Overview

2017-fiat-500x-1

Overview (Final Score: C)

The 2017 Fiat 500X continues from the introduction of the compact crossover last year. Meant for a global market, the 500X is built alongside the Jeep Renegade, with which it shares some components and underpinnings. The Fiat 500X is aimed toward a more refined, slightly upward-traveling audience with unmistakable Italian looks mixed with contemporary styling.

The 5-seat 2017 500X has two engine options - front-wheel or all-wheel drive - and three trim levels. Package options can add to each trim's basic accouterments. Options include some advanced safety and driver's aid technology as well as infotainment upgrades.

The fastest-growing automotive segment is the compact crossover market and the Fiat 500X is definitely a solid entry into that realm. It's very Italian in appeal and definitely has its high points. Shoppers should consider needs versus desires, as many standard expectations for the compact cross segment may not be met by the Fiat 500X.

What We Love About the 2017 Fiat 500X:


  • Upscale interior with good materials and sound levels

  • Unusual and fun styling that's over the top

  • Good driving experience with a great around-town presence


 

What We Don't Love About the 2017 Fiat 500X:

  • Fuel economy could be better

  • Cargo space and rear seating is cramped, even for a compact

  • Engine can feel underpowered on the highway


 

2017 Fiat 500X Trekking

Exterior View (8/10)

The Fiat 500X is the largest vehicle with the 500 name and holds the general styling of the 500 lineup in its front end and rear hatch. The Fiat moustache sets the grille and the overall tone of the front fascia. The hood, fender bulges and other elements are also very 500-ish. Including the bug-eyed headlamps.

The bodywork is less 500 and more contemporary, stepping away from the cutesy Italiano and moving toward a more everyday style that fits with the intended 500X market well. This may turn off some die-hard Fiat fans, but it will win over more traditional buyers.

The roofline's unique rounded shape and the flattened lower sill for the windows makes for a sporty appearance with a lot of forward movement. The rear hatch is rounded and bulges outward a bit, matching the slight bulge of the rear fenders and wheel wells. This creates a muscular look and emphasizes the 500X's higher stance and ground clearance.

Onlookers to the 2017 Fiat 500X will know that this is a Fiat, but also that it's a capable crossover. That has its appeal, but can also be polarizing.

Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (8/10)

The 2017 Fiat 500X has a well-done, quality interior with good styling. That makes it better than average in a segment where cheap insides are often the price for expensive-looking outsides. Many in the industry are realizing that upscale interiors are becoming the expectation, so the Fiat 500X only stands out for being an early adopter of this ideal.

Soft-touch, quality materials are found throughout the cabin. The dashboard and armrests are all soft, broken only by hard plastics used as trim rather than the main course. This has paid off for the 500X, giving it a fairly quiet cabin on the highway - something not every other compact crossover can claim.

2017 Fiat 500X Trekking

The ride and experience of the 2017 500X is excellent for the class. It can't be emphasized enough how quiet and smooth this vehicle is compared to many others in this entry-level segment.

Front seating in the 2017 500X is very good with plenty of comfort. Roominess is the goal and it's achieved in the front seating, along with good bolstering and stiff upholstery where needed. Even the big and tall will find headroom and legroom ample in the 500X's front seating.

In the rear things are not so accommodating. Taller folks and anyone over the size of a thin teenager will find the rear seating a bit cramped. Seat tops are relatively low, making them uncomfortable, and legroom is at a premium. Headroom is good for most average folks, but cramped otherwise. Child safety seats and boosters fit nicely in the 2017 Fiat 500X, so long as no more than two are needed. Three across is a very cramped setting.

Cargo fares a little better, though the compact crossover class is not really known for ample cargo space as an option. Not much will fit in the cargo space behind the rear seats, but a 50-pound bag of bird seed or chicken feed is doable as are a week's worth of groceries if they're stacked carefully. The rear seats do fold down, giving 32 cubic feet of space.

We do like the floor pan of the cargo area in the 500X. It's flat normally, but the cover can be removed to add another couple of inches in a tub-like added area. This makes keeping things from rolling around a lot easier. That's unique to the segment outside of the Fiat's stablemate, the Renegade.

2017 Fiat 500X Trekking

Technology (8/10)

We are big fans of the Uconnect system Fiat-Chrysler puts in its vehicles for infotainment. The 500X benefits from that tech. The larger screens FCA normally uses are not available in the 500X, which maxes out with a 6.5-inch touchscreen. The big 8-inch screens FCA normally uses would be far better, though the 6.5 is adequate.

The base infotainment has no touchscreen, but the base model Pop can be upgraded to a 5-inch touchscreen with basic connectivity and capability. Voice controls are very good here and the fact that there is any kind of touchscreen at all in the base model is unusual for the class.

The upgrade is to the aforementioned 6.5-inch screen, which adds better smartphone connectivity, a rearview camera and navigation. Apps like Yelp and others are also there and an option for a 5G WiFi hotspot in the 500X is also available.

That's a lot of infotainment for a non-luxury brand in an entry-level segment. This is a high point for the 2017 500X, though we are noting the lack of larger screens and connection options like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Fuel Economy (7/10)

The base engine for the 2017 Fiat 500X is EPA-rated at 28 mpg combined, with 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. That base engine is available only in the base model (Pop) and only with front-wheel drive.

All other 500X models/trims have a larger 4-cylinder engine that receives and EPA rating of 25 mpg combined, with 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway in front-wheel drive. Those numbers dip slightly for the all-wheel drive option, which is rated at 24 mpg combined (21 city, 30 highway).

In our week of driving, the 2017 Fiat 500X with the upgraded engine and AWD averaged about 22 mpg overall. Given our altitude and that this mirrors our results in a similarly equipped 2016 model, we are confident that these are normal numbers and that most drivers will see close to the EPA estimates for the 500X.

Knowing that, we note that the mpg results for the 2017 500X are lower than the segment average by several points. Most compact crossovers with AWD and a 4-cylinder powerplant are closer to 28 mpg in combined expectation.

2017 Fiat 500X Trekking

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (6/10)

We weren't sure what to give the 500X for reliablity expectation last year, as it was all-new and had no precedent. Now with a year of sales under its belt and an official J.D. Power and Associates rating from its Vehicle Dependability Study, we feel that last year's low score is warranted.

The VDS results from J.D. Power are "The Rest" (or below average) for the 2017 Fiat 500X. Our expectation last year was that the 500X would not do well for reliability expectation due to the low overall impressions given for both the Fiat and Jeep brands, which are both part of the Fait 500X's build. This remains a serious weak point for the little crossover.

Safety (10/10)

Safety remains a strong point for the 2017 500X, which achieved the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's "Top Safety Pick+" rating last year and has done so again this year. It's received top scores of "Good" across the IIHS's crash test results. Adding in the "+" part of the rating comes with the advanced safety features that are available for the 500x.

As of this writing, no test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have been published.

Unusual for the class, the top-most trims for the 2017 500X have several advanced safety options available. These include forward collision warning, lane departure intervention, rear cross-traffic alerts and blind-spot monitoring. Only a handful of competitors in the compact crossover class can boast that much safety tech.

Performance (8/10)

Performance in the 2017 Fiat 500X is a bit mixed. The base model is very underpowered with its engine straight out of the standard 500 model. That 1.4-liter 4-cylinder is only rated at 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque and despite its turbocharging, just seems weak for the bigger 500X. Especially on the highway or when passing.

A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard with this engine and front-wheel drive is mandatory. We do give the little 1.4 props for its peppiness around town, and its relatively good fuel economy as well. For those who don't spend much time on the highway and prefer the low-cost base model 500X, this engine is not a serious drag.

Upgrading to either of the trim levels past the base Pop brings a bigger, more usable engine to the 500X. The 2.4-liter Tigershark, common throughout the Fiat-Chrysler lineup, brings 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. That seems like a wash compared to the 1.4 turbo, but is coming naturally and, because of the larger displacement, in a broader RPM band. That means steadier delivery of power, especially at higher speeds.

Helping that is a very well done 8-speed automatic transmission, which keeps shifting smooth and progress steady as speeds increase. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is an option in any 500X equipped with the 2.4L engine.

The bigger engine translates to more confidence on the highway with freeway speeds being easily achieved and passing lane maneuvers coming without much struggle. The transmission with the larger engine is a bit hesitant to downshift, being tuned for fuel economy rather than sportiness. Still, the 2017 Fiat 500X is a good drive with solid handling dynamics and a well-done suspension in most circumstances.

Pricing and Value (7/10)

The 2017 500X has only three trim levels, as opposed to the five offered last year. This means that more of the available options are in packages rather than trim points. The base model comes with very little in terms of equipment and accoutrements and is priced a bit higher than the average for the segment. Upgrading to the next trim level is spendy, but comes with a lot of equipment added plus the better 2.4L engine and transmission.

We'd recommend that buyers consider the 2017 Fiat 500X Trekking model with the Popular Equipment package for its high level of amenities and reasonable price point. The AWD upgrade is only worth having if the weather routinely goes sour and is otherwise a drag on fuel economy. It will also not be likely affect the resale value of the 500X down the line one way or another.

At the top level with all of the goodies included, the price point for the 2017 500X nears that of entry-level luxury crossovers, making it possible to cross shop, which we'd recommend at that spending point.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (62/80, 77%)

There are no shortage of competitors in the fast-growing sub- and compact-crossover segments. Shoppers should cross shop the Mazda CX-3, which is very sporty and much roomier than the 500X. The roomy but design-lacking Honda HR-V is another option with similar strengths to the Fiat. The Fiat 500X's sibling, the Jeep Renegade, may also be a choice if standout looks are the preference and fun times are the goal.

Compared to these other options, the 2017 Fiat 500X is compelling because of its unique styling, European credibility and high safety standard. This is an excellent around-town vehicle that, with the upgraded 2.4L engine, becomes a good highway drive as well. The 500X is enjoyable and stylish, both points that win many in this segment.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
SUV - AWD
Pop Pop AWD 4 Cylinder AWD 23890
Trekking Trekking AWD 4 Cylinder AWD 25250
Urbana Edition Urbana Edition AWD 4 Cylinder AWD 25250
Lounge Lounge AWD 4 Cylinder AWD 27050
SUV - FWD
Pop Pop FWD 4 Cylinder FWD 19995
Trekking Trekking FWD 4 Cylinder FWD 23350
Urbana Edition Urbana Edition FWD 4 Cylinder FWD 23350
Lounge Lounge FWD 4 Cylinder FWD 25150

Fiat 500X Cars for Sale

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