The subcompact-crossover segment is rapidly becoming more popular, with a flurry of new models making their debut this year alone. Two of the most popular early choices are the 2016 Honda HR-V and the 2016 FIAT 500X, both of which offer a lot of equipment, reasonable pricing and a host of other benefits. But which one is better? And which one should you get? We’ve created a close comparison of both models in order to find out, but first let’s see what’s new with the HR-V and 500X for the latest model year.
2016 Honda HR-V
2016 FIAT 500X
Because the HR-V and 500X are so new, reliability experts at J.D. Power have not yet rated either model for dependability. However, other vehicles from the same automakers may indicate how these will perform. In the 500X’s case, FIAT’s subcompact 500 earned a below-average score from Consumer Reports, while Honda’s popular CR-V earned merely an average score. It’s worth noting, however, that neither the 500 nor the CR-V is directly related to the 500X and the HR-V, respectively.
As for warranty coverage, the 500X and the HR-V differ. While the 500X offers 4 years or 50,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection, the HR-V touts 3 years or 36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 5 years or 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage. The warranty you prefer will likely depend on how much you drive and how long you plan to keep your car.
Our take: It’s too early to make a final decision on reliability, but we suspect the Honda will end up with better numbers than the FIAT based on stronger scores from earlier models.
The HR-V offers only one engine: a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that makes 141 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 25 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the standard 6-speed manual transmission or up to 28 mpg city/35 mpg hwy with the optional continuously variable automatic transmission.
Meanwhile, the 500X offers two powertrains. Base-level Pop models use a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which touts 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque; it’s mated to a mandatory 6-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive, and it returns 25 mpg city/34 mpg hwy. Drivers looking for more power (or an automatic transmission) can upgrade to a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, which offers a muscular 180 hp and fuel economy that reaches as high as 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.
Overall, the HR-V is the fuel economy winner here, while the 500X has the advantage in hp and performance.
In crash testing carried out by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the HR-V earned a perfect 5-star overall score. The 500X has not yet been tested. Meanwhile, in crash testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 500X earned the firm’s coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation. The HR-V fell short of that rating after only Acceptable results in the IIHS’s challenging small front-overlap crash test.
The 500X also has an advantage when it comes to safety features. While the HR-V offers everything you need (side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, etc.) — along with Honda’s excellent LaneWatch blind spot monitoring system — the 500X touts some seriously impressive features for a subcompact SUV, such as forward-collision warning, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-keep assist. While you’ll have to pay extra in order to get those features in the 500X, they aren’t offered at all in the HR-V; that, combined with the 500X’s excellent IIHS crash-test score, makes the FIAT our choice if safety is your priority.
The FIAT 500X also has an advantage over the HR-V when it comes to technology. The reasoning is largely the same: While the HR-V offers everything you need (such as a navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a 7-inch touchscreen), the 500X boasts a wide range of additional models you might want (such as a panoramic sunroof, automatic high beams, automatic wipers, a Beats Audio premium sound system and Chrysler’s excellent Uconnect infotainment system). While we suspect most drivers won’t be disappointed with the technology in the HR-V, we think they’ll be especially pleased with the 500X’s available equipment.
When it comes to pricing, the HR-V has an advantage over its FIAT counterpart. While the 500X starts at just under $21,000 with shipping, the HR-V’s base price is only just over $20,000 with destination, a pricing advantage that stays relatively constant as you move through the trim levels.
Yes, it’s true that the 500X offers a few more features than the HR-V to help justify its higher price. But given that we suspect the HR-V’s resale value will considerably outpace the 500X’s residuals, we think the Honda still offers the better value in both the short term and long term.
Whether you’ll want to pick the 2016 FIAT 500X or the 2016 Honda HR-V will depend on exactly what you’re looking for. First, the 500X is more fun to drive. Second, the 500X offers more power, more features and better safety equipment, while the HR-V is expected to be more reliable, more efficient and less expensive to purchase. Interestingly, this conclusion also largely fits with the styling of both models. The 500X is bold and boisterous, while the HR-V is restrained and understated. If you match your personality — and your priorities — to one of these two subcompact crossovers, we suspect you won’t regret your decision.