Long-Term

From L.A. to Mammoth to Colorado in our 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking

A 2,066-mile road trip all across the west

Long-Term 2016 FIAT 500X Update: Fall 2016 Array Miles to date: 4,454

From the rocky cliffs I jump, falling through the air for a few seconds before I smack against frigid Arrowhead Lake. I open my eyes underwater, and it’s absolutely clear. Even from here I can see Moose’s paws as he splashes in the shallows with the other dogs. I swim toward the two-year-old Weimaraner who belongs to my girlfriend, Kelly, grab our gear, then run with Moose along the two-mile trail that took us up into these mountains just north of Mammoth, California. Kelly keeps up as Moose and I leave the beaten path and dash through the woods like wild animals. When I open the door to our bright orange 2016 Fiat 500X, Moose runs past me, jumps in the car, and joyfully bounds from seat to seat, covering the raised, prickly fabric and leatherette bolsters in water and mud and filth. I should be mad but seeing the look on his face, I can’t help but smile.

Moose, Kelly, and I stopped in Mammoth to see a friend on our way to Palisade, Colorado, where we’ll pay a visit to Flyin’ Miata. We go back to our hotel to give Moose a bath and get some sleep, waking up to a slight drizzle as we start our 750-mile drive due east. We take Highway 6, which is not far south of famous Highway 50, the so-called loneliest road in America. Highway 6 is similarly unused. Kelly sleeps in her fully reclined seat, Moose sleeps on his fleece Sleepypod blanket, and I look out at nothing and listen to Sufjan Stevens. We don’t see a single person when we pull off to see a 430-foot-deep lunar crater in Tonopah, and the Fiat almost runs out of fuel before we get to the small city of Ely, Nevada, 304 miles from Mammoth.

I fill up the 500X, grab Subway sandwiches from the gas station, and then we press on, speeding east with the sun setting behind us. We cross into Utah at dusk, stopping soon after to take pictures of the unspoiled stars above us. Then, we keep driving until we get to Green River, about an hour from the Colorado border. Moose, Kelly, and I snuggle up in a king-size bed before getting another early start to take a slight detour south and visit Arches National Park, a remarkable 120 square miles covered with elaborate entrada sandstone structures that have been eroded by rainwater over hundreds of millions of years. I turn the center-console dial that puts the 500X into off-road “Traction +” mode, which softens accelerator inputs and helps the tires if things get slippery, then drive the Fiat up and onto a rocky trail with a sign that says “4x4s Only”. We trundle along for a few hundred yards, enjoying our sea foam green surroundings, but stop after when the rocky dirt turns to thick mud. Moose sticks his mug out of his window, his slobber dripping all over the Fiat’s orange paint, as we head back toward the highway.

When we get to Palisade, Colorado, and meet our friends at Flyin’ Miata, I park the Fiat to take a turn driving one of Flyin’ Miata’s V-8-powered Miatas. Before we leave Palisade, we take the 500X along small, twisty backcountry roads to find some of the farm-fresh peaches this town is famous for. We stop in downtown to pick up boxed lunches and some homemade dog treats from an adorable café, Slice O Life Bakery. As we cross back into Utah, we decide not to take a straight shot back to Los Angeles so we can make a quick stop in Zion National Park in the southern part of the the Beehive State. We exit south onto US-89, one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever driven; it’s flat and straight, but the views are spectacular. Moose wakes up, clambers over the center armrest, and curls up in a ball on Kelly’s lap. We laugh and listen to Wild Belle as we drive through sporadic sun showers, the surrounding forests getting thicker and more full of evergreens the further we go.

2016 Fiat 500X Trekking side profile 02

The pavement turns red as we pull into Zion. We don’t drive more than a mile before we see a bighorn sheep on the face of a hill just next to us. We pull over, roll down the windows, and watch a wide-eyed Moose as he watches the sheep. A mile later, we stop in the middle of the road as a pair of bighorns slowly crosses. We wind down perfectly groomed passes lined with marbled red rock, and then through long, pitch-black tunnels, absolutely in awe of this astonishingly picturesque place. Kelly and I both agree that we need to spend some more time here but with the sun quickly setting and storms on the horizon, we cut our visit shorter than we’d like. Kelly lets Moose empty his bladder as I buy us a couple of wraps, some chips and popcorn, and a lot of cold-brew coffee from Cafe Soleil in town. As we leave the southern tip of Utah and cut across a 40-mile-wide corner of Arizona, lightning pops all around us, giving us glimpses of the pink sunset stuck behind dark clouds. I ask Kelly how she’s doing, and she says, “I have my blanket, my popcorn…it’s like a movie.”

Black desert disappears as we approach Las Vegas, and we sing show tunes to help us stay awake. We stop for gas for the last time when we cross into California. We’ve filled up eight times on our adventure, stretching this last trip to 326 miles, nearly running the 12.7-gallon gas tank dry. (The next day I’ll do a quick calculation on my iPhone that shows we averaged 26.4 mpg overall during our trip, 2.4 mpg better than the EPA’s estimated combined mileage but 3.6 mpg less than the EPA’s estimated highway mileage, which sort of makes sense since we drove up and down through so much elevation.) After 2,066 miles, we’re home. It’s 1:00 a.m. and after driving for almost 16 hours, I head straight to bed.

In the morning I fall back into routine and glumly get ready to go into the office, but the sight of the dirt- and slobber-covered Fiat 500X in my garage makes me smile. The Fiat 500X immediately faded into the background of our adventure. As we wandered around the West — from mountains in Mammoth to a crater in Nevada, from peaches in Colorado to bighorn sheep in Utah — I never thought once worried our all-wheel-drive Fiat wouldn’t be comfortable or confident doing everything we did over our four-day trip.

Overview

  • Body style 4-door compact crossover
  • Accommodation 5-passenger
  • Construction Steel unibody
  • Base price $26,230
  • As tested $27,730

Powertrain

  • Engine 16-valve SOHC I-4
  • Displacement 2.4 liters
  • Power 180 hp @ 6,400 rpm
  • Torque 175 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm
  • Transmission 9-speed automatic
  • Drive All-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 21/30/24 (city/hwy/combined)

Chassis

  • Steering electrically assisted
  • Lock-to-lock 3 turns
  • Turning circle 36.3
  • Suspension, Front Strut-type
  • Suspension, Rear Strut-type
  • Brakes F/R Vented discs
  • Wheels 17-inch aluminum
  • Tires Nexen Classe Premiere CP671
  • Tire size 215/60-R17 98H

Measurements

  • Headroom F/R 39.0/37.8 in
  • Legroom F/R 41.5/34.8 in
  • Shoulder room F/R 54.3/52.8 in
  • Wheelbase 101.2 in
  • Track F/R 53.3/52.2 in
  • L x W x H 168.2 x 75.5 x 63.7 in
  • Passenger capacity 100 cu ft
  • Cargo capacity (rear seats up/down) 18.5/50.8 cu ft
  • Weight 3,292 lb
  • Weight dist. F/R 62/38 %
  • Fuel capacity 12.7 gal
  • Est. fuel range 431 miles
  • Fuel grade 91 octane (premium unleaded)

Equipment

  • standard equipment

    • Advanced Multistage Front Airbags
    • Supplemental Front Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
    • Supplemental Side-Curtain Front and Rear Side Airbags
    • Driver Inflatable Knee-Bolster Airbag
    • LATCH Ready Child Seat Anchor System
    • Passive Entry/Keyless Go
    • Electric Park Brake
    • 4-Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
    • Remote Start System
    • Dynamic Control Selector
    • Electronic Stability Control
    • Security Alarm
    • Air Conditioning
    • Uconnect 5.0
    • Integrated Voice Command with Bluetooth
    • Media Hub (USB, Aux)
    • 6 Speakers
    • SiriusXM Sat Radio w/ 1-yr Subscription
    • Cluster 3.5-inch TFT Color Display
    • Steering Wheel Mounted Audio controls
    • Leather-Wrapped Shift Knob
    • Accent Color Instrument Panel Bezels
    • Front Center Sliding Armrest
    • Manual 6-Way Driver/ Passenger Seats
    • Front-Passenger Fold Flat Seat
    • Express Up/Down Power Windows w/Rear Express Down
    • Reversible Height Adjust Load Floor
    • Two Glove Box Storage Areas
    • 12-Volt Auxiliary Power Outlet
    • Rearview Day/Night Mirror
    • Front and Rear Floor Mats
    • Tire Service Kit (No Compact Spare)
    • Bi-Function Halogen Projector Headlamps
    • Automatic Headlamps
    • Fog and Cornering Lamps
    • Power Mirrors
    • Exterior Mirrors with Heating Element
    • Exterior Mirrors with Supplemental Signals
    • Accent/Body Color Fascia
    • Satin Silver Door Handles
    • Bright Exhaust Tip
    • Deep Tint Sunscreen Glass

Options

  • options for this vehicle:

    • Trekking Collection 4 – $1,500.00
    • ParkSense Rear Park Assist
    • ParkView Rear Back-Up Camera
    • Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection
    • Power 8-Way Driver Seat/Manual Passenger Seat
    • Power 4-Way Driver Lumbar Adjust
    • Heated Front Seats
    • Heated Steering Wheel
    • A/C Auto Temperature Control with Dual Zone Control
    • Ambient Lighting
    • Caro Compartment Cover
    • Compartment

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