2019 FIAT 500X

The 2019 Fiat 500X has a new, more powerful 1.3-liter turbocharged engine, generating more horsepower than nearly all of its competitors.

The subcompact crossover Fiat 500X adds a more powerful engine, new options and minor restyling for 2019, seeking to mirror its sales popularity in Europe.

In the United States, it has been floundering against a two-year-old sales tsunami as buyers rush to purchase bigger vehicles.

The 2019 Fiat 500X series hopes to gain traction this year in the U.S. with a new, more powerful 1.3-liter turbocharged engine standard in all three trims generating more horsepower than nearly all its competitors.

In many ways, Fiat has become a poster child for today’s global automotive sales dynamics.

Its small size navigates well in urban centers, mileage is decent and overseas fuel prices are double those in the U.S., resulting in more than a quarter million Fiat 500s sold in Europe last year. U.S. sales were only 12,000.

For the 2019 Fiat 500X, the profile received only minor front and rear touchups.

Cladding still occurs at front and rear with stylish splashes of chrome on the car body, still recognizable as a Fiat after six decades on the market.

New options include parking assist, adaptive cruise control and LED headlights.

We test drove the Fiat 500X Trekking all-wheel-drive, slotted between base 500X Pop and Trekking Plus.

Seven options totaled $4,265 for cutting-edge driver safety aids (including adaptive cruise control above 19 mph), cabin comfort, 18-inch all-season tires and FCA’s award-winning Uconnect for infotainment, navigation and connectivity access.

All 500X trims have the same improved 117-horse power, turbo-charged engine and all-wheel-drive.

A nine-speed automatic transmission has manual shift control, three driving modes (Auto, Sport and All-Weather) and four overdrive gears.

Hill and parking assists are standard and a smoothly functioning, fuel-saving stop/start feature can be turned off.

A revised suspension created a better ride on paved roads and handling was responsive and nimble with the small wheelbase and extra horsepower.

Inside the stylish black-and-white themed cabin, front seating space is excellent and there is a new driver information display in the gauge cluster. Tom-Tom provides GPS functions on the 8-inch elevated dashboard screen.

Quilted cloth seats are comfortable with rare height adjustable rear seating suitable for adults depending on front-row seat positions. A 60/40 rear-seat fold creates generous cargo space for a subcompact car.

Industry average technology connections are plentiful.

There is a compact spare tire, extendable visors and Android Auto and CarPlay. Prior government crash tests rate the Fiat 500 four out of five stars.

LIKES: Cute, nimble, peppy, ride, suspension, cabin ambiance

DISLIKES: Tight rear seating, pricier than last year

BOTTOM LINE: City compatible vehicle, not highway warrior

FIAT 500X

TREKKING AWD 2019

Base price w/destination fee: $27,480 ($31,775 as tested)

Vehicle weight: 3,400 lbs

Wheelbase: 101.2 inches

Length: 167.2 inches

Width 75.5 inches

Engine: 1.3 liter, 4-cyclinder, turbo

Horsepower: 177 horsepower at 5,500 rpm

Torque: 210 ft.-lbs. at 2,200 rpm

Transmission: 9-speed automatic, manual shifting mode

EPA rating: 24 mpg city/30 hwy

Range: 12.7 gallons, premium recommended

Performance: 0-60 in 8.5 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.