Easy on suburban life with a touch of off-road DNA
The Test: Given that Fiat is owned by the makers of Jeep, we expected the 500X to comfortably handle the double track at the end of a remote mountain canyon. Still, we were surprised at how our front-wheel-drive test car handled a short stint of rock crawling up an embankment. When the right front wheel lost contact with the ground, the Fiat switched all the power to the left wheel to pull the vehicle up and over the crux.
The 2.4-liter, 180-hp, 4-cylinder engine won’t win any drag races, mostly because its nine-speed transmission is there to maximize fuel economy, not performance. Over 140 miles of city, highway, and mountain roads outside Denver, we logged 27.3 mpg. If you go with the FWD trim, consider the base model 1.4-liter turbo engine and sweet-shifting 6-speed manual transmission, a combination that is more fun to drive flat out. Interior room is adequate for front and rear passengers, but the cargo area behind the rear seats is negligible. Serious gearheads will want to install a roof rack to haul their toys.
The Verdict: Easy to live with in urban/suburban life, with just enough off-road DNA to handle the drive to the ski hill on a powder day.
$23,100; 22 city mpg/31 hwy