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2016 Fiat 500X Lounge Review by John Heilig +VIDEO

2016 Fiat 500X Lounge (select to view enlarged photo)
2016 Fiat 500X Lounge

By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel


MODEL: 2016 Fiat 500X Lounge
ENGINE: 2.4-liter MultiAir2 I-4
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 180 hp @ 6,400 rpm/175 lb.-ft. @ 3,900 rpm
WHEELBASE: 101.2 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 167.2 x 75.5 x 63.7 in.
TIRES: P215/60R17
CARGO: 12.2/32.1 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)
ECONOMY: 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway/26,3 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 12.7 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,278 lbs.
STICKER: $27,300 (Base price $24,850)

BOTTOM LINE: The Fiat Cinquecento has finally grown up. All it took was a little blue pill in the fuel tank. The 500X is a good size for a small SUV. There’s decent power and handling. My only complaint is that it is hard sprung.

The television commercial where an old anticipating a rough ride man attempts to pop a “blue” pill but misses his mouth and it winds up in the gas tank of a Fiat 500, magically enlarging it into a 500X is amusing. The result of the growth is a transformation into an attractive vehicle that is a definite improvement on the original Cinquecento-inspired 500.

Is it a true SUV? We’ll see.

As far as I’m concerned, the 500X has great styling. The arched wheel wells and the overall “SUV shape” work well. The compact overall size makes the 500X ideal for parking in tough situations. The rear view camera and cross traffic alert are very handy in parking and un-parking.

But the 500X does offer a Dynamic Selector System that alternates among Auto, Sport and Traction to vary the 4-wheel drive system. As such, the 500X definitely competes with the other small SUVs. It is a fun car to drive with a lot of glances and comments from other drivers and pedestrians.

The 2.4-liter four delivers a good 180 horsepower for the 3,278-pound 500X. Driving through a 9-speed automatic transmission, acceleration is good. The transmission has three settings. Plus, you can shift manually by pulling the shifter to the left and either pushing or pulling it to up- or downshift.

Handling is also good. The 500X is hard sprung, which presents a comfort problem at first, but is livable in time. With nine speeds, the transmission is smooth.

I liked that the instrument panel shows which gear you are in. The remainder of the instrument panel includes a tachometer on the right and a speedometer on the left, which is the opposite of “normal.” Consequently, I set the information panel in the middle for a digital speedometer.

 (select to view enlarged photo)

Like the old VW Beetle, the dash has a large body color metal section in front of the passenger. This s nice, and with air bags, the passengers shouldn’t have any close encounters with the dash. There are two glove boxes, one under the metal panel and one lower.

The front seats are comfortable with some side support. Entry and egress are easy with the slightly taller seating position relative to the ground. The rear seats are cozy. While the cargo capacity is good at 12.2 cubic feet, I had to lower the rear seat backs to carry my golf bag.

The driver holds a flat-bottomed steering wheel that is comfortable and fat.

Economy is decent. We averaged a tad over 26 mg during our test, which I felt was low considering the size of the car and the engine. Filling is aided by a capless fuel tank.

I must confess that I am primarily impressed by the 500X’s styling. Even if it may not qualify as a true off-roading SUV, by its size alone the 500X far outshines the base 500 and even the 500L. It’s such a unique version of the 500 that it’s almost a different car.

© 2015 The Auto Page Syndicate

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