2012 Honda Fit: New Car Review
Pros: Exceptional interior space
Cons: Outdated engine technology; lower than expected fuel economy
The first U.S.-market Honda Fit arrived in 2006, although the model was launched internationally as the Honda Jazz in 2001. With a lighter and more rigid body, the newest and most current version of the Fit was launched in 2009 and has remained virtually unchanged since. The Fit is available in two models: Fit and Fit Sport.
Comfort & Utility
A cliche automotive journalists often use in new-car reviews is the concept of a vehicle being small on the outside and big on the interior. The Fit, however, is exactly that. When customers pop the hatch on most compacts, with the back seats up, they're left with little usable cargo space. In the Fit, the cavernous 57.3 cubic feet of rear cargo space never ceased to amaze, no matter how many times we inspected it.
Drivers over six foot three inches find their right knee makes contact with the dash-even with the seat all the way back-but most of the world's population would have little to no issue with legroom. As is the case for most subcompacts, the Fit's interior isn't flashy. Our test vehicle was awash in black plastic. Honda builds spare yet sturdy interiors, and the Fit was no different.
The Fit Sport is available with Honda's latest satellite-linked navigation system, which features a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and voice recognition.
The new Fit features a four-speaker, 160-watt audio system (six speakers in the Fit Sport) with an auxiliary input jack for an MP3 player. The new Fit Sport is also equipped with a USB jack for connecting an iPod or other audio device. Honda has cleverly included a Speed-Sensitive Volume Control (SVC) system, which automatically adjusts the volume based on vehicle speed.
Performance & Fuel Economy
The Fit has a 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder I-VTEC engine that makes 117 horsepower and 106 lb-ft of torque, mated to a five-speed manual transmission (a five-speed automatic is optional). It's not the quietest engine, but we were willing to look past its buzzy drone and enjoy its fuel-efficient peppiness. When the driver slips the gearshift into S for sport, the Fit comes alive in a high-revving show of cunning performance.
The EPA estimates the Fit will achieve 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with automatic transmission, and 27/35 mpg for the base Fit with the five-speed manual. If the driver can keep his or her foot out of the accelerator, these numbers should be easily attainable.
The Fit has dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags and front side airbags with passenger's-side occupant position detection system, along with side curtain airbags. It also gets Honda's advanced compatibility engineering body structure to distribute crash energy evenly throughout the front of the vehicle in the event of a crash.
Driving down the road, it's hard to forget about the Fit's small stature. The Fit feels airy-and not just in the sense of vast interior space. On the freeway, the driver must constantly make minute steering adjustments to simply keep the Fit on a straight path. We don't know if it's the suspension that makes it susceptible to being muscled around by ruts in the road or if the Fit is so light that the wake created by passing vehicles is simply too much for the Fit to handle, or both. Fighting the steering wheel to stay in the lane for a 45-minute commute effectively zaps all energy that a cup of morning coffee delivers.
In city driving, the Fit is much easier to handle and enjoyable. Under 45 mph, the Fit is nimble and easy to control. The one downside is its sizable A-pillar. At the driver's 11 o'clock lies a massive blind spot. Honda tried to remedy this by wedging a small wing window into the obstruction, but that does little to solve the problem.
Other Cars to Consider
Chevrolet Sonic - The Sonic starts at $14,765 and is remarkably fun to drive. At that base price, customers don't get a lot of amenities but they do get a good-looking, versatile hatch that achieves 35 mpg on the highway.
Ford Fiesta - The base Fiesta S hatchback starts at $14,100. At 120 hp, the Fiesta has 3 hp more than the Fit and 18 hp less than the Sonic. Just like the Sonic, at the base price, you don't get much in the way of luxury.
Kia Rio - The Kia Rio EX five-door starts at $16,500. For the money, though, customers get a six-speed automatic versus the five-speed manuals in both the Sonic and the Fiesta. The benefit of the extra asking prices comes in the form of savings at the gas station. The Rio achieves 40 MPG on the highway.
We recommend going for the Fit Sport. Starting at $17,060, the Fit Sport gives customers a bit more bang for their buck and driving pleasure. With a smooth-shifting five-speed manual transmission and two extra speakers, customers who enjoy the act of driving should find the Fit Sport meets all their efficiency, utility and sporting needs.