The 500X takes a significant jump in base price of about $8,750, but the car now includes all-wheel-drive. The new 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine is more of trade-off than a big win, although peak torque increases by 26 pound-feet. Photo: FCA

Fiat 500X is worth the jump in base price

Fiat dials in standard all-wheel-drive and a big jump in base price for this Italian-accented import

The roughly 18,000 souls of Melfi in Italy live in an historic medieval town that dates back about 1,000 years. It’s also home to the subcompact Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade that have been shipped to North America for the past five years.

Both relative newcomers share the same basic platform and powertrains, but remain unique in most other respects. The Renegade’s youthful, extroverted styling stands well apart from the 500X’s. The Fiat sticks to a more traditional design that, along with the 500 and 500L, pays homage to the tiny mid-1950s-era Cinquecento model.

The 2019 500X further diverges from the Renegade, in particular in the propulsion department. In place of the turbocharged 160-horsepower 1.4-litre four-cylinder and the optional non-turbo 180-horsepower 2.4 is a new one-engine-fits-all turbocharged 1.3-litre four-cylinder that puts out 177 horses and 210 pound-feet of peak torque. That last number is significant since it beats the outgoing turbo powerplant by 26 pound-feet.

A nine-speed automatic with a manual mode is the sole transmission. Note that the Jeep Renegade also adopts the new turbo, but keeps the non-turbo 2.4 as the base engine.

Another significant 500X alteration is that the previously optional all-wheel-drive system is now standard. As before, it comes with a free-wheeling (and fuel-saving) disconnect feature that engages the real wheels only when torque is required, thus stretching fuel dollars a bit further. The 500X is rated at 10.0 l/100 km in the city and 7.9 on the highway (better than the previous non-turbo 2.4 with AWD and a nine-speed automatic transmission).

Also standard is a “Dynamic Selector” knob that lets the driver choose from Auto, Sport and Traction+ settings. Each adjusts the engine, transmission and steering responses, according to driving and surface conditions. Although falling far short of the Renegade’s available five-mode AWD system (including a low-range Rock mode for the Trailhawk models), the 500X’s version should still help keep you out of harm’s way in most road conditions.

Exterior changes are relatively minor and consist of reworked front and rear ends, newly available LED headlamps, running lights and taillights, and new wheel designs. A new dual-pane panoramic sunroof with a power-sliding feature is available for all trims.

There are new premium seat materials, a revised instrument panel with easier-to-read graphics, and a new steering wheel that has been designed for a better grip.

There are no changes to the interior dimensions, but if maximum headroom and significantly greater stowage capacity is important to you, the taller Renegade is the preferred pick.

The 500X’s new engine and standard AWD results in a price hike of about $8,750 over the previous model. The base Pop now costs $34,000 including destination charges. Along with the basics, the standard-equipment list includes air conditioning, heated outside mirrors and seven-inch touchscreen (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility).

The Trekking has dual-zone climate control, quilted cloth seat covers and a multi-position cargo-shelf panel, while the Urbana comes with black wheels and trim.

While not exactly loaded, the loaded Trekking Plus has a navigation system, leather seat covers, eight-speaker audio, ambient lighting and front and rear park assist.

Among the list of extras is an assortment of dynamic safety technologies such as blind-spot warning, backup detection, forward collision warning/intervention, lane-keeping assist and automatic high-beam headlights.

Other options include roof rails, rain-sensing wipers, premium BeatsAudio system and 18-inch wheels (17s are standard).

Given the relatively low volume of Fiat vehicles sold in North America, it doesn’t seem all that risky to roll the dice by deleting front-wheel-drive from the made-in-Melfi 500X. The price jump does seem like a risk — perhaps a big one — but it’s clear that Fiat thinks the changes are worth it.

What you should know: 2019 Fiat 500X

Type: Four-door, all-wheel-drive subcompact utility vehicle

Engine (h.p.): 1.3-litre SOHC I-4, turbocharged (177)

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic

Market position: Fiat made the right call by boosting the 500X’s output and making all-wheel-drive standard, even though the base price increases. It ultimately places the vehicle a step above, and apart from, the competition.

Points: Handsome styling remains mostly unchanged. • New base engine is small in displacement, but makes plenty of power. • Standard AWD should help sales in snow-belt regions. • Lack of standard active-safety tech gives the competition an edge. • Go with the Jeep Renegade if keeping it small, but more cargo-capable is important.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency braking (opt.); lane departure warning (opt.)

L/100 km (city/hwy) 10.9/9.7; Base price (incl. destination) $34,000

BY COMPARISON

Jeep Renegade 4×4

Base price: $35,950

500X relation has more cargo, headroom. Trailhawk model will take you off-road.

Honda HRV AWD

Base price: $26,600

Smaller than a CR-V, but has lots of interior space. Easy on gas, also.

Chevrolet Trax AWD

Base price: $27,500

Small and tall wagon is easy to own. All-new version is due out for 2020.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today!

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram

 

The big deal for the 2019 Fiat 500X is the smaller-displacement engine. A new turbocharged 1.3-litre four cylinder replaces the 1.4 and has more torque. All-wheel-drive is now standard. Photo: FCA

There are small changes to the interior, such as easier-to-read graphics for the revised gauge cluster, a new steering wheel and new premium seat materials. Photo: FCA

Just Posted

VicPD confirms wolf sighting in James Bay

Police ask that children and pets be taken inside

Victoria hotel awards couples for baby-making with Valentine’s freebie

Have a baby nine months after your stay and enjoy 18-year Valentines deal

Vancouver Island woman’s research helps volunteer firefighters cope with stress

VIU professor Leigh Blaney developing tools to help emergency responders become resilient

Vancouver Island man living well despite dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

Royal BC Museum’s Woolly the Mammoth turns 40 years old

The museum is hosting a party on Jan. 26

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

VIDEO: Drone footage shows extent of damage in Highway 4 rockslide

Tofino, Ucluelet still cut off from rest of the island, as crews work to repair roadway

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Most Read