2016 Fiat 500X Overview

When it comes to food, art, fashion, history, it’s hard not to think of Italy. When it comes to the country where sleek, fast, sexy cars are made, Italy is at the top of the list. When it comes to sport-utes, however, Italy is barely a blip on the radar.

This might help explain why, in a segment hotter than a scotch bonnet — that would be smaller-sized crossovers — the cute, urbane Fiat 500X languishes at the bottom of the heap. Then, there’s Fiat’s less-than-stellar reputation — the “Fix It Again, Tony” past that still haunts the company and, if you read sources such as Consumer Reports, continues to weigh on Fiat’s current crop of vehicles here in North America.

Despite the family history hanging over its roof, the 500X (which debuted in the 2016 model year) is not without appeal, the subcompact runabout bringing with it a sense of style, formal wear when many of the competition — Honda’s HR-V, the Mazda CX-3 and Subaru’s Crosstrek are the heavy-hitters — are wearing jeans or sweat pants. Although it can, the 500X is not a vehicle that should be seen slogging through rutted tracks on the way to the cottage — like its Jeep cousin, the (slightly) more macho Renegade — but for pulling into Starbucks to grab a morning cappuccino, even when weather and road conditions aren’t conducive to easy travel. (And on that front, the Fiat’s available all-wheel-drive system utilizes a disconnecting rear axle to improve efficiency by reducing parasitic loss when AWD isn’t needed.)