9.09.2017

The X Factor: The 2017 Fiat 500X Trekking FWD

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Fiat 500X Trekking
The 2017 Fiat 500X Trekking.
A couple of years ago, the Phoenix Bureau reviewed the Fiat 500X, in Pop trim.  We're here to say that review pretty much nailed it.  Whatever your pre-conceptions of the Fiat 500X, if you haven't driven it, you're probably wrong.



Rear view of 2017 Fiat 500X Trekking
2017 Fiat 500X Trekking.
The biggest misconception is that it's just a Fiat 500 pulled and stretched and tweaked to its absolute limits to cash in on the small crossover SUV craze.

Nope.

The Fiat 500X is actually a purpose-built small crossover SUV that has a styling resemblance to the baby 500.  In fact, the 500X is a very close cousin to the Jeep Renegade (Jeep being a product of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles).  And if it's good enough for Jeep (setting aside the unfortunate first Compass a decade ago), it's very good indeed.  The first few minutes at the wheel convey a sense of solidity and security.  It's nimble, but purposeful.  It's an Italian Jeep.

The Fiat 500X starts at $19,995 for the base Pop model with a 1.4-liter, 160 horsepower turbo four and a six-speed manual transmission.  The Lounge model is a luxury trim, starting at $25,150.  And our tester is the Trekking, which slots in between at $23,350 base.  Both the Trekking and the Lounge get a little something in the engine bay, a 2.4-liter, 180-horsepower four with a nine-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy estimate: 22 city/30 highway.

The 500X also includes 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, wheel arch moldings, satin chrome exterior accents, distinctive front and rear fascias, cornering fog lamps and lower bodyside cladding. And there's a Uconnect 5.0 system with touchscreen, deep-tinted privacy glass and a stone finish instrument panel.

Interior view of 2017 Fiat 500X Trekking
2017 Fiat 500X Trekking interior.
The fact that the Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade are platform-mates shows just how far we've come from the bad old days of badge engineering (build the same machine, put different names on it).  The exterior styling is very much its own, and the interior is like nothing you'll ever see anywhere but in an Italian vehicle.  We've always been big fans of the thickly-padded seats in the Fiat 500. Glad to see they've carried them over into the 500X as well.

Our tester had options.  The leather-trimmed buckets among them ($900).  There was also Customer Preferred Package 27G, which is the cold weather package of heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a windshield wiper de-icer ($450).

The Advanced Safety Package consists of lane departure warning, full speed forward collision warning, rear parking assist, blind spot monitoring with cross-path detection, automatic high beam control and rain sensitive wipers ($1,295).

The Front Wheel Drive Trekking Premium Package adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, a Beats premium audio system, a dual-pane power sunroof and all-season tires ($1,495).  A cautionary note about that sunroof...the sunshade that comes with it is not solid, but a very fine mesh.  Great for ambient light, yes, but if you live in a hot climate (and it was 107-109 in Sacramento the week we had our tester), it cooks the interior to a point where the climate control has a tough time keeping up.

And finally, the Trekking Popular Equipment Package, with a rear-view backup camera, power 8-way driver's seat and manual passenger seat, with a four-way lumbar adjustment for the driver, dual-zone automatic climate control and ambient lighting ($995).

Add all that up with $995 destination charge and the bottom line is $29,480. That's actually $2,020 less than the loaded Jeep Renegade Limited 4X4 we reviewed earlier this year, and something of a bargain for a loaded small crossover SUV, where price stickers usually end up in the low 30s.


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