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L.A. Auto Show: Fiat rolls out 500X crossover

The Fiat 500X crossover will be in U.S. dealerships in the first half of next year

Fiat Chrysler has high hopes for the new crossover version of its Fiat 500X runabout, unveiled early Thursday at the LA Auto Show, predicting it will boost sales in the U.S.

Calling the Fiat 500 line "an old Italian recipe," Fiat Brand CEO and President Olivier Francois said the 500X was "a 500 that's right-sized for America."

"For customers, it's a crossover," Francois said. "For us, it's an invitation to cross over to Fiat."

The X comes standard with a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that makes 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque when attached to a six-speed manual transmission. Also available is a 2.4-liter Tigershark engine, which produces 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque and is paired with a nine-speed automatic.

The car will come in five trim packages, with five names that sound more like descriptors for musical styles: Pop, Easy, Lounge, Trekking and Trekking Plus.

The Pop comes standard with the smaller engine and manual transmission. The other models all feature the larger engine and nine-speed automatic transmission. (This package is an option on the Pop.)

Front-wheel drive is standard on all five models. All-wheel drive is an option on all but the Pop.

Fuel economy on the two engines has not been determined.

Fiat has loaded the X with many safety features found on Chrysler products, including a forward collision warning system, a lane departure warning system, blind-spot monitoring, “Rear Cross Path Detection,” and a stability control package that includes hill start assist and electronic roll mitigation.

The X, on all models but the Pop, also comes with a choice of driving modes – Auto, Sport or Traction+ – to improve the driving experience with changing conditions or terrain. 

The vehicle is available with the company’s Uconnect communication and navigation features and a 6.5-inch touchscreen. Other options on some models include heated seats and steering wheel.

The smaller engine, built in Italy, is standard in the Pop. The larger engine, built in the U.S., is standard in the Easy, Lounge, Trekking and Trekking Plus, and available in the Pop.

The X comes in 12 color combinations with colorful names like Blu Venezia, Verde Toscana, Rosso Amore and Bianco Gelato.

The company’s traditional “whiskers and logo” badge is standard on all models, as is a liftgate-mounted spoiler.

Leather seats are available in the Lounge and Trekking Plus models.

A worldwide platform, destined for sale in more than 100 countries, the Fiat 500X will be in U.S. dealerships in the first half of next year, the company says.

So far, though, the company has not released any details on pricing.

But Fiat has prepared a barrage of TV commercials to promote the X in the U.S. market. Several of them, shown at the Auto Show presentation, seemed to please the audience more than the cars themselves, especially one in which a dropped Viagra pill bounces from an elderly gentleman's window, over tiled rooftops, across an Italian hill town, and into the gas tank of an X -- which is suddenly made quite sexy to the passing women.

"This is what happens when Italians cross over," Francois said.

Twitter: @misterfleming

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