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SWIFTLY SPIRITED: 2019 FIAT 500X AWD

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As the years press on, the sub-compact crossover segment grows stronger. Although not one of the original suiters, the Fiat 500X was part of the somewhat first wave of crossovers that started making these lifted hatchbacks a thing. Circling around for its mid-cycle refresh, changes aren’t as noticeable to the naked eye – it goes much deeper than that.

Feeling almost like the lost and forgot, the 500X hasn’t always been the popular choice when it comes to the crossover needs of the consumer. Being based on the more capable Jeep Renegade, the 500X lived in the shadows of possibilities. Given the cuteness of this adorable little machine, preference for the 500X solely came down to style. While nothing has changed on the exterior outside of some wheel options and revised taillights with body color matching inserts, most of the changes occur under the body.

Dropping its original 2.4-liter and 1.4-liter engine options, along with front-wheel drive and a manual transmission, the all-new 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, same engine found in the refreshed Jeep Renegade, makes for a pretty nifty change in the right direction. Connecting the 9-speed automatic to the standard all-wheel drive system develops quite a bit of spirit under the hood. Making due with 177-horsepower, the 500X packs a good punch followed by a swift kick from the 210 lb-ft of torque.  Despite taking 9-seconds to get to 60mph, this little go-go-getter expresses itself more lively around town when it sprees to life – torque comes in at the low end of the spectrum of the rpm – that’s what gives it its feisty attitude.

Although coming standard with all-wheel drive, the 500X AWD system isn’t quite like some of the more advanced systems out there. With three available drive modes between Sport, Weather and Auto – the all-wheel drive system prefers being in front wheel drive for the majority of the time. As power is required, it will send low amounts of power to the rear wheels as it deems fitting for the occasion. During our run in with snow, the AWD played its part to the tee at shuffling its power distribution from font to back remaining constant traction.

Forgoing the old TigerShark engine ways with this new MultAir system dramatically changed how FCA’s 9-speed transmission operates. Years past it was dismal and depressing with lack of regard to what it was there for verses now it always seems to find itself in the right gear at the right time. It doesn’t feel as if it’s hunting around or lagging behind. The new technology behind the 1.3-liter engine also makes room for FCA to grow into their eTorque hybrid system – it wouldn’t be surprising to see more performance coming out of this little engine.

If things seem exciting at the throttle, they’re just as thrilling from behind the wheel. The chassis has been boosted with revised damper tuning to the suspension that makes it more animated around corners and more composed over rough surfaces. The optional $195 17-inch wheel option handled the rough terrain well with little discomfort when we took it beyond the paved roads – at least we think it was unpaved – if its covered in snow does it count?  Fuel economy was also increased with 24 mpg city and 30 on the highway. Our average didn’t quite see the EPA rated 26-mpg combined as we saw just 1-mpg below that.

Like the exterior, most of the interior has stayed the same. Our 500X was the entry level Pop starting at $24,740 and featured a standard 7-inch Uconnect infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a color digital cluster display and attractive interior body color matching panels. Prices have increased just over $1000 to accommodate the new powertrain and standard all-wheel drive system. Higher up the food chain to the Trekking Plus and prices see’s closers to $30,000 before adding in additional features like the $1395 Driver Assistance Group and $1695 Premium Group that features a dual-pane sunroof and Beats Audio.

While our focus has been towards our mid-cycle 2019 refresh – latest news came out from FCA of the new 2020 500X Sport that will feature more aggressive sport styling, upgraded interior finishes with sport inspired seating, an Alcantara steering wheel, as well as performance enhancements to the all-wheel drive system with a disconnectable rear-axle for improved efficiency.

Fear not little Fiat 500X, as now it no longer needs to live in the shadows of the Jeep Renegade. Its hearty little core and determined captivation is enough to separate it from its brotherly love. Just be careful climbing into the $30k range as more available options on the Jeep side of the FCA fence start to show more value in that price point.


VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS


Model: 2019 FIAT 500 X AWD
Trim: POP
Starting Price: $26,235
As Tested: $27,070
Color: ITALIA BLUE


PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS


Engine: 1.3-LITER TURBOCHARGED FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 177-HORSEPOWER / 210 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 9-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: ALL-WHEEL DRIVE W/ MODE SELECT
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 24-CITY / 30-HWY / 26-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 24.9 MPG COMBINED
Fuel Range: 340 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±9.0 SECONDS


 

 

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