Subcompact SUVs are quickly gaining popularity in the US market and consumers are demanding new models. in its second year of production, the Fiat 500x is one of the latest. There are lots of reasons to love it: Top Safety Pick+ rating, fun factor, unique design, and plenty of cargo capacity for its size. Some disturbing automatic transmission issues with the earliest units scared many consumers away, but we think this little SUV is worth a second look. Time will tell, but we think this SUV will turn out to be as reliable as many of its competitors despite initial issues. We think it might just be the perfect personal SUV for the city dweller who wants something different, so go enjoy this funky little crossover!
Honestly, the POP 500x might just be the best deal you’ve never heard of. For $20,000 dollars, you get a uniquely styled sub compact SUV with a 6-speed manual gearbox and an amazing 1.4 Liter MultiAir engine that’s a pleasure to rev. You won’t get any of the latest tech or convenience features, but you get an SUV that’s engaging to drive! You’ll be too busy matching revs to mess with a complex infotainment system anyway. It’s quicker than the higher trims and gets stellar fuel economy at up to 33 miles per gallon. All that with an adorable appearance that is sure to make you stand out from the more reserved alternatives.
The Pop’s six-speed manual gearbox and smaller engine make it the driver’s choice. It’s not quick but you can’t help but smile as you mash the gas on the rev-happy 4 and get to use your left foot for once. It’s quicker to sixty than higher trims by over a second at 7.7 seconds. Exceptional fuel economy and lack of weird electronic transmission issues are even better reasons to choose the third pedal. However, we realize 99% of you will opt for the higher trimmed 500xs as manual transmissions become rarer and rarer each year and are nearly nonexistent in the SUV market. The Easy and higher trims receive a 2.4L 4 cylinder that’s mated with a ZF 9 speed automatic. The ZF allows you to select gears as well but we know most won’t bother.
The higher trims are a few hundred pounds heavier and take 8.8 seconds to reach 60 mph from 0. All 500xs are still less than 3,000lb, very light vehicles. They handle accordingly and are flickable and fun to drive. The ride is firm and there’s plenty of road noise as a result but we think it’s a welcome trade-off for engaging driving dynamics. It’s worth noting that the road noise is still near the top of the class. If you want a quiet cabin in a subcompact, the Buick Encore should be at the top of your list. The brakes are superb and the best in the class. Fuel economy isn’t as you might think for an SUV this size, 22 mpg city and 20 mpg highway, but it’s definitely not bad for an SUV. If you want something different that’s as fun to drive as it is to look at, the 500x is an excellent choice! Let us know if you agree in the comments below.
Like the exterior, the Fiat features a unique interior design. Body color matching dash panels are a nice touch you won’t find in any other SUV. They’re complemented by soft touch materials in certain areas and some plastic on others, but hey it’s a budget SUV. That’s acceptable. The front seats have plenty of leg and headroom as well as plenty of width. The front passengers won’t rub shoulders like they will in the similarly sized Buick Encore. The optional leather-trimmed seats are exceptional and available in the Trekking and higher trims. The second-row space isn’t the best, but this little SUV is designed to be a personal vehicle, not a family hauler. If you’re looking for that, there are several more capable alternatives.
The Uconnect system is standard in all but the lowest trim and is one of the most intuitive, user-friendly infotainment systems on the market. The optional Beats nine speaker audio system is superior to most subcompact SUVs’ systems. Some complain about the odd gauge layout, but we think it’s a rather endearing design feature. If you’re drawn to the Fiat it’s probably because you want something different, so don’t be surprised its dash isn’t laid out in typical fashion. Behind the rear row, 18.5 cubic feet provides room for a week’s worth of groceries and an overall 50.8 cubic feet with the seats folded is the most in its class. If you want an interior that’s distinctive at a budget price, there’s no better option than the Fiat 500x.
There’s no denying the 500x’s curb appeal. It may be a bit feminine, but it’s sexy. We like the refreshing design. In a sea of SUVs, the 500x will definitely stand out with its diminutive stature and bug eye headlights. It looks at you at smiles as if it would begin talking like Herbie the Love Bug. It does look a bit more aggressive than the small Fiat 500, but that’s a bit like pointing to the toughest looking Buddhist monk. If you’re wondering, he’d probably drive a matte bronze one. Regardless of whether the 500x fits your taste, it’s iconic and you’ll probably instantly recognize it’s a Fiat. Can you really ask for better branding and design?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash tested the Fiat 500x but the IIHS has. The results are surprising. This little SUV ranks among the best, with a Top Safety Pick+ designation and top scores in all crash test categories. Additionally, the advanced driver assistance technology is rated “Advanced,” the second highest rating. The headlights receive a “Poor” rating, the only weak point in an otherwise flawless performance. There is full front and rear head curtain airbags and seat mounted torso airbags on the front seat. That’s impressive for a subcompact SUV! There’s also a driver knee airbag to minimize knee injuries from frontal crashes. We think the 500x is one of the safest subcompact SUVs on the market.
Consumer Reports offers a 1 out of 5 predicted reliability rating but because they lack comprehensive data that figure is based on Fiat reliability, not model specific reliability. 2017 is only the second year of production, so it’s understandable that there isn’t a lot of information available. JD Power awards the 500x a 2 out of 5 predicted reliability rating, indicating below average reliability. We weren’t able to find any Technical Service Bulletins filed by the NHTSA, but we did find 8 complaints filed on their site. The first complaint is for a from a 500x owner who had their SUV randomly shift into neutral, causing loss of power. Furthermore, the brakes locked up completely while in reverse and would not release. The Fiat only had 700 miles. The second complaint was issued by an owner who had the 500x randomly turn off on him.
After some software updates, the problem was resolved. The third complaint is for dangerously slow downshifting, this may be a common complaint and has more to do with the SUV’s design than a problem. The fourth complaint was for random stalling, the vehicle had just 350 miles. The Fifth complaint issued was for the random shifting into neutral problem as well. The sixth complaint was issued by an owner with 13,000 miles on his 500x before the SUV randomly failed at 8 mph. It was taken to a dealer where it sat for an unreasonable amount of time and the buyer’s money was returned. The seventh complaint is for 500x that randomly went in and out of “limp mode” causing dangerous loss of power that could have caused an accident. The report does not indicate the problem was resolved. The last complaint was more or less the same problem.
Eventually the NHTSA issued a recall for some nine speed automatic models for the random shifting to neutral, so be sure to check if the model you’re looking at is affected. That being said, all the complaints were filed on models with low miles, it’s safe to assume one that has higher miles and hasn’t been affected may never be. Our research didn’t turn up many complaints about the 500x but it is a very new SUV. We can’t say that all Fiats are unreliable as there are many owners who’ve driven them thousands of miles with no problems, but there are also several owners who complain of constant problems. We’re not sure if this is manufacturer caused or poor maintenance on behalf of some owners. Obviously the above complaints are about FIats with very low miles, so those are definitely the manufacturer’s fault. We’d recommend staying away from used models without complete service histories, though buying used may ensure you don’t have one of the lemons with the transmission gremlins
The most obvious competitor to the 500x is the Mini Cooper Countryman. Like the Fiat, the Mini eschews convention in favor of a quirky design that gives this little SUV personality. If you look at the two side by side, they actually share similar design language. The Fiat is a bit curvier, with softer lines. The Countryman is considerably more expensive, with a base price of $26,100 for the base model. That’s enough to buy a Lounge trim 500x with a “Collection” that adds leather-trimmed seating.
Like the Fiat, the Countryman is available with a six speed manual, though it’s also offered on higher trims. The base engine makes less power than either engine in the 500x and the Mini is sluggish as a result. Even the larger, 189 hp 4 cylinder fails to motivate the thousand pound heavier Mini with the same zest as the 500x. What the Mini lacks in straight line performance, it makes up in the handling the department. The BMW underpinnings provide razor sharp steering that supersedes the 500x. However, the Mini is still way heavier and not quite as engaging to drive. Higher trims are more refined than the Fiat, but break the bank at prices approaching or exceeding $40,000 dollars. If you have the money, you may prefer a well-equipped MINI. We think the Fiat 500x provides better value and more engaging driving experience at every comparable price point.
The Base 500x POP trim starts at an even 20 grand with a 1.4L MultiAir turbocharged engine, 6 speed manual transmission, USB port, 3.5in personalized driver information display, heated power sideview mirrors with turn signals, and seating for five. The 2.4L engine and 9 speed automatic are available for $1,600. Additional options include a premium exterior appearance package, italian racing appearance package, and an adventure package that adds roof rails. The Easy trim arrives at $22,735 equipped with a larger Tigershark MultiAir 2.4L engine, 9 speed automatic transmission, Uconnect 5.0 infotainment system with 5in color touchscreen, deep tinted windows, and 17in aluminum wheels. All Wheel Drive is available for $1,900. The Easy Collection 1 package adds a rearview backup camera for $200. Easy Collection 2 equips an automatic dual zone climate control, ambient lighting, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, a cargo compartment cover, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a power adjustable driver seat with lumbar support, and rear park assist for $1,600. The $1,800 Easy Collection 3 adds 17in wheels with black accents and a dual pane sunroof. The $1,800 Easy Collection 4 equips 17in aluminum wheels with black accents, 6.5in touchscreen display, blind spot detection, cross path detection, GPS navigation, HD radio, and rear park assist. The $2,000 Easy Collection 5 provides a Beats premium audio system with subwoofer, blind spot detection, cross path detection, 17in black accented aluminum wheels, and rearview backup camera. The $6,000 Easy Collection 6 adds the 6.5in Uconnect system, dual zone auto climate control, ambient lighting, Beats premium audio with subwoofer, blind spot and cross path detection, cargo compartment cover, 3.5in driver info display compass gauge, GPS navigation, HD radio, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, rear park assist, rearview backup camera, power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, dual pane sunroof, and SIriusXM with 5 year traffic subscription. The Easy Collection 7 package equips the 6.5in Uconnect system with navigation, dual zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, automatic high beam headlamp control, automatic headlamps, Beats premium audio, blind spot and cross path detection, cargo compartment cover, 3.5in digital driver information display, compass gauge, forward collision warning with active braking, HD radio, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, LaneSense lane departure warning with lane keep assist, rearview backup camera, power driver’s seat, dual pane sunroof, rain sensing wipers, and a 5 year subscription to SIriusXM traffic. The $23,335 Trekking trim adds premium cloth bucket seats, automatic headlamps, fog lamps, cornering lamps, and upgraded 17in wheels. The Easy Collection 1 package adds a rearview backup camera for $200. The $1,200 Trekking Collection 2 a dual pane sunroof.
The Trekking Collection 3 package equips 18in aluminum machined wheels with all season tires, dual zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, cargo compartment cover, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, and a power driver seat with lumbar support for $1,300. Trekking Collection 4 equips an automatic dual zone climate control, ambient lighting, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, a cargo compartment cover, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a power adjustable driver seat with lumbar support, and rear park assist for $1,500. The Trekking Collection 5 adds 18in machined aluminum wheels with black accents, blind spot and cross path detection, rear park assist, and Uconnect 6.5 Nav for $1,700. The $2,700 Trekking Collection 6 provides the upgraded machined aluminum 18in wheels, dual zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, Beats premium audio, cargo compartment cover, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, rear park assist, rearview backup camera, and power adjustable driver seat with lumbar support.
The Trekking Collection 7 costs $4,100 and adds 18in machined aluminum wheels with all season tires, dual zone auto climate control, ambient lighting, automatic high beams, blind spot and cross path detection, cargo compartment cover, forward collision warning with active braking, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, LaneSense lane departure warning with steering assist, rear park assist, rain sensing wipers, rearview camera, and power driver seat with lumbar support. All Wheel Drive is available for $1,900 extra. The Lounge trim provides power 4-way driver lumbar support, 8-way power driver seat, dual zone auto climate control, heated steering wheel, Uconnect 6.5in with NAV, different 17in aluminum wheels, and rearview camera for $25,135. The Lounge Collection 1 equips rear park assist and blind spot detection with cross path detection for $350. The $1,550 Lounge Collection 2 provides leather-trimmed bucket seats, blind spot and cross path detection, and rear park assist.
Lounge Collection 3 offers 18in fine grained aluminum wheels with all season tires, blind spot and cross path detection, rear park assist, and leather-trimmed seating. The $3,250 Lounge Collection 4 equips 18in fine grained aluminum wheels with all season tires, blind spot and cross path detection, leather-trimmed seating, rear park assist, and a dual pane sunroof. Lounge Collection 5 adds leather-trimmed seating, Beats premium audio system with subwoofer, blind spot and cross path detection, rear park assist system, and dual pane sunroof for $3,450. The Lounge Collection 6 costs $5,350 and adds automatic high beam headlamp control, Beats premium audio, blind spot and cross path detection, forward collision warning with automatic braking, LaneSense lane departure warning with steering assist, leather-trimmed seating, rear park assist, rain sensing wipers, and a dual pane sunroof.
All Wheel Drive can be equipped for $1,900. The $28,335 Trekking Plus trim adds standard leather-trimmed bucket seats, 18in aluminum wheels, and rear park assist. All Wheel Drive can be added for $1,900. The Trekking Plus Collection 1 costs $2,000 and offers a beats premium audio system with 9 speakers, a subwoofer, and 506 watt amplifier and a dual pane sunroof. The $2,700 Trekking Plus Collection 2 equips automatic high beams, forward collision warning plus with active braking, LaneSense lane departure warning with lane keep assist, rain sensitive wiper, and dual pane sunroof. All Wheel Drive can be equipped for $1,900.