Pros: Exceptional interior space; peppy engine; reputation for reliability

Cons: Outdated engine technology; lower than expected fuel economy

What's New: Midnight Plum Pearl exterior paint color replaces Orange Burst Metallic

Honda's subcompact Fit gives the automaker the privilege to boast. The 5-door hatchback has a long list of accolades under its belt, earning the praise of automotive journalists and top honors from firms that conduct quality studies such as J.D. Power. But the 2013 Honda Fit arrives unchanged, and the Fit hasn't received a major redesign since 2009. Other subcompacts are on a different schedule, now offering newer and more efficient direct-injection engines and more modern styling.

Still, the Fit picked up some mild styling revisions inside and outside for the 2012 model year. Updated technology like standard, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and Bluetooth for navigation-equipped models improved the small car's position. It's still Honda's entry-level model, but better sound insulation for 2012 made the Fit a more comfortable place to be.

Although the 2013 Fit is basically the same as the 2012 model, so is its price. The base Fit still starts at $15,325, while the top-trim Fit Sport with navigation comes in at $19,690.

Comfort & Utility

The concept of a vehicle that's big on the inside but small on the outside is so commonly recited by automotive journalists that it could be considered a cliché. But the Fit is exactly that. With the rear seats folded flat, its 57.3 cu-ft of cargo space never ceases to amaze us. The story is the same with the rear seats in an upright position. In 5-passenger mode, most subcompacts offer little usable cargo space. The Fit still has a respectable 20.6 cu-ft; that's more than you'll find in a Toyota Matrix, a considerably larger vehicle.

Drivers over six feet three inches tall will find their right knee makes contact with the dash--even with the seat all the way back. But most of the world's population will have little or no issue with legroom in the Fit. As is the case for most subcompacts, the interior isn't flashy. Our test vehicle was awash in black plastic. But Honda typically builds spare yet sturdy interiors, and the Fit is no different.

Technology

The Fit Sport is available with Honda's latest satellite-linked navigation system, which features a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and voice recognition. Bluetooth handsfree is included on nav-equipped models.

The 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 Fit Sport is also equipped with a USB jack for connecting an iPod or other audio device. Honda includes steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a Speed-Sensitive Volume Control (SVC) system, which automatically adjusts the volume based on vehicle speed.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The Fit's 1.5-liter inline 4-cylinder I-VTEC engine produces 117 horsepower and 106 lb-ft of torque. It's mated to a 5-speed manual transmission; a 5-speed automatic is optional. It's not the quietest engine, but we're willing to look past its buzzy drone to 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 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the Fit will achieve 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with an automatic transmission, or 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.

Safety

The Fit has dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags, front side airbags with a passenger-side occupant position detection system and 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 Impressions

On 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. Both could be factors. Either way, fighting the steering wheel to stay in your lane throughout a 45-minute commute can effectively zap all the energy that a cup of morning coffee delivers.

In city driving, the Fit is enjoyable and much easier to handle. Under 45 mph, the Fit is nimble and easy to control. The one downside is its sizable A-pillar, which creates a massive blind spot on the left side of the driver's forward sightline. Honda tried to remedy this by wedging a small wing window into the obstruction, but it does little to solve the problem.

Other Cars to Consider

Chevrolet Sonic - The Sonic starts at $14,800 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 $14,200. At 120 hp, the Fiesta has 3 hp more than the Fit and 18 hp less than the Sonic. Just like the Sonic, you don't get much in the way of luxury on the base model.

Kia Rio - The Kia Rio 5-door starts at $13,800, making it the least expensive among the subcompacts listed here. But for $14,900--still less than the Fit and within $100 of the base Sonic--drivers get an EX model with a standard 6-speed automatic. The Rio EX includes Bluetooth handsfree and achieves 40 mpg on the highway.

AutoTrader Recommends

We recommend going for the 2013 Honda Fit Sport. Starting at $17,060, the Fit Sport gives customers a bit more bang for their buck. With a smooth-shifting 5-speed manual transmission and two extra speakers, customers who enjoy driving will likely find the Fit Sport meets all their efficiency, utility and sporty needs. If an automatic transmission is more your speed, go ahead and bump up to the Fit Sport with navigation. For less than $20,000, you'll get the convenience of automatic gear changes and turn-by-turn directions, plus the added safety of Bluetooth handsfree.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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