Fiat revealed their next addition to the iconic Italian line showing the all-new 2016 Fiat 500X crossover this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Fiat 500X is a companion vehicle to the 2015 Jeep Renegade crossover that will be available in dealerships in the spring of 2015. Details on pricing and firm market arrival for the Fiat 500X were not disclosed at the reveal.
For the record, our first impression – contrary to some early critics – is that this new Fiat 500X is definitely not just another iteration of the somewhat disappointing 500L with which it shares a name. The blend of styling work from the Centro Stile studio in Italy – coupled with the running gear heritage of Jeep – presents promise that this new Fiat 500X could be an important vehicle in the future of Fiat.
Fiat 500X as revealed
The Fiat 500X will be available in the U.S. and Europe plus up to 100 countries worldwide. In the United States, the all-new 2016 Fiat 500X will have five trim levels: Pop, Easy, Lounge, and for a more rugged look, Trekking and Trekking Plus.
There will be two power plants available for the 500X – same as in the Jeep Renegade. A fuel-efficient 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission will be standard in the base trim level Pop. The front-wheel drive power train in the Pop will produce 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir2 engine will be standard in the Easy, Trekking, Lounge and Trekking Plus. It will be optional in the Pop. Available in both an all-wheel drive (AWD) and front-wheel drive (FWD) configuration – this power train produces 180 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque and is paired exclusively to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The disconnecting rear axle system, also found in the Jeep Renegade, will maximize the capability and efficiency of the 500X AWD models. The disconnecting rear axle reduces parasitic loss when all-wheel-drive capability is not needed, improving fuel efficiency. A Dynamic Selector system allows the driver to choose from three modes (Auto, Sport and Traction +) for the most suitable vehicle configuration for different driving conditions.
The Fiat 500X will draw from many of the Fiat Chrysler America (FCA) technology and convenience features available including the Uconnect 6.5 radio with a 6.5-inch high-resolution touchscreen and navigation, Bluetooth streaming audio, Uconnect Access Via Mobile, a 3.5-inch color thin-film transistor (TFT) cluster display, Keyless Enter-N-Go, and heated front seats and steering wheel.
Similarly, the Fiat 500X will offer a plethora of the available FCA safety and security features, including Forward Collision Warning-Plus, LaneSense Departure Warning-Plus, ParkSense rear park Assist, ParkView backup camera, Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection. All models will be equipped with Electronic stability control (ESC) with Hill-start Assist and electronic roll mitigation and seven air bags standard.
The all-new Fiat 500X will retain much of the Fiat heritage with current interpretations of its iconic features inside and out. On the exterior, design elements like double headlamps, a trapezoidal nose, the signature “whiskers and logo” face and the rounded clamshell hood pay homage to the original Cinquecento. The purposefully distinct Italian design carries through to the interior with clever storage, body-color instrument panel, a circular cluster display and iconic door handles.
Signifying the more rugged capability of the Trekking and Trekking Plus, those models will feature unique front and rear fascia designs, and satin silver accents for what Fiat calls, a distinct and adventurous appearance.
We did note that the new 500X has a wide range of packages (Fiat calls them Collections) available to create the 500X that best suits the owner. There are six designed to more fully define the Easy with six for the Trekking and yet another six for the Lounge. There will be two very complete packages offered on the top-of-the-line Trekking Plus.
Fiat needs the 500X to fulfill its promise
Fiat, after a very strong entry to the U.S. market has struggled to maintain that momentum with the relatively short line-up of vehicles that include the several trim levels of the Fiat 500, the Fiat Abarth and the introduction of a larger 5-door Fiat 500L last year. In an effort to boost sales in 2014 and in response to customer interest, Fiat introduced an automatic transmission to the more powerful power train in the performance Abarth and Cabrio. And, most recently, Fiat introduced the 500e all-electric which is available in California and Oregon only.
Despite those efforts, Fiat sales numbers in 2014 have not been growing – in fact – with additional product, remaining flat in 2014 to the prior two years. The challenge for Fiat has been how to attract more and diverse customers to the Fiat line with another vehicle that satisfies different needs, yet retains the iconic Italian style and tradition of the heritage Fiat line. Fiat feels the 500X presents that next hope for Fiat to attract those new customers and get the brand moving again.
“The Fiat 500X will significantly expand the reach of the FIAT brand in North America,” said Jason Stoicevich, Head of FIAT Brand North America, Chrysler Group LLC. “The all-new 500X delivers the Italian design and personality that we are known for, along with an unprecedented level of equipment and technology. In addition, it will be the first vehicle in our portfolio to offer an advanced all-wheel-drive system that will provide customers with peace of mind in all driving conditions.”
Will the 500X deliver on the promise?
We are not expecting to drive the new Jeep Renegade (brother to the Fiat 500X) until just after the first of the year, so we are unable to speak to the drive appeal and capability expectation of the 500X at this time. We do expect that, with similar mechanical features in a near identical package, the 2015 Renegade will be a good predictor of the performance of the new 2016 Fiat 500X.
Given the mechanical heritage it shares from the Jeep, the 500X should bring a whole new dimension to the drive experience of the new Fiat.
We will be following and let you know.