Since the then-Italian carmaker (now Fiat ChryslerAutomobiles) began selling cars in the United States eight years ago, it’s been our fortune to drive most of them: base 500, Abarth, 124 Spider, 500L and recently the 500X. Gone is the previous 2.4-liter powertrain to be replaced by a powerful and fun turbocharger, which tackles sharp city corners or cruises down the highway with liveliness and confidence. You are assured of safe handling, balance and ride ease.

Available in several trims (ours was the Trekking Plus), the 500X is equipped with an all-new 1.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder engine developing 177 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 210 pounds-feet of torque @ 2200 rpm. Best of all, this one’s mated to the seamless Chrysler 9-speed auto gear box for substantial fuel savings.

The all-wheel-drive (standard) subcompact SUV boasts signature whiskers and Fiat badge, flanked by bi-functional LED projector headlights and daytime running lights, rounded clamshell hood and a body-colored lift gate spoiler. Step inside and the rounded instrument cluster of the 160-mph speedometer, tachometer, engine temp and fuel gauge draw attention. It truly is a simple and easily laid out dash design. Other notable standard amenities include a dual-zone auto a/c, satin-silver door handles, leather shifter knob, UConnect 7-inch touch screen, eight-way power driver seat, manual tilt/telescopic steering column, eight speakers, heated front seats, 60/40-split rear bench and a fold-flat front-passenger seat.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, electronic stability and traction control, hill start assist, rearview camera, front active head restraints, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights. Go for the optional $1,395 advanced driver assistance group so you also get adaptive cruise control, lane departure and forward collision warning plus, blind-spot and cross-path detection and auto high-beam headlights.

As fierce competition endures in the subcompact crossover SUV market, the FiatX is able to hold its own, thanks to a roomy cabin for people- and cargo-hauling capabilities, good value for the money and a distinct European flair. Unlike its predecessor, there is no denying that the ride is spirited, exciting and enjoyable and, as a result, manages more than just a passable performance.

500X (Trekking Plus)

Tires: 215/60R17

Wheelbase: 101.2 inches

Length: 167.2 inches

Weight: 3,305 pounds

Suspension: MacPherson strut front and Chapman strut, coil springs rear

Steering: electric power

Fuel capacity: 12.7 gallons

City: 24 mpg

Highway: 30 mpg

Base price: $29,495 (tested price at $34,375)

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