. So whenever I’ve been trying to change gears, adjust the volume, change the fan speed, inevitably I grab the wrong one. I’m not in love with Chrysler’s other choices either. I had a Jeep Grand Cherokee with the electronic shifter and 4k miles. I kept getting error messages, and had the hardest time getting it into drive from park on the first shot. I believe that’s since been recalled and there are some known issues.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      I’m trying to remember why it’s necessary to free up more precious center console space by using an ambiguous transmission gear selector — larger cupholders?

      Let’s say a carmaker decided to completely flip the manual shift pattern
      (1st gear, back and to the right, 5th up and to the left) — how would that play?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I don’t understand why FCA’s implementation of the 9-speed is so poor. I had no issues with it when I sampled it in a 2014 Range Rover Evoque and a 2016 Acura MDX.

    I do know that FCA licenses its version from ZF and builds it in-house; it’s possible that some programming or cost-savings versus the original design are to blame.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I drove a 200C and had no complaints with the transaxle. I’m starting to think the “widespread” problems with it are just a bunch of nattering Internet know-it-alls who say “everyone knows” it’s bad simply because “everyone knows” it is.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That’s funny, I guess it just depends.

        When I turned in my ’16 Jeep Cherokee rental, there was another guy at the counter, who was angry because the 200 he’d bene given shifted all the time and never seemed to have enough power…and he didn’t look like he knew about cars.

        My impression of that powertrain (2.4-liter Tigershark I4 / 9-speed auto) in my Cherokee rental was about the same. Plus the Cherokee is kinda porky.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        The initial problem with the 9-speed is that Jeep cancelled the Cherokee press launch because of it.
        Every auto journalist in North America didn’t get paid that week, didn’t get a free car, didn’t go to Moab (or wherever it was), didn’t get unlimited free food, didn’t get Jeep-branded swag. As far as “auto scribes” are concerned, the ZF 9-speed stole thousands of dollars from their pockets.

        Those people hold a grudge.

        European and other reviews (South African, Australian) never have a bad thing to say about that transmission. One could argue that Europeans are used to harsher automated-manual style transmissions, but it still seems odd.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “I do know that FCA licenses its version from ZF and builds it in-house”

      I think there’s your problem.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Kyree,

      Have you driven an FCA implementation (post-updates)? Maybe it’s no worse than the Acura and Rover versions.

      The hardware is almost exactly the same between ZF-built and FCA-built versions. Each manufacturer customizes the programing and final gearing to suit their needs. Maybe FCA decided to maximize fuel economy instead of drivability.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I’ve driven the 2016 Cherokee and 200, both in I4 and V6 versions. It is a bit more tolerable in the V6s, but still aggravating.

        I hear it works decently in the new Pacifica, though.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        One issue I would note with most automakers is that they’re really pushing the limits on the final-drive ratio. In their efforts to extend fuel mileage, they’re pushing final drive well below the 3.0:1 which forces the engine to work that much harder just to get up to speed. That’s why we’re now seeing these 8-, 9- and 10-speed transmissions as they have to go extra low in first gear just to get that driveshaft turning. A 3.50:1 final drive with a taller overdrive would offer a similar revs-to-wheels number at highway speed while making it easier for a smaller engine to get the vehicle moving in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      RS

      It was actually pretty good in the Pacifica I test drove a couple of weeks ago.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      And like I posted yesterday…my experience in my one test drive of the new Pacifica was verrrry positive. I never saw the bad side, and I really, really tried in up and down hill MO Ozark city driving.

      I am curious how this trans is so different in different cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “I am curious how this trans is so different in different cars.”

        See if you can find out the final drive and transmission gear ratios. I’m betting the final drive isn’t as tall while the tranny ratios may be marginally taller between gears.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      I test-drove the ProMaster City about a month ago. I found the transmission to be totally unobtrusive.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I’m thinking these will have stunningly poor resale…so in a few years any fans should be able to pick up a great buy on one.
    I wonder what the long term reliability of this transmission will be? Sounds like it is a very busy little mechanism.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Short-term, definitely low resale. Longer-term, it may become a minor classic because it’s relatively rare and unique-looking. It shares mechanicals with the very popular Renegade, so servicing and parts aren’t an issue.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    SO MANY assumptions! Sorry, but as a Fiat 500 Pop owner I simply have to argue nearly every one of his points. Yes, I have driven the 500x and it is quite good across the board, though I agree it does have some issues due to its being essentially an Italian vehicle.

    First off, despite running on the same basic platform as the Renegade, that doesn’t make it a “typical Chrysler.” The platform is the same one used by the Fiat Panda, so it’s based on a purely Italian vehicle just given a 500’s face and tail treatments. Personally, I’d prefer the Panda over the fake ‘500’ look. http://www.fiat.com/panda-4×4.

    Second, slow is in the pants of the driver. While I agree that it’s not the quickest thing on the roads, I’ve driven much worse in much bigger vehicles. That 9-speed transmission carries a VERY low first gear to get it moving and works its way up the gears relatively smoothly; much more so than those old 3- and 4-speed automatics we used to have. Not all that long ago I owned a similarly-sized vehicle with a 2.2 and 145 horses and I simply would not have bought it were an automatic transmission the only choice. In that one, the stick gave it some life but I’ll also tell you that in the 12 years I owned it it got much, much quicker. You can’t assume that a car that’s barely broken in (if at all) will remain sluggish throughout its life. It’s all in how you drive and maintain it.

    And by no means is the 500x or even the 500 itself meant for a small driver; my wife is 6′ tall with long legs and it fits her quite fine. The 500 is her primary driver and she has no trouble with leg room. The author’s problem is that he’s too small for the car at 5’2″, though he might have considered trying to pump down the seat height adjustment and it might have made things a little easier for him. Granted, the thing is almost purely a 4-seater and won’t be comfortable for a bunch of big people, but for what it is it’s surprisingly roomy.

    Now, I’ll grant that FCA’s U-connect is not very intuitive and I’ll even grant that it’s not very accommodating to today’s smartphones… in the base form as seen in the author’s rental. That doesn’t mean it’s really as bad as the author complains; the controls are simple enough for using the phone like an iPod and I’ve never seen it have trouble recognizing the difference between an audio/video file and an image file. Bluetooth? U-connect doesn’t like trying to pair with multiple different phones, especially if one of the prior renters somehow set their phone as the “primary” phone which then relegates all others that pair in take secondary status. Honestly, you need the manual to set that one up.

    As for those lights… I’m betting the author doesn’t know about the menu features in the speedometer display. All of those lighting features can be modified. Of course, in a rental people aren’t likely to try working their way through that menu unless they’re using the car for more than two or three days but there’s quite a few settings you wouldn’t expect to see in there, including the ability to activate daylight running lamps or leave them off.

    As such, I attribute most of the author’s negative commentary to simply not understanding the car; that’s why I give very little credence to Rental Reviews.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      So FCA makes nothing suitable for people under about 5’5″?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        And Toyota makes nothing suitable for people over 5’11” as far as my wife is concerned (6′ with long legs and she’s cramped under the wheel of even Toyota’s pickup trucks.)

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “SO MANY assumptions! Sorry, but as a Fiat 500 Pop owner I simply have to argue nearly every one of his points.”

      I’d argue this point…unless, of course, you want to argue that someone named Rebecca is a man…

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      You DO realize that the 500 Pop and the 500X share very few components?

      Your 500 Pop is a 1.4/5M or 1.4/6A, while the 500X she drove is the 2.4/9A, which drives totally different?

    • 0 avatar

      While I enjoyed the 500X myself, you can’t rip a reviewer apart and then completely miss the fact that she’s a woman. How closely did you read, sir?

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Agree with all of what you’ve written. Also, Fiats are niche cars and not for everybody. That’s why they build Corollas and Versas and Sentras and other execrable cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Rebecca Turrell

      I’ll address the issues that I’m in fact female, I keep my music on my android and not my iphone so I can’t speak to compatibility with Apple products, and I did attempt to figure out the various menus but became frustrated and gave up. However I did do some reading on the Fiat forums and members there cited covering the sensors for the dash lights as a solution.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Very good, Rebecca. Thanks for the update.

        Now if they had only added a Sport mode button. Downshifts sooner, holds gear longer and makes the 500 Pop a lively little car.

  • avatar
    Jgwag1985

    I’m 6’6″ . I fit comfortably in the front seats(Trekking Plus awd, no sunroof). I have even sat in the back(60 mile ride), sure it was tight. But what vehicle of the same length does not have a tight back seat? Quicknes? well in a C&D 6 car comparison 3rd quickest. Phone pairs, or not able to listen to music on your phone. Who cares, it’s kind of like complaining about lack of a manual, you want analog lifestyle in transmission but not any other part of driving experience

    I don’t link my phone, and I have sat radio. the parting shot by the author, the backhanded compliment. Why even bother.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Phone pairs, or not able to listen to music on your phone. Who cares”

      Even if you personally think it is stupid, if someone paid for a feature installed by the automaker from the factory then it should work. If FCA can’t make a reliable system at this price point then they should not offer one.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        They can make a reliable system, but they charge you extra for it. I really doubt that the few buyers who upgrade from “Easy” to “Lounge” for the better radio are worth the bad publicity.

        This article is a case in point. Nobody wants a car that won’t pair with a phone. If not for yourself, then for future resale. What was FCA thinking when they decided to offer crap base radios? It boggles the mind. Ten dollars saved (if that), ten thousand sales lost!

      • 0 avatar
        Jgwag1985

        The point is, author wants driving experience, that’s why she complained about lack a manual. Phone, music are not driving experiences. They interfere with driving experience. If author cares so much about the driving experience…………..btw did she attempt to remedy the problem (phone downloads) by reading the manual? Going online looking it up? I guess Fiat should have known telepathically author of this story was having problems. No where did author mention looking for solution. “If there’s a way to remedy this, it was not made clear in the three days I spent with the car.” So does that sound like someone actively trying find a solution, or someone that expects someone to show up out of nowhere and solve a problem they didn’t know existed? This was a rental car, not a press launch by people that can explain how the vehicle works.

    • 0 avatar
      Rebecca Turrell

      I get a lot of windshield time at work, so I appreciate a good driving experience as well as having certain creature comforts. Mellennials are very concerned with how the things they use will be a personal reflection. This is why we can “like” and “swipe right” and thumbs up and thumbs down everything to filter in only what we care about. I think I’m in the majority of people who want to be able to easily link their phone to get their music, and not be at the mercy of SXM.

      As for reading the manual, I consider myself pretty technically inclined. When I worked in retail I used to do deliveries for other salesmen on cars that had a lot of tech in them, because I was the only one on the floor who knew the systems well. I can climb into most cars and figure my way through things. Telepathic isn’t the right word, I do believe that these systems should be Intuitive for basic functions (like paring a phone)

      • 0 avatar
        Jgwag1985

        and to do those things requires things like actually reading(the manual) or research (on the internet). I guess by your perspective everything should be handed to millennials. Again, did author even attempt to find a solution or just complain? The 10 minutes she wasted trying to pair phone would have been the perfect opportunity to do a little research. No just want everything handed to you, when it doesn’t happen complain.

        • 0 avatar
          Rebecca Turrell

          Hi this is the author btw. I don’t think everything SHOULD be handed to Millennials, but whether we like it or not that’s what Millennials expect (for the most part it seems). Most rental cars I get into pick up my phone before I even get a chance to go try to pair them. Am I lazy for not looking up the instructions? Probably. Should I have to? No. There are other interfaces out there that require less work

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Ignore this guy Rebecca. You dared to not like a car that he owns (thereby inherently trashing his decision making) and now he is painting broad strokes and casting you as a lazy entitled millennial. I’m a 31 year old engineer who loves tech and I agree with you, if something like phone pairing isn’t intuitive to the point of “hit menu, find phone settings, hit pair” then that is not your fault.

            UI design is important. The more complex the functions below the surface, they still have to be usable by pretty much anyone who knows how to operate any sort of modern convenience tech. Hyundai makes pairing any phone over a base unit with a 5 line LCD dead simple. This falls squarely on FCA. If I released drawings that were so jargon laced and obscure that only another engineer could use them, I’d be out of business right quick. This is the same deal.

            As an aside, learn how to have a discussion on differing opinions rather than casting broad strokes. “Hey Rebecca, good writeup. I noticed you didn’t find 180 hp suitable for this size of vehicle, but its pretty common power level for this class. Was it the constant gear hunting, the power delivery or the coarseness of the motor that made it feel slower than you would have considered acceptable?”

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            +1 DavefromCalgary

          • 0 avatar
            Jgwag1985

            “Should I have to? No. There are other interfaces out there that require less work.” Again, you do feel entitled. The other interfaces that take more work. I guess you are just out of luck? Look into a manual. I saw a millennial call his salesman because he couldn’t unlock his(locking) VW gas cap. (Hold gas cap so it doesn’t move, turn key). Look it up in manual. If I can’t figure something out in my car after a minute, I look it up, and I don’t think/say how much easier it was in my other car, or other cars. All cars are different. Phone interface is not universal, mandatory, or mandated. It’s not a turn signal stalk.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Jgwag,
            We dues-paying members of the Kid-Hating Bitter Old Turds union are not pleased with your attempts to scab our gig.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Ignore WHAT guy, Dave? The guy who owns a Fiat but has NOT argued that she’s too lazy or unwilling to look up information, or the guy who does NOT own a Fiat but uses sexist and generational slurs against her?

            I at least acknowledged her follow-up comment and thanked her for the clarification. I did not continue the critique.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Vulpine I wasnt talking about you. Your thread above seemed satisfactorily concluded and I wasn’t poking my head in.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Some aggressive driving was necessary, and we were cutting off other cars like pros.”

    Love this observation on driving in Boston, which is BY FAR the worst city I’ve ever had to drive in. New York? L.A.? They’re gridlocked but at least you can figure out where you’re going. The layout of Boston streets just proves that LSD existed in the 17th century.

    Great town, horrible driving. Ditch the car and take the T.

    (By the way, I kind of dig this car when it’s done up in orange.)

  • avatar
    NN

    Funny–I literally wrote a rental review for this exact same car last night on the plane, and I was going to submit it today. I’ll still do so as I have some additional points being made, but we are very much on the same wavelength on this car. And oh gawd that awful transmission!

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Funny I had a totally different impression. I had a 500X as a loaner (it was the 2.4 9A FWD) and I found the power perfectly adequate for what the vehicle was and had no issues with the 9 speed transmission. It rarely used 9th gear, but otherwise the shifting itself was fine. I drove it 300 miles round trip at 75 mph and it did fine. My only real criticism of it was that it was rather dull and boring.

    • 0 avatar
      here4aSammich

      I haven’t driven a 500X yet myself, but I’ve experienced the same powertrain in various Chrysler 200s. Like you, I found it at least adequate. I was impressed that the transmission could hold the cruise control set to 75 in the mountains of the the West Virginia turnpike, both up and downhill. I suspect most of the 9 speed haters have never actually driven a car with the transmission in it.

  • avatar

    nice review

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Solid review. I’m wondering how the 500X compares to a Juke. The 500X is more spacious and practical and the driving position might be a bit better for taller folks plus no CVT.

    • 0 avatar
      Powerlurker

      The Juke is very cramped on the inside and the interior is crap, but it handles far better than it has any right to and the CVT is actually quite good. If you’re curious, I’d recommend at least giving it a test drive.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    More women perspective.
    Please.

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