By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 9/27/2011
Americans have a love/hate relationship with subcompact cars. When times are good, we seem to prefer big, gas thirsty beasts to fuel efficient cars like the 2012 Honda Fit subcompact. But these are not such good times, and a car like the economical Honda Fit makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. The Fit is a tall car, with plenty of head and legroom for tall occupants. It has a versatile 5-door configuration, so larger items like bikes, skis or surfboards can easily fit in the Fit. And, perhaps most importantly, the subcompact Honda Fit strikes a nice balance between fuel economy and driving fun. While there are only a handful of subcompacts to challenge the 2012 Honda Fit, few have the backing of one of the most trusted automotive companies in recent memory. Honda's 5-door Fit is more than just inexpensive transportation. It is frugal on fuel, big on comfort, has lots of cool features, and is darn cute to boot. With competitors such as the Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio5, not to mention the newest subcompact challenger, the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, Honda's plucky 5-door has its work cut out to keep pace. But, if you're looking for a proven commodity with a sterling reputation for quality, economy and resale, then the 2012 Honda Fit 5-door is the right subcompact at the right time.
If getting 35 miles per gallon (mpg) in a car that can fit four full-sized adults sounds like a dream come true, imagine it in a car that costs less than $16,000 and holds its value better than anything in its class. The 2012 Honda Fit 5-door subcompact can do all these things, plus is fun to drive and inexpensive to maintain.
If you're looking for maximum fuel economy at a minimal price, the 2012 Honda Fit isn't the right subcompact for you. If you can forego the 5-door layout, the sedan versions of the Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio cost less, as do the 5-door Chevy Sonic, Hyundai Accent and Nissan Versa.
For 2012, Honda's Fit subcompact receives a number of improvements. The Fit Sport model gets a front-end facelift, while the base Fit 5-door gains color-key exterior mirrors. Inside, minor updates are made to the Sport and base car's accents, while both trims receive more soundproofing to help quiet the cabin.
If you're expecting the 2012 Honda Fit to handle like a miniature Civic Si, think again. However, we admit we were surprised how much fun this car is, especially considering its subcompact status. We like the Fit's precise steering and its ability to keep its poise during hard cornering. The feeling gets even better when behind the Sport trim's steering wheel, which features paddle shifters on models equipped with the automatic transmission. The Honda Fit Sport is equipped with larger wheels and more aggressive tires, as well as a thick rear stabilizer bar, giving it a more playful attitude. With only 117-horsepower under the hood, the Honda Fit sometimes has to struggle on steep hills or when asked to overtake slower traffic. But in normal freeway driving the little Fit seems eager to please and has no problem merging from onramps or keeping up with fast-moving traffic. Of course, that's with one person in the driver's seat. Load the 5-door Honda Fit with additional passengers, however, and acceleration takes a noticeable turn toward the slower. The short-throw 5-speed manual transmission can help with quicker acceleration, however, and to our way of thinking it's just more fun to drive than the automatic.
The available touchscreen navigation system inside the 2012 Honda Fit includes a voice recognition feature that allows you to speak rather than type in commands. Without ever removing your hands from the steering wheel, you can control the navigation, locate the nearest gas station, even find restaurant by genre.
With this universally accepted connection, the 5-door Fit can accommodate portable audio players and USB storage devices which can be controlled via the car's audio system.
Where recent Honda interiors have been criticized for being too conservative, the 2012 Fit clearly didn't get the memo. Blue-lit gauges are surrounded by a curvaceous instrument panel flanked by equally elaborate door panels and seats. The Fit's interior is as fun as it is functional, with high seating positions both front and back, generous head, hip and legroom all around ,and convenient storage areas such as the cupholders built into the lower doors. When not carrying passengers, the 2012 Honda Fit's 5-door configuration can be utilized to load up all manner of gear. Just fold the rear seats flat and a respectable 57.3 cubic-feet of cargo space is ready for loading. That's more cargo room than in the Nissan Versa or Kia Rio5! Making the process even easier is a flat-folding front-passenger seat and Honda's rear "Magic Seat," which can be folded flush without having to remove the head restraints. OK, maybe it's not magic, but it is exactly the type of clever engineering people have come to expect from Honda.Exterior
The 2012 Honda fit 5-door subcompact is more wagon than hatchback, bearing strong similarities to the popular Honda Civic Wagon of the mid 1980s. Designed with Americans in mind, the Honda Fit's tall roof and doors make it easy to get into and out of, while the generous expanse of glass, including triangular mini windows ahead of the front doors, gives everyone inside a clear view out. A long wheelbase gives the 2012 Honda Fit a smooth ride and a more stable platform – it also greatly increases the amount of legroom available to rear-seat passengers. The Fit's styling is rather progressive for an inexpensive subcompact, but its youthful appeal isn't lost on the Fit's target audience. The Sport trim takes things as step further, with a color-keyed lower body kit and spoiler, black headlamp bezels and dark "machine-finished" 16-inch alloy wheels.
The base 2012 Honda Fit 5-door includes a 5-speed manual transmission, power door locks and windows, power mirrors, a rear-window wiper/washer, 15-inch wheels with full covers, 60/40-split second-row Magic Seat with under-seat storage, cruise control, remote keyless entry, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, a 160-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system with four speakers, a USB audio interface, and an auxiliary audio input jack. Safety features include dual front airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, electronic traction and stability control, antilock brakes, and Electronic Brake Distribution.
One trim up is the Fit Sport, which includes a security system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, color-keyed side mirrors, chrome exhaust finishers, a 6-speaker sound system and, with the 5-speed automatic transmission, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Exterior upgrades include an underbody kit, a roofline spoiler, foglights, rear stabilizer bar and 16-inch dark "machine surface" finished alloy wheels. The Sport trim can also be ordered with Honda's satellite-linked navigation with voice recognition software. The automatic transmission is available for both trims.
The 2012 Honda Fit 5-door has a 1.5-liter engine equipped with Honda's advanced i-VTEC system. The i-VTEC varies the intake and exhaust valve events, which enhances performance while still achieving good fuel economy and low emissions. The Fit transmissions come in two different 5-speed flavors: manual and automatic. The automatic version uses a 3-mode system: a "normal" drive mode, a "sport" mode that holds off shifting gears for maximum performance, and a "manual" mode, which allows the driver to shift gears with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
1.5-liter in-line 4
117 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm
106 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/33 (manual, Sport automatic), 28/35 (automatic)
The 2012 Honda Fit subcompact has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $16,000 with the 5-speed manual. Models equipped with the automatic transmission add about $800 to the base price. The MSRP for the Fit Sport starts closer to $18,000 and a fully loaded model with navigation tops out just over the $20,500 mark. To make your best deal, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers in your area are currently paying for the Fit. As for residual values, we expect the Fit to be on par with the 2012 Toyota Yaris and Scion xD, but better over time than the Chevrolet Sonic, Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio5.