$11,672 - $15,826

2016 FIAT 500X Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 FIAT 500X was new.


Performance: 7.2

Overall, reviewers find the 2016 Fiat 500X's performance to be satisfactory, but not particularly thrilling. They report that although the larger optional engine provides a bit more power than the base engine, it's noisy and unrefined. Test drivers say the standard six-speed manual transmission is easy-shifting, but can feel dull. They add that the available nine-speed automatic transmission can be slow to respond from a stop and has trouble finding the correct gear. Although reviewers agree that the Fiat 500X has sporty handling and is easy to maneuver, they wish its steering offered more feedback.

  • Dynamically, the 500X is about par for the subcompact SUV course." -- Consumer Guide
  • "My little black heart knows very few folks will opt for the base car. That's a big shame. With the 2.4 under the hood an the nine-speed automatic in place, the 500X is going to have a tough time keeping its head up against well-sorted hardware from Honda, Nissan, Mazda, and yes, even Chevrolet." -- Road and Track
  • "As we head north toward Malibu, we can already tell that the 500X feels like a different kind of Fiat, more substantial. It fills the lane. There's an upright driving position, and we feel confident cruising along at 70 miles per hour." -- Autoblog
  • "Spinning through the Westside and into the hills above Malibu in a front-wheel-drive X, I found the performance underwhelming. The engine strained under acceleration, even in sport mode, and took a long time to get up to freeway speed." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "Overall, the first impression is that it would be a competent companion to an enthusiast's sports car, though also a good recommendation for your non-enthusiast neighbor." -- Automobile Magazine

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Fiat 500X comes with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower is available and is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. According to the EPA, the base 2016 500X gets 25/34 mpg city/highway, which is about average for the class.

Test drivers say the 500X's base engine has adequate power for typical driving situations. Although the larger available engine produces a bit more power, auto writers complain that it's noisy and unrefined. According to some critics, the standard manual transmission can sometimes feel imprecise, but others report that it shifts easily. Critics are also disappointed in the optional nine-speed automatic transmission, which they say has trouble finding the correct gear.

  • "All other buyers get a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. The 2.4 produces 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. While those figures are similar to the 1.4, the larger size gives the engine more natural torque at low speeds. Unfortunately, that positive is offset by the 2.4's coarse character and a transmission that's prone to searching for gears and sometimes delivering clunky shifts. It's too bad that FIAT doesn't offer the 1.4 in other models." -- AutoTrader
  • For starters, you get the same turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder found in the devilish 500 Abarth. It makes good, brusque, Italian noises, and delivers almost 10 more lb-ft of torque than its larger-displacement counterpart thanks to 22 psi of boost. Yeah, it makes do with 20 fewer horses, but you won't care. It's the better engine." -- Road and Track
  • "We'd still rather have been in a Golf or similar on the challenging roads, and the Tigershark four's buzzy drone isn't exactly thrilling, even if it did deliver the power when we wanted it." -- Car and Driver
  • Although not a powerhouse, the 2.4L delivers snappy acceleration thanks to the 500X's light 3,000 pound curb weight." -- Left Lane News
  • "The base Pop model, sampled in a short loop around L.A., can't be recommended, even if you must have a manual gearbox. The less powerful turbo-four makes the 500X feel bigger, heavier, and more awkward, and when the turbo kicks in all you get is torque-steer. The manual gearbox feels loose and vague." -- Automobile Magazine

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say the 2016 Fiat 500X is nimble around corners. However, most test drivers agree that its steering feels vague and gives poor feedback. The 2016 500X has an available Dynamic Selector, which allows you to choose between three driving modes: Auto, Sport and Traction +. Automotive journalists agree that Auto mode is the most pleasant setting for the typical drive, as Sport mode makes the 500X's handling feel overly sensitive. They also note that models equipped with 18-inch wheels have a fairly harsh ride. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available. A few reviewers say the brakes work just fine, and others point out that even under hard braking, the 500X exhibits little nose dive.

  • We might wish for more steering feel, but there was good responsiveness and on-center weight in Sport mode. We worked the brakes pretty hard and they responded reliably and predictably-they never made us say, 'wow' but never caused a worry, either." -- Car and Driver
  • … there is minimal understeer, not much yaw, and an ability to rotate in the corners. It's not as kid-rally-racer radical as the Nissan Juke, but it's also not as harsh as the pricey Mini Countryman." -- Automobile Magazine
  • The steering is fairly quick and direct, though without a lot of road feel. Handling is well controlled and the vehicle leans little in turns. While it's more fun than the awkward 500L, it doesn't capture the water bug agility of the 500 model. The ride is a mixed bag, too. It's fairly supple with the base 16-inch wheels but becomes firm with the available 18s. If you live in the rust belt, try the 18s before you buy." -- AutoTrader
  • "The 500X was more than willing to climb up on curbs and to descend from them without clanging its wheels against the pavement, making maneuvering in tight city quarters very easy while offering much greater flexibility than other small softroaders its size. And that's where the 500X's most useful everyday utility lies -- being able to squeeze into tight spaces in cities with less than ideal road infrastructure and to maneuver at will without losing face or crunching something on its bottom." -- AutoWeek
  • Like a kid on a sugar high, the 500X just feels too high-strung in Sport mode, with a hyper-sensitive gas pedal and reluctant-to-shift gearbox combining for a jerky ride. Needless to say, we preferred the 500X's default driving mode, which is plenty responsive." -- Left Lane News

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