by Roger Biermann
Since it reshaped the subcompact genre, the Honda Fit has been the model to beat in just about every comparative test. This second generation may have been dulled down slightly in outright performance, but it still keeps alive the key aspects that have made the Fit popular among the buying public and not just enthusiasts. A high-quality cabin, an abundance of interior space, and masses of cargo volume - configurable in innumerable ways due to the rear Magic Seat - all remain true to the original’s ideologies, while Honda has kept the price unchanged for 2019 ranging from $16,190 to $21,520. Buyers get the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder motor as before developing either 130 horsepower with a six-speed manual gearbox or 128 hp with the CVT and driving the front wheels. Once again, Honda Sensing provides the Fit with exceptional standard safety features, now incorporating automatic high-beam headlights.
After receiving a major mid-cycle update for the 2018 year model, the Fit enters 2019 almost unchanged. The styling and trims remain, but Honda has mildly increased the safety offering. On all models with the Honda Sensing package of safety features (All CVT-equipped LX and Sport models, as well as EX and EX-L models), Honda has now added automatic high-beam headlights as standard. There’s an update to the color palette for 2019, with Platinum Pearl added as a new color in place of last year’s Orchid Pearl.
For the 2018 model, the Honda Fit received internal and external styling tweaks, but Honda opted for a mild evolution rather than drastic changes. Those changes live on for 2019. The LX model is devoid of front foglights, with Sport, EX, and EX-L models all gaining the upgrade. The front fogs can be upgraded to optional LED fog lamps for a minor cost. EX and EX- trims also come equipped with a sunroof.
All models can get optional side skirts and a rear tailgate spoiler, but the Sport model gets these items as standard with orange accents. The Sport also gets gloss-black 16-inch alloy wheels, while the EX and EX-L trims get machine finished alloys of the same size with black inserts. The LX is the odd one out, with 15-inch steel wheels and covers.
Despite odd proportions, the Honda Fit still maintains class-average dimensions with an overall length of 161.4 inches and a width of 67 inches. It rides on a 99.6-inch wheelbase aiding interior volume and rides tall as well thanks to a 60-inch height measurement. It’s one of the lighter vehicles in the compact segment, though, with a weight of around 2,650 lbs.
New for 2019, Honda has discontinued Orchid Pearl as an available color option, replacing it with the new Platinum Pearl - one of eight available color hues. The remainder of the palette comprises Lunar Silver Metallic, Modern Steel Metallic, Crystal Black Pearl, Milano Red, Aegean Blue Metallic, and the two most striking paint choices, Helios Yellow Pearl and Orange Fury, both of which look particularly menacing with the Sport trim and the additional HFP package visual upgrades.
Despite being down on power compared to rivals, with just 130 hp sent to the front wheels, the Fit Sport with the six-speed manual gearbox is the quickest derivative, knocking past the 0-60 mph sprint in around eight and a half seconds - managing the feat quicker than most rivals. None of the rivals offer anything but front-wheel drive and many have more power, but the Fit puts it down so much better and the manual-equipped version offers more power and torque than models equipped with the CVT transmission.
The Honda Fit comes equipped with a standard 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels. Power outputs vary, not depending on the trim level but rather based on the transmission equipped to the Fit. Standard on the LX, Sport, and EX models is a six-speed manual gearbox which adjusts the engine tune to deliver 130 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. The optional continuously variable transmission (CVT), standard on the EX-L, boasts slightly lower outputs of 128 hp and 113 lb-ft.
Against the competition, both states of tune are lower than what many others offer and the performance too is a little lackluster. The Fit thrives in the city where it’s able to get up to moderate speeds without too much delay. Low-down engine responses are decent, but there’s nothing particularly exciting here. Although it’ll manage highway speeds, it takes a lot of work to get the Fit there, and then you have the task of carefully maintaining momentum uphill. The manual gearbox is the better transmission choice of the two, with a little more power, a little more torque, and none of the energy drain and noisy droning associated with the CVT transmission. It’s somewhat disappointing that the manual isn’t available on the top-of-the-line EX-L trim.
Right from the first generation, the Fit has given buyers an enjoyable front-wheel driving experience. It’s a trait that has continued well into this second generation with enticing driving dynamics that the layman can enjoy. The Fit isn’t quite as keen a driver’s car as the Ford Fiesta, but it’s still good fun.
The chassis provides exemplary balance when being chucked about through corners, and the levels of grip are high when leaning on the tires through corners. What’s more, the standard suspension is unfazed by mid-corner bumps. On the straight and narrow the road manners continue in the same vein, soaking up bumps and undulations impressively. The HFP (Honda Factor Performance) package is optionally available from the Sport trim upwards and equips high-performance suspension which not only improves the handling at the limits but improves the ride quality as well, quietening secondary road imperfections exceptionally.
The levels of cabin noise are some of the best in class, thanks to high levels of noise insulation and added sound dampening added in the wheel arches and doors for the 2018 update. But as much as the refinement is improved, models equipped with a CVT transmission still drone incessantly at all speeds, with the noise permeating the cabin more than we’d like.
The Fit is let down marginally by its steering, which although direct and amply weighted, tends to lack feedback due to the electronic power assistance - a trait found in numerous rivals in this segment. But it requires little effort and the Fit is deft at changing direction quickly. It makes tight parking maneuvers easy, and town driving just as simple.
Buyers may question the reduction in power when equipping the Fit with a CVT transmission, but it’s all to aid fuel economy. Gas mileage is a strong suit of the CVT-equipped Fit, with the base LX model achieving class-leading economy figures of 33/40/36 mpg on the city/highway/combined EPA cycles which enables up to 380 miles on a 10.6-gallon fuel tank with mixed driving styles. Higher trims with the CVT achieve slightly less impressive figures at 29/36/31 mpg on the same cycles, while the manual matches those estimates achieving 330 miles on a tank. Rivals in segment fail to do much better, with the Hyundai Accent achieving a combined estimate of 31 mpg while Ford’s Fiesta achieves just 30 mpg.
Clever packaging and high-quality materials are hallmarks of the Honda Fit’s class-leading cabin combining soft-touch materials, loads of interior storage, and unique packaging solutions that result in one of the most versatile cabins around. Height adjustability is standard on the driver’s seat, as is a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, while the upright seating maximizes on space and comfort for both front and rear occupants. Those in the rear are treated to particularly generous legroom for this vehicle class, while headroom is only cramped for the tallest of adults. The rear Magic Seat features two full sets of LATCH anchors and can be reconfigured to provide extra storage.
The Honda Fit accommodates five occupants in a generously proportioned cabin that belies the diminutive exterior proportions. An upright seating position is comfortable on longer journeys while affording the driver excellent visibility. Meanwhile, the range of seat and steering adjustment suits drivers of all sizes. Headroom and legroom are generous throughout, with the rear of the cabin boasting best in class passenger space. Only the rear headroom is a little tight when the tallest of adults occupy the rear quarters, but on the whole, the cabin is more spacious than any other vehicle in this segment.
There are four available materials/color combinations for the four trims, with each Fit trim equipped with bespoke trimmings. The entry-spec LX gets cheaper black cloth upholstery, while the EX and Sport models get higher quality black cloth trim and upholstery. The Sport is differentiated by orange stitching on the seats and leather-clad steering wheel. Meanwhile, the EX-L is the only trim to get leather upholstery - available exclusively in black - with heated seats. All trims feature the same basic details, with soft-touch dash appointments in black, black door inlays, and metallic surrounds to the air vents on the dash.
Honda calls its second row of seats Magic Seats for a good reason, as they offer a range of movement geared towards practicality and storage. The base of the seat can fold up to allow tall floor standing items, while the seatbacks can fold flat in a 60/40 split to enlarge the cargo area from a standard 16.6 cubic feet to 52.7 cubic feet, besting the amount of space even in larger hatchbacks. The front passenger seatback can also fold flat to allow for the loading of longer items, while the tailgate opens tall and wide to allow for easy loading of even large, cumbersome items.
Throughout the cabin, there are numerous storage spaces, though none of the binnacles are exceptionally large. There is a great number of them, however, and numerous cupholders double up as small item storage, while door pockets are large and can accommodate moderately sized water bottles. No subcompact vehicles comes close to the practicality of the Fit.
The Honda Fit offers an abundance of interior features, with all models featuring central locking, power windows with one-touch up/down driver’s window, standard air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, and on the higher pair of trim levels, a pair of extendable sun visors. All models feature a rearview camera and cruise control (adaptive on models with Honda Sensing) while all but the base LX get an onboard multi-information display.
All models feature height adjustability on the driver’s seat, with cloth upholstery on the lower three trims. The EX-L trim gets leather upholstery and heated front seats.
The base Fit LX makes do with basic connectivity and media systems, featuring just four speakers and a non-touch five-inch color display screen, along with AM/FM/Bluetooth functionality and a single USB port. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are reserved for the Sport model and higher trims, all of which feature a seven-inch touch screen (with a volume knob) and six speakers, along with a second front USB port. The EX model gets SiriusXM satellite radio functionality, while HD Radio is reserved only as part of the satellite navigation option on the range-topping EX-L trim, which also adds voice control to the package.
Vehicles in this segment tend to be rather reliable, with the class average predicted reliability from J.D. Power sitting at 3.5 compared to the industry average of just three. The Honda Fit manages to match the segment average, while it’s worth noting the second generation has been more reliable and less prone to issues than the first generation. The second generation got off to a bad start in its first year, with numerous reported issues, but in recent years, and since the 2018 revision of the Fit, problems have been kept to a minimum. The most commonly reported issues amongst buyers are minor electrical issues.
The IIHS awarded the Honda Fit best available scores of Good in most metrics, with the 2019 model scoring higher on headlight functionality due to the available automatic high beams, now part of the Honda Sensing suite. The NHTSA scored the Fit an overall score of five out of five stars.
Six airbags are standard, with a notable exclusion being the lack of a driver’s knee airbag. However, the chances of being in an accident can be kept to a minimum across the range when the CVT and Honda Sensing are equipped. The suite adds features like forward collision warning with auto-braking, run-off-road mitigation, and lane departure warning, and for 2019 also includes automatic high beam assist. On the EX and EX-L trims, Honda’s Lane Watch provides visuals of the passenger side adjacent lane to minimize blind spots, while a rearview camera is standard on all models.
The Honda Fit still leads the subcompact pack. There may be a few areas in which the competition runs the Fit close, namely on outright power and in the case of the Ford Fiesta on supreme handling and steering feel, but in all objective metrics, the Fit is simply untouchable. The CVT equips advanced safety features and class-leading economy, while the Magic Seats and clever packaging give the Fit more practicality than anyone else in the segment. The seating is comfortable, the cabin spacious and refined, and the ride quality is exceptional. Some may not be fans of the MPV-ish styling, but the Fit is simply the best vehicle in the subcompact segment by a substantial margin. Several years on and the competition is still lagging behind. Now, several years into the second generation, the Fit is also more reliable than ever, and the updated looks give you more reason than ever to buy one.
Honda offers the Fit at an unchanged price for the 2019 model, with four trims spanning a price range of $5,330. The LX model starts off with a base price of $16,190 in manual guise, with the CVT costing an extra $800. The Sport model starts from $17,500 for the manual model, while the CVT is priced from $18,300 while EX models bear a sticker price of $18,160 with the six-speed manual and $18,960 with the CVT. The range-topping Fit is only available with a CVT transmission, with the EX-L carrying a base MSRP of $20,520.
The Honda Fit is available in four trims: LX, Sport, EX, and EX-L.
All models feature a 1.5-liter four cylinder with either 128- or 130 horsepower depending on the gearbox and can be had with a six-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission. All models also feature Bluetooth functionality and a standard multi-angle rearview camera and air conditioning
The LX is the base model in the range with 15-inch steel wheels, cruise control, and a basic five-inch infotainment screen with four speakers.
The Sport model gets gloss black 16-inch alloys, bespoke body bits with orange accents, a chrome exhaust tip, leather-clad steering wheel with orange stitching, and orange-accented black upholstery. It also adds a seven-inch touchscreen media system with six speakers and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility.
The EX adds a sunroof, proximity key, extendable sun-visors, and standard Honda Sensing regardless of transmission (LX and Sport models only get Honda Sensing with the CVT), as well as SiriusXM and LaneWatch.
The range-topper is the EX-L, available only with the CVT transmission and adding leather upholstery, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, and opening up the availability for navigation, HD traffic, and HD radio.
|LX||1.5-liter Inline-4 Gas||6-Speed Manual, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$15,764||$16,190|
|Sport||1.5-liter Inline-4 Gas||6-Speed Manual, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$17,034||$17,500|
|EX||1.5-liter Inline-4 Gas||6-Speed Manual, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$17,673||$18,160|
|EX-L||1.5-liter Inline-4 Gas||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$19,960||$20,520|
Honda offers two key packages for the Fit along with a range of standalone additions, the first of which is the upgrade from a manual gearbox to a CVT in the lower three trim lines which costs an additional $800. On the LX and Sport trims, once the CVT is equipped, there’s a further $1,000 option to equip the Honda Sensing safety package, which includes forward collision warning with auto-braking, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, and new for 2019 is automatic high beam assist. This package is standard on the EX and EX-L trims.
The other options package comes in the form of the HFP (Honda Factory Performance) package which can be equipped to the Sport, EX, and EX-L trims and includes high-performance suspension, bespoke external body bits, HFP stickers, sports pedals, a titanium shift lever, and black alloy wheels, and can set you back up to $2,999 on the EX manual, but with slight adjustments depending on trim and gearbox selection.
Standalone options include navigation on the EX-L ($1,000), 16-inch accessory wheels from the Sport trim upwards ($1,196), LED foglights ($250), and a range of exterior add-ons like a tailgate spoiler ($299), body side moldings ($225), and underbody side skirts at $349. Interior options are available as well, the most important being an auto-dimming rearview mirror at $432.
From a value-for-money perspective, the best of the lot would be the Fit EX with a manual transmission. It gets high levels of standard safety regardless of the gearbox, features a touchscreen infotainment system with SiriusXM satellite radio, and despite lacking available navigation, features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which can double up for their navigational capabilities. We’d option the HFP package for sportier looks and handling. The only item you truly miss out on is the heated leather seats from the EX-L, but it’s a small concession for the price difference.
Both the Fit and Yaris are subcompact hatchbacks that will seat a claimed five occupants, but the Fit does it in far more comfort while the Yaris skimps on rear passenger room substantially. The Fit also offers one cubic foot of storage space more than the Yaris, and that’s before the Magic Seats are flattened to increase the deficit. Not only is the Fit more comfortable and practical, but it’s more efficient too. Simply put, the Fit is the better all-rounder.
The Civic might be the Fit’s bigger brother, but the highest trim Fit EX-L still undercuts the base Civic hatch while offering high levels of specification and safety and matching the Civic for gas mileage. The Fit only offers marginally less passenger volume but offers a higher maximum cargo volume with 52.7 cubic feet to the Civic’s 46.2 cubic feet maximum. But, the Civic’s performance is better, and the Civic can be equipped with more kit in higher trims. Still, if you’re looking at a base Civic, the Fit might well be the better choice.
The Kia Soul might be a crossover, but that’s perhaps the only way any vehicle might come close to comparing to the cargo volume of the Fit. Behind the rear seats, the Kia provides 2.2 cubic feet more, but on maximum available cargo volume, the Fit wins by a margin of 3.2 cubic feet. The Kia is marginally more expensive but comes with better infotainment, while the Honda takes the win in the economy stakes. The Kia does, however, offer nearly double what Honda does in terms of warranties, making this a very tight comparison. Buyers would be happy with either offering.