By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 9.4
The 2017 Honda Fit is the perfect example of how today's subcompact cars offer a lot more than basic transportation. Of course it nails the basics: Its so-called Magic Seat makes it easy for owners to maximize cargo space, but still allows for a generous rear seat; the 4-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) guarantee good fuel economy; there are plenty of high-tech options. But it's the light weight, brisk acceleration, sharp steering and nicely balanced suspension that give the 2017 Fit its primary edge over rivals like the Nissan Versa Note, Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent: Unlike those cars, the 2017 Honda Fit is actually fun to drive.
Whether you're a college student first starting off, an empty-nester looking to downsize, or just want an inexpensive new car with all of today's connectivity, the 2017 Honda Fit has you covered. It offers excellent front- and rear-seat room, combined with great cargo utility and a fun-to-drive character.
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Honda smartly refuses to mess with a good thing, and the 2017 Fit is virtually unchanged from last year, which was virtually unchanged from its predecessor as well. The lone change is a new shade of silver paint.
The 2017 Honda Fit isn't fun to drive because it has gobs of horsepower or neck-straining handling. Instead, it's just how the whole thing works together. The suspension offers up...
... the kind of predictable handling you'd expect, but with a sharpness that you don't, and it combines with good-feeling steering and the responsive engine to make this little subcompact genuinely entertaining in sharp corners. While all three models -- LX, EX and EX-L -- offer the same engine and transmission packages, the 16-inch wheels and lower-profile tires on EX and EX-L models, thanks to a stiffer structure and improved suspension, mean they both handle just as well as the previous-generation's Sport model. Yet around town, picking up groceries, or just slogging through traffic, the Fit still leads the pack in utility, and it's that combination that makes the Fit so endearing.
Technically it's not magic, but it's shorter than "Cleverly Engineered Space-Saving Seat That Sacrifices Neither Cargo nor Passenger Space for the Sake of the Other Seat." You can fold the seatbacks down and get a flat floor, or flip up the seat bottom and carry tall objects, like a Great Dane.
MOTION ADAPTIVE ELECTRIC POWER STEERING
One of the 2017 Fit's high-tech features is Motion-Adaptive Electric Power Steering. It combines vehicle speed, steering angle and Vehicle Stability Assist, to determine if the Fit is sliding from its intended path, and then uses steering force to prompt the driver to take corrective action.
You won't mistake the 2017 Fit for a premium car inside, but the use of soft-touch materials, clever design and silver accent trim definitely makes it feel more expensive than its price and class suggest. The front bucket seats are comfortable and nicely bolstered, supportive in a straight line and when you explore the Fit's handling, and the blue-lit instruments are easy to read. There are myriad storage cubbies and cup holders inside, and the ergonomics is spot-on. The exception is the infotainment system, which forces nearly all controls, including volume, into the touch screen.
This current generation of the Honda Fit has abandoned the endearingly goofy styling of its predecessors in favor of sharp-looking and modern slim headlights, clean lines, and plenty of glass over a more muscular and chiseled shape. But it's still recognizable as a Fit thanks to the high roofline and hatchback design, both of which translate to excellent utility. Not all of the styling is for show. The rooftop spoiler and below-bumper diffuser at the rear of the vehicle look good and improve aerodynamics. Fit EX and EX-L models get fog lights, aluminum-alloy wheels, and extra chrome on the grille and liftgate.
The base Fit LX offers a generous amount of standard equipment, one reason it's a little more expensive than its rivals. Standard features include a 6-speed manual transmission, rearview camera, automatic headlights, LED taillights, a 5-inch audio-display screen, cruise control, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, and one-touch up/down driver’s window. Also standard are air conditioning, the Magic Seat, audio controls on the steering wheel, 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.
Step up to the Honda Fit EX and you'll get 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, fog lights, push-button ignition, paddle shifters if you choose the CVT, a 7-inch touch-screen audio system, and one-touch-operation moonroof. It also gets Honda's clever Lane Watch camera; push a button or activate the right-turn signal, and you get an unobstructed view of the right side of the car on the infotainment display. 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 only engine you can get in the 2017 Honda Fit is a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder with 130 horsepower, powering the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The engine is part of Honda's Earth Dreams family, meaning it offers advanced fuel injection and Honda's i-VTEC and Variable Timing Control (VTC) of the valvetrain. The i-VTEC makes more power at high engine speeds for best acceleration, but at low speeds, like when you're cruising down the highway, it retunes itself for better fuel economy. And fuel economy is excellent, with a CVT-equipped LX getting up to 40 mpg on the highway. Some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel economy numbers this year, due to changes in EPA testing.
130 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm
114 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/36 mpg (manual), 33/40 mpg (automatic, LX), 32/37 mpg (automatic, EX and EX-L)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
A base-level 2017 Honda Fit LX with the 6-speed manual transmission starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $16,800, including the $835 destination charge. The Fit EX with the manual starts around $18,700. Add $800 more if you want an automatic in a Fit LX or EX. The automatic-only Fit EX-L starts at about $21,100; add another $1,000 if you want navigation. Those prices come in higher than many of its competitors, but the Fit also starts off with more standard equipment that, when you're honest with yourself, you'd probably order anyhow. With that in mind, it's competitive with the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and Kia Rio. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers in your area paid for their Fit. No matter what, it’ll be money well spent, as the Fit historically trounces its competitors in resale value.