The 500X is a not-so-small compact crossover from Fiat that competes with vehicles like the Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Rogue Sport, Subaru Crosstrek and new Toyota CH-R. Mechanically similar to the Jeep Renegade, the five-passenger 500X comes only as a four-door wagon with front- or all-wheel drive.
Powering the Pop trim is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower. It's offered only with a six-speed manual and front-wheel drive. Optional on the Pop and standard on the Trekking and Lounge is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 180 horsepower. It mates to a nine-speed automatic and is offered with both front- or all-wheel drive.
Prices start at $19,995 and climb to $25,150. Standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction and stability control and seven airbags. Also available are blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning.
Steer clear of the base turbo four on the Pop. It's overmatched and comes only with a manual transmission. Most 500X will be sold with the 2.4-liter four anyway and it's a competent match, providing peppy acceleration around town and middling passing response on the highway. When pushed the 2.4 will propel the 500X from 0 to 60 mph in about 9 seconds - average for the class.
Given the fact that all-wheel drive adds a whopping $2000 to the sticker price, front-drive will suffice for most urban buyers. Still, those wanting extra traction on slippery roads will find the AWD system competent and unobtrusive. The nine-speed automatic delivers quick, if somewhat abrupt, shifts and hunts at times for the right gear in hilly terrain.
EPA estimates for the 500X with AWD are 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Those are a tick below others in the class. Thankfully, in real-world driving most will find that it's easy to exceed EPA estimates. Straight highway cruising nets about 35 mpg and an even mix of city and highway driving will yield about 30 mpg.
Fiat gave the 500X a firm suspension, so, despite its tall build, the vehicle does not feel tippy. Instead, it feels well-planted and nimble around town. There's enough compliance in the suspension to soften large bumps, but highway expansion joints sometimes pound through. Steering feel is firm with good accuracy. Brakes have adequate stopping power but are challenged when the vehicle is loaded. Interior noise levels are appropriate for the class, but the 2.4-liter engine grows raspy in hard acceleration.
The 500X's roomy interior belies its compact dimensions. Front-seat passengers have great head room and adequate leg room. Plus, the seats are nicely cushioned for long-haul support. Adults fit in back too with better-than-class-average knee and head room. The seat cushion is flat and unsupportive, though. Outward visibility is good as is egress.
At 32 cubic feet, the 500X offers decent cargo space for a week's worth of groceries or two or three golf bags. All models have folding rear seat backs and up-level models get an adjustable cargo floor. Interior storage is modest with just a few open and covered bins throughout.
The Fiat 500X offers compact dimensions, decent passenger and cargo room, and lots of features for the price. It's probably not as refined as some competitors, but it makes up for that with a fun-to-drive Italian nature. Polished Uconnect infotainment system is a big plus in the class. Dealers should be willing to discount, so shop around and be sure to drive the exact model you intend to buy.