The five-door Honda Fit, last redesigned for 2015, is an exceptional hatchback, for its performance, packaging, cargo/interior capacity, looks, and fuel efficiency.
Tall in height, short in length, the subcompact Fit is a benchmark of versatility and space efficiency. It’s roomier inside than many midsize sedans, with 39.3 inches of rear legroom.
Fit is unchanged for 2018, except for some upgrades to available safety equipment.
The Fit is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection, making 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. A smooth 6-speed manual gearbox is standard, but a seven-step continuously variable transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters comes on most models.
With that transmission it gets 36 Combined miles per gallon, according to the EPA. (The manual transmission in the Fit LX and Fit EX gets 32 mpg.) It has excellent scores in the NHTSA and IIHS crash tests.
The 2018 Honda Fit comes in three models. Fit LX ($16,190), available with CVT ($16,990), comes with air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, rearview camera. Fit EX adds 16-inch alloy wheels, pushbutton start, upgraded infotainment, and Honda’s LaneWatch view in the sideview mirror, which provides a wide rear view using a camera, and is available with manual ($18,160) or CVT ($18,960). Fit EX-L adds leather ($20,525); Fit EX-LN adds navigation ($21,520).
The Honda Fit is five inches taller than the Honda Civic sedan, and has a long roofline with ample glass, so it looks more like a boxy wagon with a wedge-shaped nose, than a squat hatchback.
At 60 inches to the roof, it’s one of the tallest subcompacts on the market.
The Fit is not sleek like the Ford Fiesta, but it’s attractive and eye-catching (especially in white) in its angular way. The windshield is nearly as steep as the short nose. A sharp character crease low on the sides exaggerates the length. The rear end hints Volvo, with long vertical taillamps that drop from the liftgate to the bumper. A big chrome bar runs across the back, in contrast to the otherwise cohesive styling.
The look and feel of the interior may not be impressive, but the space and flexibility are unrivaled.
The rear seatback drops down and the rear seats flip up, to create relatively vast cargo space, from an event called Magic Seat, with four cargo/seating arrangements. A Refresh mode tilts the rear seatbacks like a lounge chair. The front passenger seat in Long mode also can fold flat, wonderful for sports equipment or construction materials. A whole bicycle or small kayak can fit in the cargo area, something that’s not possible with many crossovers. A small tree or living room lamp can stand behind the passenger seat.
The front seats are only adequate, with thin cushions that aren’t so magic. Long-legged drivers might not fit because the seat doesn’t slide back so far. The passenger footwell has an odd shape that cants the seating position.
The rear seat has great legroom and headroom, although the Magic Seat cushion is a bit thin. The tall door openings make entry and exit easy for a subcompact.
The interior materials are durable enough, but not at all luxurious. The carpeting and headliner don’t exude quality. The ambitious and busy dashboard feels haphazard, with many angles, shapes, bits and pieces. The small crossover Honda HR-V, based on the Fit, is simpler and more relaxing to the eye and brain.
The Fit is one of the quieter cars in its class, however there’s wind noise on the highway coming from around the large sideview mirrors. And there’s engine noise at full throttle, suggesting thin sound insulation.
The 1.5-liter engine is peaky, reaching its maximum torque of 115 pound-feet at 4600 rpm, while its sweet spot for zip is about 4000 rpm. That’s the far other end of some small-displacement turbocharged engines, that have their torque down low. Those engines are more relaxing to drive because they’re responsive even if you’re lazy with the throttle.
Redline for the engine is 6800 rpm, making the powerband challenging. Fortunately the paddle-shifting 7-speed CVT is a well-matched transmission that makes downshifting for torque quick and easy. The CVT has a sport mode that quickens throttle response, as well.
The CVT doesn’t feel like a big rubber band like so many others; it’s way better than the Nissan unit. Honda is trying to make their CVTs indistinguishable from a smooth automatic .
The CVT gets four more miles per gallon than the six-speed manual, 36 mpg vs 32 mpg, an indication of its efficiency.
Meanwhile the standard 6-speed manual transmission is precise and shifts sweet, about the best we’ve experienced in a subcompact. If you can find one, and if you want to pay 4 mpg for the fun you might have with the manual.
The brake pedal is precise and easy to modulate.
The current Honda Fit is fun to drive, but not as sporty as the first-generation version because it leans more in corners and dives more under braking. Its suspension (front struts, rear torsion beam) is designed for a solid and controlled ride, which it delivers despite its short wheelbase.
The engine is a bit peaky, but the 7-step CVT with paddle shifters deals with it. The Fit is in a class of its own among subcompact hatchbacks, a winner in style, interior room, versatility, reliability, ride, and fuel mileage.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.