Compact crossovers are on the rise. Most shoppers are young and the competition reflects that. Everything, from our long-term 2016 Fiat 500X to the new Toyota C-HR or the upcoming Hyundai Kona, sells just as much on style as it does on substance. Our time with the 500X shows Fiat's entry into the segment has plenty of both. It's not as compromised as something like the Nissan Juke and not as sterile as the Honda HR-V. It proved to be a solid if occasionally troublesome vehicle.
What were those troubles? A few wiring issues within the steering column sent car alarms blazing in the middle of the night. The same issue turned on the wipers when using the turn signal. The issues were fixed after a couple trips to the dealer. So yes, the local Fiat dealer did indeed have to fix it again. We did not confirm if the mechanic was named Tony.
Still, it was charming and exceeded most of the Autoblog staff's expectations. Based on previous experiences with Fiats, we weren't sure how the 500X would fare over a year. Not all of our long-term cars leave a lasting impression, but we were sure sorry to see this one leave.
Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore - I always enjoy a night or weekend in the 500X. In fact, it was one of my go-to sign-outs. It's functional. It looks cool inside and out, and it's easy to drive. I dig the small hatchback/crossover vibe. There's room in the trunk for plenty of stuff and the back seat is reasonable for adults. This is the kind of vehicle that could turn Americans on to Fiat. It meets their needs and it's stylishly different. I like driving it. The transmission is a little weird with its shifts, but you get used to it. Sport mode makes the car a lot more responsive and it's a nice feature. The saddle brown interior looks great and held up well, and the exterior is cute with its peering headlights and subtle curves.
I actually like driving this car, as opposed to our other recent long-termer, the HR-V, which was dull, slow and lacking in character. You chose the Fiat. You had to take the Honda.
Executive Producer Adam Morath - I wanted to love this car, but it just wouldn't let me. First, the good: It's the best looking of the 500 lineup, offers nice utility in a stylish, compact package. The seats aren't going to offer tons of bolstering support, but they are wide and comfortable. Visibility and spacious cabin feel are also pluses. Finally, I love that you can get unique-looking materials to cover the seats. I would never have a light grey or taupe-colored armchair in my home, so why are those often the only alternatives to black leather? The rich brown tumbled leatherette in the 500X just feels more inline with what people actually want to sit in in 2016.
Now, the bad: why did your alarm go off and then refuse to shut off for no apparent reason while parked in front of my home at midnight? Why do you turn on the wipers when I use the turn signal? Why am I constantly flashing my brights when trying to make a lane change? Why does it take the radio like 20-plus seconds to boot up, and another five to 10 seconds to start registering volume control commands? This small stuff just feels unacceptable for a brand new car.
Senior Editor Alex Kierstein - I'm impressed with how well this little thing worked considering how I'd handicapped it for a too-complex and problematic powertrain and, well, Fiat's lack of a small crossover track record on this side of the globe. After taking a long road trip in both our departed HR-V long-termer and this, I'd say (surprisingly) that the 500X wins in the comfort and freeway competence areas. Say what you will about Fiat, but abroad, little two-row peoplemovers like its Panda are cheerful everyday appliances, and the 500X captures some of that utilitarian charm.
That being said, the automatic didn't hiccup much during my time with it, but I have real and vivid fears of how it'll age and what it will cost over time. The 1.4-liter turbo is a superior engine, and I'd obviously spec the manual gearbox that is reasonably fun (in a whimsical, ropey European way) and that should cause less psychological stress over the ownership period. It would also be more enjoyable.
Specced the right way, this cheerful and functional crossover is a surprisingly comfortable ride. It also doesn't hurt that it's cute as a button, especially alongside the homely 500L. I'll miss it, which surprises me.
Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale - The Fiat 500X is a perfectly pleasant crossover, but not outstanding in any particular way. It's an attractive vehicle with a comfortable, easy-to-use interior. It has a willing engine paired with a subpar, but still livable transmission. I certainly wouldn't begrudge anyone buying it, and one could certainly do worse. But on the flip side, there are subcompact crossovers in the segment that offer more space, more personality and better driving dynamics. Some of them offer all of those. Though I haven't driven one, I think the 500X's twin, the Jeep Renegade, definitely has more personality, not to mention cool features like removable roof panels. I don't think I'd buy a 500X, but it's fine if you do.
Associate Editor Reese Counts - Until I drove the 124 Spider, I considered the 500X the best product in Fiat's portfolio, and the 124 Spider is mostly a Mazda Miata. The 500X is stylish both inside and out. Like others, I'm a big fan of the Fiat's color combination. There are some less-than-stellar materials inside, but I don't think it's any better or worse than the competition. For a crossover, it rides and handles pretty well, too. The biggest knock I have against it is the middling powertrain.
UConnect is starting to show its age. It takes an eternity to sync with Bluetooth and it responds about as quickly as a drunken sloth. Fiat really needs to bring the latest version over. It's better looking, quicker to react and adds both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.