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2020 FIAT 500X Review

LIKES
  • Quirky styling
  • Standard all-wheel-drive
  • Comfortable ride
DISLIKES
  • No cheaper and more efficient FWD model
  • Competitors offer better value
  • Active safety tech only optional
BUYING TIP
  • Active safety features can only be had on the mid-tier Trekking model, so the base Pop might not be the safest choice if there will be young passengers.
The 2020 Fiat 500X is a stylish alternative to mainstream models but can be cramped inside.

The 2020 Fiat 500X is an Italian American crossover SUV styled after the discontinued Fiat 500 minicar but built in Italy with the Jeep Renegade subcompact crossover. We give it 5.6 out of 10 overall for its character and relative rarity, but other qualities are just average.

The cute, rounded styling of the 500 city car handles the rugged treatment well on the 500X, nicely balancing bubbly and burly. A black roof option is available on all 2020 models. The interior is pleasing to look at with its body-color dashboard and pop-out design features, and material quality is better than average in the segment.

For 2020, the 500X carries its options and three trims over following a heart transplant last year that introduced a new 1.3-liter turbo-4. It represents the only engine option and makes a healthy 177 horsepower through a 9-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. We’ve not been enamored with this gearbox, but the comfortable suspension and playful driving dynamics nearly make up for its shortcomings.

Passenger space is average for the segment with 35 inches of rear leg room, but cargo space suffers from a sloping roofline, managing only 14 cubic feet with the second row in place and nearly 40 cubic feet with it folded flat.

While the federal government has not given the 500X a crash test since its launch in 2016, it gave the similar Jeep Renegade a four-star rating. The IIHS gives the 500X “Good” scores all around, and active safety features are available as an option, though Fiat would benefit from making these features standard to increase the value proposition.

With standard alloy wheels, all-wheel drive, turbo power, and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the 500X is well-equipped as standard, especially compared to the relatively spartan Jeep Renegade’s base trim.

Fuel economy is firmly average at 26 mpg combined, lacking the benefit of a more efficient front-wheel-drive version or one with a thriftier manual transmission.

Styling
The 2020 Fiat 500X is an experiment in stretching retro design to a different vehicle that gets most details right.

The 2020 Fiat 500X is undeniably charming despite having been on the market for several years. Thoughtful styling cues and a playful interior warrant 7 out of 10 here.

There’s no mistaking the 500X for anything but a bulbous 500 city car with off-road ambitions, and that’s exactly what makes the design work. Round headlights and big taillights are optimistic-looking compared to angular competitors, and rugged-looking cues like the front and rear faux skid plate designs make for a handsome crossover.

The interior is similarly playful, featuring a body-color dashboard and a variety of upholsteries. A center-mounted 7.0-inch screen is a bit bubbly for our liking, but the big gauge cluster screen and dials pulled seemingly from an Alfa Romeo are both clear to look at and inspire driving confidence.
Other details are trademark Jeep and FCA parts like the steering wheel buttons and control knobs, but there’s enough variety in here to keep things interesting and separate the 500X from its corporate cousins. And it’s so much more streamlined on the inside and outside than the Fiat 500L.

Performance
The 2020 Fiat 500X features smaller turbocharged engine does more with less.

The 2020 Fiat 500X features a simplified powertrain lineup starring a 1.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 to replace larger 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 and 2.4-liter inline-4 engines.

With 177 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque, the smaller engine makes a surprising amount of power for such a small-displacement mill. Like the 160-hp 1.4-liter, it buzzes loudly on all but the lightest throttle. The boosted turbo power comes on at 2,200 rpm, which is a fun place to be. There is considerable lag from a stop, but once the lightweight 500X is up and moving, there is plenty of pep for passing moves and spirited straight-line driving. The proportions of the 500X can result in some top-heavy handling, but the ride quality is comfy enough on long road trips and the suspension can be pliant enough to enjoy twisty roads, though there are other small crossovers that do it better. 

The 9-speed automatic transmission can hesitate under heavy throttle, so if you see a merging vehicle on the highway it's best to flick the Sport model's paddle shifters down a gear or two to avoid the transmission's hesitation. At cruising speeds under about 75 mph, the top gear is 7th, so the two highest gears are overdrive gears. 

All-wheel drive is standard, and a disconnecting rear axle while cruising improves fuel economy over the front-wheel drive with the 2.4-liter. The six-speed manual is no longer offered. 

Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Fiat 500X features a high-quality cabin with decent passenger space, but cargo room is lacking.

At just 168 inches front-to-rear, the 2020 Fiat 500X is a subcompact crossover SUV and feels like it inside. While superior to some competitors in terms of quality and passenger space, we give it 5 out of 10 here for its relative lack of cargo room.

Front seat occupants are treated to comfortable bucket seats with either cloth or leather upholstery, and the cabin has a higher-quality feel than many budget competitors thanks to details like the body-color dashboard.

Rear seat passengers have 35 inches of leg room and decent head room to fit two adults. The cargo hold is where the 500X’s small stature manifests itself, featuring only 14 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat and nearly 40 cubic feet of maximum cargo space. That’s better than some puny competitors like the Toyota C-HR, but lags behind segment leaders like the Honda HR-V with its nearly 59 cubic feet. For size without concern for style, consider the Fiat 500L and its 68 cubic feet.

Safety
The 2020 Fiat 500X hasn’t been fully crash-tested, but active safety features are available on more expensive models.

The 2020 Fiat 500X hasn’t been comprehensively crash-tested, so we can’t give it a rating here.

Though the IIHS has smashed the 500X against a few walls since 2018 and found the results to be “Good” all around, the federal government’s NHTSA hasn’t done so. The 2018 Jeep Renegade—its platform mate—got a four-star safety rating. It should be noted that, like many crossover SUVs, the IIHS did give the 500X a “Poor” headlight rating, keeping it from winning any safety awards.

The good news is that the 500X offers active safety features like blind spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, full-speed automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with active lane control, and a rear parking assist system. The bad news is that all of these features are optional, and only on the mid-tier Trekking model or top-tier Trekking Plus. That’s disappointing when many competitors are beginning to offer these features either across the range or as standard.

Features
The 2020 Fiat 500X is relatively well-equipped as standard but loses its value proposition almost immediately.

The 2020 Fiat 500X is relatively well-equipped to start, but not as affordable as it should be once you choose the options you want and need. We give it 6 out of 10 here.

It comes in Pop, Trekking, or Trekking Plus trims. In contrast to many small SUVs, all-wheel drive is standard on the 500X Pop, as are 17-inch alloy wheels, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. This trim will set you back around $26,000 to start, including the comparatively pricey $1,495 destination fee.

Stepping up to the 500X Trekking for about $1,500 more adds better upholstery, outdoorsy styling bits, satellite radio, and a circular 3.5-inch screen in the gauge cluster. The Trekking model also gets the option to add active safety features which we highly recommend doing, but any options push the total price close to $30,000.

The top-tier Trekking Plus includes leather, heated front seats, satellite navigation, and a few other styling bits, but at over $30,000 to start, we’d skip it.

Fuel Economy
The 2020 Fiat 500X manages just average fuel economy at 26 mpg combined.

The 2020 Fiat 500X makes just average fuel economy despite its small turbo engine and disconnecting rear axle. We give it 5 out of 10 for efficiency. 

The 2020 500X with the 1.3-liter turbo-4, all-wheel-drive, 9-speed automatic got 24 city, 30 highway, and 26 combined mpg, which puts the 500X firmly in the middle of the pack in terms of efficiency. The small turbo engine and 9-speed auto with a disconnecting rear axle that improves fuel economy at highway speeds don’t help matters as much as the naturally aspirated engines and continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) in competitors, it seems. By comparison, the Honda HR-V in AWD gets 29 mpg combined.

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