Driving the 2020 Fiat 500X reminded me of this blog’s early days when I began reviewing cars. Four years ago, the 500X was one of the first vehicles I had reviewed, and back then, I had opened up the article saying I didn’t like the way it looked. Back then, I had compared it to a Pokemon standing on stilts.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve grown old and fat, or because the automotive industry has changed and dished out very ugly cars since then, but I actually don’t mind the way this Sport model looks now. I had also forgotten how charming the 500X is, until I saw the bill.
Same Old Boy
One of the reasons the 2020 Fiat 500X looks a lot better than before is because of this new Sport package, one among many revisions for the 2020 model year. The 500X Sport slots between a Trekking and a range-topping Trekking Plus. It’s mostly an aesthetic package that adds a new front end with LED headlamps and a Sport badge, body-color side moldings, and a restyled rear with twin chrome exhaust tips.Eighteen-inch wheels are also standard on the Sport, with 19-inch shoes available as options. Inside, the 500X Sport features gets new sports seats with added bolstering, simulated-suede inserts and red stitching on both the seats and the restyled, flat-bottomed steering wheel. Honestly, it looks good!The biggest mechanical change the all-new 1.3-liter turbocharged four, which replaces both the old 2.4-liter Tigershark and 1.4-liter units. It’s not like we’re not going to miss those two anyway. This new powertrain is a hell of a lot more refined, punchy and efficient.Powering all trim levels, it’s a feisty little four banger, one that’s good for a healthy 177 horsepower and a solid 210 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to the same old nine-speed automatic transmission that still refuses to shift into ninth. Here in Canada, all-wheel-drive is also standard on all of the 500X’s trim levels.The 2020 Fiat 500X therefore fulfills all the standard compact crossover criteria. It’s main problem is that it’s not exactly priced like a subcompact crossover. This thing kicks off at $32, 245 – but why? – and will top-off at $34, 245 before adding options. The model you see here, loaded to the gills, stickers for $40,170. Is Fiat trying to sell a luxury SUV?
I Get The Hype, But
Look, I get the hype for Fiat products. I didn’t before, but since I bought a MINI Cooper, I understand why people fall in love with these cute little things (although a MINI and a Fiat are very different cars), and why their owners hand on to them even they’re plagued with mechanical issues that cost them an arm and a leg to repair.Perhaps, what you need to know, is that the 2020 Fiat 500X is a car you buy out of spite, emotion, because it did something to you when you saw it or when you drove it. I’ll admit, I quickly got the sting during the week I had this thing in my possession. The 500X looks different and cute, has a spunky, lively feel to the way it does everything, and that new turbocharged engine provides good pep, immense low-end torque, making it a super fun runabout to flog around city streets.It’s the same story inside where the 500X’s unique cabin design and endearing visual cues make it a charming place to spend some time. However, awkward positioning of gauges and controls does take some getting used to. Overall material quality is good; I particularly enjoy the subtle suede touches that were added here and the there, but build quality is subpar compared to some competing models. Some lower-level plastic components do feel flimsy.Being an FCA product does at least mean the infotainment system is straight forward and easy to use. This is essentially a disguised version of FCA’s UConnect system, but simplified and with a classy touch of Italian flare. If character and retro-inspired styling is at the top of your priorities when shopping for a subcompact crossover, the 500X should suffice. This thing has the kind of personality very few competing products have.That all being said, the 500X simply has trouble competing in the areas that matter. It also proves how much the subcompact crossover segment has changed in just four years. Remember, the 500X was among the first of its kind, and back when it was released, it was totally acceptable to sell a tiny SUV that didn’t really do SUV things well.Between this, a Mazda CX-3 or a Chevrolet Trax – all small utility vehicles that hit the market around the same time -, cargo and passenger space aren’t great. The 500X is cute, charming and fun, yes, but when comes time for it to do what it was originally meant to do, things sadly start falling apart.For instance, total cargo space for the 500X is rated at 1,127 liters. That Then there’s the cramped rear seat, where due to the car’s design, tall passengers will easily have their heads hit the ceiling and their knees rub the front seat backs. It becomes therefore harder to justify the plus $32,000 price tag for a utility vehicle that can’t even do utility properly.It’s obvious that one buys a 2020 Fiat 500X because they really have a thing for Fiats and are willing to commit paying close to 40 grand for one. Do I recommend buying this if you’re in the market for a small urban crossover? No I do not. A Nissan, Honda, Mazda or even GM alternative will definitely give you more small crossover for your money. Oh, so you’re already sold one because of the way it looks? Well then, I can’t blame you. After all, a crush is a crush.
Review of the 2020 Fiat 500X Sport by William Clavey
- Cheerful styling
- Punchy turbo engine
- Zippy handling
- Priced too high
- Not very practical
- Iffy reliability
6 / 10
Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.
Special thanks: Fiat Canada
Photography: Guillaume Fournier
Contact the author: [email protected]