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FIAT 500X Is A Tough Little Crossover SUV

A Beverly Hills test drive of the new 2016 FIAT 500X small crossover SUV is literally the ideal backdrop for this car.

Californians are fervent early adopters, so the cheeky little FIAT 500 does better there than elsewhere in the US.

Though a worldwide top-seller with a rich tradition in now trendy mid-century popular culture, the FIAT 500 has struggled in America since its 2011 debut.

FIAT boss Sergio Marchionne’s vision of 50,000 units per year in the US is now largely dismissed as an off-hand remark rather than an official projection. And though more than 55,000 were sold in 2012, the final 2014 US tally of 46,000 units is considered a major comeback.

The 500X offers more space and small SUV capabilities — riding on the new Italian built Jeep Renegade platform — in the classic FIAT 500 profile.

Last year’s extended length 500L 4-door helped bump up US sales. The $20,000 to $29,000 X model is likely to do even better as the car evolves from an icon into a product suited to American and global markets. The 500X is to be sold in 100 countries.