Fiat’s return to the American market after a multi-decade absence has not always gone smoothly. A big reason for that is Americans have moved away from small cars — and cars in general for that matter — and the mainstay of the Fiat lineup is the latest iteration of the Fiat 500. The spiritual successor to the original and much-beloved “Cinquecento” small car, the current Fiat 500 does a nice job of capturing the original’s looks while bringing it up to date.
But the combination of low fuel prices and the SUV craze has served to limit sales of the diminutive 500, so now Fiat has taken up the old phrase “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” For the 2020 model year, it will discontinue the 500 hatchback to focus marketing attention on the 500X subcompact crossover. The 500X recently received a new engine that significantly improves its overall drivability. The heavily revamped 500X is filled with classic 500 styling fillips, and the brand expects that to be its secret ingredient versus the competitive Honda HR-V, Nissan Kicks, and Toyota CH-R.