Introduced in the mid-2000s just as gas prices were beginning to race skyward, the Honda Fit immediately became a hit with frugal car shoppers. A subcompact four-door hatchback, the Honda Fit has earned praise for its engineering and design, and it has found its niche with consumers drawn to its space-efficient design and easily reconfigurable rear seats.
Over the years, the Honda Fit has successively gotten a little roomier, a little more powerful and a little better equipped with features. At its core, though, the Fit is a little car that can do an awful lot.
Current Honda Fit
The current Honda Fit is offered in two basic trim levels, LX and EX. The EX can also be had in two more upscale variants: the EX-L, which adds leather upholstery, and the EX-L with Navi, which includes a touchscreen navigation system.
Both LX and EX versions are powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but a continuously variable automatic (CVT) is an option on LX and EX models and standard on EX-L and EX-L with Navi versions. EPA fuel economy numbers are commendable with either transmission.
The entry-level LX comes standard with features such as 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, a 5-inch central display screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and a four-speaker sound system. The EX adds 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, a 7-inch touchscreen, an upgraded rearview camera, Honda's LaneWatch blind-spot display and an upgraded six-speaker audio system. The EX-L tops it off with heated front seats and leather upholstery, and the Navi version has a voice-controlled navigation system.
The Fit is Honda's smallest automobile, but it nearly matches the total passenger space of the larger Civic sedan. Another key advantage for the Fit is its innovative, highly versatile rear seating. The Magic Seat has seatbacks that fold flat and seat cushions that can be flipped upward. You can use the latter function to create a tall load area right behind the front seats, not unlike the rear seats of a crew-cab pickup. Folding down the front passenger seat makes it possible to squeeze in items nearly 8 feet long.
In reviews, we have found the Honda Fit to be enjoyable to drive for a frugal subcompact. The car has a solid feel to it, countering the perception of vehicles in this class as tinny econoboxes, and its handling has a typical Honda sharpness to it. Acceleration is unremarkable, but high fuel economy is the main objective with this vehicle anyway. We think the Fit is one of the best choices in its class.
Used Honda Fit Models
The third-generation (2015-present) of the Fit debuted after a one-year hiatus and has remained unchanged since. So if you like the current Fit, snagging a nice used example of the current-generation model could definitely save a few bucks. Compared to older Fits, the notable upgrades to this gen are improved fuel economy, greater interior space, and new technology and safety features.
The second-generation (2009-2014) Honda Fit rolled onto dealers' lots just two years after the original. No notable changes occurred until 2012, when it received minor styling updates, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, added sound insulation, and an upgraded Bluetooth system with streaming audio capabilities.
In the meantime, the changes to this second go-round quite literally made the Fit more of a good thing. A slight bump in engine output — to 117 hp — added to the front-wheel-drive Fit's zippy driving character when mated to the standard six-speed manual transmission or the CVT automatic, with no sacrifice in fuel economy. The 4.2-inch growth spurt added more rear-seat legroom and cargo space without adding a significant amount of weight that might degrade performance. A more rigid body structure and suspension tweaks also offered improved handling and crash protection. Several other incremental improvements, including electronic stability control and an available factory navigation system, all served to set it apart from its predecessor.
As with the original, the second-generation Fit was once again offered to two trim levels. The entry-level base model came standard with 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio input. The more desirable Sport got a number of nice-to-have upgrades including 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, lower body extensions, a rear spoiler, cruise control, map lights, a driver armrest, and an upgraded audio system with six speakers and a USB port. The Sport could also be had with an optional navigation system. The addition of a standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel addressed one of the previous incarnation's main weaknesses by making it possible for a wide variety of individuals to find an ideal driving position.
The first-generation (2007-2008) Honda Fit was available for just two years. It came in two trim levels with no factory options available. The base version adhered to a minimalist philosophy, though it still came standard with air-conditioning and a CD player. The top Sport trim level was snazzier and, predictably, we favored it. It featured larger, 15-inch alloy wheels, stickier tires, exterior styling pieces, keyless entry, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a premium MP3-compatible audio system with an auxiliary audio jack.
The Fit stuck to the Honda playbook when it came to interior controls, which were intelligently designed and used high-quality materials. For a subcompact, the first-generation Honda Fit was surprisingly roomy and versatile. Chalk much of that up to the car's specialized 60/40-split seat design for the second row. The rear seats could be placed into four different configurations, depending on passenger or cargo needs. Folding the rear seat flat provided a surprising 41.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
Both trim levels were front-wheel drive and were equipped with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 109 hp. A five-speed manual transmission was standard, and a five-speed automatic was optional. Fit Sports with the automatic also had steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.
We found the first-generation Honda Fit to possess an enviable driving-fun-to-thrift ratio. Cornering and acceleration were crisp. The subcompact could achieve 0-60-mph sprints in fewer than 10 seconds with either transmission. Fuel economy was commendable, and safety was good. The whole thing was almost perfect. Almost. The main downside was that although the car seemed less tinny than other cars in its class, at highway speeds the engine made its presence known. The lack of a telescoping steering wheel could also be an annoyance for taller drivers. But on balance the first-generation Honda Fit provided about as much fun, satisfaction and value as you could find in a small economy car.