Mike West Road Test: 2016 Fiat 500X

“X” Marked my driveway for a week and according to my neighbors, the 500 X is a pretty nifty car. A friend who lives around the block sat in the largest Fiat ever made at the Seattle Auto Show last November and she fell in love with it. So when I took her for a ride I was curious if the love affair would continue. As they say, it’s complicated. She gave a thumbs up for all the glass and what that means for visibility as well seat comfort and how nice the interior was finished with soft surfaces and cool technology. She still liked the car, but hasn’t pulled the trigger yet.

The more I spent time in the AWD 500 X version with the 2.4-Liter 180-horsepower engine, the more I liked it. The newest Fiat is also available with a 160-hp 1.4-liter turbo with a six-speed manual.

I can’t emphasize enough how nice the interior is on this Italian made vehicle, which by the way is made in the same factory as the also cute Jeep Renegade. My Bronzo Megentico colored example included rear park assistant, a rear back up camera, as well as blind spot and cross path detection. All great and useful safety features. That plus Chryslers very nice uConnect infotainment system makes for a fantastic place to hang.

As far as everyday driving, the Fiats suspension can get a bit rough on certain roads, and the 8-Speed transmission has a hard time dialing in the right gear for the moment. And at idle there is a weird vibration that you can feel as you grip the premium wrapped steering wheel. I’m not sure if those things will be a deal breaker and despite those flaws, I appreciated it’s quirky personality.

Gas mileage, even with cheap fuel prices isn’t great. The AWD version is rated at 21-city, 30-highway for an average of 24 MPG.

If you want to own a car that you won’t see in every driveway, take the Fiat for a test spin along with the competition like the Honda CRV, Nissan Juke or the above mentioned Jeep Renegade. Price as tested, $27,005.It’s a lot of cute and quirky car for the money.

Mike West CBS

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