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2016 Fiat 500X First Look

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/19/2014 Frank Markus

Fiat will slice the 500 pie even finer in the second quarter of 2015 with yet another variant, dubbed 500X, which is similar in footprint to the 500L, but based on different architecture shared with the new Jeep Renegade alongside which it will be built in Melfi, Italy. The 500L, built in Serbia on a slightly longer wheelbase and Punto architecture, is slightly larger inside despite measuring about an inch narrower and shorter in length. The 500X's lower roofline and angled rear window cost it passenger space and yield about 13 percent less trunk volume than the 500L. (The difference is even greater relative to its rectilinear Jeep cousin.)

As its appended letter and shared Jeep DNA suggest, the new model is prepped for all-wheel-drive, though front-drive will also be offered. It uses the Renegade's most basic, on-road-oriented AWD system (called Active Drive in the Jeep catalogue) and features the same rear-axle disconnect system that reduces friction and rotational inertia losses when operating in front-drive mode for improved fuel economy.

2016 Fiat 500X© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Fiat 500X Four-cylinder powertrain choices mirror the Renegade's, with a 160-hp, 1.4-liter Turbo MultiAir II and six-speed manual powering low-spec front-drive models, and a 180-hp 2.4-liter Tigershark engine and nine-speed automatic powering all other variants with front- or all-wheel-drive. That 2.4-liter is built in Dundee, Michigan, and the transmission hails from Kokomo, Indiana. Interestingly, the front-drive variants will be classified as cars, while the taller-riding AWD units count as light trucks. Fiat's Drive Mood Selector tailors the responsiveness of the throttle, automatic transmission, traction/stability controls, and steering to three driving modes: Normal (peak safety and efficiency), Weather (for control in potentially slippery conditions), and Sport.

Suspension is by coil-sprung struts at all four corners, with standard electric power steering. Many of the latest electronic safety gizmos are available, including lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, ParkView rear camera system, and Brake Control assisted braking. Projector-beam headlamps are standard and foglamps with adaptive cornering capability are available. And all but the most basic Pop models will get keyless push-button starting. Heated seats and steering wheel are offered. Three flavors of Uconnect telematics/infotainment screens will be offered, with screens ranging in size from 3.0-6.5 inches. (It's gear like this and high-fashion design cues that help Fiat land buyers with $80,000-plus household incomes—way above the B-segment average.)

Speaking of high fashion, the 500X will be available in four trim levels (Pop, Street, Trekking, and Trekking-plus) and 11 different paint colors, including a matte bronze. Inside there will be a similarly broad array of vinyl, leather, fabric, and piping color combinations including a particularly fetching Tobacco Brown on top models. Fiat marketers assert that the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X will appeal to almost completely different types of buyers, and hence won't cannibalize each other's sales. We're inclined to believe that, but we're less convinced the X won't eat into 500L sales.

2016 Fiat 500X Trekking Plus© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking Plus

2016 FIAT 500X
BASE PRICE$20,500-$25,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door wagon/SUV
ENGINES1.4L/160-hp/184-lb-ft turbocharged SOHC 16-valve I-4; 2.4L 180-hp/175-lb-ft SOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSIONS6-speed manual, 9-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT3050-3300 lb (est)
WHEELBASE101.2 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT167.2-168.2 x 70.7 x 63.1 in
0-60 MPH8.0-8.6 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECONNot yet rated
ON SALE IN U.S.Second-quarter 2015

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