By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
The 2017 Fiat 500X blends chic Italian design with all-wheel-drive capability and the higher ride height and cargo versatility of a small SUV. Like its rivals the Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax, Mazda CX-3 and its Jeep cousin the Renegade, the Fiat 500X is part of a burgeoning group of subcompact-crossover SUVs. Beyond its stylish design inside and out, the 500X also features a host of safety features that can prevent an accident and monitor the vehicle's blind spots. The 500X's sub-$21,000 starting price is also appealing, but this Fiat crossover SUV suffers from a languid 9-speed automatic transmission, poor resale value and a ride quality that is neither as athletic as a CX-3, nor as comfortable as a Trax.
If you love the notion of driving a Fiat but need something bigger than the 500 and can't stomach the looks of the 500L, the 500X could be the little Italian for you. The only Fiat available with all-wheel drive, it can also appeal to those in cold-weather states.
Though just a year old, the 500X already has chinks in its armor. The Honda HR-V is more versatile, more efficient, roomier, drives better and has more cargo capacity. The Jeep Renegade is better suited for off-roading, and the Mazda CX-3 handily outshines the Fiat in handling and fuel economy.
KBB Expert Ratings
The Fiat 500X debuted only last year, but Fiat is already simplifying the lineup, cutting trim options to just three: Pop, Trekking and Lounge. A reshuffling of package options aims for more personalization among the lineup.
We had high hopes for the Fiat 500X, thinking it might be a less expensive alternative to the scrappy Mini Countryman. Unfortunately, unlike the Mini or even...
... a Mazda, the 500X isn't very satisfying. It feels nervous and is disappointing compared to the Honda HR-V, Chevy Trax, Mazda CX-3 and its own cousin the Jeep Renegade. It bounces over modest road imperfections, though we do give it credit for absorbing freeway expansion joints. While some of our testers didn't mind the Fiat's electrically assisted steering, others thought it felt unnatural. One of our biggest gripes is with the 9-speed automatic transmission (a 6-speed manual is available only on base versions with the 1.4-liter engine). While power output is decent from the 2.4-liter, the automatic transmission just doesn't use it as well as it could with its slow reactions and occasional hard shifts. The Fiat 500X scores some points for its quiet cabin.
While many vehicles now offer adjustable drive modes, the Dynamic Selector in the new 500X surprised us not just by offering notable differences between the modes, but by being available in almost every model, and in front- and all-wheel drive.
ADVANCED SAFETY SYSTEMS
It's gratifying to see how quickly things like lane-keeping assist and collision-mitigation systems have trickled from luxury cars to mainstream vehicles like the 500X. Everyone deserves safety, and these optional systems, along with blind-spot detection, expand that safety envelope for Fiat 500X buyers.
One of the best attributes of the 2017 500X is its interior: stylish and surprisingly refined, with soft-touch points, and high-quality controls all sensibly arranged. The front seats are comfortable, and it's easy to find a good driving position. Rear headroom is pretty good, although there's not a lot of legroom. Cargo space expands quickly thanks to fold-down rear seats, and the flip-forward passenger seat helps this little SUV handle items like a surfboard. We also like the optional, configurable color display between the gauges. The central screen ranges from a small 3-inch display to the well-regarded 6.5-inch Uconnect touch-screen infotainment system.
Fiat wisely chose the sporty and cute 500 as inspiration for its most mainstream vehicle, and the new 500X may very well be the best-looking Fiat you can buy in the U.S. outside of the new Fiat 124 convertible. With nice proportions and just enough hints of the smaller 500 to make it interesting, the 500X is a sharp-looking compact-crossover SUV. Of the three versions available for 2017, the Trekking models look toughest with their pronounced front fascia that looks like something you'd see on a rugged SUV.
For 2017, the Fiat loses the former Easy and Trekking Plus trims, leaving the Pop base model, midtrim Trekking, and top-end Lounge. The least expensive 500X Pop is pretty basic, but does have air conditioning, power windows, 6-way-manual-adjust front seats and a 4-speaker AM/FM audio system with USB port. In base form, the 500X doesn’t include Bluetooth connectivity or an automatic transmission, the latter of which may not be a bad thing considering it’s the hard-to-recommend 9-speed automatic. We'd recommend this model only with the Popular Equipment Package ($995) that adds rearview camera, Uconnect 5.0 touch-screen system with Bluetooth connectivity, and more.
Stepping up to the Trek model will bring some life-pleasing features both big and small. Among them are illuminated vanity mirrors (who wants to apply makeup in the dark?), premium steering wheel, 6-speaker audio system and the Uconnect 5.0 system, and keyless entry. Top-line Lounge models include the 6.5-inch touch-screen Uconnect system with navigation, heated and power-operated front seats and heated steering wheel, and 8-speaker audio system. Other options vary by trim and include leather interior and the BeatsAudio system. Available safety features are blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, rearview camera and forward-collision warning with automatic brake assistance.
The base Fiat 500X Pop model comes standard with a 160-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. It's the only way to get a manual-transmission 500X, and unlike the Jeep Renegade, you can't get an all-wheel-drive (AWD) model with a manual transmission, only front-wheel drive (FWD). Optional on the Pop, and standard on all other models, is a 180-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that comes with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Available in front- and all-wheel drive, the engine puts out plenty of horsepower, but the 9-speed automatic suffers from unrefined shifts and is ultimately hard to recommend. On the plus side, the part-time all-wheel-drive system fully disengages the rear-drive portion when the SUV doesn't need it, helping fuel economy.
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4
160 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg
180 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
175 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 mpg (FWD), 21/29 mpg (AWD)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The Fiat 500X Pop has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $20,990. That's certainly alluring, but the base model lacks features like Bluetooth connectivity and a rearview camera, both standard on the way more recommendable Honda HR-V, which actually begins at a lower price. Moving up trims, the Fiat's value proposition doesn't get any better. Midtrim Trekking models start at $24,330, while the topline 500X Lounge goes for $26,130. Go all-in for a top-line all-wheel-drive model, and you'll be in the $30,000 range. Style indeed has its price. You can do far better in the aforementioned Honda HR-V or a Mazda CX-3, Chevrolet Trax, Subaru Crosstrek or the Buick Encore. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Fiat 500X's resale value is another black mark against this vehicle, with residuals far lower than the HR-V and Crosstrek.