By George Polgar

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Beverly Hills test drive of the new 2016 FIAT 500X small crossover SUV is literally the ideal backdrop for this car.

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Californians are fervent early adopters, so the cheeky little FIAT 500 does better there than elsewhere in the US.

Though a worldwide top-seller with a rich tradition in now trendy mid-century popular culture, the FIAT 500 has struggled in America since its 2011 debut.

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FIAT boss Sergio Marchionne’s vision of 50,000 units per year in the US is now largely dismissed as an off-hand remark rather than an official projection. And though more than 55,000 were sold in 2012, the final 2014 US tally of 46,000 units is considered a major comeback.

The 500X offers more space and small SUV capabilities – riding on the new Italian built Jeep Renegade platform – in the classic FIAT 500 profile.

Last year’s extended length 500L 4-door helped bump up US sales. The $20,000 to $29,000 X model is likely to do even better as the car evolves from an icon into a product suited to American and global markets.

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The 500X is to be sold in 100 countries.