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2015 Honda Fit vs. 2015 Kia Rio: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro May 2015

If you're looking for an inexpensive, practical new car, your shopping list probably includes most of today's available subcompacts -- including the 2015 Honda Fit and the 2015 Kia Rio. Both are excellent new small cars, offering practical interiors, lots of equipment and reasonable pricing. But which one is better? To find out, we created an in-depth comparison between both models, but first let's see what's new with the Fit and the Rio for the 2015 model year.

2015 Honda Fit

The Honda Fit is fully redesigned for the 2015 model year. In addition to a new look and an updated interior compared to last year's model, the Fit boasts new technology, new features, more interior space and better gas mileage.

2015 Kia Rio

Fully redesigned for 2012 and tweaked over the last 2 years, the Rio is unchanged for the 2015 model year.

Reliability

According to reliability experts at J.D. Power, the Kia Rio earned three out of five circles in the firm's Power Circle Ratings, indicating average reliability. Although the latest Honda Fit is too new for such ratings, it's worth noting that the outgoing model earned four out of five circles, indicating better-than-average reliability. We hope the new model also offers the same impressive level of dependability.

As for warranty length, however, there's no comparison: While Honda's 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty is appealing, no one can match Kia's new-car warranty. It touts 5 years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage, making it the best warranty in the industry.

Our take? Reliability is a toss-up. The Fit may be a little more reliable than the Rio, but it's too early to say for sure. Either way, though, the Rio's warranty will have you covered for longer.

Fuel Economy

The Fit offers one engine: a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder that makes 130 horsepower and 115 lb-ft of torque. It returns up to 29 miles per gallon in the city or 37 mpg on the highway with a manual transmission or up to 33 mpg city/41 mpg hwy with an optional fuel-saving continuously variable transmission.

The Rio also only offers one engine: a 138-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder with 123 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 27 mpg city/37 mpg hwy with both the manual and automatic transmissions. As a result, the Fit is our fuel economy winner, which is no surprise given its recent redesign and extra-efficient automatic transmission.

Safety

In crash testing carried out by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the latest Honda Fit earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. Meanwhile, the Kia Rio earned a good but not quite perfect 4-star score. The Fit also topped the Rio's rating by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety by earning a Top Safety Pick score, unlike the Rio.

The Fit's advantage improves when you consider safety equipment. While both cars include anti-lock brakes, side-curtain airbags and traction control, only the Fit touts a standard backup camera. It also touts Honda's impressive LaneWatch blind spot camera, which makes easy work out of changing lanes. That, plus its stronger crash-test scores, easily makes the Fit our pick over the Rio in terms of safety.

Technology

Aside from the aforementioned improvements in safety technology -- the standard backup camera and the excellent LaneWatch blind spot monitor -- the Fit doesn't really offer any major upgrades over the Rio when it comes to gadgets and features.

Both cars offer a center touchscreen, for instance, along with an infotainment electronics interface, a navigation system, real-time traffic updates, voice recognition and more. The Fit's available screen is larger than the Rio's, as you might expect from a newer model, and its infotainment system is a little easier to use. But advantages are otherwise small, leaving this category a relative toss-up.

Value

Although the Rio has trailed the Fit in most of our categories, it has a huge advantage in one important area: pricing. The Rio starts below $15,000 with shipping in either sedan or hatchback form, while the hatchback-only Fit is just under $16,500 with destination. That $1,500 difference wouldn't be much if we were comparing luxury cars, but it's a huge figure in the realm of subcompacts and we suspect that alone will be enough to sway some shoppers away from the Fit.

And indeed, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad decision for a value-conscious car buyer. The Rio includes everything you'll need, and you can even add a few extra features before you'll ever reach the Fit's base price. More importantly, the Rio isn't lacking anything. Its lower base price doesn't mean awful gas mileage, horrible reliability or terrible safety equipment. On the contrary, it only lags slightly behind the Fit in those areas despite a major cost savings. Therefore, we think the Rio offers a better value for shoppers on a budget, which perfectly describes many drivers interested in a subcompact car.

Autotrader's Advice

We've spent a lot of time in the 2015 Honda Fit and the current Kia Rio, and we like both cars -- so we're going to provide a split decision.

To us, the Fit is unquestionably the better car. It offers a newer design, more interior room, better fuel economy, more safety features and (presumably) better reliability scores from J.D. Power. If we weren't especially particular about our budget, we'd probably buy the Fit over just about any subcompact-car rival.

The Rio, however, is a better choice for the value-conscious car shopper. Though it doesn't lag significantly behind the Fit in any major areas, it offers a substantial price break, and while we'd rather have the Fit, we can see some shoppers preferring the Rio for the money. Either way, we suspect that you won't be disappointed, as these are two of our favorite subcompact cars.

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2015 Honda Fit vs. 2015 Kia Rio: Which Is Better? - Autotrader