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January 7 , 2016 /

Fiat 500X

Overall: NEW_for_2016_3Small hatchback wagons are all the rage and that’s gives the new Fiat 500X a shot at stardom.

Drivetrain:Turbo and non-turbo four-cylinder engines, the turbo is only offered with a manual gearbox; the non-turbo is required when specifying all-wheel-drive.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has developed a two-pronged approach that has the 500X and the Jeep division’s recently released 2015 Renegade sharing platforms and drivetrains. However where the littlest Jeep’s design is decidedly whimsical in nature, the 500X’s lines are far more understated. For generating thrust, the starting point is turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that can be found in a number of FCA models. It’s rated at 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. A non-turbo 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet is optional. So far so good, but here’s the kicker: if you want the turbo engine you must order the price-leader 500X Pop trim and your sole transmission choice is a six-speed manual. The punchier 2.4 is optional for the Pop, but standard in the Easy, Trekking, Lounge and Trekking Plus models. That engine locks you into a nine-speed automatic transmission, which is likely fine with most shoppers who rarely opt for manual gearboxes these days. The 2.4 is mandatory when equipping your 500X with all-wheel-drive. The system has a free-wheeling (and fuel-saving) rear-axle-disconnect feature for those times when directing torque to all four wheels isn’t necessary. The AWD comes with a “Dynamic Selector” knob adjacent to the floor shifter that allows the driver to pick from Auto (default setting), Sport and Traction+, depending on road and driving conditions. Although the Pop is the base trim, it comes with most key necessities, including air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry, fold-flat passenger seat and four-speaker audio. The Easy adds two more speakers, fancier interior trim, keyless start and 17-inch alloy wheels (instead of 16-inch steelies). The Trekking and Trekking Plus are designed to emulate off-road-capable vehicles and come with their own front and side body trim plus unique 17- and 18-inch wheel designs. Unfortunately they don’t appear to offer any additional trail-tackling ground clearance. Both the Trekking Plus and Lounge have standard climate control, ambient interior lighting and power-adjustable front seats. From there you can select a dual-pane power sunroof, 6.5-inch touch-screen with navigation and forward-collision warning, blind-spot warning and cross-traffic alerts, the latter of which really does put eyes in the back of your head.

Base price (incl. destination): $20,900
Type: Four-door sub-compact wagon
Base engine (hp): 1.4-liter DOHC I4, turbocharged (160)
Optional Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC I4 (180)
Layout: Front-engine, front- /all-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Six-speed manual (1.4 turbo; nine-speed automatic (2.4 only)
MPG (city/highway): 25/34 (1.4)
Weight (lb.): 2,970

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