With the Honda Civic’s long history and class-leading quality, it can be easy to forget about Honda’s smaller entry-level subcompact, the Fit. Now in its third generation, the Fit is designed to maximize interior space, making it much bigger on the inside than it looks. The Fit is more affordable than the Civic, but the Civic has a few advantages that justify the extra cost.
Which of these small Hondas is right for you depends on what you’re looking for in a car. Either way, you’ll be getting an affordable, efficient car with a strong reliability record and excellent resale value. Let’s take a look at what’s different and what’s similar between the Honda Fit and the Honda Civic.
The Fit and the Civic both wear a variation of Honda’s corporate face. They both look very modern, and we think they’re among the best looking cars in their respective classes. The Fit is available exclusively as a hatchback, but the Civic is available as a sedan, coupe or 5-door hatchback.
The Civic is quite a bit bigger than the Fit on the outside. The Civic Hatchback is 17 inches longer and four inches wider than the Fit, but it’s also three inches shorter. But just because the Fit is a smaller car, doesn’t mean it’s cramped on the inside.
The Honda Fit is cleverly packaged in such a way to maximize the space inside, making it feel like a much bigger car than it really is. For example, the fuel tank is located under the front seats to make more room in the back seat and cargo area. The Fit’s "Magic Seat" allows for several different configurations to carry all kinds of different items long, tall and wide.
The Fit also has interior space among the best in its class, especially in the back seat. Normally the back seat of a car this size isn’t a very pleasant place to be, but the Fit has very ample legroom for back seat passengers. In fact, the Fit even has a couple more inches of legroom in the back than the Civic does, despite being a class smaller.
That said, the Civic also has a very nice interior that’s quite roomy for its class. The Civic has a bit more of a techy feel from behind the wheel due to its attractive digital gauge cluster that’s clear and easy to read. Both of these Hondas have interiors that are among the best in their classes.
The Honda Fit is available with one engine, and the Honda Civic is available with two. The sole engine in the Fit is a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter inline four that produces up to 130 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. This engine is available with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic. The maximum fuel economy of the Fit is a base LX model with a CVT which gets 33 miles per gallon in city driving and 40 mpg on the highway. Most variations of the Fit, however, return 31 mpg city/36 mpg hwy. Those are pretty good numbers, but they don’t look as good when compared to the bigger Civic.
The 2018 Honda Civic is available with two different inline-four engines: A naturally aspirated 2.0-liter and a turbocharged 1.5-liter that’s both more powerful and more efficient than the base engine. The 2.0-liter makes 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque, while the turbocharged engine produces 174 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque (and even more if you upgrade to the Civic Si). Both engines are available with a 6-speed manual transmission, but only in certain trims. Most Civics are equipped with CVTs.
The naturally aspirated engine in the Civic returns up to 31 mpg city/40 mpg hwy, but the turbo engine can achieve 32 mpg city/42 mpg hwy. It’s rare for a compact to get better fuel economy than a subcompact, but that’s the case with the Fit and the turbo-equipped Civic.
Features and Technology
Both of these Hondas might surprise you with how well appointed they can be for being small, affordable cars. The available Honda Sensing suite of safety technology makes these cars not only safer for you and your passengers, but also just easier to drive. Honda Sensing comes with a collision-mitigation braking system, a lane-keeping assist system, a road-departure mitigation system and adaptive cruise control that keeps your distance from the car in front of you.
Honda Sensing is standard on the Fit EX and EX-L, standard on the Civic Touring and Sport Touring and optional on every other trim of both cars. These are some of the most affordable ways to get these features that until recently were only available on expensive luxury cars.
Both cars are also available with Honda LaneWatch. LaneWatch integrates cameras into the side mirrors and shows you exactly what’s in your blind spot on your display audio screen. Honda claims that LaneWatch shows you almost four times more than your mirrors can show you.
The Display Audio system available on both the Civic and the Fit is a pretty good, user-friendly system. The best thing about it is that it integrates both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which are excellent connectivity features that make it easy to keep your hands off your phone while you’re driving.
Being the smaller of the two, the Honda Fit is more affordable than the Honda Civic. The Fit starts at just $16,190, making it one of the lowest-priced cars in the United States. Getting extra options won’t cost you much more either, as the range-topping EX-L model will only set you back at least $20,520.
The Civic Sedan starts at $18,940, and the well-appointed Touring model goes all the way up to $26,800. For reference, a Fit EX-L is very close in price to the base Civic Hatchback LX ($20,150), and the Fit EX-L includes leather seats that are heated in front, a power moonroof, standard Honda Sensing and paddle shifters. That’s a lot of luxury in a little car with a little price tag.
The Fit might make the Civic look a little pricey, but both cars are great values when compared to similarly equipped models from competing brands.
For an affordable subcompact that can haul a lot of stuff, the Honda Fit is a fantastic choice. The Civic, however, has several advantages like better performance, better fuel economy and a few more available features like premium audio and heated back seats. The Civic makes for a good everyday commuter or small family car, while the Fit is a great budget-friendly city car.