Fiat and Mazda Prove Subcompact SUVs Don’t Have to be Sub Par

By Beverly & Steve Smirnis

Primary reasons why people drive small or subcompact SUVs include convenience, safety, utility, versatility and budget.  While most don’t spark a lot of passion, Fiat and Mazda are the exceptions.

2020 Fiat 500L Trekking

On a recent Florida road trip, we drove the Fiat 500X and were pleased with the new turbo-charged 1.3-liter engine and standard all-wheel drive—improvements made for the 2020 model year.  Its top level Trekking Plus trim level meant standard LED fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, heated power-adjustable front seats, rear privacy glass, and upgraded information display, leather upholstery, and integrated nav for a base price of $29,495. Added options included the advanced driver safety assistance package with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and forward collision mitigation—particularly nice to have when you’re in a smaller vehicle.  Another premium add-on package upgraded the audio to Fiat’s Beats® premium system and enhanced the tire and wheel package.  All included, the price for our tester was $34,375 and it was rated at 26 mpg combined.  Overall, the Fiat 500X is a comfortable, quiet, smooth-driving subcompact that now has more than just style and a heritage nameplate behind it; it has some uumph, too!

Mazda’s attention to detail in style and performance pays off in sales and awards, and its CX-5 compact crossover garners its share of both.   It’s stylish and refined as well as engaging and sporty to drive and comes with advanced safety features that are now standard on all levels.  Opt for the top level Grand Touring Reserve or Signature trims to get standard all-wheel drive and the more powerful turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine found on all CX-5 models. (rated 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, or 250 hp and 320 lb-ft on premium gas). We enjoyed the extra power and fully loaded amenities in our 2020 Signature trim level tester (priced all in at $39,220) and learned that the new 2021 Signature model will add even more–including a higher-definition 360-degree camera, a driver-attention alert, and rear automated emergency braking.

Maybe you need something affordable yet stylish for the kids, or to keep at the beach house property?  Zip around comfortably in either of these choices!

Beverly & Steve Smirnis are members of the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Texas Motor Press Association, reviewing vehicles and casting their votes at driving events where the Truck of Texas, Car of Texas and Off-Road Truck of Texas are some of the titles awarded.  Follow their automotive blog on

Download Article

Get automotive reviews from Beverly & Steve Smirnis in your inbox.