2016 Fiat 500X

2016 Fiat 500X

Episode 3450
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

The Fiat brand has gotten off to an uneven and slower than expected restart in the US, despite having some of the most fun to drive cars out there. But, right now, the American market is less about cars and more about SUVs. That’s where this new Fiat 500X now comes to play, with hopes that the brand’s first all-wheel drive utility is the “x” that hits the spot.

Since Fiat returned to our shores with the diminutive 500, they’ve brought a splash of Italian style and a fair amount of substance to the small car ranks. Well, now they’re looking to do the same in the burgeoning subcompact crossover segment with the 2016 500X. 

Having Jeep as a corporate cousin is a great way to get a head start in that endeavor. And indeed the 500X shares a chassis with the Jeep Renegade. 

Base Pop trim is front-wheel-drive only, and comes with Fiat’s 160-horsepower 1.4-liter MultiAir I4 turbo, as well as a 6-speed manual transmission. A 2.4-liter Tigershark I4 powers all remaining trims. As in Renegade, horsepower is 180, torque at 175 lb-ft, with a standard 9-speed automatic.

We know most will opt for the 2.4 and its 9-speed, which continues to show improvement, but still drew some complaints of herky-jerkiness. Driving modes include Sport and Traction + for slippery conditions. 

Like many systems, the 500X’s optional all-wheel-drive setup leaves the rear wheels fully disconnected until called upon for traction assist. 

Ground clearance is a pretty generous 7.9-inches. Still, as is typical for this segment, occasional dirt road and all-weather capabilities are more the priorities than rock-crawling. 

From the looks of things, Fiat was able to get all of the style of the funky 500 to carry over into this larger, more pseudo-rugged shape. Wheelbase is 101.2-inches, an inch and a half less than the 500L which also shares this chassis. 16-inch steel wheels are standard; 17s and 18s optional. 

Fiat has done a great job on the interior, carrying over enough of the 500’s distinct elements; yet somehow making it appear less gimmicky in order to appeal to more mainstream crossover buyers. 

There’s lots of color plus lively seat trim to brighten things up. But, our 500X with its white painted concave dash reflected sunlight directly into the front passenger’s eyes. 

The front seats are also quite firm, and some occupants found it difficult to get comfortable. Ditto in the second row, at least for 6-foot adults, where head, leg, and shoulder room are a bit less than the shorter Renegade. For children and teens, however, it’s adequate for short and long hauls.

Standard niceties’ include dual glove boxes, a rear spoiler, and chrome exhaust tips. Lounge trim adds dual-zone climate, power driver’s seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, which is nice and thick, and a 6.5-inch UConnect touchscreen for nav and apps. 

Cargo volume is notably less than Renegade, perhaps due to the “X’s” stylish shape: 12.2 cubic-ft. of space behind the rear seats; 32.1 cubic-ft. with seats folded.

As for driving substance to go along with its style, at 3,278-pounds, weight is a little less than the Renegade, so the 500X is also a little lighter on its feet around town, though still plenty solid on the freeway. 

However, we did find the ride to be a bit more jostling than the Renegade. Loads of advanced safety systems are available; including blind spot monitoring. 

As for track numbers, with spirited throttle response and a good launch, expect about the same as the Jeep Renegade 2.4; 0 to 60 in a reasonable 8.5 seconds, and quarter mile in a solid if unspectacular 16.5 seconds at 83 miles per hour.

Dicing up the cones, there’s certainly more weight and size to deal with compared to the 500 Coupe, but the X wears its additional girth quite well. It feels as sporty as a Fiat should! 

More important than all of that perhaps, are the Government Fuel Economy Ratings, which are 21-City, 30-Highway, and 24-Combined for an all-wheel-drive 2.4. Our average exceeded expectations at 28.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular. 

500X prices are very reasonable, starting at $20,900 for a front-wheel-drive Pop. This Lounge AWD starts at $27,650. 

Admittedly, if we had to choose between the 500X and the Renegade, we’d go for Jeep’s practical ruggedness over Fiat’s form over function.

That said, we think as a first all-wheel-drive effort, the 2016 Fiat 500X has a lot of appeal, and will certainly bring a much needed all-weather option to Fiat studios. So, while this X may not precisely mark our tiny ute hot spot, it still left a very positive impression.


  • Engine: 1.4 liter / 2.4 liter
  • Horsepower: 160 / 180
  • Torque: 184 lb-ft / 175 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 8.5 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 16.5 seconds @ 83 mph
  • EPA: 21 mpg city/ 30 mpg highway
2023 BMW 330i xDrive 1

2023 BMW 330i xDrive

The Standard Bearer Is Still Bearing The Standard

Episode 4302
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

The BMW 3-Series has been a luxury sport sedan standard bearer for most of its 7 generations. Well, it’s not time for an all-new 8th gen just yet, but BMW has done some significant updating to this current sedan. So, let’s see how they’re staying ahead of the curve.

While it’s easy to see the slow decline in sedan sales continuing as SUVs take up more and more market share, it’s also easy for us to always see a place for the European style sport sedan. If not in dealer showrooms, certainly in our motor oil pumping hearts. 2023 sees an updated BMW 3 Series sedan with better looks, better tech, and better performance.

Never satisfied to leave well enough alone, BMW has again tweaked the 3’s face, with slimmer headlights, ever more prominent air intakes, and yet another take on their classic twin kidney grille. There are multiple M Sport packages available, adding 19-inch M Sport wheels to replace the standard 18s, adaptive suspension, variable sport steering, M Sport brakes with blue calipers, and black trim.

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Ever since they crammed a 2.0-liter M10 into 1968’s 2002, BMW has seemingly been on a mission to maximize 4-cylinder power delivery and reliability. Their latest 2.0-liter turbo-4 in the 330i outputs 255-horsepower and 295-lb-ft. of torque. The 382-horsepower 6-cylinder remains available in the M340i, and there’s a 288-horsepower 330e PHEV as well.

This 2.0-liter is paired with the familiar 8-speed automatic transmission; the entire package is smooth and punches above its weight, delivering big hits of torque off the line with barely a hint of turbo lag. We hit 60 in 5.1-seconds with the help of launch control.

The ¼-mile passed in 13.7-seconds at 102 miles-per-hour. The engine sounded powerful and aggressive as it eagerly revved to redline, where each shift of the automatic transmission gave a nice little surge of additional power. xDrive all-wheel-drive is optional and not only does it provide extra grip for launching, but additional traction when it comes to handling as well. With the M Sport package, the suspension feels tight and the ride is quite firm; perhaps a bit much for our aging bodies, but you won’t be complaining when scooting down your favorite driving road, or shuffling through a handling course. It felt ever more athletic when whipping in and out of the cones of our slalom, with just a hint of understeer showing up at its limits. Steering is incredibly quick, but still has an artificial feel that takes some getting used to. There is very little body roll to contend with. In our braking runs, a nice firm pedal and great overall stability made for quick 103 foot stops from 60, rock steady all the way.

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BMW has truly upped their interior comfort game in recent years, and everything inside this updated 3 looks great and feels nicely finished. Twin screens, 12.3-inches behind the steering wheel for instruments, and 14.9-inch for infotainment, now flow into one another as part of BMW’s curved dash display. While it works well enough, this latest iDrive 8 may be a step back, as very few manual controls remain, and you seemingly have to do more menu diving than before for anything other than basic climate and audio controls. Dash vents are now slimmer, and the console gets a redesign with, for better or worse, a new toggle lever instead of an actual shifter for controlling the transmission. Steering wheel-mounted shifters are also standard; M Sport adds a unique wheel and aluminum trim, with Harmon Kardon sound optional.

Front seats are firm but adequately comfortable, there’s a good amount of room for rear seat passengers, and a great 16.9 cubic-ft. of trunk space.

Pricing starts at $45,495 for the 330i, 2-grand more for all-wheel drive; the 330e plug-in is just above that at $46,595, with the top 340i coming in at $58,595.

BMW essentially created the sport sedan as we know it back in the 1960s. And while you don’t have to spend this kind of money to get a great driving experience these days, the 2023 BMW 3 Series still delivers perhaps the best mix of performance, luxury, tech, and even comfort, in a 4-door sedan package that an awful lot of people, including us, still adore.


  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbo-4
  • Horsepower: 255
  • 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 103 feet (avg)
  • Transmission: 8-speed auto
  • Torque: 295 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.7-seconds at 102 mph
  • EPA: 24 City / 33 Highway / 27 Combined
2024 Ford Mustang 2

2024 Ford Mustang

A New Mustang You Don’t Have To Plug In

Episode 4301
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

The all-new 2024 Ford Mustang is hitting the streets and we’re just back from Southern California where we got plenty of saddle time to give you the low down.

Part of the Mustang’s appeal has always revolved around its everyday usability, not just muscle car performance. Which means you can buy anything from a base ‘stang to the ultimate GT and have crazy amounts of fun with it on back roads.

Yet still have plenty of comfort, space, not to mention tech, to make it great on date night, and even run a few errands.

So, as before, base models will come with a turbo-4, and GT’s pack a V8. We got to spend quality time in both.

GREG CARLOSS: “…this is the GT Coupe which is the V8; this is the Mustang that everybody thinks of, a V8 engine now up to 486-horsepower, still out of a 5.0-liter but Ford is saying it’s an all-new engine, they’re calling it an all-new engine and it’s naturally aspirated so it’s just beautifully linear…”

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This new generation of Coyote V8 is still one of the best-sounding eight-cylinders out there, even if it is enhanced.

It now delivers up to 418 lb-ft. of torque with an active exhaust, thanks to increased airflow and upgraded dual throttle bodies.

The 2.3-liter EcoBoost returns as well, but is also updated, delivering 5-additional standard horsepower at 315, along with 350 lb-ft. of torque.

If like us, you still prefer the manual, good news, the rev-matching 6-speed returns, bad news, it’s now only available in the GT, the EcoBoost going 10-speed automatic only.

There are 6 drive modes that adjust power delivery, suspension settings, stability control, and steering response; along with shift times for the automatic.

Performance Pack is available with either engine, and includes a shock tower brace, limited slip rear, wider wheels, and bigger brakes, as well as a Performance Electronic Parking Brake.

JESSICA RAY: “…I had the EcoBoost to test out arguably with the coolest features new on the new Mustang, electronic drift brake. Ford had a small course set up for us to test it out; it’s super simple to use, no button, just pull up and hold to engage the brake and lock the rear wheel. It wasn’t long before I got the hang of things, and drifting was a breeze.”

While this is a new generation of Mustang, it rides on an updated version of the previous chassis; and the ride remains firm but far from abusive and seems just about right for a Mustang; but as we found out, this is surely not the same old ‘stang.

JESSICA RAY: “They’ve been very clear that this is a modern Mustang; I mean yes it pays homage to the past but with certain design cues and stuff, but what they really want is that this is a 21st century Mustang.”

The cockpit is supposedly inspired by jet fighters, but something tells me, American’s finest pilots don’t get this much screen time, with a highly configurable 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster flowing seamlessly into a 13.2-inch central screen.

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A convertible remains available right from the get-go, and fans will find improved one-touch top activation, and more compact storage of the fabric top to maximize trunk space.

It all works well with the Mustang’s overall sharper demeanor and carved up look. More prominent hips are in place to further accentuate the wide stance. And of course front and rear lights, love ‘em or hate ‘em, come in the power of 3.

For this generation there’s a bit more distinction between base EcoBoost and GT models, with unique fascias and hood; wheel sizes ranging from 17 to 20-inches.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the EcoBoost 4 are 22-City, 33-Highway, and 26-Combined; the manual GT V8 at 14-City, 23-Highway, and 17-Combined.

Pricing starts with a base Coupe at $32,515, ranging to GT Premium at $48,610.

The Ford Mustang has existed for 60 years now, and for 2024, it’s the last actual car remaining in Ford’s lineup. Truth be told we weren’t sure exactly what we’d get, after Mustang went all-electric SUV with the Mach E. But it turns out we got a real deal rear-wheel-drive 2-door pony car packed with performance, muscle car style, and modern tech. It’s clear it is a better Mustang, and the best yet!


  • Engine: 2.3-liter Turbo-4 | 5.0-liter V8
  • Horsepower: 315 | up to 486
  • EPA (EcoBoost): 22 City | 33 Highway | 26 Combined
  • Transmission: 10-speed auto | 6-speed manual
  • Torque: 350 lb-ft. | 418 lb-ft.
  • EPA (V8 Manual): 14 City | 23 Highway | 17 Combined