2018 Fiat 500X Lounge Review: Taking the More Practical Approach to a Small Italian Car

How does Fiat's 500-based crossover stack up?

2018 Fiat 500X Lounge

OVERVIEW

Several body styles of the Fiat 500 have become available since the iconic little car’s resurgence. Initial models were only available in Coupe or Cabrio form with only two doors. Now, there are four door versions that have joined the lineup. There’s a Fiat 500L and there’s this: the Fiat 500X.

Last year Fiat trimmed down the model availability of the 500X to three. There’s the base Pop with a smaller 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed manual transmission in FWD only. Then, you have the mid-level Trekking model that displays a more rugged persona with a more powerful 2.4-liter engine and a 9-speed automatic transmission. It also offers all-wheel drive as a $2,000 option. Finally, at the top of the range sits the flagship model Lounge. All 500X models come with a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen, as well as hill-start assist.

The Fiat 500X is closely related to the Jeep Renegade, though they exhibit very different personalities. The Fiat 500X’s design was penned in Italy to appeal to American tastes. It showcases Italian style while delivering the versatility and functionality of an SUV.

2018 Fiat 500X Lounge

DESIGN ELEMENTS

The Fiat 500’s focus was to capture the original car’s allure in a smartly formatted no-nonsense design. In the 2018 Fiat 500X, overhangs are still short and the body consists of several superimposed layers, topped by a ‘shell-like’ roof. Up front, the 500’s signature face incorporates projector headlamps and lower park lamps. The front fascia tapers outward toward the pronounced wheel arches, displaying a wide, road-holding stance.

The upper portion of the fascia features a horizontal cooling duct, while the lower ‘honeycomb’ style grille integrates stylish fog lamps. Wheel arches are flared and the body-side A-line slopes from the clean clamshell hood to fender cut. The sides are rounded and both head and taillamps are visible from the side. The 500’s iconic profile is finished off by the roof pillars and shadow-line window molding, forming a gentle continuous arc that also hides the door’s upper edges. In the rear, taillamps flank the rear-opening trunk lid.

2018 Fiat 500X Lounge

COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

Moving into the cabin, Italian elegance and simplicity take over with a subtle appeal. It is wide, comfortably seating four, although rear seat occupants will suffer of those up front are tall. The dashboard contains large, round gauges with large matching round climate control knobs. A small center touchscreen sits atop the dash. As with the small compact 500, body-color trim accents are available. The quality and texture of the materials and fabrics blend with straightforward practical design. The front seats are firm, and provide enough supportive bolstering to hold occupants in position.

The 500X is roughly five inches shorter than the tall Fiat 500L wagon, which doesn’t have all-wheel drive. Although, the interior space and cargo space is roughly the same due to modern packaging. Cargo volume is 18.5 cubic feet with the rear seat up, and 50.8 cubic feet when folded down, but it doesn’t lie quite flat.

An adjustable rear floor panel on Trekking and Lounge models inserts into a pair of slides raising the height and leveling with the front passenger fold-down seatback. Interior trim sets the 2018 Fiat 500X apart from competitors, with color inserts from brown to orange.

2018 Fiat 500X Lounge

PERFORMANCE

The Fiat 500X packaged two powertrains: a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a larger, naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter unit. The smaller engine makes 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The 2.4-liter engine manages 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, and comes exclusively with a nine-speed automatic.

The 2018 Fiat 500X provides suitable road manners for a compact SUV, but it’s not as agile as the original 500. The ride quality is firm, but not harsh The electric power steering is responsive enough, but would benefit from a little more feedback the 500X remains an entertaining example of the genre.

The 500X is generally quiet on the road, under a variety of conditions. it’s a modern vehicle and more than acceptable for a utility vehicle whose shape works against noise suppression.

If you check off optional automatic emergency braking feature, the IIHS gives the 500X an “Advanced” rating for front crash prevention at an additional cost of $1,300 on the two upper trim levels.

Mid-level Trekking and Lounge trims offer an optionally available bundle of advanced active-safety features: lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, automatic high-beam headlights, and rain-sensing wipers.

The low hood and shoulder line provide good front and side visibility, but rear three-quarter visibility is somewhat limited.

2018 Fiat 500X Lounge

TFLCAR’S TAKE

The 2018 Fiat 500X delivers sensible trim levels representing good value for the money with impressive content. It is a pleasing, small modern SUV that provides ideally satisfying attributes.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Fiat 500X Lounge FWD

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $25,515
Price as Tested:
$28,955
Engine: 2.4-liter inline-four
Drivetrain (Layout): Transversely-mounted front engine, front-wheel drive
Horsepower: 180 hp @ 6,400 rpm
Torque: 175 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Suspension: Front: Strut type

Rear:  Multilink

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs with four-wheel ABS.
Tires: Nexen Classe Premiere CP 671 215/55 R17 94V
Fuel capacity: 12.7 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 22 City / 30 Highway / 25 Combined mpg

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 101.2 inches
Length: 167.2 inches
Width: 70.7 inches
Height: 63.1 inches
Turning Circle: 36.3 feet
Curb Weight: 2,967 pounds

 

Arv Voss
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring journalist and member and past officer of several noted automotive journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.