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2017 FIAT 500X: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader March 2017

If you're looking for a small SUV that's more about style, character and pizzazz, the 2017 FIAT 500X has to be on your radar. Nothing else in the segment comes close to offering the sort of distinct colors, fashionable interior trappings and overall stylish design as FIAT's subcompact SUV. It even checks off some practicality boxes, too, with its ample feature content, user-friendly controls, strong crash scores and fun driving dynamics.

There's clearly a lot to like, and after our year-long test of a FIAT 500X, those very elements that attracted us to it in the first place continue to appeal. However, there are other significant drawbacks that we think you should consider. For starters, the 2.4-liter engine that virtually all 500X models come with is a disappointment: slow, unrefined and inefficient. Its automatic transmission is a constant source of frustration. We also had some reliability issues and generally found that many of its competitors were more rounded despite being less fashionable. But then, like many choices made in the name of fashion, there are usually drawbacks, right?

 What's New for 2017?

Things are a bit simpler for 2017, as FIAT has culled the 500X's trim level herd from five to three. Optional packages have also been changed.

 What We Like

Stylish interior; user-friendly tech; ample feature content; can be fun to drive; easily maneuverable size

 What We Don't

Unrefined engine; unresponsive transmission; questionable reliability; disappointing real-world fuel economy

 How Much?


 Fuel Economy

The base-level 500X Pop comes standard with a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. It can only be had with a 6-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive. It returns 25 miles per gallon in the city, 33 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined.

All other 500X models use a slightly more muscular 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, which offers 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. It comes only with a standard 9-speed automatic, but you do have a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. With the latter, it returns 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined. This lowers to 21/29/24 with AWD. In our year-long test of a FIAT 500X AWD, however, we also fell short of that 24 mpg combined figure, consistently finding ourselves closer to 20 mpg.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 500X is available in Pop, Trekking and Lounge trim levels.

The base Pop ($20,000) comes only with front-wheel drive and includes a modest amount of standard equipment, including 16-in steel wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split rear seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack and a 4-speaker sound system. Upgrading to the 2.4-liter engine and 9-speed automatic brings with it remote ignition and passive entry/push-button start. Adding all-wheel drive to that brings with it 17-in alloy wheels.

You can upgrade the Pop with the Popular Equipment package, which includes its own alloy wheels, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 5-in Uconnect touchscreen interface, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a second USB port and a 6-speaker sound system.

The Trekking ($23,400) features more rugged styling details and comes standard with the 2.4-liter engine and the Pop's Popular Equipment package items (minus the rearview camera and parking sensors). Also included are 17-in alloy wheels, adjustable drive modes, rear privacy glass and upgraded upholstery.

The Trekking's Popular Equipment package adds the rearview camera, roof rails, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats (8-way driver, 4-way passenger) and interior ambient lighting. An upgraded 6.5-in Uconnect touchscreen can be added that also includes a navigation system and HD radio. A Cold Weather package adds a windshield wiper de-icer, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

The Lounge ($25,200) offer more luxurious styling inside and out. It includes all of the Trekking's above options plus an 8-speaker sound system, a cargo cover and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Finally, there are additional options available on both the Trekking and Lounge. The Premium package includes 18-in wheels, a panoramic sunroof and a Beats Audio system. The Advanced Safety package adds blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, forward-collision warning and automatic braking, lane-departure warning and intervention, automatic wipers, rear parking sensors and automatic high-beams. Leather upholstery can also be added separturely.


Despite its low pricing, the 2017 FIAT 500X offers an impressive array of high-tech safety features and gadgets. Of course, it has all the standard items you might expect, such as side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes. But we're especially impressed with its long list of options, which includes forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist, automatic high beams and a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. Very few 500X rivals offer all of these features.

The government hasn't crash tested the 500X, but the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick+ due to its top performance in all crash tests and for the Advanced score its frontal crash prevention system received.

Behind the Wheel

There's a lot to like about the 500X. We appreciate the interior, for instance, with its user-friendly controls and uniquely fashionable style. The large piece of dash trim color matched to the interior paint is especially cool. We also like the relatively quick steering and well-controlled handling -- it certainly can be fun to drive.

Despite the fact that FIAT offers two 500X engine choices, the crossover never really seems like it has enough power. The main reason for this is the unrefined 2.4-liter engine that feels much slower than its ample output specs would suggest. Then there's its standard 9-speed automatic, which we found to be constantly in the wrong gear and slow to driver inputs. Interestingly, we happen to prefer the peppier 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that you can only get in the Pop, but since it only comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, it's probably a moot point for most shoppers.

As for interior room, we suspect you'll find it to be generous for the class. The front seat offers a lot of room (though we're a little disappointed with how flat the seats are), while backseat passengers will appreciate more room than you might expect from a subcompact SUV. In back, cargo room is merely average for the segment, meaning quite small.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Mazda CX-3 -- If you're looking for a little SUV that's fun to drive, check out the CX-3. Nothing really comes close, but then it's also the smallest vehicle in the segment and doesn't offer a particularly elevated view out.

2017 Honda HR-V -- Honda's Fit-based HR-V crossover offers better fuel economy than the 500X, lower pricing and a much larger cabin. It's even slower, however, and a bit dreary to drive.

2017 Mini Countryman -- The new Mini Countryman costs more than the 500X, but a lightly equipped Cooper trim level should align with a 500X lounge. For that extra cash you'll get a larger, more refined and better-engineered car with a different flavor of European quirk.

Used Jeep Cherokee -- If you like the 500X but you need more space, you may want to consider the larger Jeep Cherokee. It offers many of the same features, along with more interior room and a more powerful engine. It's more expensive, though, so you may want to consider a used model.

 Autotrader's Advice

The more colorful the 500X the better, so as such, we'd skip the Trekking trim level simply because it replaces the exterior-matching dash trim with a bland strip of gray. Boring! That may seem silly, but there's a good chance you're considering the 500X for its style, and we think the Pop and Lounge are just more stylish. Just make sure to opt for the Pop's Popular Equipment Group, since without it, that trim is sparsely equipped. Also think twice about specifying 18-in wheels -- they ruin the ride.

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Used 2017 FIAT 500X FWD Lounge
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 FIAT 500X: New Car Review - Autotrader