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View Full Version : Fiorello the 500X's Adventures in Pickup Truck Land; A Western Odyssey.



TheGonz
03-26-2016, 06:52 PM
I'm not so conceited to believe that anyone on here is following everything I say, and is hanging on anxiously for my next post, so it's probably best to start off with some context that will lend some sense to this post.

A couple months ago, I said on here that I was looking to make a change, to get out of St. Louis and go somewhere different. I really didn't care where, just anyplace. After my divorce from my wife and a few other issues with the fairer sex, I found the place to be a constant reminder of things I'd prefer not think about. Not all of it was bad, of course, but when you're mourning a loss, even good memories can spin you into the ditch of despair and misery. At times like that, it's good to be someplace else.

So I began looking for a new job. I applied at newspapers, magazines and even Public Relations firms from coast-to-coast. Everywhere from New York City to a small resort town in Wyoming with a permanent population of 1,600 people that also has a weekly paper.

Long story short, I wound up in Wyoming, at the top of the Snowy Range, right near the Medicine Bow National Forest.

When I say I want a change in my life, I don't f**k around; I do it right or I don't do it at all.

There was a fair degree of trepidation with making such a bold move: I'm pretty liberal and people in Wyoming tend not to like liberals; I'm a reporter, and nobody likes reporters; I'm a city boy, and I don't really like fishing, shooting things, horses, pickup trucks with huge tires and diesel engines out of locomotives; and, I get really in a really pissy mood when I can't go to the grocery store and buy weird things most people have never heard of so I can cook them.

The list goes on and on, and I'll just suffice it to say that I was really worried I wouldn't fit in here.

One of the things I was worried about was my car, the Fiat 500x I bought bought in November after trading off my Abarth. One significant problem; the nearest studio is in Denver, 216 miles away. That's a long tow for a warranty repair. There was also the question of how well the 500x would fare up here at the top of the world. Sure, it's AWD and is very similar to a Jeep Renegade, but it's not meant to be a Jeep. It's meant to be more of an on-road car that is good in snow and things like that. The 500X's Jeep sister has a low range, more off-road traction settings, some skid plates and beefed up suspension.

My dad told me to sell the Fiat, because living in Wyoming, "You'll need a pickup." Of course you should take my dad's advice with a grain of salt: Even if I moved to midtown Manhattan, he'd insist I needed a Dodge 3500 Super Cab 4x4 with a Cummins diesel. You know, just in case the need should arise for me to move 20,000 pounds of hay bales out to the pasture in Brooklyn or something. He thinks everybody "needs" a pickup.

But when I finally got here, I began to wonder if maybe this time, he was right. There are pickups everywhere. If it's not a pickup, it's a Jeep.

But I've had a few weeks now, and the 500x and I have gone a lot of places and done a lot of things.

I think it'll be just fine up here.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1506/25959021572_fa71be0bf7_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FxULHs)_MG_4280.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FxULHs) [/url]

It's hard to keep cars clean up here, but that's not Fiat's fault. Overall, the car has been a champ up here. When I first moved here, I heard a couple horror stories about cars not adapting well. One guy told me his newer Jeep started running terribly and throwing all sorts of codes and CEL's once he got it up here to 8,000 feet. He said he had to disconnect the battery, let it sit, then reconnect it to make sure the computer "learned" how to run the engine up here.

No such problems with the 500x.

The engine is noticeably less powerful up here, though. This is when it would be great to have a turbo, but as that's not available in the 500x with AWD, and "4x4 is not an option here, it's required," well, it's a tradeoff that has to be made. According to one calculation, a naturally-aspirated engine loses about 20 percent of its potential power output at the altitude at which I live (almost 7,000 feet). At the altitude I was driving when I took these pictures (between 8,000 and 10,000) it loses about 30 percent or more.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1585/25985848781_07ca429b78_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)_MG_4285.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FAhgvx) by , on Flickr

Not quite sure how smart it is to identify myself as one of the enemy, but nevertheless...

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Traction is excellent on packed snow, sand and mud. The only complaint I have is the tires. Mine shipped from the factory with Nexen all-seasons, which are fine for most purposes, but not that great in snow or mud. I will fix this soon by putting on a set of Yokohama Geolandar (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/) tires. They have a bit more aggressive tread, but not ridiculously so.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1702/25985867471_7c827b1f2e_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FAhn4M)IMG_4295.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FAhn4M) by , on Flickr

Most of the non-paved roads here are snow on top of mud or sand. The 500x handles these just fine.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1554/25985883641_10ceef4c99_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4312.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FAhrSz) by , on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1450/25779420860_20d879d65b_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4317.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Fh3gFs) by , on Flickr

Fiorello even manages to look good doing it, too.

The mileage up here is about the same I was getting in St. Louis, give or take. Because there is less air up here, in theory the engine should be injecting less fuel (making less power), and because drag on the car is lower in thin air than it is at sea level, theoretically doesn't need as much power to move though the air. But, the speed limits up here on dry, paved roads are way higher than anything back in Missouri, so that may be why I have not seen any change in miles per gallon. I still get around 20 in town, about 30 on the highway (speed limit 65 or 70) and 27 or so on the interstate (speed limit 75 or 80).

Here are some pictures of mine and Fiorello's drive. It's truly a beautiful place up here and I'm glad I decided to come here instead of doing public relations in Los Angeles.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1719/25447450044_3dd5b5a07e_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4300.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ELGQjG) by , on Flickr

Wyoming's version of the New York City sewer rat: They're everywhere, and people hit them with cars all the time. A coworker recently totaled his Jeep after hitting one. At least they taste better than sewer rat, or so I've been told.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1628/26052254555_7287f25244_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4313.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FG9BCF) by , on Flickr

If you've ever played the video game "Red Dead Redemption," that is what this place is like. One minute you're in a high desert with scrub brush and rocks. The next, you're in a snowy forest. The next, you're in a marshland.

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This is where Silicon Valley billionaire entrepreneurs, NYC hedge fund managers and Hollywood movie stars all come to dress up and play cowboy. They pay like $4,000 per day for the privilege. It's kinda like that movie "City Slickers," just less entertaining.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1452/25985987541_5474036e40_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4330.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FAhYKX) by , on Flickr

I need to get one of these. I have no idea what I'd do with it, but I desperately want one.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1485/25447567374_34f1690155_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4334.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ELHrcC) by , on Flickr

Time for Fiorello and I to turn back. Most of the mountain passes here won't be open until Memorial Day weekend. Up here, the snowfall is measured in yards.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1451/26026431446_007e5b4af4_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4337.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FDSgjE) by , on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1673/25447592364_3589b92cb3_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4340.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ELHyCu) by , on Flickr

The ranchers hate these guys. Prairie Dogs. I shot this with my longest telephoto lens without a tripod, so it's kinda blurry. Sorry.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1656/25449813913_e909873b46_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4344.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ELUX24) by , on Flickr

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More "Red Dead Redemption" footage. I expect to hear that weird whistle thing from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" in places like this, and then to see Clint Eastwood ride past.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1664/26052403025_7c4ae77dd2_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4351.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FGanLv) by , on Flickr

Someone used to live in that. Probably a whole family. Next time your kids complain they have to share a bathroom with their sibling, show them this picture.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1463/25449855513_425d496a8d_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4357.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ELVaoi) by , on Flickr

These animals are on the state's flag.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1629/25779566700_689fc09467_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4368.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Fh422W) by , on Flickr

I wonder why they call these mountains the Snowy Range?

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1659/25779576470_eeba96403e_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4375.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Fh44Wo) by , on Flickr

The sewer rats here are pretty tame. This one let me get pretty close.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1668/25449895063_83c1c645a1_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4390.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ELVn9c) by , on Flickr

The antelope are a different story; they didn't let me get close at all. I'm amazed this picture turned out at all since they were running, I was moving the camera, and I was using the long telephoto without a tripod.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1595/26026540466_ef82e521ec_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4407.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FDSPJj) by , on Flickr

I think this may be a Golden Eagle, but I'm not sure. They (as well as Bald Eagles) do live around here, but I can't say for sure that's what it is. It was pretty big though!

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1592/26052466155_636be9b8d4_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/)IMG_4412.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FGaGwX) by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/139750206@N08/], on Flickr

And then we went home.

In short, the 500x is doing great out here. It's done everything I've asked of it and more (I actually took it some places I didn't get pictures of because I didn't want to slow down and risk getting stuck). The issue of the nearest dealer being 216 miles away is a bit of a worry if I'm being honest. I don't expect any problems from the car, but if anything were to happen it might put me in a tight spot.

I'm thinking I will probably get an old Jeep Wrangler as a second vehicle, something I can get for a few thousand cash. That way I'll have a vehicle I can do some real off-roading with and beat the snot out of without any regrets, and have a backup in case the Fiat ever needs to be flat-bedded to Denver or something.

But the bigger point here is for those of us lucky enough to have a 500x, they're great cars that can do quite a lot and take you on some cool trips to neat places. They're no Jeep or Land Cruiser of course, but they can go a lot of places and do a lot of things, and they look awesome doing it.

5port
03-26-2016, 11:43 PM
Wow...what a tremendous story and post. I like the way you integrated the 500X in and photos. Thanks for the tech feedback of how the X responds at altitude. I'm wondering if a go pedal would help with the loss of response? Good luck with the new job.

Xtreme500
03-27-2016, 08:10 AM
Nice photos! I used to live in Rapid City, SD at one point in my life so I can relate to you living in no man's land. I think you may grow to like some of the solitude living up there. I also would worry about those conservative ******* and their diesel trucks. Get to know them a little and you will find out you can have common ground with anybody if you really try.

Shawnb
03-27-2016, 11:57 AM
Nice write up.


I never knew the 500x didn't come in AWD with the turbo motor, darn! My girlfriend was going to pick one up.

DeSoulo
03-27-2016, 01:10 PM
This was an awesome ride! Thanks for taking us along :cool

TheGonz
03-27-2016, 03:22 PM
Wow...what a tremendous story and post. I like the way you integrated the 500X in and photos. Thanks for the tech feedback of how the X responds at altitude. I'm wondering if a go pedal would help with the loss of response? Good luck with the new job.

I'm not sure. If anyone has any ideas on whether the GoPedal would help up here, I'm all ears. Otherwise, it's just part of living up here. My ex-wife and I were here (and in Colorado) in 2009 with our old V8 4Runner, and it was the same. Climbing Pike's Peak loaded with three people and a ton of camping gear, I could swear that once we were at 14,000 feet, the engine was only putting out 100 HP and the 4Runner could barely get out of its own way.

Good news is that up here, everyone's car is slower, so you don't feel so bad about it.


Nice photos! I used to live in Rapid City, SD at one point in my life so I can relate to you living in no man's land. I think you may grow to like some of the solitude living up there. I also would worry about those conservative ******* and their diesel trucks. Get to know them a little and you will find out you can have common ground with anybody if you really try.

Generally, I can get along with most people. I've interviewed people from all walks of life—including some very confrontational interviews on things they would rather not talk about—and I have yet to be shot, beaten, thrown in jail or sued. I do pretty well identifying with people (even if I don't have much in common with them) and approaching them respectfully and that sort of thing.

It's just more of a "Fish out of water" type thing for me. The types of things I like doing to entertain myself require a three hour drive to find. The types of restaurants I like, they types of things I like to buy (and drive) etc...

Probably the biggest shock for me is smoking in bars. I haven't lived anywhere that is legal for about 15 years. Coworkers here invite me out for drinks and I go because it's something to do, but I hate the way I smell when I walk out the door. Doesn't do my asthma any favors, either.

It's just culture shock, really.


Nice write up.


I never knew the 500x didn't come in AWD with the turbo motor, darn! My girlfriend was going to pick one up.

Yeah, the 1.4 Turbo is a great engine, of course that's what I had in the Abarth. And the Turbo would help with the loss of power at altitude. My guess would be that a 1.4 turbo would make way more power at this altitude than the naturally-aspirated 2.4 Tigershark does.

Funny thing; I was told you can get the Jeep Renegade with the 1.4 MultiAir Turbo and AWD. We can't do that with the 500x. I didn't actually look to see if what I was told was true or not, but if it is, that's a bit disappointing.


This was an awesome ride! Thanks for taking us along :cool

Yep! In the US, Fiat is a niche, "lifestyle" brand. And with the 500x, the lifestyle just got a bit more comprehensive. Not only can you have a good time in the city, you can do it out here in God's Country, too.

I'm really excited for the 124 Spider. I think having a 500x and one of those would be perfect. Having the 124 up on the scenic mountain passes around here in the summer would be a blast.

I suppose I really ought to start paying down my 500x faster and saving up money to get a 124 in a couple years as a weekend car, but I also am thinking of getting a house up here. If I stay, I'll have a place to live. If I don't stay here, having a house here as a vacation rental is a great investment.

Decisions, decisions and more decisions.

Xtreme500
03-27-2016, 06:21 PM
Smoking indoors yuck!

Tweak
03-27-2016, 09:53 PM
Great read and pics, thanks for sharing and good luck with the new location and all that entails.

Zucca
03-29-2016, 08:44 PM
Great post, great pics! Thanks for sharing them. I just picked up a 500x Lounge, and I'm looking forward to putting it through its paces here in Colorado in whatever spring snow we still have coming.