Four years after the Italian carmaker return to the United States, the 2016 Fiat 500X joins the little car family as its first subcompact crossover. It combines the traits of its motoring siblings, the 500 and 500L, with an elevated driving position and several upgrades.

The 2016 500X is a new subcompact SUV for the Italian carmaker.
The 2016 Fiat 500X is a new subcompact SUV for the Italian carmaker. All images © James Raia/2016

Like some of its siblings, the Fiat 500X is also among an increasing number of vehicles with more interior space than it appears from the outside of the car. It’s a subcompact SUV, surprisingly spacious and possessing a spunky personality.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

The Fiat 500X is available in five trims, including my weekly driver, the top-line Trekking Plus. It features a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, front-wheel drive engine that produces 180 horsepower. It’s matched with a nine-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is also available.

In addition to many of extensive standard features on other trims, the Trekking Plus includes: rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alerts, a blind-spot monitoring system, leather upholstery and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Several option packages are available my test vehicle’s Collection 2: It includes automatic wipers, a lane departure intervention system, a forward collision warning system, automatic high-beam headlights and a dual-pane sunroof.

Not everyone likes the feel of driving a Fiat. They’re ideal for the small roads of Italy, of course. But how do the little beasts fare on U.S. highways and in the ever-increasing throes of commuter traffic in big-city life?

The surprisingly large interior is immediately noticeable. How did Fiat’s designers incorporate so much head and leg room? How can a vehicle with a small exterior be so comfortable and roomy?

While not able to command presence via its size, the new Fiat nonetheless drives with confidence. It grips the road, changes lanes smoothly and maneuvers through traffic with confidence. The suspense is commendable; it absorbs bumps well. The new Fiat also makes its personality readily apparent while zipping in and out of traffic.

Likes:

Easy to drive and maneuver through traffic.
Straightforward infotainment center.
Upscale design and quality interior construction.

Dislikes:

Mediocre acceleration.
Gas mileage could be better.

Facts & Figures: 2016 Fiat 500X

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 9.0 seconds.
Airbags: 7.
Fuel economy: 22 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway), 25 (combined). nine-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 180.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $27,210.00.
Manufacturer’s Website: www.fiatusa.com.
Price As tested: $31,805.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 4 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“We might wish for more steering feel, but there was good responsiveness and on-center weight in Sport mode. We worked the brakes pretty hard, and they responded.” — caranddriver.com.

“Although not a powerhouse, the 2.4L delivers snappy acceleration thanks to the 500X’s light 3,000-pound curb weight.” — leftlanenews.com.

“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.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The 2016 Fiat 500X is terrifically fun as a second car or a weekend getaway vehicle. What’s not to like in the little machine that can. But it has limitations for long hauls or in heavy traffic when the freeway is full of trucks, SUVs and 18-wheelers.”

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