I drive a lot of vehicles and perhaps inevitably have become a bit blasé about amenities and design elements that might otherwise excite a new car owner. Hard not to have that happen when I get behind the wheel of so many vehicles. I mean, I can call it “professional sophistication” or “expertise” but it’s more pragmatic: how many different ways can you engage smart cruise control, adjust headlights or pair a phone via bluetooth?
Which is why the Rosso Passione 2019 Fiat 500X Trekking Plus AWD was so darn fun: It’s the kind of car that just brought a smile to my face. Bold Italian-inspired design matched with the reliability of a standard Chrysler interior, it’s a strong argument why small cars can be a more enjoyable drive than the big luxury sedans currently in vogue. Let’s just start with a photo so you can see what I’m talking about:
As is immediately obvious, this is a very European car design, a smaller vehicle that’s undeniably cozy inside but easier to drive on narrow streets, park in smaller spots and, hopefully gets better fuel efficiency too. Though honestly, I was surprised at the low mileage of the 500X: Equipped with a modest 1.3L I4 Turbo, it’s rated for 24/30 and delivered about 29mpg. Somehow a smaller, lighter car powered by a smaller engine should be delivering quite a bit better mileage in my opinion, and closer to 40mpg would have been very welcome.
Still, that was one of the few complaints with this fun and chic vehicle. Is it a big, bold SUV for up in the mountains? No. Obviously. But is it a great little city car for urban life? It surely is, and the switch to the FCA foundational elements (interior controls, engine, drive train, etc) definitely make this far more reliable than Fiat is known for in the annals of car history.
The first thing that is really striking about the Fiat 500X design is that the interior and exterior aren’t as split and unrelated as in just about every other car on the market. Check it out:
Yes, the color and metal elements from the exterior of the vehicle are boldly splashed across the entire front dash assembly. And it looks fantastic. Indeed, coupled with the fashionably round buttons under the infotainment console, it’s a really trendy and exciting look I would like to see appear in other vehicles too.
It’s also a pretty cozy interior, though by pushing the driver’s seat all the way back, I found it was comfortable for my 6’3″ frame. Of course, the consequence for the back seat leg room was rather startling:
Yes, that’s just a few inches of legroom. Fine if you have a baby or cargo, but if you’re tall and want to carry passengers, the Fiat 500X might just prove too small a car for you and your family. Imagine it as a two seater with lots of extra room, however, and you’d be on the right track indeed.
Surprisingly, though, the rear cargo area wasn’t weirdly tiny but instead offered reasonable space:
It’s hard to see, but the back seat is a 60/40 split too, so it would be entirely reasonable to leave the smaller side folded down (alas, that’s behind the passenger, not the driver) for additional space. Would it fit lacrosse gear? Yes. Cross-country skis? Uhm, maybe a roof rack would be a better choice in that regard.
Remember earlier I said it was built atop a standard FCA / Chrysler component set? You can really see that in the steering wheel button controls and the main gauge display:
In fact, other than the logo, the steering wheel and control tems are exactly the same design and layout as the FCA Jeep and various other FCA cars. Oh, and FCA = Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, if you’re not sure what acronym I keep referencing. The central gauge of the main console is a display screen too, so it can display quite a lot of different information. One difference: Most cars I’ve driven recently have the tachometer on the left and the speedometer on the right. Not sure why Fiat switched them on this console design.
Trivia: FIAT is an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, which translates into Italian Automobiles Factory, Turin. So it could have been IAFT instead. Fiat definitely works better.
Still, there’s an Italian design vibe to the center console and dashboard button design, at least:
Notice the USB and AUX front and center. Much appreciated when that’s the case, makes charging phones, being connected for CarPlay, etc, much easier on the driver.
There’s also a particularly interesting dial on the center console near the gearshift:
This is the Dynamic Selector and lets you switch between three driving modes: Auto Mode, All Weather Mode and Sport Mode. Once you know that, the pictures all make sense, but initially I was a bit baffled by the different options. Still, trading off fuel efficiency for performance is a nice option and the 500X is a reasonably peppy drive even in the standard “Auto” mode.
One more photo, exterior rear:
Overall, I really enjoyed a week with the 2019 Fiat 500X. No, there’s no rear legroom, and yes, the fuel efficiency could be improved, but it was a fun drive, cheery design that garnered compliments from others, and had both a good sound system and functional interior layout that made it easy to manage while en route. It’s 62% made in Italy, so it really is Italian, though the engine, interestingly, is from Poland. Is this a great vehicle for a family? Maybe if the little ones are still little. But if it’s just you, or you’re just a couple, this could be a great little addition to your fleet!
SPECS: 2019 Fiat 500X Trekking Plus AWD with rosso passione (red hypnotique) exterior and brown interior. 1.3L I4 Turbo MAir DI Engine w/ ESS, 9-speed 948TE AWD automatic transmission and optional Premium Group, Advanced Driver Assistance Group and Compact Spare Tire additions. BASE PRICE: $29,445.00. AS DRIVEN: $34,325 (including $1,495 destination charge).
Disclosure: FCA loaned me the Fiat 500X for a week in return for this writeup. Grazie, FCA. Grazie mille!