• 2016 Fiat 500X AWD
  • 2016 Fiat 500X AWD
  • 2016 Fiat 500X AWD

Road Test: 2016 Fiat 500X AWD

Versatile, On/Off Road Compact Crossover

Clean Fleet Report usually ends a review by encouraging you to go take a test drive at a local dealer. This time though we are changing it up a bit, with marching orders to go drive the 2016 Fiat 500X AWD before reading this or any other review. Seriously? Well, sort of. Our point is that if you get a feel for the 500X AWD with a blank slate, free from opinions or biases (yes, this is a thing with Fiats and many people) that you will be well-served.

But since we are here, let’s get into what makes the 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking AWD a very worthy car for your purchase consideration.

Introduced in 2015, the 2016 Fiat 500X is the fifth model to come from the storied Italian company, joining the 500e, 500, 500C Abarth and 500L. The 500X shares the same platform as the Jeep Renegade, both of which are built in Melfi, Italy. Each has its difference that makes it attractive to different buyers. We earlier reviewed the Jeep Renegade and also took a look at the front-wheel drive version of the 500X; now we’ll take a look at the 500X AWD, which is quite a different animal.

Drivetrain

2016 Fiat 500X AWD

A competent package with great fuel economy

Clean Fleet Report drove a 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking AWD for a week which was equipped with a 2.4L, naturally aspirated single overhead cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine producing 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. Running on regular gasoline, the 500X AWD has an EPA rating of 21 city/30 highway/24 combined fuel economy, putting it in our 30 MPG AWD Club. Clean Fleet Report tested the 500X AWD over mostly highways and some mountain roads and achieved a respectable combined average of 27.8 mpg. Helping to reach this number was the nine-speed automatic transmission. When in ninth gear at 70 miles per hour, the engine was only turning at 1,500 rpms.

The 2.4L was smooth both around-town driving and cruising at highway speeds, but offered an unspectacular 0-60 time around 9.6 seconds, which unfortunately is about the same as its competitors in this class of small crossovers. When climbing even the slightest grade, the nine-speed automatic tended to hunt for the right gear to move its 3,278 pounds. The remedy for this was easy. Use the Dynamic Selector system and opting for the transmission’s Sport mode and manually shift into ninth gear. The two other drive modes are Auto and Traction+, with the latter for snow, icy and slushy road conditions.

For comparison, the base power plant for the 500X AWD is a turbocharged 1.4L single overhead cam, 16-valve four-cylinder engine that produces 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque through Fiat’s six-speed automatic transmission. That combination delivers an EPA rating of 25 city/34 highway/28 combined.

Driving Experience: On the Road

2016 Fiat 500X AWD

A road warrior that can venture off-road as well

Clean Fleet Report’s all-wheel drive 500X was equipped with Continental ContiPro Contact 215/55R18 all-season tires, mounted on 18-inch aluminum wheels with an attractive spoke-like design. It made for a nice-looking wheel and tire combination. Fiat says the 500X has “engaging driving dynamics synonymous with the Fiat brand.” There are many ways to interpret this statement, but Clean Fleet Report felt the taut suspension and heavy steering response was not at all similar to the other Fiat models we have tested. But it was unique in a good way. The heaviness was odd at first as most cars we test have electrically-assisted power steering set so sensitive that it is sloppy and does not offer a good feel for the road. The 500X AWD also has electric power rack-and-pinion steering, but Fiat did good job of matching it with the suspension. That’s a MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and the rear struts, coil springs and stabilizer bars that make for a very sure-footed driving compact crossover.

The 500X was stable at highway speeds, where all our high-speed cornering and maneuvers performed as desired. The 500X AWD is not a sports car and isn’t marketed as such, but compared to the sibling 500L (and you really should not compare them as they are completely different vehicles), it handles far better whether in town or on the open road.

Clean Fleet Report had the opportunity to drive on icy roads with about a two-inch covering of fresh, light snow and even found an open paved area where we could do some good old fashioned donuts. We got it up to about 25 mph with the transmission in the Traction+ setting, and had a blast looping and making some tight and not-so-tight esses to see if we could get the 500X AWD to slip or spin. Between the all-wheel drive, all-speed traction control and electronic stability control, all we were able to accomplish were big smiles as we stayed firmly planted to the ground.

Stopping was very good, confident, solid and straight through the single piston, front vented and solid rear rotor power-assist brakes. The 500X AWD comes with an anti-lock brake system, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.

Driving Experience: Interior

2016 Fiat 500X AWD,interior

A roomy little car

Access was easy through wide doors leading to a high driver and front passenger seat positions. The black, premium cloth front seats have six-way manual adjustments. With the manual tilt and

telescoping steering column, a fairly good driver seating position was not hard to find (a lumbar adjustment would have been a nice addition) and long trips did not cause noticeable leg or back fatigue. The front passenger seat folds flat, there are two glove boxes and a front center sliding armrest with storage.

The rear seat can accommodate five adults (four is more conducive to their comfort, though) with ample leg room. However, if the driver or front passenger are tall, then leg room could be compromised. There is adequate storage with the 60/40 folding rear seat in its upright position. When folded, the extra storage easily allows for larger items and for two on an extended road trip would be ideal. Sight lines are generally very good, with a caveat that at times the beefy A pillar could block some of the front view. This is a matter of getting used to the design and learning where to look, which became easier as we spent more time in the driver’s seat.

2016 Fiat 500X AWD,interior

A dash with logic and style

The Fiat 500X dash has a clean, straight-forward, distinctive design with everything laid-out in logical, easy-to-read locations. The combination of knobs, switches and buttons for the climate and radio controls are exactly where you want and need them. Our car was equipped with the optional Trekking Collection 5 that included a six-speaker sound system and a 6.5-inch color touch screen for the Uconnect operating system, with navigation (included is a five-year SiriusXM Travel Link and Traffic subscription) and SiriusXM satellite radio (one-year subscription included), AM/FM/CD/MP3 HD radio and voice command with Bluetooth for hands-free phone, text-to-speech and streaming audio. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has controls for audio, phone and cruise control that are easy to use on a system with a quick operational learning curve.

The 500X had convenience features such as power windows with one-touch express up and down, power door locks, heated power exterior mirrors with turn signals, manual heat and A/C, front and rear floor mats, remote keyless entry, 12V power outlet, USB and AUX ports, multiple cup holders, auto-dimming rear view mirror and remote start. The Fiat remote start system operates by depressing a button on the key fob twice to start the engine. Once in the driver’s seat, it cannot be shifted out of Park until it is first turned off and then restarted using the start button on the dash. Therefore, no one can steal the 500X that was started remotely, but it will be warmed-up and ready to go when you get in.

Driving Experience: Exterior

2016 Fiat 500X AWD,styling,design

A hint of Porsche?

The 500X Trekking AWD has a fresh, European-distinct design and a stance that says aggressive while also being slick, with cues from a Porsche Macan (or does the Macan take cues from the 500X?), especially when looking at the side panels. The front has the familiar Fiat mustache and logo badge above dual horizontal air slots and bi-function Halogen projector headlamps set wide on the rounded, sculpted fender corners, with fog and cornering lamps. A nice feature of the cornering lamps is that they come on when the steering wheel is turned, not when the turn signal is engaged. Plus, they were bright—doing exactly what they were designed to do. Overall, the 500X has no unnecessary cladding or chrome work, with tasteful black insets below the rear hatch—which has an integrated spoiler—and finished off with a bright chrome exhaust tip.

The 500X is offered in 12 different exterior colors, including our test car’s Arancio (Orange). Other color options include Blu Venezia, Verde Toscana, Rosa Passione and Bronzo Magnetico, plus several other exotics in the color palette.

Safety and Convenience

The 2016 Fiat 500X has not been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but has earned the Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Our 500X was equipped with seven airbags, a ParkView rear backup camera, ParkSense rear park assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection, an engine immobilizer and security alarm, tire pressure monitoring system, tire service kit (no spare tire), brake assist, hill start assist and cruise control.

Pricing and Warranties

The 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking AWD has a base price of $25,235. Clean Fleet Report was driving a 500X Trekking AWD with the Trekking Collection 5 Package with a MSRP of $26,935. All prices exclude the $995 destination charge.

All 2016 Fiat 500X models come with these warranties:

  • Basic – 48 months/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain – 48 months/50.000 miles
  • Rust-through – 60 months/Unlimited miles
  • Roadside Assistance – 48 months/Unlimited miles

Observations: 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking AWD

2016 Fiat 500X AWD

It can go in the snow

There are similarities between the front wheel drive and all-wheel drive Fiat 500X models, but also enough differences to consider them separately. For anyone looking for an AWD vehicle that isn’t being used to blaze snow-drift trails, then the 500X AWD should be high on your consideration list. The 500X AWD will satisfy your driving needs on paved surfaces that have been covered with ice and a few inches of snow, while transporting your family or friends around town or to the mountain cabin or ski resort.

The Fiat 500X AWD Trekking is arguably the best looking of the three Fiat 500 models with a flow of sculptured lines that looks more natural and comfortable than the 500L, and is better proportioned than the very compact 500, or Cinquecento.

The 500X has some steep competition in the small Crossover category including the sister car Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke, Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax, Buick Encore and Mini Cooper Paceman.

So does the 500X rise above any of these? Clean Fleet Report will let you cross-shop these and other crossovers to decide for yourself. But if you are looking for Italian automotive design with a lineage of Ferrari, Lancia and Alfa Romeo—or maybe calling-up the great Italian fashion icons Armani, Gucci and Versace—then the 500X is for you.

With a base price of around $20,000 and fully optioned for around $30,000, the 2016 Fiat 500X should be on your shopping list.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

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Road Test: 2016 Honda HR-V or A Second Report Opinion

Road Test: 2015 Chevrolet Trax

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Road Test: 2016 Fiat 500e

Road Test: 2015 Fiat 500

Road Test: 2015 Fiat 500C Abarth

Road Test: 2016 Fiat 500L

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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