Review: 2019 Fiat 500x Trekking Plus

In the late 1950s, Fiat introduced a car known as the Cinquecento, which is only one of the coolest car names ever.

Eventually the Cinquecento came to be known as the 500 — which is nowhere near as cool. By the mid-70s the car was discontinued, and that could’ve been the end of it.

But in 2007, what would’ve been the car’s 50th anniversary, they brought it back. Granted, it was much different, but for people who love tiny Italian cars, it was perfect.

Fast-forward to the 500x, a subcompact SUV, with emphasis on the sub, which debuted in 2016.

I didn’t know what to expect before the 500x showed up at my house, but the little red car pleasantly surprised me. Hey, there’s only so much you can do to jazz up a small SUV, but at least it looks interesting.

The Basics

Sure, it’s a little guy. I joked with the guy delivering the car that he didn’t need to park it in the driveway; I’d just pick it up and leave it on the dining room table.

Okay, so it’s not that small.

There are three trim levels to choose from, beginning with the base model known as Pop. Then there’s a Trekking level, and the one I drove, the Trekking Plus.

Each of them sport the same 1.3-liter, 4-cylinder engine that produces 177 horsepower. While that doesn’t seem like much, the torque helps to pick up the pace.

All of the trims also feature a 9-speed automatic transmission, and — good news for Colorado folks — all-wheel-drive.

The Inside

One of the things that should be noted is the space up front, and I mean that in a good way. It’s actually roomier than I ever expected. No, it’s not spacious, but you won’t be uncomfortable at all.

Of course, the back seat is a different story, but it’s certainly not terrible. In my original notes I used the phrase “decent room” to describe the back seat.

Plus, with a sunroof up front and another in the back, the car feels open and airy.

The gauges on the instrument panel are easy to understand and manipulate. And the shiny red dashboard in my review car, devoid of much besides three buttons and a stylish “500”, makes the car seem either very retro or futuristic.

And I understand how confusing that might sound. Gretchen spent some time in the passenger seat and she loved the look.

The materials are not luxury-grade, but they also don’t come across as cheap in any way. The seats are comfortable, even on long rides.

As a little car, the 500x doesn’t ooze with storage space, either — which, when you consider that this technically falls into the SUV category, is kinda funny.

Personal storage up front was limited, too. The center bin isn’t much to speak of, but at least you get some handy storage spaces on top of that, including one just under the dash.

The Drive

Here’s where things didn’t shine so much. The acceleration for me hesitated from time to time, and I never felt completely comfortable pulling out into traffic.

Once up to speed it handled pretty well, and hustled down the highway with no problem.

The transmission simply isn’t the best that I’ve experienced this year. Steering and overall handling were about average.

One negative I have to mention is the excessive warning dings. Simply backing out of my garage gave the Fiat fits. If it had been a human, it would’ve had a heart attack each time. It’s that fussy.

On top of that — and this is going to sound really nit-picky — all of us agreed that the sound of the turn signals is jarring. As dumb as it may sound, if I worked for the Fiat design team that might be the first thing I’d change.

The Tech

The Connect 7-inch screen worked well for me, and kudos to the Fiat folks for including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard features.

I switched back and forth between Apple CarPlay and a Bluetooth connection, and both worked well.

There’s a variety of options packages you can choose, but I’d recommend the Advanced Driver Assist Group. That’ll get you adaptive speed control, collision warning (even though it hated my garage), blind spot and cross-path detection, rain-sensitive wipers, and more.

The Bottom Line

I had a good time tooling around the Denver area in the 500x. Since the car was originally designed to scoot around small Italian roadways, it’s a good city car.

If you’re in the market for a subcompact SUV, and you’d like something that stands out from the crowd, this might be a good choice for you.

Hey, I guarantee you won’t walk out of the mall and find 200 Fiats sitting in the lot.

The Details

2019 Fiat 500x Trekking Plus AWD
1.3-liter, 4-cylinder engine
177 horsepower
9-speed automatic transmission
All-wheel-drive
Fuel economy: 24/30/26 combined
MSRP: $29,445
As tested: $34,325

Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer

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