Fiat Chrysler thinks the 2016 Fiat 500X can appeal to Americans in a way that the city-dwelling 500 and ungainly, not great 500L never could. It's a good design, and since it's based on the Jeep Renegade, it should be quite capable. Just expect to pay more for it than its Jeep sibling.
Fiat announced this morning that pricing for the 500X will start at $20,000. That's a little over two grand more than the Renegade, with which the 500X shares a platform, engines, gearboxes and most other mechanical components. It has the option of all-wheel drive, but it's a less sophisticated, less offroad-focused system than what the Jeep offers.
That's fine, because Fiat Chrysler doesn't see the two cars as competitors; the Fiat is the more urban-minded of the two, designed to fit into that fast-selling segment of small city crossovers, while the Jeep is designed to do that AND crawl over rocks once you get out of the city.
The starting prices for each trim level are as follows for the 500X:
- Pop: $20,000
- Easy: $22,300
- Trekking: $23,100
- Lounge: $24,850
- Trekking Plus: $27,100
All-wheel drive is an option on all but the cheapest trim for an additional $1,900. Like the Renegade it can be had with a 1.4-liter turbo four with 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque or a 2.4-liter four with 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. The former has the option of a six-speed manual, while the latter comes only with a nine-speed automatic.
Like the Renegade the rear axle can fully disconnect from the drivetrain to boost efficiency, but unlike the Renegade the all-wheel drive system comes with just three modes: Auto, Sport and Traction+.
The 500X goes on sale in the second quarter of 2015. I'm a fan of the design, but for me so far the choice between this and the Renegade is kind of a no-brainer. (I like the Jeep better, obviously.) It will be interesting to see if anyone ends up cross-shopping the two.