Fiat 500X cute, but more useful than smaller cousins
Small crossovers are growing in popularity and car makers are falling all over themselves to deliver a robust selection of these little SUV-hatchback-wagons.
In essence they are mix of those three categories, offering more cargo room, AWD or 4-wheel-drive capability and hatches for easy cargo carrying and better looks.
Fiat joins the parade with its 500X using cute styling from its tiny Fiat 500, raising the vehicle some and stretching its wheelbase, just not quite as much as its 500L (as in longer wheelbase), and offering AWD in its various trim levels.
I drove an orange (yes, orange) Fiat 500X Trekking right up through our first snow this winter. The Trekking is up two levels from the base Pop model and starts at $23,200, so is value priced. This one was front-wheel-drive, but as with the other 500X models, comes with Dynamic Control Selector that allows you to engage a traction system, or go sporty when pavement is dry.
At this price point, DCS is a rare treat and indeed, using Sport mode allowed the Fiat’s 2.4-liter MultiAir 4-cylinder engine to kick up its heels a bit. The engine makes 180 horsepower with 175 ft.-lbs. of torque, so has plenty of energy to get the slightly less than 3,000-lb. car moving. But Sport mode lets the somewhat unrefined feeling 9-speed automatic transmission shift more quickly, giving the car more kick from a standing start. It also firms the steering for a sportier feel. Continue reading 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking FWD→
Fiat goes long with 500L (get it?) to connect with more buyers
Credit Fiat for quickly deducing that its cute, but diminutive, 500 runabout simply won’t do for many U.S. families. The Italian automaker that owns Chrysler needed something that would cast a wider net when trying to land more customers on our shores.
Voila! The 500L!
This is a small crossover or wagon much along the lines of MINI’s Clubman. That’s to say it’s boxy and big enough to hold four adults and some groceries under the hatch. It remains cute, like the MINI is cute, but no one will mistake it for the much smaller Fiat 500 that its name implies it descends from.
But this is a different beast in that at 167.1 inches the 500L is nearly two feet longer, plus a little wider and taller, than the tiny 500. The 500L rides on a much larger 102.8-inch wheelbase, a little shorter than a Subaru Forester, for example, and nearly a foot longer than Fiat’s 500. The L is no featherweight either, at 3,203 lbs. it’s about 900 lbs. heavier than its smaller sibling.
I parked the 500L next to a standard MINI in a fast food parking lot and was amazed at how much larger the Fiat looked.
What all this size means is that the 500L rides well, but remains a good handler, like its smaller model, the 500. The suspension does a surprisingly good job of soaking up our roads’ numerous imperfections. Some larger crossovers and small utes don’t feel this well controlled. As with the 500 model, this one’s ride quality surprises. Continue reading 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge→