Crossover & Midsize

Why is the 2020 Fiat 500X One of Consumer Reports’ Worst SUVs?

Although its name doesn’t stand for ‘Fix It Again, Tony,” Fiat’s cars have been having a tough time in the US. Especially the 500X, which has been repeatedly bashed by critics. That includes Consumer Reports, which rated it one of the worst SUVs of 2020. But is the Fiat 500X really that bad?

What does the 2020 Fiat 500X offer?

While the Fiat 500X is actually a crossover and not an SUV, it and the 500L are the largest vehicles the brand offers in the US. The base model is the Fiat 500X Pop, which starts at $24,590. Next is the $25,995 Trekking, followed by the $26,895 Sport. The top trim is the 500X Trekking Plus, which starts at $29,495.

A red 2020 Fiat 500X Sport
2020 Fiat 500X Sport | Fiat

The Sport trim is new for 2020, Car and Driver reports. It’s essentially an appearance package, though it does include Alcantara interior trim pieces, a leather steering wheel, and aluminum pedals. Plus, instead of the standard 17” wheels, it has 18” wheels, with optional 19” ones available.

Mechanically, the Fiat 500X is unchanged from the 2019 model, Car and Driver reports. It’s powered by a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, rated at 177 hp and 210 lb-ft. That’s linked to a standard all-wheel-drive system and a 9-speed automatic. There used to be manual and FWD models available, as well as more engines, but no longer.

Each Fiat 500X model comes standard with a 7” touchscreen, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Navigation is standard on the Trekking Plus and optional on the Sport and Trekking, Car and Driver reports. And if you want heated front seats and parking sensors, they’re only standard on the Trekking Plus.

Those sensors are also the only standard ADAS features the Fiat 500X offers. If you want blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, or automatic emergency braking, they’re in an optional package. And said package isn’t available on the Pop model.

Why did the 2020 Fiat 500X get such a poor Consumer Reports rating?

Strictly speaking, the 2020 Fiat 500X isn’t the absolute worst SUV or crossover that Consumer Reports has tested. However, it does have the lowest score of the subcompact crossover models tested for 2020.

Firstly, although the 1.3-liter engine is neither under recall nor part of a lawsuit like the Tigershark 2.4-liter is, it’s not a particularly powerful engine. It’s also not as fuel-efficient as the Hyundai Kona or Nissan Kicks, Roadshow reports. Plus, the 9-speed automatic’s shifts are slow, negating the engine’s decent low-end torque. They’re also not particularly smooth, Consumer Reports notes.

The 2020 Fiat 500X Sport's front seats, rear seats, and dashboard
2020 Fiat 500X Sport interior | Fiat

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Also, although the Fiat 500X’s interior looks nice, the material quality is decidedly less so, Motor Trend reports. The plastics feel cheap and flimsy, even considering the crossover’s price. It’s also not as spacious as some of its rivals. The Honda HR-V and even the 500X’s platform-mate, the Jeep Renegade, both have more cargo room.

New 2021 Mini Countryman on the open road.
2021 Mini Countryman | Mini

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The Fiat 500X also isn’t particularly pleasant to drive, Consumer Reports, Roadshow, and Cars.com report. The ride is stiff but without the benefit of sharper handling or noticeably less body roll. It’s better than in previous models, Car and Driver notes, but it’s still not amazing. The steering is also rather heavy, yet doesn’t provide much feedback. If you’re after a fun-to-drive crossover, Kelley Blue Book recommends the Mazda CX-30 or Mini Cooper Countryman.

The Fiat 500X is simply not as good as the other subcompact crossovers/SUVs on the market.

Does it have any positive attributes?

Although the Fiat 500X’s interior materials aren’t the best in class, the design itself is arguably the most stylish, Consumer Reports notes. As is the exterior design. The Sport model’s seats are also very comfortable, Forbes reports.

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While the Fiat 500X’s infotainment screen is a little small, to quote MT, “FCA’s UConnect interface remains one of the easiest infotainment systems to learn.” And although it isn’t the most fuel-efficient subcompact crossover, Roadshow found it more efficient than the Mazda CX-3.

A blue 2021 Hyundai Kona parked next to a modern-looking building
2021 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai

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However, these pros don’t really outweigh the 500X’s cons. Both the Subaru Crosstrek and Hyundai Kona scored over twice as many points in Consumer Reports’ testing. Even the Renegade, which has many of the same features, performed better. Plus, while it doesn’t have AWD, the cheaper Nissan Kicks has more standard ADAS features.

The Fiat 500X may have style, but it doesn’t pack quite as much substance as its rivals do.

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