500X POP STAR
If you can do without the open-air feel, the Fiat represents better value. It’s $1500 cheaper but gets standard satnav, more safety gear and an interior that looks more up-market. It also gets keyless entry and push-button start and matches the Renegade’s electric parking brake, auto wipers and auto headlights. Servicing is significantly cheaper, at $1346 over three years. The Renegade looks like a mini-Cherokee, but the 500X looks more like an oversized hatch than a baby SUV. Inside, the Fiat swaps the Jeep’s rugged, durable theme for a racier look that includes twotone black and red seats, faux carbon-fibre inserts and a sporty, flat-bottomed steering wheel. It gets standard satnav and bigger centre screen but no auto climate control or sunroof. Drivetrain is common with the Jeep but the 500X uses slightly less fuel, claiming 5.7L/100km to the Jeep’s 5.9L. The 500X has a “mood selector” to alter engine, transmission and steering responses. Auto mode is biased to fuel efficiency, while sport mode gives livelier throttle, sharper steering and sportier gearshifts, holding on to lower gears. All-weather mode gives maximum traction. The 500X scored four stars to the Renegade’s five in Euro NCAP testing but the crash performance was almost identical. It was marked down for not having automatic emergency braking on most models, where the Jeep did. Neither gets the tech here. The 500X has blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. Despite the shared underpinnings, the ride is quite different — the Renegade deals well with speed humps, corrugations and potholes but the 500X suspension is bouncy and fidgety, with more suspension and road noise. Adjustable drive settings make it the pick for spirited driving.