When you think of a subcompact SUV, a Fiat 500X probably doesn’t come to mind. You’re probably thinking about the cute little Fiat 500 – a tiny little two door Italian car known as the Cinquecento. That Fiat was actually produced from 1957 to 1975 but didn’t make it back to the United States until the next generation debuted in 2010.
Today, that little Fiat 500 lives on but so do its bigger cousins, the 500L (think long) and 500X (think extra large). I had my first taste of the Fiat 500X when I had a super tough assignment covering it in Beverly Hills. Since then, I’ve waved hello and goodbye to Fiat every year at the auto shows but haven’t had a chance to get up close and personal again until a recent trip to NYC.
Let’s be honest. A car like the Fiat 500X, which is assembled entirely in Europe, is meant for city driving. It’s a quaint little size for whipping in and out of traffic (or sitting in traffic, depending on the time of day). Which is why we started the day in NYC. But we were quick to get on the road from NYC along the Hudson River up to Newburgh, New York and back. This gave us a chance to test the Fiat 500X on the highway and on twisty country roads but not before learning about the 2019 model is a little bit different.
Introducing the 2019 Fiat 500X
When you attend a car event in NYC, it’s not unusual to find a car up on the third floor. This building actually used to be a parking garage for the city complete with its own car elevator.
The biggest takeaway from introduction is the engine. Now, if you’re not really an engine person, that’s okay. I’m going to distill it down for you.
The Fiat 500X previously had a 2.4L engine. This year introduces a 1.3L turbocharged engine. Same number of cylinders (4) but the performance and efficiency have both improved. The 2019 model has 177 horsepower, which is totally adequate for a car of this size but the torque has gone from 172 to 210 175 lb-ft of torque. That’s a 35% increase in torque and it means once you get up and go, you can go, go, go.
In addition to the zippiness, you’ll be happy to know that the changes in the engine have also results in better gas mileage (3 mpg more in city driving) and and a reduction in greenhouse emissions.
After hearing about the updates to the Fiat 500X, we paired up with a driving partner, grabbed the prettiest color (this is VERY important for the drive), and headed out of the city.
Making Our Way Out of NYC
I let Judy, my drive partner, take the first leg since she’s a native New Yorker and knows what’s what. Take the GW bridge? Okay. That was pretty much all the navigation she needed for the first half of her leg.
Our only goal was to get out of the city after any traffic and make it back into the city before any traffic. And for the most part we were successful! We drove north and hit the Palisade Parkway and crossed over the Hudson River at least 3 times. Then it was my turn to take the wheel!
Par for the course on an event like this, we had a halfway point to our halfway point – a cute little cafe that catered to both drivers and cyclists. A few quick fruit kebabs and we were back on the road with me behind the wheel.
Then it was my turn…
I put the pedal to the floor to test acceleration. I whipped around curves with abandon. And then I said to Judy, “Let me know if my driving bothers you. On windy roads, I’m usually fine if I’m driving but get nauseous if anyone else if.” “Yeah, that’s how I am,” she said, which was my clue to slow it down and ease up just a bit.
We finally reached a nice overlook of the Hudson River. It was a beautiful spot to catch a few pics of the car and get some fresh country air (that’s what real New Yorkers do).
Shortly thereafter, we made it to the officially halfway point – LUNCH! On drives like these, it’s usually a rolling lunch since everyone shows up and leaves at different times, depending on their driving style. We sat long enough to enjoy the food at this great Newburgh restaurant on the water, Blu Pointe, and I headed to the nearby riverfront to do a video shoot of the car.
Video Review of the Fiat 500X
I only spent a few hours as opposed to a normal week in this vehicle but I still wanted to show you a little bit about the car inside and out and talked about the drive firsthand.
If you’re looking for a fun-to-drive, zippy car that isn’t quite as compact at the Fiat 500, the 500X puts you in the small SUV category. The stylings are simple and you can see the European influences of this still-distinctly-Italian car.
I love the body stylings that are carried over into the tail lights and even the dash of the vehicle. But if I were to pick one up, I’d go for the Urbana trim that has these super sweet wheels.
It now comes as an AWD standard and you’ll find the Fiat 500X starts at just under $25,000 and maxes out at $35,000 (with every option imaginable).