LOS ANGELES -- With the 500X, a new crossover with optional all-wheel drive, Fiat hopes to make inroads in the snow belt.
“This is the game changer for us. This is the halo for the brand,” said Jason Stoicevich, head of the Fiat brand in North America, at a media event here.
For $1,900, consumers can get awd in the 500X. The system disconnects the rear driveshaft and rear differential automatically when additional traction is unneeded, improving fuel economy.
The feature is similar to that offered in the Jeep Renegade, but it is calibrated differently for the 500X for better on-road performance. The Renegade and 500X share a platform.
The 500X begins arriving in U.S. showrooms next month. It will be the third nameplate for Fiat dealers, joining the 500 minicar and the 500L five-door hatchback, which both lack awd.
The 500X’s powertrain choices are nearly identical to the Renegade’s. In the base Pop trim, a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four mated to a six-speed manual transmission is standard. It produces 160 hp and 184 pounds-feet of torque.
Higher in the lineup, the standard powertrain is a 2.4-liter inline-four mated to a nine-speed automatic, which produces 180 hp and 175 pounds-feet of torque.
Optional on some 500X models is a selector knob allowing the driver to switch suspension and driving dynamics to a sport setting for increased performance or “traction+” for better handling in bad weather.
Designers paid particular attention to the cabin, outfitting the 500X with supportive seats and an instrument cluster with customizable settings. The instrument panel has a combination of soft- and hard-touch plastics.
The center console offers more storage than earlier Fiats. Designers raised the speakers higher on the doors for better interior sound.