2016 Fiat 500X Review
Posted on September 16, 2020
The 500X represents a number of firsts for the Fiat brand and for the 500 model itself. For a start, the 500X is the first Fiat to offer all-wheel drive, and it's also the first to feature a nine-speed automatic transmission. Perhaps the biggest deal for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) though, is the fact that the 500X is the first Fiat model that has been produced and marketed as a truly global product.
The 2016 Fiat 500X is a compact SUV that competes in what is an increasingly popular and competitive segment of the market. There are some pretty competent rivals out there in the form of models like the Chevy Trax, Buick Encore, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and even FCA's own Jeep Renegade, which shares the same platform with the 500X, so let's take a closer look at how the 2016 500X stacks up.
There are two engines to choose between in the Fiat 500X. The standard engine in the first three trim levels is a 1.4-litre turbocharged Multiair four-cylinder unit that develops 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The other engine is a 2.4-litre in-line four-cylinder MultiAir that brings 180 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque to the party. The larger engine is an option with the first three trim levels in the 2016 500X lineup, but it's the standard unit with the top two trims in the range.
The smaller turbocharged engine comes with a six-speed manual transmission and it's only available with front-wheel drive. If you want to take advantage of all-wheel drive you have to have the 2.4, but you also get the added bonus of that exceptional nine-speed automatic transmission to go with it.
It's great that Fiat offers a choice of engine, but even the manufacturer itself admits it expects only around five percent of buyers to choose the smaller unit. The 2.4-litre engine has more than enough power to get you down the road very nicely indeed, and the nine-speed auto in the Fiat shifts even better than it does in models such as the Chrysler 200 and Jeep Cherokee.
The 2016 Fiat 500X is available in five different trim levels, which are the Pop, Sport, Trekking, Lounge and the range-topping Trekking Plus.
The entry level Pop trim is a front-wheel drive only model, although it can be had with the optional 2.4-litre engine as well as the standard 1.4. Although it's the entry model, the Pop comes generously-equipped with: air conditioning; Radio 3.0 multimedia centre with remote USB port, auxiliary input jack and 4 speakers; electronic park brake; electronic roll mitigation; Hill Start Assist; remote keyless entry and more.
From the Sport trim upwards, all-wheel drive becomes available with the 2.4-litre engine and the excellent Uconnect 5.0 multimedia centre with six speakers becomes standard.
Depending on the trim level chosen, there's also the opportunity to upgrade further with six different packages, or "Groups" as Fiat refers to them. The six Groups are: Cold Weather, Convenience, Driver Assist, Hands-Free Convenience, Navigation and Technology, and their names give a pretty good idea of what types of features they offer.
It won't come as any great shock that the smaller 1.4-litre turbocharged engine and front-wheel drive combination offers the best fuel economy of the 500X family, which is 9.5 L/100km in the city and 6.9 L/100km on the highway.
Although the larger engine is obviously thirstier than the smaller unit, the nine-speed automatic transmission helps it to deliver a still very economical 10.6 and 7.6 L/100km for city and highway driving, respectively. Even going the whole way and adding all-wheel drive into the equation doesn't badly affect fuel economy either, with figures for those models coming out at 11.0 L/100km in the city and 7.9 L/100km on the highway.
Compact SUV styling tends to gravitate into two distinct groups: the ones that have all the usual visual cues to suggest prodigious off-road talent, and those with smoothly sculpted lines that promote themselves as urbane alternatives to traditional sedans and hatchbacks.
The Fiat 500X is clearly in the latter group, and that's despite the fact it shares architecture with the Jeep Renegade that is very much of the former group. The 500X has a distinctive roofline and a number of styling cues that are a throwback to its Fiat heritage. The front of the 500X is classic Fiat with that mustache-and-badge face, stacked pairs of lamps on either side of the grille, and a clamshell hood.
The interior is neat and clean, with big, round gauges perfectly complementing the equally round climate controls. Body-colour trim is available and it really does add even more style to what is already a cute and funky cabin, and there's a moderately sized LCD screen factored into the dash for infotainment, and camera displays that are tasteful as they are functional.
The 2016 Fiat 500X isn't a hard-core off-road beast, but then it isn't meant to be. However, it does do everything you'd expect a compact SUV to do, and it does it at least as well as any of the competition, and it does with considerably more style than most.
There are 12 different exterior colours to select from and that tells you how important style is to this little Fiat, but that certainly doesn't mean that it doesn't deliver on substance, because it does.