Fiat upgrades to an Adventure Edition!
It’s now been a few years since Fiat, the Italian automaker that purchased the Chrysler Corp., introduced its largest vehicle in the market — the 500X. This is a larger four-door version of the small “Luigi,” like vehicle that originally came to the States back in 2012. With the help of some innovative advertising, they took the market by storm as a small economical urban automobile. Fiat is growing up to be a nice small choice in the SUV market, and it is now available in AWD with the 500X.
This unique looking and driving SUV is based on the same frame as the Jeep Renegade with both being manufactured in Italy. It carries on the traditional Fiat look of its smaller brothers. That look is something most either really like or can’t seem to get their head around. With all the curves and exaggerated body features that make the Fiat, well a Fiat, it definitely is Italian, it’s definitely Italian!
In fact, the first time we had the opportunity to drive one, this same novelty hit us hard. If we had been in the market at the time for a new vehicle, there was little doubt we would have had a smaller vehicle in the driveway as this Italian look really got to us.
With the introduction of the 500X, Fiat has introduced a completely redesigned vehicle with three different models to choose from. As with the original 500, there is the Pop, Trekking and Lounge. However, the 500X has a larger and beefier exterior and more room on the inside. Frankly, it is like the grown-up version of the ultra-small vehicle, going from what would be its adolescent years to having enough room for a small family.
To this point, our son JaCoby and his wife Hailey, who have been married only a few short years, fell pretty much in love at first sight with the larger X version of the Fiat. This goes right to the point of the Fiat growing up and becoming more appealing, as the kids were the perfect target and would love to have one at this point in their lives.
They liked the way it handled and got around in the city and also how it performed out on the freeway as we took a trip with them in the back up to Salt Lake for dinner. They didn’t even complain about the small amount of space in the rear seats. The addition of four-wheel drive to the 500X would be a necessity to help tackle the winters here in Utah. One nice thing about the all-wheel drive system is that it will revert back to front-wheel drive when the rear wheels are no longer needed in order to help save on fuel.
As we mentioned, the 500X shares its platform with the new Jeep Renegade that incorporates its own very unique look and feel. However, after having driven them both, “platform” is about the only thing that is shared between the two vehicles, except for the engines and transmissions.
There are two options in this department. The base model comes with a 1.4-liter multi-air turbocharged engine coupled with a six-speed manual transmission that gets 160 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque. The one we drove has a 2.4-liter Tigershark that matches with a nine-speed automatic transmission and gets 180 horsepower and 175 foot-pounds of torque. On the downside, the gas mileage was not where we would have expected, as we got 24.2 mpg average for the week.
The 500X also comes with three different driving modes. With a quick twist of a rotary dial, there are auto, sport and traction plus modes. The auto mode worked very well for general running around and freeway driving. We, of course, preferred keeping the 500X in sport mode as it tightened up the suspension and added a little pizzazz to the drive. The Fiat, however cool it looks, is very well mannered even in sport mode.
Standard this year is a 7-inch touchscreen with Uconnect that would display pertinent information for phone, radio, SiriusXM, HVAC controls and navigation, which was very similar to other Chrysler vehicles. We found it difficult to reach,with the higher placement of the screen on the dashboard. There is also a 3.5-inch color display in the center of the instrument cluster that was customizable, able to display radio, mileage and other vital vehicle information.
The steering wheel also contained controls for everything the driver would want; these were identical to others in the Chrysler toolbox. There were large controls for the climate in the center of the console, making them easy to find and control.
Of course, there are many upgrade options in the Fiat line. Ours also came with one called the Customer Preferred Package. Most importantly for a Utah vehicle were the heated seats and steering wheel with a $495 addition. Also included was an upgrade to the Trekking Popular Equipment Package that included an eight-way powered driver’s seat and an auto temperature control with dual-zone heating and cooling along with a sunroof — in our opinion a great way to put the $795 to use.
The seats were very comfortable and were made of cloth, which made our longer trips in the 500X very nice. With a higher seating stance like the Renegade, sitting in the Fiat seemed higher and made for a better field of view. It had the feel of a much larger SUV than its small car appearance would lead us to believe.
Other interior elements were all Fiat with no look of the Renegade in sight. Stamped contour panels with the same color paint as on the exterior of the car kept the retro feel intact and made the Fiat feel all Luigi-like. However, the cuteness that is present in the two-door 500 has worn off as the designers have opted for a more rugged SUV look. Once again, the car is growing up.
There was plenty of room in the rear for a couple of suitcases. And with the rear seats down, it seemed almost cavernous as we were able to load enough sound equipment for a small show into the rear.
The overall design is very pleasing in the new Fiat and it keeps itself solidly placed on the road when motoring around. The designers have done a good job with the millennials, if our son is any kind of a critic. We enjoyed our week with the Fiat and it should become a very compelling choice in the crowded small SUV market. See one today at Ken Garff Fiat in Salt Lake City at 198 E. 500 South, 801-792-6742.
Base price: $25,585
Price as Driven: $28,120