by David Zatz • Launch Options/Pricing Added June 2015
The 2016 Fiat 500X was two years late, but became popular in Europe before heading to the United States. It was originally intended to be a twin with the Jeep Renegade, but extensive changes to the Renegade have made them similar-but-not-that-similar. They do both share the “Small 4x4” family, closely related to SUSW, with Fiat basics, modified by Chrysler and Fiat working together in three countries (the US, Italy, and India).
The Fiat 500X (the “X” is for “crossover”) is the longest model in the 500 family so far (though there are rumors of an “XL”), no less than 26 inches (two feet, two inches) longer than the Fiat 500; it is the first Fiat with all wheel drive. It is still smaller than the Jeep Compass and Patriot, with more ground clearance than the 500 and 500L.
The four-door hatchback has around 14 cubic feet of storage. Buyers can get front-wheel and all-wheel drive. It is distantly related to the Punto and replaces the Sedici.
In North America, the base engine with front wheel drive is the Fiat 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbo with a six-speed manual transmission; like the same engine in Dodge Dart and Fiat 500L, it generates 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque for responsiveness once moving. AWD versions (not available in Pop) use Chrysler’s 2.4-liter “Tigershark” four cylinder, producing 180 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque, coupled with the segment’s [excluding Jeep Renegade] first nine-speed automatic transmission.
The nine speed includes four overdrive ratios for better highway mileage and lower noise. It has 20 shift-maps, changed on the fly for specific conditions, and manual override capability. The transmission computer considers temperature, speed, and electronic stability control activation. Buyers of the front wheel drive Pop, Sport, and Trekking trimlines can still get the 2.4 engine, as an option, with the nine-speed automatic.
The optional all-wheel-drive system uses a disconnecting rear axle which reduces parasitic losses when all-wheel drive is not needed. Like Jeep’s Selec-Terrain, Fiat has a “Dynamic Selector” system with three different modes, the first of which is automatic. The others are Sport (which changes electronic stability control and steering calibrations for better cornering) and Traction (maximizing low speed traction on icy, wet, or off-road surfaces by allowing extra wheel slip and “a more direct engine response.”
Towing is not recommended, though the X can be towed, with the AWD system allowing both axles to be disconnected. The Fiat engine has a 150 amp alternator and 500 CCA battery; the Chrysler engine, a 160 amp alternator and 600 amp battery. Versions sold outside the United States and Canada have different engine and electrical selections.
“Alfa Romeo 159” wrote, “Engines for 500X in Europe are the 1.4 FIRE (140 hp), 1.6 E.TorQ (110 HP), 1.6 Pratola Serra (120 hp), and 2.0 Pratola Serra (140 hp). The last two are diesels; the 2.0 is Euro 6 without using SCR, but with high and low pressure EGR. (This was also planned for VM’s L424). Both diesels in this iteration got counter rotating balance shafts. Later we may have more engine options in Europe. For all engines, I wrote engine family name and not the market name.”
Easy / Sport: $22,300
* Front wheel drive prices. AWD costs $1,900 on all models (not available on Pop). Easy is named “Sport” in Canada.
18-inch wheels are also optional on Trekking and Lounge. The Beats audio system is optional on all but Pop as is a compact spare, navigation, and a dual pane sunroof. Chrysler’s own blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection are optional on the Lounge and Trekking Plus, as is a Technology Group. Sport and Trekking buyers can get a driver Assist or Convenience Group.
High-strength steel reinforces the vehicle’s dynamics and crashworthiness, without adding too much weight.
In front, the 500X uses a MacPherson strut suspension with coil springs, high-strength steel front cross member, high-strength steel mono shell lower control arms, and a stabilizer bar. In back, it has a Chapman strut suspension with high-strength steel links, an isolated steel rear cradle, coil springs, and a stabilizer bar. Steering is electric rack and pinion.
Koni frequency selective damping (FSD) front strut and rear shock absorbers were chosen for handling,and to actively filter out high-frequency vibrations from uneven road surfaces. The car has electric power steering.
The Fiat 500X mimics 500 styling, using double headlamps, a trapezoidal nose, “whiskers and logo” face, rounded clamshell hood, and chrome door handles. It has greater ground clearance and 16 to 18 inch wheels. The Fiat carries a Chrysler steering wheel with full controls for the trip computer and phones, albeit with the Fiat logo.
Colors are black, blue metallic, green metallic, matte bronze, metallic bronze, tri-coat yellow, gray, gray metallic, orange, red, white, and tri-coat red. Inside, there is a body color instrument panel, and seven interior setups including black and red cloth, dark brown and gray cloth, and dark brown leather.
More to the point, the interior has a large rear cargo area with a height-adjustable rear cargo floor, second-row 60/40 split seats, fold-forward front passenger seat, dual glove box, center console storage, and a bin at the base of the center stack with a media center.
An optional dual-pane sunroof (with a manual sunshade) has a power sliding panoramic roof, with side glass panels that match with the bodyside sheet metal.
Models are Pop, Easy, Trekking, Lounge and Trekking Plus. Fiat 500X Trekking and Trekking Plus have different front and rear fascias and satin silver accents add to the distinct, adventurous look; inside, Trekking has a black cloth interior while Trekking Plus has leather seats in black or brown.
The 2016 Fiat 500X echos Chrysler’s usual telematics, with some key differences. A trip computer is standard, with an optional upgrade to a 3.5 inch color display; both provide customization and the ability to show things like gas mileage, pressure of each tire, and outside temperature. Other options are an electric parking brake to save space; a cap-less fuel door; keyless entry and ignition; heated front seats and steering wheel; and heated side mirrors with turn signals.
The UConnect 5 system, with a five-inch touch-screen (likely using Fiat/Microsoft technology), is standard on Easy and Trekking models, and includes handsfree commands and phone integration. Uconnect Access Via Mobile is optional, including a five-year subscription, to connect and control their personal Pandora, iHeart Radio, Slacker Radio or Aha Radio accounts.
Uconnect 6.5 (standard on Lounge and Trekking Plus, available on Easy and Trekking) includes all of the features on the Uconnect 5.0 system, but adds a 6.5-inch touchscreen, GPS navigation, HD radio, SiriusXM Travel Link (with a five-year subscription) and SiriusXM Traffic (with a five-year subscription). Travel Link shows weather, fuel prices, sports, and movie listings. Beats Audio is optional, and includes a subwoofer and eight speakers.
Also see our Fiat 500X “first drive.”
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