by Roger Biermann
The 500X range made its debut in 2014 as Fiat’s first subcompact crossover SUV offering to the market and became available to the US market in 2016. Sales for the 500X have been dwindling over the past four years, but with some appealing updates for the 2019 model, the 500X may prove a good buy for those looking for a decent subcompact utility vehicle. This year’s model receives a 1.3-liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine generating 177 horsepower and a hefty 210 lb-ft of torque, which is employed via a nine-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. There are a fair amount of competitors in the subcompact SUV market that the 500X has to face up against, including the tough Jeep Renegade with which the 500X shares a platform and the classy Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Both models offer more engine and transmission options than the 500X.
Coming into 2019 the Fiat 500X receives a range of new cosmetic updates inside and out, new interior and exterior features and a few new advanced mechanicals under the hood. The 2018 500X model came with a standard 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and an optional 2.4-liter non-turbocharged engine, both of which proved a little lackluster. This year the 500X receives a smaller 1.3-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with more power. All trims are now standard with all-wheel-drive combined with a new nine-speed automatic transmission. Other updates include new front and rear fascia styling, three new wheel designs and optional LED headlights, revised interior and gauges, and three new exterior colors.
The 500X exterior remains mostly unchanged from the 2018 model, the front and rear fascias have been given some minor cosmetic updates for a more rugged look for its offroad character, and have been upgraded with new daytime running lights and LED taillights. The Pop and Trekker trims receive standard 17-inch wheels that differ only in design, but the Trekking also has the option for 18-inch wheels which come standard with the Trekking Plus trim. Both the latter trims come with black roof rails, while a dual-pane sunroof is available on all trims.
All 500X trims share the same dimensions from the ground up. With a curb weight of 3,305 pounds the 500X is heavier than its main competition, the Jeep Renegade, by 135 lbs but holds a higher ground clearance at 7.9 inches with the Jeep at 6.7 inches. With a length of 168.2 in. and width of 75.5 in. the 500X is marginally bigger than the Jeep except in height, where the 500X is shorter by 2.8 in. at 63.7 in. Both the 500X and Renegade share a wheelbase of 101.2 inches, the result of the two sharing a common FCA platform.
Fiat has always featured its cars with a range of vibrant colors to match the retro-Italian design and cheeky persona, and this year’s 500X is no exception to that custom with a decorous color palette of 12 including Grigio Argento, Rosso Passione, Arancio, Blu Venezia, Amore Red Metallic, and Bianco Gelato. The new colors for 2019 include Italia Blue, Vibrante Green Metallic, and Milano Ivory Tri-Coat. The Trekking trim has the availability of the Urbana Appearance Package which comes in four distinct colors: Grigio Moda, Vibrante Green Metallic, Bianco Gelato, and Nero Cinema.
The 500X’s new 1.3-liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine delivers more horsepower than the previous year's 1.4-liter engine and only three less hp than the 2.4-liter. It does, however, receive 35 more lb-ft of torque, making the 500X more responsive at low speeds and more economical than its 2018 variant. While top-speed is of no importance in the compact SUV segment, no performance details have been determined for 0-60 mph or quarter mile speeds for the 500X, but expect it to be quicker than last year’s derivatives with more torque and better grip off the line.
Both the 500X and the Renegade possess a maximum towing capacity of 1,000 pounds which is below standard for the compact SUV class. Although all-wheel-drive is standard on all 500X trims, the Jeep Renegade and other rivals tend to offer front-wheel drive as well as AWD. Based on road conditions and driving style, the all-wheel-drive system engages automatically at any speed. It enhances traction on slippery surfaces and improves response performance during aggressive starts and dynamic driving. To maintain maximum efficiency the AWD system automatically disengages when front-wheel-drive proves sufficient enough.
The 500X’s new 1.3-liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine develops 177 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque dispatched to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission, all of which is shared across the 2019 range. Acceleration from a standstill is satisfactory, with the engine providing generous amounts of power and the automatic transmission switching gears smoothly as revs build up. The turbocharged engine is peppy and glides into higher speeds with consistency.
Though there are no other engine or transmission options the standard setup suits the 500X well, a lot better than the previous year’s bigger 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder turbo with a six-speed manual gearbox which proved lackluster and unrefined. The nine-speed automatic gearbox from 2018 paired up with the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine didn’t nearly match up in performance to the enhanced nine-speed automatic for 2019. The now standard all-wheel-drive across all trims has also been a huge improvement on the 500x’s overall compatibility and drive.
At its core, the 500X feels sturdy and grounded, and ride comfort is relatively h. The firmly sprung suspension makes for some rough driving on poor surfaces but smooths out turns at low-to-mid speeds with high levels of traction. Small bumps and abrasions are handled well with the comfortably cushioned seats providing ample absorption where the suspension doesn’t. Steering is light and responsive, brakes react instantaneously enough, and shifting is smooth providing plenty of control on rough terrain and wet roads. With the high levels of torque, the 500X is very responsive at low speeds but steering and handling can prove a little jerky at highway speeds requiring more subtle commands.
Each 500X trim features a three-mode dynamic selector with auto-mode, which is suited to everyday driving, maximizing comfort and optimizing fuel efficiency. The Sport mode tunes electronic stability control and steering calibrations for a sportier feel and faster driving response. Additionally, it optimizes the transmission shift points for improved performance and accelerator feedback. The Traction+ mode maximizes low-speed traction for when roads are slippery or bumpy by providing additional wheel-slip via specially adjusted chassis controls and more direct engine response.
Fuel economy estimates for the 500X are average for its class receiving scores of 23/29/26 mpg on the city/highway/combined driving cycles. This score is less than the 2018 FWD 500X geared up with the 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine and six-speed manual transmission which earned scores of 25/33/28 mpg. The 2019 range as standard with all-wheel drive does, however, return higher estimates than the AWD options from 2018. Premium unleaded gas is recommended for the 500X’s 12.7-gallon fuel tank, which when full, results in a range of 330- miles in mixed driving conditions.
Compared to many other compact SUV crossovers, the 500X has a high-quality interior aesthetic with retention of the classic Fiat retro-Italian styling and use of superior materials. Plenty of soft-touch materials have been used with properly fitted hard plastics here and there that don’t curb the level of quality, including a body-color dash panel. Comfort is high in the SUV crossover with quality cloth or leatherette cushioned seats with plenty of adjustability, ample headroom, and the cabin has been reworked for improved sound insulation. Cargo volume may not quite be as great as the best in class, but the space is still usable for the needs of most.
The 500X is a four-door SUV crossover that seats five occupants, where the driver sits upright and comfortably as expected from an SUV. Visibility is good with a panoramic view from the driver’s position. The front of the vehicle is roomy with plenty of leg and headroom for the driver and passenger, whereas for the rear occupants, space is largely dependant on the positioning of the front seats, though at default may feel a little cramped for adults. The driver and passenger seats are six-way manually adjustable in the Pop and Trekking with an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat in the Trekking Plus. The rear seats are 60/40 split foldable and the front passenger seat can fold down flat allowing for an array of storage capabilities.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel and gauge cluster have been redesigned for the 2019 range for better ergonomics and a sportier look. Seats come in either cloth or premium leatherette with a few color and styling options depending on the trim. Standard on the Pop come black cloth seats, Trekking gets black with premium quilted cloth seats and the option of Avorio (Ivory) premium quilted cloth seats, black perforated leather-faced seats or brown perforated leather-faced seats, which are standard on the Trekking Plus. The additional Urbana appearance package equips interior and accents of Miron (Metallic Iron) Black and Copper.
For the crossover SUV class, the 500X falls short in what it offers in trunk and cargo space. With the rear seats in use cargo space is limited to only 12.2 cubic feet, with 50.8 cu ft available in total with the rear seats folded. The front passenger seatback can fold flat, too, allowing for the storage of longer items. With all seats in place, there’s enough room in the trunk for about four roller bags and a small backpack. The Jeep Renegade offers a little more cargo capacity with 18.5 cu ft available with all the seats in place and about the same as the 500X with the seats down.
Interior storage compartments include a passenger seatback map pocket, large door console bottle holders, a front-center dual cupholder, two-way glove box and a small circular console under the USB and auxiliary inputs for phones and small accessories.
The 500X is loaded with interior features aimed at driver convenience and passenger consideration. Featured in all trims, starting on the driver's side, is the steering wheel coated in soft-touch leather with buttons for audio control and for manipulating the driver’s digital information display. There are power windows throughout and the driver and front-passenger seats are six-way manually adjustable. In the Trekking Plus trim, the driver’s seat is eight-way power adjustable and four-way lumbar adjustable. Also featured in the Trekking Plus are heated, perforated leather-trimmed seats and dual-zone automatic temperature controls. There is a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen in the center dashboard hooked up to the rearview camera.
To complement the 500X’s priority of comfort the SUV crossover has received a top-of-the-line infotainment system. A seven-inch touchscreen display has been equipped with the latest Uconnect 4.0 software and features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. The Pop and Trekking come standard with six speakers with eight in the Trekking Plus. There are two USB ports and an auxiliary connectivity port in the front cabin with an additional USB charge-only port in the rear row. Bluetooth connectivity is standard, while satellite navigation and a BeatsAudio premium sound system is available for all trims.
There have been no recalls or complaints recorded by the NHTSA for the Fiat 500X, though it has only been available to the market for a relatively short period of time. No predicted reliability score have been given by the likes of J.D. Power, but sharing underpinnings with the Jeep Renegade, we hold high hopes for the 500X.
Fiat offers a basic warranty on the 500X of four years/50,000-miles with four years of complimentary roadside assistance.
The 2019 Fiat 500X has not yet been crash tested by the NHTSA, while the IIHS has not tested the current year model. However, the 2018 500X variation has been tested by the IIHS, and we expect the 2019 model to score similarly. The IIHS awarded best available scores of Good in most tests, with the only notable bad scores being the headlights, which received the worst available rating of Poor.
Fiat has included an abundance of safety elements in the family-sized SUV crossover including advanced multistage front airbags, a driver inflatable knee-bolster airbag, passenger front airbag, supplemental front seat side airbags, supplemental side-curtain front, and rear airbags. Electronic safety features include electronic roll mitigation and stability control, and hill start assist. A front and rear park assist system and lane departure warning are standard with the Trekking Plus and available for the Trekking. There is also an advanced driver assistance group package available for the two upper trims which equips the SUV with adaptive speed control, automatic high beam headlamp control, blind-spot and cross-path detection, full-speed forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and rain-sensitive windshield wipers.
In comparison to other SUV crossovers, the Fiat 500X is a relatively good vehicle, but not the best. Excelling in luxury-comfort the 500X makes for a superb travel companion for a young family, but the rear seats are a little cramped with limited legroom for taller adults. That being said seating and driving comfort is great for its class and suits its purpose to a tee.
For a change, the 500X has superior interior materials with great appearance options and ergonomic setup, as well as a high-quality infotainment system and tech connectivity options. Visually, the 500X is a stylish vehicle with a friendlier aesthetic than its rivals, with the Jeep Renegade offering a more rugged/off-road look and feel.
The mechanicals prove to be compatible with the 500X’s non-sport oriented nature, while the increased performance and comparable efficiency from the new 1.3-liter turbocharged engine are a great addition to its portfolio of talents. However, as the engine is new and untested, reliability is a factor that remains to be evaluated.
Starting with the base-level trim, the Pop carries a base MSRP in the USA of $24,490. The mid-level Trekking has a marginal increase with an MSRP of $25,995 and the top-level Trekking Plus has an MSRP of $29,195. All prices are excluding tax, registration, licensing, and a $1,495 destination charge, and exclude any dealer incentives that may be worth hunting around for.
The 500X comes in three available trims: Pop, Trekking and Trekking Plus, all of which bear the same mechanicals and performance specifications.
The Pop is the base-level trim for 2019 and comes standard with 17-inch aluminum wheels, bi-function halogen projector headlamps, power, heated exterior mirrors with turn signals, cloth bucket seats, and six-way manually adjustable driver and front-passenger seats. Other core features comprise a review camera, a fold-flat front passenger seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, remote start system, start/stop technology, remote proximity keyless entry, FIAT dynamic selector with three modes, Bluetooth, a seven-inch touchscreen, dual USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, and a six-speaker sound system.
The mid-level Trekking is equipped with standard features including 17-inch aluminum wheels and available 18-inch wheels, automatic bi-function halogen projector headlamps, premium cloth bucket seats, cornering front fog lamps, and a more rugged-design in the front and rear fascia and lower body cladding.
The top-level Trekking Plus is just a slight step up with features such as heated, perforated leather-trimmed seats, power eight-way driver seat with power four-way lumbar adjuster, and dual-zone automatic temperature controls.
|Blue Sky Edition||1.3-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas||9-Speed Automatic||All Wheel Drive||$24,518||$24,740|
|Pop||1.3-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas||9-Speed Automatic||All Wheel Drive||$24,518||$24,740|
|120th Anniversary Edition||1.3-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas||9-Speed Automatic||All Wheel Drive||$24,518||$24,740|
|Trekking||1.3-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas||9-Speed Automatic||All Wheel Drive||$25,497||$26,245|
|Urbana Edition||1.3-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas||9-Speed Automatic||All Wheel Drive||$25,497||$26,245|
Additional packages for the Pop include a Blue Sky Appearance package which suits the Pop with interior and exterior satin chrome accents and blue inserts and overtones.
The Popular Equipment Package includes automatic headlamps, deep tint sunscreen glass, and a rear park-assist system for $595, while the Trekking model offers the $995 Leather Seat Group which adds leather-trimmed bucket seats and a driver seat back pocket. The Comfort Group adds dual-zone control air conditioning, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power eight-way adjustable driver seat with power four-way lumbar adjust, and ambient lighting for $795. The Trekking and Trekking Plus both have access to the Advanced Driver Assistance Group for $1,395 which equips adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam control, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, full-speed forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and rain sensitive windshield wipers. The Trekking Plus also has the option for the $1,695 Premium Group which adds 18-inch Matte Anthracite aluminum wheels, premium BeatsAudio system, and a dual-pane sunroof. The Urbana Appearance Package is also available for the Trekking Plus.
Value for money wise the mid-level Trekking would be your best buy. This trim includes a few more comfort and convenience features than the base trim such as automatic bi-function halogen projector headlamps and cornering front fog lamps. It also offers the most flexibility to optional packages, allowing for greater choice in features and customizations, whilst keeping to a reasonable price. The Advanced Driver Assistance Package is recommended with the Trekking trim, as its adds a host of beneficial safety and assist features while keeping the total cost below that of the Trekking Plus. The Trekking along with the Advanced Driver Assist Package and the destination fee comes to a total of $30,380.
The Jeep Renegade is the closest competing rival to the Fiat 500X, sharing underpinnings from FCA. The Renegade is powered by the same 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine previously found in the 500X that delivers less power than the 500X’s new 1.3T engine but also has the option to equip the same 1.3-liter inline turbocharged engine delivering identical specs to the 500X. Acceleration with the 2.4-liter engine is inadequate and feels unrefined, whereas the 1.3-liter turbo engine seems more compatible with the Jeep. Despite matching equipment, the 500X feels like the better drive, perhaps in the tuning of the gearbox. Drivetrains are optional between two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive with the Renegade, with the range-topping Trailhawk offering more off-road capabilities than any of the rivals in its class. The 500X and Renegade offer pretty much the same value for money, however the Jeep boasts marginally greater storage capacity and a more robust AWD system in the upper-trims. Making a decision inevitably comes down to aesthetics, retro-Italian or rugged all-American.
The Hyundai Kona may not look as good as the Fiat 500X but what it has to offer under the hood and in the interior surpasses the 500X by a mile. The Kona has two engine options, the lower-trims are geared with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission delivering 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, while the two upper-trims receive a superior turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission delivering 175 hp and 195 lb-ft. All trims are FWD with AWD available, which when selected adds an enhanced rear suspension design and lockable center differential for improved handling and ride quality, above that of the 500X. The Kona has a sportier feel than the 500X and receives more standard safety features. The 500X is, however, more of a comfortable vehicle than the Kona with its cushioned seats and roomy interior. We’d recommend the higher trims of the Kona line-up, with superior fuel economy scores of 28/32/30 mpg city/highway/combined driving cycles, more safety features, vastly more driver enjoyment, all available at a similar price point.