2020 Fiat 500X Sport AWD Review - Long, Tall, and Falling Short

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
Fast Facts

2020 Fiat 500X Sport AWD Fast Facts

1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (177 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 210 lb-ft @ 2,200 rpm)
Nine-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
24 city / 30 highway / 26 combined (EPA Estimated Rating, MPG)
10.0 city, 7.9 highway, 9.1 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$26,895 (U.S) / $33,745 (Canada)
As Tested
$35,895 (U.S.) / $44,445 (Canada)
Prices include $1,495 destination charge in the United States and $1,995 to $2,695 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.

The Fiat 500X counts as a crossover, somehow. Yes, it shares a platform with the Jeep Renegade, but then again, it also shares that platform with the Fiat 500L.

At least it looks better than that rolling blob of anonymity.

New for 2020 is a Sport model, although how much sport is gained is debatable.

After all, the mill underhood is a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 177 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. It pairs with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

It’s not exactly swift, but there’s more thrust on tap than I expected. At least enough for a simple freeway merge.

(Get Fiat 500X Sport AWD pricing here!)

The 500X surprises in a curve, too, handling better than a tall subcompact crossover should, with minimal body roll. Steering feedback is acceptable. You’ll never mistake this thing for a sports car, but it could be worse. It’s no penalty box — it’s an acceptable commuter. Sport mode does liven things up a bit.

A quirky-looking commuter, at that. It stands out compared to most anonymous crossovers. That’s not to say it’s pretty, but the look is cohesive enough. The oddest thing is probably the big headlamps – combined with the front grille/fascia that’s more fascia than grille and the car looks like that emoji on your phone of the neutral face.

Never thought I’d make an emoji comparison in a review, but here we are.

The Sport model adds front and rear fasicas that are different from the rest of the lineup, a black roof option, body-color side molding, a flat-bottom Alcantara steering wheel, and a slightly different interior look, including a dark headliner.

Out back, a rear roof spoiler shows that the Sport is meant to be, well, sporty. And from a rear three-quarter view, the 500X almost has, dare I say it, stance.

It’s a better look than what’s offered by the amorphous blob that is the 500L.

Inside, it’s a letdown. You’re greeted with a big steering wheel (the Alcantara DOES feel nice), an infotainment screen that’s poorly integrated and has a small screen, and circles and other rounded shapes everywhere. The materials feel downmarket, although the presence of audio-control knobs is nice. The HVAC controls aren’t the simplest to use in the world, but they’re easy to learn quickly. The gauges rest in a pod consisting of three circles, and despite the use of a fancy font, FCA can’t prevent them from having an economy-car look.

Unsurprisingly, the ride is on the stiff side – it’s a short-ish car with raised ground clearance. Smooth, she ain’t. Live in a place with pockmarked roads, and you might think twice before signing on any dotted lines.

Noise and harshness aren’t well quelled, either, but the NVH levels don’t drift into the realm of unacceptable.

Perhaps the real problem here is the price. I was prepared to write that the 500X Sport might present a value case, but then I pulled the Monroney and glanced at the final tally. If I hadn’t already finished my morning cuppa joe, my monitor would’ve been drenched in spit-out Starbucks K-Cup.

The 500X starts at a more-or-less reasonable $26K and change, but holy cannoli, the $35,895 final bill. That’s a lot. There’s a lot of vehicles in that price range I’d rather have, and I’m not even talking about cars that base at $35K and soar into the stratosphere with options. I’m talking other subcompact/compact crossovers that would be well-equipped, although not necessarily fully loaded, for similar dough. At least one of which is sold by another FCA brand. Hint: It shares the platform.

Heck, I can get a decently equipped Accord with the 2.0-liter turbo for less.

That price features a bunch of options, meaning if you want your Sport well-equipped, you’ll be checking a heck of a lot of boxes.

Standard features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, UConnect infotainment, keyless entry, stop/start, remote start, hill-start assist, Bluetooth, USB, 18-inch wheels, LED daytime running lamps, and fog lamps. Not bad, right?

Still, there are some popular features missing from that list. Like I said, prepare to start ticking boxes.

To be fair, not everyone will build a 500X Sport like my loaner. Many will show restraint when choosing options. But should you choose to load it up – all mine was missing was either of the all-weather packages that include rubber floor mats and splash guards – be ready to spend.

It’s not just the sticker that popped my eyes. It’s that FCA nickels and dimes you a bit. Shouldn’t the compact spare by standard? There are two driver-assistance packages, and to get the more advanced one you need to buy both. Not unusual, that, but you pay full price for both when you select the Advanced package. Seems like it might make more sense for FCA to offer the “lesser” package individually, and a discount on the two together, should you opt for both. I’m sure the bean counters could find a way to keep that profitable.

Another issue – a few options, such as dual-zone climate control, are often standard on cars priced in the $20Ks.

It’s at this point that the charms of the 500X Sport fade. At $26K? Yeah, I’d put up with its flaws, especially since it’s got some charms, too. But once the options are ladled on, the deal goes sour.

Those optional features included: black accenting for the roof ($445), leather bucket seats along with vinyl trim panel and driver’s seat back pocket ($995), the Premium Group (Beats audio, 19-inch wheels, sunroof, all-season tires, $1,695), Cold Weather Group (heated front seats, wiper de-icer, $295), Comfort Group (auto-dimming rear-view mirror, power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient overhead lighting, $795), Driver Assistance Group (LED license plate light, LED headlamps, front and rear park assist, $895), Advanced Driver Assistance Group (adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot and cross-path detection, automatic high beams, rain-sensitive wipers, $1,395), compact spare tire ($295), and UConnect with navigation and a 7-inch screen ($695).

Destination was another $1,495.

The 500X could’ve made a strong case for itself if the sticker price was more reasonable. But it can’t compete on value, and while it’s no box of bad, it’s not quite good enough to command this money.

Some folks in Southeast Michigan need to reevaluate their pricing plans.

[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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2 of 24 comments
  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jul 21, 2020

    I know of only one person who wanted one of these, a former coworker. She was over the moon with her regular 500 which was "worn out" after four years. She found that an acceptable longevity for a vehicle, and wanted to go more upmarket with the larger 500X. She went for a special edition one and bought it from out of town. Before she started price shopping, she was entirely sure of what she wanted. So my advice consisted of telling her how to shop for the best deal.

  • Jerome10 Jerome10 on Jul 22, 2020

    Besides styling, why wouldn't you just go buy a Renegade? Jeep dealers everywhere, lots of stock, and they're wheeling and dealing. And the dealership will be there in 10 years. And you can get parts. And you can get service. And and and....all the things you'd associate with any brand besides FIAT. Man Sergio really took these dealerships for a sucker's ride getting them to build these stores. Promising the world and delivering dog squeeze.

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  • Michael Gallagher I agree to a certain extent but I go back to the car SUV transition. People began to buy SUVs because they were supposedly safer because of their larger size when pitted against a regular car. As more SUVs crowded the road that safety advantage began to dwindle as it became more likely to hit an equally sized SUV. Now there is no safety advantage at all.
  • Probert The new EV9 is even bigger - a true monument of a personal transportation device. Not my thing, but credit where credit is due - impressive. The interior is bigger than my house and much nicer with 2 rows of lounge seats and 3rd for the plebes. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, around 300miles of range, and an e-mpg of 80 (90 for the 2wd). What a world.
  • Ajla "Like showroom" is a lame description but he seems negotiable on the price and at least from what the two pictures show I've dealt with worse. But, I'm not interested in something with the Devil's configuration.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I really like the C-Class, it reminds me of some trips to Russia to visit Dear Friend VladdyPoo.