Though it’s long been overshadowed by the Jeep Renegade, the 2019 Fiat 500X might just be the one Fiat to crack the US market, if it makes a big enough splash.

2019 fiat 500x

Driving that optimistic statement is the brand-new 1.3 liter GSE engine, developed by Fiat Chrysler engineers from around the world, under both former-Fiat and former-Chrysler leadership. Allpar sources have said that it integrates ideas from past engines from both sides of the Atlantic. The result: 177 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque, a rather impressive set of numbers from 1.3 liters, even with direct injection and turbocharging.

GSE 1.3 engine in 2019 Fiat

The engine has MultiAir III, which adjusts intake valve lift and timing  for each individual cylinder; low-load efficiency is increased through advance opening of the intake valves, to allow exhaust-gas recycling. Under load, the engine can delay valve closure to reduce compression, increasing efficiency and controlling knock. The low-inertia turbocharger has an electronically controlled wastegate actuator. The lightweight cast-aluminum block has Chrysler's traditional iron liners and an integrated aluminum bedplate; the heads have four valves per cylinder.

The sole transmission is a ZF nine-speed automatic, with over 20 shift maps for specific conditions and manual-shift capacity.

The car itself has engine stop-start and standard all wheel drive, with Koni frequency selective damping front struts and rear shocks, filtering out high-frequency inputs from poor roads. The system has a disconnecting rear axle to cut parasitic losses while in front wheel drive mode. Drivers can choose sport, higher-traction, and automatic modes, which influence the traction control and steering systems.

New features include LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, with optional LED headlamps. There are three new wheel options, 17 and 18 inches in diameter, and three new colors (a blue, green, and ivory). The standard fourth-generation UConnect system now has a 7” screen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Options include adaptive cruise and front parking assistance.

2019 fiat 500x

The 500X won’t be cheap, with a starting list price of $25,785 including destination, but it’ll have a high level of standard equipment in the base Pop model. Buyers can also opt for the Trekking or Trekking Plus.

The Trekking starts at $27,290 and has a different fascia, deep-tint glass, automatic headlamps, cornering fog lamps, upgraded interior trim, and a 3.5-inch color trip computer.  The $30,490 Plus has different wheels, chrome moldings, LED headlamps, eight-way heated leather seats, upgraded trim and interior illumination, navigation, an upgraded stereo, front and rear park assist, automatic dual-zone temperature control, automatic defroster, and auto-dimming mirror.

The Jeep Renegade is closely related in size and architecture, but is more tuned for off-road driving, with a tougher chassis; but the Fiat may be the better option for many drivers who have no plans to go further offroad than a dirt track.