By KBB.com Editors
Cars match their cultures. In many places where space is at a premium and gas is pricey, smaller is better. That's why the roads of Europe and Asia are populated by little cars with small appetites. But in America, land of super highways and sun blocking SUVs, bigger is usually better, and our cars follow suit. For years, Honda's smallest stateside car has been the Civic, however, like many Americans, American Civics have put on some pounds (and price) over the years. So much so that a gap began to appear at the entry level, as Civic inched upstream. Korean manufacturers have been happily vying to fill the void. Now, Honda rejoins the battle for subcompact supremacy, with the introduction of the new Fit.
Fuel economy and a flexible floor plan are this Honda's hallmarks. Those who like their small cars big on the inside will find the Fit a good fit. Adult-sized room front and rear plus cargo space is rare in a subcompact. Rare, too, are trips to the gas station in the Fit, with an EPA estimated 33 miles per gallon in the city, and 38 on the highway.
The Fit's "park it anywhere" dimensions are easy to live with, and especially prized in the cozy confines of city driving. However, if jousting with trucks and SUV's on the highway in a small subcompact makes you uncomfortable, you might be happier in a larger car.
The Honda Fit plugs the gap at the entry-level end of the Honda lineup, a spot vacated by the Civic as it crept upstream. While new to the U.S. market, the Fit itself isn't new. The car has already sold over one million units in over 70 counties, where it's known as the Jazz.
Driving Impressions The Fit's subcompact size and good pickup make it well suited for skating through traffic. As with most small-engine cars, the Fit responds best with a manual transmission. Passing takes...planning, but highway travel is unstressed. The shifter has a snappy action, and the suspension has a notably polished feel for a small economy car. Ride and handling rival anything in the subcompact class. The electric power steering has a comfortable heft, and sight lines for the driver are good. It's rare to find this much head and leg room for four people in a vehicle this size. Outdoor types will appreciate the ability to pack a mountain bike in back with wheels on, or flop down the front seat and slide surfboards, skis or snowboards inside for the ride.
Flexible Floor Plan
The Fit's most endearing trait is its flexible floor plan. Clever design allows the seats to be easily and intuitively configured in many usable layouts. This small car is deceptively large inside, and its ability to handle people or parcels in any combination is unusual in any segment, and especially among subcompacts.
With a stick shift and a bit of twisty road, the Fit is surprisingly entertaining to drive. The suspension comes in for most of the praise here. The chassis has a level of refinement in ride and handling that belies its price point.
The Fit's cabin impresses with its design and utility. It's surprisingly big inside for a small car, with room for six footers in both rowssomething that can't be said about many subcompacts. Cargo space ranges from 21.3 cubic feet to 41.9 cubic feet, depending on how you configure the split rear seats. The Fit has a low floor, and the seats fold flush to maximize room. Rear seatbacks can be flipped up, so that you can store items up to 50 inches tall inside. The front passenger seat doubles forward to accommodate long items, be they surfboards or step ladders. Finally, both front and rear seats recline, turning the Fit's cabin into a chaise lounge on wheels. The acrobatic seats transition easily to the desired floor plan, thanks to intuitive controls. Dashboard switchgear is easy to reach and simple to use. Sport level seats are well-bolstered for support, though they lack an inside arm rest to park your elbow on. The combination of a low floor and tall roofline make for enough headroom to withstand a stovepipe hat revival.Exterior
Some cars, like some people, look better in person than they do in pictures. So it is with Fit. The sharp sloping nose and slash-cut headlamps give it a fresh, modern face, but the degree of drop-off also means that the driver will never see the front end of the car from inside. Compared to the Civic, the new entry is 3.5 inches taller, 19.2 inches shorter and 2.8 inches narrower. The side view shows Fit's small-but-tall design, hinting at the utility inside. The rear section cuts off quickly, with little overhang. Overall, the lines suggest function more than fashion.
Honda's latest entry features a high level of standard safety gear, including dual front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, and anti-lock brakes. An AM/FM/CD sound system with four speakers is included, as are air conditioning and a handful of power assists for windows, mirrors, door locks and steering.
The Fit is offered in two trim levels. The step-up, "Sport" version adds both dress up items for the body and upgrades for the cabin. Among the former are a rear roofline spoiler and rocker panel flares, fog lamps and 15-inch alloy rims. Counted among the latter is an upgrade to the audio system (200 watts, six speakers, MP3/WMA playback capability with an auxiliary input jack) as well as cruise control. Sport models also boast a security system with keyless remote entry and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifter controls (on vehicles equipped with automatic transmission). Owners can choose from over 30 dealer-installed accessories to personalize their purchase. Selections include interior/exterior trim and an Apple iPod Music Link.
Honda offers one motor and two transmission choices in the Fit. Though small in size, the 1.5-liter engine has enough power to feel lively around town and cruises comfortably at highway speeds. Buyers who choose the five-speed automatic transmission in Sport models have the option of using paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Paddles are a novelty in this segment, but if you like to shift it yourself, you're advised to try the five-speed manual. The shifter has a short throw and a fun feel, and the engine is more responsive with the stick. The engine gets a little loud in its upper registers, something that is more noticeable in automatic-equipped models.
1.5-liter in-line 4
109 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
105 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 33/38 (manual), 31/38 (automatic), 31/37 (Sport automatic)
By Katy (GA) on Saturday, April 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "see review"
Cons: "Battery problems at first but those are resolved."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Car is incredibly comfortable for both driver and passenger; handles great; much better acceleration than expected; super mileage, 30+mpg around town and an even 40mpg on recent 3.5 hour trip on interstate traveling at 70 to 75 mph. Amazingly roomy, I've carried a 6.5 ft Christmas tree, a very large chaise lounge, and many other large pieces of furniture that people watching or there to help load were certain wouldn't fit in their larger vehicles and certainly not in mine. Yet everything I've attempted has fit with nothing hanging out of doors or windows. Everything inside, switches, knobs, etc., has remained tight with no loosening or rattling. Even my 6'3" 29 year old grandson was surprised at how comfortable and fun to drive it is. And here, 6 yrs later, it's only depreciated $2000 from what I paid. Best purchase I ever made!"
By Jack Central Texas (TX) on Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 88,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, good fuel economy"
Cons: "ignition shift interlock problems"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"In terms of interior and exterior styling, I much prefer the appearance of the 2008 Fit to its successor. It's definitely fun to drive though at 24 pounds per horsepower it won't press you back into your seat at maximum acceleration nor was it meant to. There is enough power on tap to keep up with most in-town traffic in my area using 3,000 rpm shift points in my 5 speed auto transmission equipped base model Fit. On 100% gasoline I was able to obtain 37.8 mpg in mixed city highway driving. With the current 90% gasoline 10% ethanol mix mixed city highway dropped to 35.2 mpg. The downside to the exterior styling comes in the form of the front air dam. While able to clear most curbs, parking lot entry and exit while crossing edge-of-street dips for rain water drainage has proven to be another mater entirely. The heads of the plastic rivits holding the engine compartment splash guards to the air dam kept getting filed off. I've since stopped replacing them. Then there is the matter of the electric power steering. In the first 35,000 miles, the system failed to operate three times upon start-up of the vehicle necessitating restarting. Its biggest problem has been with the gear-shift ignition key interlock. Ten times so far I've placed the transmission in Park only to discover the keyswitch would not rotate far enough counter clockwise for me to retrieve my key. The first time this occurred, I had to have my car towed 50 miles to the nearest Honda dealer. Their repair department could not reduplicate the problem and suggested it might be a problem with the battery at which point I stated that I replace batteries every 3 years. Subsequently on each occurrence I insert a flat-blade screw driver into the hole next to the gearshift lever and press down on a button while moving the lever from Park to 1st gear and back to Park at which point I can get my key released."
By Abiabee (MO) on Monday, March 04, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "it's kind of cute."
Cons: "everything else."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"this is the worst car I have ever owned. Just because it is a Honda doesn't mean you should trust it. I get about 23 miles to the gallon (highway) and I take care of it! I got better milage/performance in my Dodge Nitro SUV that I used to have. The Fit is terrible in the snow, and is very uncomfortable on long trips. The pedels are at a really awkward angle so I have actually had my foot fall asleep while on a road trip. There are too many problems with this car to explain- my best advice is to stay away from this car and this year if you can possibly help it."
2 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By lynne (CA) on Saturday, March 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "huge on inside, plenty of zip"
Cons: "Can't get cruise control on the basic model"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My first NEW car (I'm sixty-something! always had used cars), almost 5 yrs old and I still LOVE it! it's really big on the inside, very easy to fix seats to carry whatever, I carry 2 bales of hay and 100 lbs of chicken feed at a time, with room to spare! Plenty of zip, high enough driver seat to see around and not feel horribly vulnerable, cute to look at. No expenses except regular maintenance so far, knock on wood."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By ss (FL) on Tuesday, January 22, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 59,700overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car every time I fill up. It is extremely good on gas. but cost alot less than a prius. Only reason I might sell it soon is to buy something that can fit larger items . it has a ton of room for hauling but limited to 36 inches in width. I will probably keep as a second car for gas mileage driving or sell it cheap to one of my kids. the only downside I have found is that there is no arm rest on the driver's side. and i never have figured out how to lower the front seat but never really needed it."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By duane (NC) on Monday, December 03, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "priced decently for options"
Cons: "punisher on the long haul - more than 50 miles"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"gets an avg. of 30MPG; more on the Hwy, and up to 35 if you are not using the A/C or heat, and/or facing high winds. Very reliable and quick response, but with the 4cy engine, you need to turn off heat/ac to access freeway entrance ramps. It has a lot of cargo storage-the seats lay flat; it's actually more room than the 06 & 08 Civic we had. It does have road noise, but what economy car doesn't!"
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful