As one of the largest auto makers, Fiat has been making big news with small cars. The 500X arrived last year as a 2016 model and a more practical alternative to the 500 coupe. If you think it resembles the Jeep Renegade, you would be correct. These cousins are built at Fiat’s Melfi plant in southern Italy.
We don’t see many Italian sedans, so we jumped at the opportunity to spend a week with the new 500X Easy. Easy as in the base price is under $22,300 and it comes well equipped. Our bright orange (Arancio) tester had the Easy Collection 5 trim. This package adds Beats™ Audio along with blind spot/lane departure/forward collision warning safety gear for an additional $1,900. Normally this package would arrive with two-tone black and machined 17” wheels, but ours had the optional 18” size.
After the initial inspection we decided to see how well it handled a lunch run. A real world test of the 2.4-liter four cylinder would be Florida’s stop and go traffic. The nine speed automatic shifts at very low engine speeds under light throttle, which never allows the engine to enter its power band. While we applaud the innovation required to offer the first nine-speed box, its execution could use more refinement. Power was adequate for a compact car, with 180 hp and 175 lb-ft on tap.
Styling is where Fiat leaves the competition behind. A tall and graceful greenhouse offers great visibility and our car had the panoramic roof. In a smart move, the bottom of the body is protected by a skirt of plastic trim. Inside you are greeted by flowing curves and symmetrical features, but injection molded plastics are abound. Seats are well bolstered and larger than most others. Overall the interior layout is smart and functional, and by far the best in this price bracket.
With a taller ride height than other compact sedans, road noise and ride quality are among the best you will find for under $25,000. We keep hearing rumors that the next Jeep Wrangler will be based on this platform, and it may be a smart move. The 500X Easy is a smart and economical sedan that is rated up to 31 mpg highway. If you value chic Italian styling, Fiat has your next car.