The Fiat 500X isn’t exactly an Italian Stallion, but it’s not super boring, either

The Fiat 500X is somewhat of a quirky vehicle. For starters, Fiat isn’t exactly the most popular brand here in the United States, and when you pair that with the fact that it’s really more of a jacked-up hatchback than a true crossover. As you’ll read a little later on in this in-depth review, the 500X, outside of its standard all-wheel-drive actually fails when it comes to doing a lot of usual crossover things – like carrying lots of cargo. But we’ll discuss that a little further down the page. For now, I want to want to talk to you about what it’s like to drive the 500X and a little more of that quirkiness that, honestly, intrigues me so much.

  • 2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    177
  • Torque @ RPM:
    210
  • Displacement:
    1.3 L
  • 0-60 time:
    8.3 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    120 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    6.7/10

Fiat 500X Driving Impressions

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924239

The first thing you’ll notice about the Fiat 500X is how easy it is to get inside. For a vehicle so small, the door openings are rather generous.

Sit inside, and you’ll find that the front seats offer a seemingly perfect combination of comfort and support for a car in this price bracket. The rear seats, however, felt a little too upright and firm.

The rear passenger area is also limited, so when you combine all these things, it’s not exactly an ideal place to spend a lot of time, so we’d have to forgo the long road trip if we were a passenger destined to be stuck in the rear. As you might expect, fitting a child seat in the rear is also a bit of a challenge. The anchors are easy to locate, so that’s a plus, but be prepared for a fight if you’re trying to install a rear-facing child seat.

Driving is about what you’d expect from a sub-$30,000 car. The 177-horsepower, turbocharged engine does its job fairly well, but there are vehicles that get better fuel economy at a lower price point. We found that the automatic transmission shifted quickly and held up well during city driving and merging on the highway. Handling, on the other hand, is average at best.

The 500X seems to suffer from some late-90s body lean in normal bends – like curved highway onramps – that can spark a bit of anxiety if you’re used to driving something a little more composed.

Tire grip doesn’t help the situation much as if you start to take a curve a little too fast; you will hear some chirping. It’s nothing dangerous in the grand scheme of things, but it’s clear the stock tires could be better. Needless to say, this isn’t a fun-to-drive SUV if that’s what you’re looking for.

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924277

In terms of tech, there’s a bit of disappointment to deal with. The small, seven-inch touchscreen feels so tiny and almost like one of those cheap tablets you buy from eBay for next to nothing. It seems to work okay, and it has all the functionality that you might expect, but it might be hard to read for those with less-than-perfect eyesight. A big plus is the standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as the three USB ports, which does trump all of the competition. There are plenty of driver aids, but most of them are more sensitive than a 13-year-old girl, and there’s no shortage of annoying warning sounds, chimes, beeps, or digital clanks. In fact, the noises happen so often, that it drowns out the fact that the cabin is relatively quiet at highway speed. Dealing with these annoyances would do wonders for the 500X.

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924294

We are quick to point out that the 500X doesn’t have the best cargo room. Behind the rear seats, we were able to carry enough groceries during a routine shopping trip. The seats do lay down, which is also beneficial as long as you don’t have a rear passenger. However, even small hatchbacks offer more cargo room have the time, so despite having an average rating of 14.1 cubic-feet, it’s still a week point in the 500X’s total offering.

Overall, the Fiat 500X does win some points in terms of style both inside and out despite the typical and familiar Fiat DNA. There’s a lot of personality to admire here and the random Italian touches here, and there are enough to help it stand out in a rather overpopulated crowd.

Fiat 500 Powertrain, Performance, and Capability

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924253

Globally, the Fiat 500X is offered with a handful of engines, including two fairly large-for-its-size diesel engines. Here in the States, however, we’re limited to just one engine: a 1.3-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder that’s good for 177 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel-drive does come standard, but U.S. models don’t offer any type of towing capacity, while other markets can pull up to 1,000 pounds when properly equipped. Because the engine is turbocharged, premium fuel is highly recommended, and you’re also stuck with a nine-speed automatic transmission, so don’t expect to get your hands on an optional manual transmission.

Fiat 500X specifications
Engine 1.3-Liter Four-Cylinder
Transmission Nine-Speed Automatic
Horsepower 177 HP @ 5,500 RPM
Torque 210 LB-FT @ 2,200 RPM
Driveline AWD
Fuel Premium Unleaded
Fuel Economy 24/30/26
Suspension Four-Wheel Independent
Steering Electric
Turning Circle 36.3 Feet
Tire Size P215/55R18

Does the Fiat 500 X Get Good Fuel Economy?

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924247

The Fiat 500X is rated at 24 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and s6 mpg combined. Those figures put it pretty close to fairly similar models like the Ford Fiesta Hatch at 25 in the city, 32 on the highway, and 28 combined, while cars like the Mini Cooper, which is probably one of the strongest competitors, pulls in much better figures at 28 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway, and 31 mpg combined.

How Much Can the Fiat 500X Tow?

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924240

Despite being classified as a subcompact crossover, a segment that usually offers some kind of towing capacity, the Fiat 500X isn’t capable of towing in the United States. In other markets, it can pull up to 1,000 pounds when properly equipped, but if you’re U.S. based and do some light towing, you will need to consider something other than the 500X.

Is the Fiat 500X Fast?[/q[

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924252

The Fiat 500X can run to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds and tops out at 120 mph. You should keep in mind that the Fiat 500X isn’t designed to be a performance vehicle and is more about family drives and cruising, so you shouldn’t expect to get anywhere too fast anyway. For the sake of comparison, the Mini Cooper S can make it to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds and tops out at 149 mph while the Ford Fiesta ST hatchback can make the 60-mph sprint in 6.9 seconds on the way to a top speed of 144 mph.

What Kind of Fuel Does the Fiat 500X Take?

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924258

The Fiat 500X, in the U.S. Market, is only offered with a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine that runs on your typical unleaded gasoline. However, Fiat does recommend that you run Premium fuel with an octane rating of at least 92 whenever possible.

Fiat 500X Interior Design

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924278

For a vehicle that starts out in the mid-$20,000 range and reaches dangerously close to the $30,000 mark ($29,495 for the Trekking Plus trim, to be specific), the Fiat 500X is relatively basic on the inside. A lot of other compact crossovers on the market offer a more attractive interior, but the 500X isn’t without its merits either.

Our tester was the Sport trim, so we got the nicer, flat-bottom steering wheel and leather-like interior upholstery, but at the same time, the technology comes off as rather dated.

For a vehicle its size, entry is beyond easy, but as is the usual case with vehicles this size, don’t expect to keep any friends more than six-foot-tall if you cram them in the back seat. Overall, the cabin is okay for the price point and fairly comfortable for the size, but it’s certainly not the 500X’s strong point.

How Spacious is the Fiat 500X?

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924290

As a subcompact crossover, the Fiat 500X does offer decent room for its size and can fit four adults comfortably as long as the rear passengers don’t traverse beyond six-foot in height or are of the larger variety. The downside here is that models like the Ford Fiesta ST actually offers more room in most areas with the exception of front and rear shoulder room and hip room and rear headroom. To see how it compares to the Mini Cooper and Fiesta ST hatch in detail, check out the table and charts below.

Fiat 500X interior dimensions
Front Headroom 39.1 Inches
Front Shoulder Room 54.3 Inches
Front Hip Room 53.3 Inches
Front Leg Room 41.4 Inches
Rear Head Room 37.8 Inches
Rear Shoulder Room 52.8 Inches
Rear Hip Room 52.2 Inches
Rear Leg Room 34.8 Inches

How Much Cargo Can the Fiat 500X Carry?

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924295

Cargo room is the area where the Fiat 500X does the opposite of excel with a minimum rating of 14.1 cubic-feet or 39.8 cubic-feet with the rear seats laid down. Its minimum rating does beat out the Mini cooper by one cubic-foot, but it falls 0.9-cubic feet short when the Coopers rear seats are laid down. The Fiesta ST hatchback beats it hands down with 23.8 cubic-feet in normal configuration or 44.8 cubic-feet with the rear seats laid down.

Fiat 500X Infotainment System

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924283

While we can get over the minimal cargo room offered by the Fiat 500X, what’s really hard to look past is the infotainment system. The screen is embarrassingly small and slower to respond than that of most models. It is relatively straightforward to use, though, so it has that going for it, with the exception that you really have to dive into menus if you want to deactivate the rather annoying and oversensitive driving aids. I had the glory of test driving the Sport trim level, so I wasn’t privy to testing navigation, but if the system’s operation in general is an indication, it’s hard to put faith in the idea that it’s an intuitive system.

All told, it’s not the best system on the market today, but it does get the job done if technology isn’t a big deal to you.

Fiat 500X Exterior Design

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924244
The Fiat 500X is a quirky vehicle. Not in vain of cars like the late Nissan Juke, for example, but it is, essentially, just as much a hatchback on lifted suspension as it is a crossover.

The entire exterior design just screams Fiat from the round headlights and driving lights to the mild body lines and bubbly roof design. The rear end features the same well-known and easily recognizable square Fiat taillights. Overall, it’s not a bad looking vehicle by any means, but it’s also not the best looking on the market. For a company that struggles in the U.S., something that’s more of a hatchback does exactly come with a high level of desirability.

How Big is the Fiat 500X?

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924246

The Fiat 500X’s dimensions position it as a sub-compact crossover\SUV, coming in at 167.2-inches long, 70.7-inches wide, and 63.7-inches high with a 101.2-inch wheelbase. While we’ve compared it a lot to the Mini Cooper and the Ford Fiesta ST hatchback, and while it does compete in most exterior dimensions, where it does fit in as more of a crossover is height and ground clearance. The Mini Cooper, for example, comes in at 56.1-inches tall with just 5.7-inches of ground clearance. The Fiesta ST is just 57.2-inches tall with the same 5.7-inches of ground clearance. The 500X’s ground clearance differentiates it by 2.3 inches while it’s roughly seven inches taller. That’s not a lot, but it’s enough.

Fiat 500X exterior dimensions
Length 167.2 Inches
Width 70.7 Inches
Height 63.7 Inches
Wheelbase 101.2 Inches
Ground Clearance 7.9 Inches
Front Track 60.9 Inches
Rear Track 61.0 Inches
2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924243

In terms of garaging, the 500X will fit into just about any garage you might have, and that includes a normal single car garage or even a large shed. Smaller one-car garages might pose a little issue with opening the doors if you store anything in your garage, but it’s certainly doable. As always, we’d recommend at least a 1.5-car garage for comfort and peace of mind.

Is the Fiat 500X Better Than the Mini Cooper?

left right

While the Fiat 500X is a Hatchback masquerading as a crossover, the Mini Cooper is more like a crossover masquerading as a hatchback. The latter obviously sits a lot lower than the 500X but, at the same time, it features more of a boxy, SUV-style look. It’s, honestly, quirky in its own way. As is the case with the 500X, you won’t mistake the Mini Cooper for anything but a Mini. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to you to decide, but you’ll also find that it’s the least powerful of any of the cars we’ve compared it against in this review. The Cooper’s 1.5-liter four-cylinder is good for just 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, all of which is delivered through a seven-speed automated manual transmission to the front wheels.

All told, the Cooper is good for a 7.3-second sprint to 60 mph, which is one second faster than the 500X Sport and 0.4 seconds faster than our other competitor, the Ford Fiesta ST hatch. On that note, the Mini Cooper is actually capable of pulling up to 2,000 pounds when properly equipped for towing, which is something that 500X can’t do here in the United States. In terms of size, the Cooper is a bit smaller than the 500X and handles a little better thanks to a lower ride height. To top it off, the Mini Cooper is actually priced right in the same ballpark with a price tag that reads $26,900 as opposed to the 500X’s $26,895. In the end, we’d choose the Mini Cooper over the 500X due to slightly more cargo room, sportier style, great fuel economy, and better driving dynamics.

left right
Fiat 500X Sport vs Mini Cooper S
Fiat 500X Sport Mini Cooper S
Engine 1.3-Liter Four-Cylinder 1.5-Liter Four-Cylinder
Transmission Nine-Speed Automatic Seven-Speed Automated Manual
Horsepower 177 HP @ 5,500 RPM 134 HP @ 4,400 RPM
Torque 210 LB-FT @ 2,200 RPM 162 LB-FT @ 1,250 RPM
Driveline AWD FWD
Fuel Premium Unleaded Premium Unleaded
Fuel Economy 24/30/26 28/36/31
Suspension Four-Wheel Independent Four-Wheel Independent
Steering Electric Electric
Turning Circle 36.3 Feet 36.2 Feet
Tire Size P215/55R18 P175/65R15

Read our full review on the Mini Cooper

Is the Fiat 500X Better Than the Ford Fiesta ST Hatchback?

left right

The Ford Fiesta ST hatchback is a bit of a wild card considering the fact that it’s designed to be a sporty car at its core – something we can’t exactly say for the 500X. However, we still see it as a worthy competitor based on its sheer performance, comparable passenger space, impressive cargo room, and decent material quality for a price that comes in some $5,500 below the 500X Sport. In terms of performance, the Fiesta ST holds its own too, thanks to a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that’s good for 197 horsepower and 202 pound-feet of torque. The ST is also the fastest on this list, getting to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, 1.4-seconds faster than the 500X Sport.

In terms of overall size, the Fiesta ST is smaller, but interior passenger room is comparable with front headroom and legroom, for example, betting the 500X. Available cargo room also reigns supreme with the Fiesta claiming 23.8 cubic-feet behind the rear seats to the 500X’ 14.1 cubic-feet. If you lay the seats down, the Fiesta ST has 44.8 cubic-feet compared to the 500X’s 39.8 cubic-feet. It also beats out the 500X in terms of fuel economy by one mpg in the city and two mpg on the highway and combined scales. Given the price, fuel economy, and cargo room, the Fiesta ST is the clear winner of the comparison but, if you want something that rides high, you’ll have to go for the 500X, so in the end, that’s really what it boils down to.

left right
Fiat 500X Sport vs Ford Fiesta ST
Fiat 500X Sport Ford Fiesta ST Hatch
Engine 1.3-Liter Four-Cylinder 1.6-Liter Four-Cylinder
Transmission Nine-Speed Automatic Six-Speed Manual
Horsepower 177 HP @ 5,500 RPM 197 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Torque 210 LB-FT @ 2,200 RPM 202 LB-FT @ 4,200 RPM
Driveline AWD FWD
Fuel Premium Unleaded Regular Unleaded
Fuel Economy 24/30/26 25/32/28
Suspension Four-Wheel Independent Front Independent
Steering Electric Electric
Turning Circle 36.3 Feet 35.5 Feet
Tire Size P215/55R18 P205/40R17

Read our full review on the Ford Fiesta ST Hatchback

Final Thoughts

2020 Fiat 500X - Driven
- image 924241

The Fiat 500X was fairly comfortable to drive, but the technology felt outdated a bit, and despite the $26,000 price tag, it seemed like competitors, even those that are cheaper, had better materials here and there. The 500X isn’t a bad vehicle by any means, but at the same time, Fiat has been doing the same thing with vehicles for years and, in a world where SUVs are so popular, a crossover that’s little more than a jacked-up hatchback doesn’t make a strong case for itself. Overall, it’s a good vehicle for the price, and it’s a decent performer for what it is, but we’d prefer to go with something from another automaker that’s a little more popular on this side of the world.

Philippe Daix
Obsessive and Compulsive Automotive Expert - phil@topspeed.com
Always on the lookout for the latest automotive news, Philippe Daix is our most senior editor and founder of TopSpeed.com. He likes to see himself as a consumer advocate with a mission to educate motorheads of all ages.  Read More
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