I’ve been excited about the Fiat 500X since it was little more than a Photoshop’ed rendering back in 2012. Since then, the “new” Fiat 500 has come to America, new dealerships were built, and the Fiat 500L was launched. It’s been a while, in other words- so, would the Viagra-fied Fiat 500X prove to be worth the wait?
Well- that kind of depends on what kind of car you were waiting for.
Less eXtreme, but More Family-friendly
If you were expecting a truly off-road capable small SUV that could take on the type of extreme trails the “x” on the 500X implied, well- let’s just say you’ll be better off checking out a trail-rated Jeep Renegade. If that’s not your cuppa- and if you can get one where you live- Fiat’s own Panda 4×4 might be a better option, as well, because the 2016 Fiat 500X is definitely not a serious off-roader.
That said, the Fiat 500X is a sporty, decent-handling little urban runabout that, unlike the rival Chevy Trax, can actually fit a pair of child seats and a folded-down stroller. It also felt like it had more responsive steering and a more willing chassis than the Trax- which was doubly surprising given the fact that I drove the top-line Chevy Trax LTZ against a pretty “basic” 500X.
The thing is, though, even though I wasn’t driving a top-of-the-line version of the 2015 Fiat 500X, it still felt very upscale. The body-colored paintwork on the dash was great, the seat fabrics were totally acceptable, and the infotainment system- while not quite as good as the Chevy’s OnStar-assisted unit- worked great.
2016 Fiat 500X | Final Thoughts
If you were a fan of Fiat before they came back to the US- if you ever wanted a Fiat Bertone X1/9, in other words- then the 2015 Fiat 500X is the family-friendly Fiat 500 variant you were waiting for. It has an AWD option, a distinctive Gila-monster-y profile, and you get the feeling that its turbo engine is more than willing to have some fun. Which, sadly, brings us to the Fiat’s Achilles’ heel: that dreadful 9 speed transmission.
If you’ve ever driven a Smart ForTwo, you’ll immediately recognize the half-second-too-long gap between first and second gears that jerks you forward in your seat almost every time you roll away from a stop. In the Smart, it sucks- but that car is, by its nature, kind of a joke, so it’s almost forgivable. On the Fiat 500X? No.
Despite the Fiat 500X’s good looks and stylish interior, then, I have to say you’ll probably be happier spending your $24,000 (thereabouts) on something else. Once Fiat comes to their senses and puts a manual in this thing, however, all bets are off.
Original content from Gas 2; photo credit Fiat USA.