2020 FIAT 500X

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
September 24, 2019

Buying tip

Active safety features can only be had on the mid-tier Trekking model, so the base Pop might not be the safest choice if there will be young passengers.

The 2020 Fiat 500X is a stylish alternative to mainstream models but can be cramped inside.

The 2020 Fiat 500X is an Italian American crossover SUV styled after the discontinued Fiat 500 minicar but built in Italy with the Jeep Renegade subcompact crossover. We give it 5.6 out of 10 overall for its character and relative rarity, but other qualities are just average. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The cute, rounded styling of the 500 city car handles the rugged treatment well on the 500X, nicely balancing bubbly and burly. A black roof option is available on all 2020 models. The interior is pleasing to look at with its body-color dashboard and pop-out design features, and material quality is better than average in the segment.

For 2020, the 500X carries its options and three trims over following a heart transplant last year that introduced a new 1.3-liter turbo-4. It represents the only engine option and makes a healthy 177 horsepower through a 9-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. We’ve not been enamored with this gearbox, but the comfortable suspension and playful driving dynamics nearly make up for its shortcomings.

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We’ve yet to spend time with the updated power plant, so this review is based mostly on previous experience with the 500X and will be updated once we get some time behind the wheel.

Passenger space is average for the segment with 35 inches of rear leg room, but cargo space suffers from a sloping roofline, managing only 14 cubic feet with the second row in place and nearly 40 cubic feet with it folded flat.

While the federal government has not given the 500X a crash test since its launch in 2016, it gave the similar Jeep Renegade a four-star rating. The IIHS gives the 500X “Good” scores all around, and active safety features are available as an option, though Fiat would benefit from making these features standard to increase the value proposition.

With standard alloy wheels, all-wheel drive, turbo power, and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the 500X is well-equipped as standard, especially compared to the relatively spartan Jeep Renegade’s base trim.

Fuel economy is firmly average at 26 mpg combined, lacking the benefit of a more efficient front-wheel-drive version or one with a thriftier manual transmission.


7

2020 FIAT 500X

Styling

The 2020 Fiat 500X is an experiment in stretching retro design to a different vehicle that gets most details right.

The 2020 Fiat 500X is undeniably charming despite having been on the market for several years. Thoughtful styling cues and a playful interior warrant 7 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

There’s no mistaking the 500X for anything but a bulbous 500 city car with off-road ambitions, and that’s exactly what makes the design work. Round headlights and big taillights are optimistic-looking compared to angular competitors, and rugged-looking cues like the front and rear faux skid plate designs make for a handsome crossover.

The interior is similarly playful, featuring a body-color dashboard and a variety of upholsteries. A center-mounted 7.0-inch screen is a bit bubbly for our liking, but the big gauge cluster screen and dials pulled seemingly from an Alfa Romeo are both clear to look at and inspire driving confidence.

Other details are trademark Jeep and FCA parts like the steering wheel buttons and control knobs, but there’s enough variety in here to keep things interesting and separate the 500X from its corporate cousins. And it’s so much more streamlined on the inside and outside than the Fiat 500L.

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5

2020 FIAT 500X

Performance

The 2020 Fiat 500X features a new engine that we haven’t driven yet, so we can’t pass judgement here.

The 2020 Fiat 500X features a simplified powertrain lineup that should make more buyers happy. We haven’t driven the new engine just yet, however, so our score here is provisional based on past ratings. We'll update it when we get a chance to drive one. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Last year, the 500X got a new 1.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 to replace its other engines as the only option. With 177 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque, it makes a surprising amount of power for such a small-displacement mill, and at 3,300 pounds that should provide plenty of pep. All-wheel drive is standard, something only Subaru can also claim in this segment, and while a 9-speed automatic transmission sounds good on paper, in practice we’ve had mixed results with this gearbox in other forms.

Previous 500X versions have been fun to drive on twisty roads and feature comfortable suspension for long road trips, so with a new engine, we expect even more pleasing results.

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5

2020 FIAT 500X

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Fiat 500X features a high-quality cabin with decent passenger space, but cargo room is lacking.

At just 168 inches front-to-rear, the 2020 Fiat 500X is a subcompact crossover SUV and feels like it inside. While superior to some competitors in terms of quality and passenger space, we give it 5 out of 10 here for its relative lack of cargo room. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Front seat occupants are treated to comfortable bucket seats with either cloth or leather upholstery, and the cabin has a higher-quality feel than many budget competitors thanks to details like the body-color dashboard.

Rear seat passengers have 35 inches of leg room and decent head room to fit two adults. The cargo hold is where the 500X’s small stature manifests itself, featuring only 14 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat and nearly 40 cubic feet of maximum cargo space. That’s better than some puny competitors like the Toyota C-HR, but lags behind segment leaders like the Honda HR-V with its nearly 59 cubic feet. For size without concern for style, consider the Fiat 500L and its 68 cubic feet.

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2020 FIAT 500X

Safety

The 2020 Fiat 500X hasn’t been fully crash-tested, but active safety features are available on more expensive models.

The 2020 Fiat 500X hasn’t been comprehensively crash-tested, so we can’t give it a rating here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Though the IIHS has smashed the 500X against a few walls since 2018 and found the results to be “Good” all around, the federal government’s NHTSA hasn’t done so. The 2018 Jeep Renegade—its platform mate—got a four-star safety rating. It should be noted that, like many crossover SUVs, the IIHS did give the 500X a “Poor” headlight rating, keeping it from winning any safety awards.

The good news is that the 500X offers active safety features like blind spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, full-speed automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with active lane control, and a rear parking assist system. The bad news is that all of these features are optional, and only on the mid-tier Trekking model or top-tier Trekking Plus. That’s disappointing when many competitors are beginning to offer these features either across the range or as standard.

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6

2020 FIAT 500X

Features

The 2020 Fiat 500X is relatively well-equipped as standard but loses its value proposition almost immediately.

The 2020 Fiat 500X is relatively well-equipped to start, but not as affordable as it should be once you choose the options you want and need. We give it 6 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

It comes in Pop, Trekking, or Trekking Plus trims. In contrast to many small SUVs, all-wheel drive is standard on the 500X Pop, as are 17-inch alloy wheels, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. This trim will set you back around $26,000 to start, including the comparatively pricey $1,495 destination fee.

Stepping up to the 500X Trekking for about $1,500 more adds better upholstery, outdoorsy styling bits, satellite radio, and a circular 3.5-inch screen in the gauge cluster. The Trekking model also gets the option to add active safety features which we highly recommend doing, but any options push the total price close to $30,000.

The top-tier Trekking Plus includes leather, heated front seats, satellite navigation, and a few other styling bits, but at over $30,000 to start, we’d skip it.

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5

2020 FIAT 500X

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Fiat 500X manages just average fuel economy at 26 mpg combined.

Though updated figures aren’t available, the 2020 Fiat 500X is likely to make just average fuel economy despite its small turbo engine. We give it 5 out of 10 for efficiency. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 version of the 500X with the same powertrain (1.3-liter turbo-4, all-wheel-drive, 9-speed automatic) got 24 city, 30 highway, and 26 combined mpg. We expect those figures to remain the same for 2020, which would put the 500X firmly in the middle of the pack in terms of efficiency. The small turbo engine and 9-speed auto don’t help matters as much as the naturally aspirated engines and continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) in competitors, it seems. By comparison, the Honda HR-V in AWD gets 29 mpg combined.

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5.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety N/A
Features 6
Fuel Economy 5
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