What's New for 2011
The Honda Fit receives more standard equipment for 2011, including stability control, keyless entry, cruise control and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Honda Fit used to be a no-brainer. Among subcompact cars, there was the Fit and, well, a bunch of other cars that really weren't worth considering unless the dealership gave you a price you couldn't refuse and a lifetime supply of peanut M&Ms. The 2011 Honda Fit itself hasn't changed, but its new competitors have made your shopping decision a lot harder.
First off, it's worth explaining why the Honda Fit continues to be such a transcendent car. Since it debuted in 2007, the Fit has been the quintessential Honda: fun to drive, astonishingly versatile and made well enough to make you forget that you were driving one of the least expensive cars on the road. Its efficient four-cylinder engine means you don't have to buy a hybrid in order to cut down on gas consumption, while its spirited handling gives you a reason to enjoy the drive. "Frugal and fun" might as well be printed on the Fit's business card.
You'll find "functional" on there, too. By relocating the gas tank under the front seats, Honda created a perfectly flat load floor with the rear seats folded down, opening an incredible cargo space of 57 cubic feet. That's more than a Kia Sportage and other compact crossovers offer. The backseat tricks don't end there either, as the rear bench can fold up, leaving a flat, unencumbered space perfect for transporting a dog or perhaps a flat-screen television on Black Friday. Should you need it to actually carry people, the Fit's rear quarters provide more space and comfort than its subcompact rivals and even larger cars.
So why is the 2011 Honda Fit no longer a slam-dunk choice? For many it will be, given its incredible versatility. The new Ford Fiesta, however, has its own set of standout attributes, including a more comfortable ride, a more efficient engine and a quieter cabin with an upscale feel and high-tech features. The new Mazda 2 is another fun subcompact to consider, though it lacks the Fiesta's refinement and the Fit's versatility. And even if the Fit is no longer the easy choice it once was, it remains a very good one.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Honda Fit is a subcompact four-door hatchback available in base and Sport trim levels.
The base Fit comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a multifunction 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Fit Sport adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, a sport body kit, shift paddles (automatic transmission only), foglights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, map lights and a six-speaker sound system. A navigation system with touchscreen interface, voice controls, a digital audio card reader and steering-wheel audio controls is an available option for the Fit.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Honda Fit is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder good for 117 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. The latter gets manual-override shift paddles in the Fit Sport. In Edmunds performance testing, a Fit Sport with the manual went from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. A base Fit with the automatic required a snooze-inducing 11 seconds.
The manual-transmission Fit returns an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. The Fit Sport automatic returns the same. More conservative throttle programming on the base automatic model helps it achieve 28/35/31 (at the expense of faster acceleration). These estimates are good, but other subcompacts are even better.
Every 2011 Honda Fit comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Braking performance is only adequate for this segment; in Edmunds brake testing, a Fit Sport screeched to a halt from 60 mph in 134 feet.
The Fit has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash-testing procedures. Its 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to 2011 tests) were a perfect five stars for front crash protection and front-occupant side crash protection. It got four stars for rear-occupant protection in a side crash. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Fit a top mark of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side crash tests, and a second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the roof-strength test.
Interior Design and Special Features
The current second-generation Fit feels more like a real car than its even more pint-sized predecessor. The standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel makes for an agreeable driving position for taller drivers, though shorter drivers might lament the lack of height adjustment for the driver seat. Rear passenger space is quite impressive for a compact hatchback and two adults can ride in back for an extended trip without complaint. Interior materials are average, but all major controls are clearly labeled and easy to use.
The Fit's most impressive characteristic is its versatility, due largely to the rear "Magic Seat," which can be configured in a variety of ways. The 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks fold completely flat at the pull of a lever, and the headrests needn't be removed first. You can also flip up the rear seat cushion to create a tall load area right behind the front seats -- a perfect space for a dog to safely lie down or to load bulkier items. The front passenger seat also folds down, creating room for items up to 7 feet, 9 inches in length. Maximum cargo capacity is a scarcely believable 57.3 cubic feet -- the same as in some small crossover SUVs.
With its 2,500-pound curb weight, sharp steering response and willing 1.5-liter engine, the 2011 Honda Fit adds a welcome dose of driving pleasure to the daily commute. The manual transmission model takes full advantage of the Fit's engaging personality, though the Fit Sport's available automatic with shift paddles is a viable alternative. The base Fit's automatic saps a good amount of the engine's enthusiasm, but delivers the best fuel economy in the lineup. The Fit's main drawback is noise, as a significant amount of roar from the wind, engine and road makes its way into the cabin.