By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 9.5
Now in its third generation, the 2016 Honda Fit 5-door subcompact continues to prove that subcompact cars can aspire to more than just basic transportation. The Honda Fit's so-called Magic Seat lets owners maximize cargo area easily, all without compromising the surprisingly large rear seat. The little engine and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) ensure excellent fuel economy, while the light weight and small size mean you don't feel like you've been shortchanged when it comes to acceleration. In fact, thanks to the sharp steering and nicely balanced suspension, a new Honda Fit handles better than you may think. Compared against rivals like the Nissan Versa Note, Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent, the 2016 Fit is a near-ideal blend of value, fun and practicality.
The Honda Fit 5-door hatchback is a great pick for two groups. First, there are off-to-college youngsters who want an affordable, efficient and reliable car with all the modern connectivity features found in more expensive cars. Then there are empty-nesters looking to downsize without compromising rear-seat or cargo room.
The 2016 Honda Fit hatchback base price starts a little higher than many of its competitors, mainly because it's better equipped, but it's worth noting in this price-sensitive segment. Additionally, it comes only in hatchback form, leaving sedan shoppers out in the cold.
KBB Expert Ratings
The fun you have driving a 2016 Honda Fit 5-door isn't the kind you get because of gobs of horsepower or a snappy suspension. While there's more power than there...
... used to be, it's masked by a heavier car. Instead, it's the feel of the whole thing. The suspension offers up predictable handling that's exactly sharp enough to keep you entertained. The ample glass of the greenhouse makes it easy to see out, and the steering feels spot-on. The three different models – LX, EX and EX-L – offer the same engine and transmission packages. However, the 16-inch wheels and lower-profile tires on EX and EX-L models, coupled with a stiffer structure and improved suspension, mean both models handle just as well as the previous-generation's Sport model. It's the combination of entertaining driving and everyday practicality and affordability that makes the Fit so endearing.
A hallmark of the Honda Fit hatchback is its 2nd-row Magic Seat. The 60/40-split rear bench folds flat into the floor, but also lets you flip the seat bottoms up to provide upright space for tall objects. The flexibility is greater even than the best-in-class 52.7 cubic feet suggests.
MOTION ADAPTIVE ELECTRIC POWER STEERING
Among the Honda Fit's sophisticated technology is the Motion-Adaptive Electric Power Steering system. Using a combination of vehicle speed, steering angle and Vehicle Stability Assist, it determines if the Fit begins to slide from its intended path. It then uses steering force to prompt the driver to take corrective action.
We're not saying the 2016 Honda Fit feels like a premium car inside, but the use of soft-touch materials, clever design and silver accent trim definitely goes a long way toward moving the Fit away from pedestrian feel its class suggests. We like the nicely bolstered front bucket seats, and the clear blue-lit instruments. Cup holders and other storage compartments are everywhere, and the major controls are all within reach and easy to use. Even LX models get a touch-screen interface for the audio system, which uses a high-definition liquid crystal display for sharp graphics.
The current-generation Honda Fit has mostly abandoned the endearingly goofy styling of its predecessors. The slimmer headlights, clean lines and large glass area combine with a more muscular shape with chiseled looks. However, the high-roof hatchback design, along with its excellent utility, remains intact. Not all of it is for show, with the rooftop spoiler and below-bumper diffuser at the rear of the vehicle improving aerodynamics as well as aesthetics. EX and EX-L models sport aluminum-alloy wheels, additional chrome trim on the grille and rear liftgate, and fog lights.
Honda doesn't skimp on equipment with the 2016 Fit. Standard on the Honda Fit LX are a 6-speed manual transmission, rearview camera, automatic headlights, a 5-inch audio display screen, cruise control, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, and one-touch up/down driver’s window. There are also air conditioning, a 60/40-split second row, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, LED taillights, a trip computer, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 160-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system with a USB port and auxiliary audio input jack. Safety features include side-curtain airbags, and electronic traction and stability control.
Honda Fit EX models add 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, fog lights, push-button ignition and paddle shifters on models with the CVT. The EX also gets a 7-inch touch-screen audio system, one-touch-operation moonroof, and Honda's clever Lane Watch camera, which gives an enhanced view of what's on the right side of the car at the push of a button, or when the right turn signal is activated. The Fit EX-L model adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, and available navigation. EX and EX-L models are equipped with a 180-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers and two USB ports.
The 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine under the hood of the Honda Fit is in Honda's family of "Earth Dreams" fuel-friendly engines. But there's more than marketing. This sophisticated engine has advanced fuel injection and Honda's i-VTEC and Variable Timing Control (VTC) of the valvetrain. At high engine speeds, i-VTEC allows the engine to be tuned more for power, while at lower speeds, VTC retards valve timing to boost fuel economy. The result is a 130-horsepower 4-cylinder powering the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters. Fuel economy is excellent, with a CVT-equipped LX getting up to 41 mpg on the highway.
130 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm
114 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/37 mpg (manual), 33/41 mpg (automatic, LX), 32/38 mpg (automatic, EX and EX-L)
The 2016 Honda Fit LX with a 6-speed manual transmission carries a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $16,600. A 6-speed Fit EX starts around $18,500. The automatic transmission adds $800 to either model. If you want an EX-L – automatic only – you'll spend just under $21,000, while the EX-L with navigation is $1,000 higher. The base prices of the Fit are higher on paper than some of its competitors, but the Fit comes standard with a lot more equipment. Factor that in, and the Fit is competitive with the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and Kia Rio. 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. No matter what, it’ll be money well spent, as the Fit should handily trounce its competitors in resale value.