$14,358 - $16,713

2017 FIAT 500X Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 FIAT 500X was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.1

The 2017 Fiat 500X's performance is adequate for those who just want it for daily driving. If you prefer a little excitement on the road, there are better options in the subcompact SUV class. The 500X has two powertrains, and neither one outshines the other, with both having downsides such as limited power or an awkwardly shifting automatic transmission. Fuel economy is also middling for the class. On the bright side, the 500X is easy to maneuver, and it has a reasonably comfortable ride.

  • Dynamically, the 500X is about par for the subcompact SUV course." -- Consumer Guide (2016)
  • "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 [and] 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 (2016)
  • "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 (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The base 2017 500X Pop trim comes with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower, and it is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. A 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission is optional in the Pop trim and standard in Trekking and Lounge models.

With the base engine and manual transmission, the 500X gets up to 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. That's typical for a subcompact SUV; however, you can get slightly better fuel economy in rivals like the Mazda CX-3 or Buick Encore. Stepping up to the larger engine with the automatic transmission will cost you more at the pump, with fuel economy estimates falling to 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Adding all-wheel drive uses a bit more fuel, with those models rated at only 21/29 mpg city/highway.

Neither of the 500X's powertrains is especially better than the other. The base engine is fuel-efficient and runs smoothly, but it doesn’t have a lot of power to move the 500X from a stop. That's typical of the base engine in a subcompact SUV, though. You can easily change gears with the manual transmission to make the most of the limited power you do have, however. The larger engine delivers more muscle to propel the 500X along the road, but it feels unrefined and makes unpleasant sounds when accelerating quickly. It's paired with an automatic transmission that doesn't always shift smoothly and is sluggish to shift when more power is needed.

  • "The 2.4 has more low-rpm torque, and it comes with an automatic transmission. Unfortunately, it can sound rough at high rpm, and its acceleration is disappointing given its ample power figures. The automatic's occasional clunky gearshifts at low speeds (as in when stuck in heavy traffic), along with slow downshifts for highway passing, are other demerits." -- Edmunds
  • "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." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)
  • "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." -- Autotrader (2016)

Handling and Braking

The 500X's handling is perfectly suited to city driving. It has a comfortable ride that soaks up most vibrations from rough patches of road. The 500X is also decently nimble, so it can be fun on twisty roads. More importantly, it's easy to navigate in small places, whether you're trying to work your way through gridlock or squeeze into a tight parking space. However, if you want some real fun behind the wheel, the Mazda CX-3's sporty handling will likely satisfy you more than the 500X's will.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but you can get all-wheel drive for extra grip in slippery weather. Fiat's Dynamic Selector is also optional. It lets you choose between Auto, Sport, and Traction + to adjust driving dynamics to match road conditions.

  • "… we like how the Fiat 500X drives. Its body structure feels substantial, and the suspension, though firmly tuned, does a good job of absorbing bumps and ruts. Around turns, the 500X remains fairly flat and nimble (especially the front-wheel-drive model that sits about an inch lower), and it's small enough to dart in and out of traffic and park with ease." -- MSN
  • "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 (2016)
  • … 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 (2016)

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