Four Seasons 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking Update 3: Snow to Surf

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Long-Term 2016 FIAT 500X Update:
Winter 2017 ( 4 of 4 )
Miles to date: 8,460

Towards the close of a three-day weekend that I was spending with our Four Seasons 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking, I decided to bring some adventure into its boring commuter life — as well as my own — by embarking on the oh-so-Californian mission of seeing the snow and the surf in a single day. The Fiat had recently received a $76.37 service that included an oil change, inspection, and tire rotation, so some fresh mileage was on order.

My wife, Alli, grabbed two cups of iced coffee as we climbed into the orange Italian small crossover to start the 125-mile drive from our home in Santa Clarita to the San Bernardino Mountains, where the resort town Big Bear had just received a blanket of fresh powder. Most of that distance is traversed via flat and boring stretches of freeway and although, my phone was able to handle both guidance and music thanks to the Fiat’s Apple CarPlay-equipped Uconnect interface, the middling sound quality of the entry level six-speaker stereo quickly made us resort to random acts of in-car madness like performing famous movie monologues in funny voices to keep the tedium at bay.

The pavement gets more interesting once we get to the base of the mountains and start up Highway 18, but our ability to enjoy it would be limited because much of Southern California had the same idea that we did. The slow, the snail-like procession we found ourselves in on the way up to Big Bear provided ample time — it took us 45 minutes to traverse the final eight miles — to take in the clear blue skies, fragrant pine trees, and freshly fallen snow — the first of which we’d have seen more of if the Fiat had come equipped with a moonroof.

Big Bear sits at an elevation of around 6,750 feet. The thinner air sapped power from the 500X’ naturally aspirated 2.4-liter I-4, forcing it to work harder than usual to move the 3,292-lb crossover up the mountain. We stopped next to a frozen lake surrounded by a lush pine forest and as we huddle together on a small stump to enjoy the moment, the Fiat’s cooling fans switch on, interrupting the scene’s serene tranquility. Deprived of some of its 180 horses and 175 pound-feet of torque, the engine had broken a sweat and was in need of fresh air.

With our romantic interlude broken up, we play quick game of who can throw the pinecone farthest across the frozen water while the Fiat cooled itself down. We hopped back into the orange crossover and hunker down for the 130-mile trek to Malibu after loading ourselves with Pringles and the 500X with fuel.

Traffic snarled our descent as well, making me concerned that we’d run out of daylight before reaching the ocean. Mercifully, the road opens up with 90 minutes to go before sunset, giving us enough time to stop pick up an apple fritter and a sugar donut to honor one of our traditions: eating donuts on the beach in winter, which we started during our first January in Southern California as a way to tease our Chicago-based parents about the weather.

45 minutes ahead of sunset, we park the Fiat at Malibu’s Zuma Beach. After briefly dipping our feet in the wind-swept winter ocean, we fold the rear seats flat, grab the donuts, and lay down to enjoy the show.

As we found out, though it’s far from fashionable and in need of more power, the 500X is perfectly capable of supporting an active California lifestyle. With the simple addition of a roof rack, this Fiat is more than capable of hitting the snow in the morning and the surf in the afternoon with the necessary toys on top and changes of clothes in the trunk. It may not be the most sexiest or most powerful car, but we would not have seen one of our most memorable sunsets without it.

Our 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking
392.5 gallons
21.6 mpg
2.4L DOHC 16-valve I-4/180 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 175 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm
9-speed automatic
4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
21/30 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H:
168.2 x 75.5 x 63.7 in
101.2 in
3,292 lb
0-60 MPH
9.8 sec

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source: Automobile Magazine


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