2019 Kia Niro vs. 2018 Fiat 500X

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Niro (except FE/LX/S Touring) offers optional Parking Assist to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The 500X doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the Niro and the 500X have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Niro comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The 500X’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Niro 6 years and 50,000 miles longer than Fiat covers the 500X. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the 500X ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 84 percent more Kia dealers than there are Fiat dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Niro’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Niro’s engine. A rubber belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 500X Pop’s camshafts. If the 500X’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Niro’s reliability 82 points higher than the 500X.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 70 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 29th.

Engine

The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 11 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 184) than the 500X Pop’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 20 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 175) than the 500X’s optional 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Niro gets better fuel mileage than the 500X:

 

 

Niro

500X

 

FWD

 

n/a

25 city/33 hwy

1.4 4 cyl. Turbo/Manual

 

FE

52 city/49 hwy

22 city/30 hwy

2.4 4 cyl./Auto

 

LX/EX

51 city/46 hwy

n/a

 

 

Touring

46 city/40 hwy

n/a

 

AWD

 

n/a

21 city/29 hwy

2.4 4 cyl./Auto

Regenerative brakes improve the Niro’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The 500X doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Niro’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The 500X doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Niro uses regular unleaded gasoline. The 500X Pop requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Kia Niro higher (7 out of 10) than the Fiat 500X (3 to 7). This means the Niro produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the 500X every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Kia Niro comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the 500X.

The Niro offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The 500X doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

The Niro stops shorter than the 500X:

 

Niro

500X

 

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Niro’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the 500X (106.3 inches vs. 101.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Niro is .6 inches wider in the front and 1.1 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the 500X.

The Niro Touring handles at .82 G’s, while the 500X Trekking AWD pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Niro Touring executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the 500X Trekking AWD (27.3 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.7 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Niro’s turning circle is 1.5 feet tighter than the 500X’s (34.8 feet vs. 36.3 feet).

Chassis

The design of the Kia Niro amounts to more than styling. The Niro has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is significantly lower than the 500X (.35) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Niro get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Niro has 9.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500X (100.9 vs. 91.7).

The Niro has 1 inch more front headroom, .3 inches more front legroom, .4 inches more front hip room, 1.7 inches more front shoulder room, 1.3 inches more rear headroom, 2.6 inches more rear legroom and 2.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500X.

The front step up height for the Niro is 3.9 inches lower than the 500X (15.5” vs. 19.4”). The Niro’s rear step up height is 3.4 inches lower than the 500X’s (16.2” vs. 19.6”).

Cargo Capacity

The Niro has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the 500X with its rear seat up (19.4 vs. 12.2 cubic feet). The Niro has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the 500X with its rear seat folded (54.5 vs. 32.1 cubic feet).

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Niro easier. The Niro’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 29 inches, while the 500X’s liftover is 30.5 inches.

The Niro’s cargo area is larger than the 500X’s in every dimension:

 

Niro

500X

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

31.8”/64”

n/a

Max Width

48.2”

41.3”

Min Width

41”

37.8”

Height

36”

28.8”

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the Niro (except FE/LX/S Touring), the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The 500X doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Niro Touring’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The 500X doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Niro has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The 500X doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Niro has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The 500X has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Trekking/Lounge.

When the Niro with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The 500X’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Niro Touring keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The 500X doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Niro LX/EX/S Touring/Touring has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The 500X doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The Niro has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the 500X and isn’t available on the 500X Pop.

The Niro’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The 500X Pop doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

For greater rear passenger comfort, the Niro has standard rear heat vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The 500X doesn’t offer rear vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Niro (except FE/S Touring) offers an optional Advanced Smart Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The 500X doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Bluetooth wireless connectivity is standard on the Niro, connecting the driver and passenger’s cell phones to the vehicle systems. This allows them to use the vehicle’s stereo and hand controls to place calls safely and easily. Bluetooth costs extra on the 500X.

The Niro (except FE/LX/S Touring) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The 500X doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Niro, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Fiat 500X isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Niro first among small SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The 500X isn’t in the top three.

The Kia Niro outsold the Fiat 500X by almost four to one during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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