Playing in the subcompact field, the Fit wins on versatility!
As the onset of snow and ice hit Toronto thus heralding the jolly fat man’s annual approach to the world, I couldn’t help but notice how festive the Milano Red 2018 Honda Fit LX with Honda Sensing was. With a somewhat pudgy and round shape, the current third iteration is a far cry from the original boxy, straight edged and sharper looking unit. Fun fact: the original was called the Honda Jazz in markets outside of North America.
Part of what makes the subcompact hatchback segment remarkably fun to test is the ever-so-omnipotent challenge to prove to people that yes, you can ‘fit’ that into this vehicle (cue the onslaught of dad-jokes for this vehicle). I can sort understand why Honda decided to bulb out all the walls and round out most of the surfaces in an attempt to carve out more interior space.
Stepping into the Fit reveals a rather large cavern, lending more weight to that hypothesis. You don’t really feel cramped in the front heated seats and thanks to the configuration, the passengers in the rear won’t have much issue either. The steering wheel size and thickness feels adequate for the vehicle lending a sense of agility and control. Tilt and telescope are available which makes finding a good seating position quite easy. However this does clash with the large speedometer on the dash. I found that unless you are of a specific height, there are high chances that the top of wheel will block the upper range of the speedometer.
Thankfully, flanking the right side of the speedo is a configurable LCD screen which can be set to show speed or fuel economy. Tucked to the left is a tachometer display which also has gear indication, clock and outdoor temperature nestled within. Rendering this tachometer a moot point in this vehicle is the fact that the LX Honda Sensing trim comes with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) by default. In other applications, such as the much larger 2018 Accord (reviewed here), Honda has done a wonderful job mating engine with a CVT. Not so much with this Fit.
On the road, a combination of both the CVT tuning and engine seemingly makes for long and unpleasant moo noises whenever the revs go over 2,000RPM. The car seems to pull up to speed in a capable manner, but thanks to lack of torque, no sensation nor enjoyment. Instead, a just-get-it-over-with kind of feeling. On paper, the 1.5L, direct injected, i-VTEC four-cylinder engine is rated at a healthy 128 horsepower at 6,600RPMand 113 lb-ft. at 4,60RPM. Fuel economy is rated at 8.1/6.6/7.4 liters per 100km (city/highway/combined), and even with the cold wintery (snow and freezing) conditions, I managed to yield a decent 6.8L/100km.
The 7.0” touchscreen infotainment system (complete with a volume knob) offers good distraction by offering both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility along with the standard Bluetooth and USB connectivity. If navigation is your thing, you’ll have to rely solely on your phone for such assistance, as built in navigation is only available in the EX-L Navi trim. The screen is an improved version offering a more responsive feel. It holds up decently well to sunlight and its slightly angled positioning towards the driver means it is easy to read. For the nerds out in the crowd, this unit is running Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
On a strictly handling basis, the Fit can seem to be quite agile runabout, capable of darting in and out of the city’s tighter crevices and carving up on ramps and curves with good ease. On the ride, potholes and cracks in the pavement are felt rather jarringly due to the exact same mechanics mentioned before. The suspension tuning, unlike the rest of the competition, seems aimed towards the sporty side, which in non-marketing talk might be too rough.
I highly suggest taking a drive across some of the best and worst roads when test driving this car to really get a broad range of responses that this suspension can yield. Unlike the competition like the Toyota Yaris (reviewed here) and the Kia Rio (reviewed here), the Fit has seemingly pulled off a Peter Pan and refused to grow up. This can be entirely good or bad depending on you, the buyer and driver.
The technological showpiece of this particular trim of the Fit is the bundling of six of Honda’s safety and driver assist technology features. A combination of a smooth-correcting Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) makes the Fit a great cruiser on the highway. There are no sudden jerks or buzzy corrections, but a rather smooth flowing consistency. During this test, even in days with good dry and visible lanes, there were several occasions where the system could not pick out the lane markers and advised as such. I have travelled the same roads with other Honda models without any issues. Perhaps while the software is the same, the hardware might not be.
Electronics aside, the Fit’s continued use of it’s Magic Seat® rear setup allows for a configurable storage space behind the driver. Ever since its inception, the Fit has boasted the ability for the second row to either fold its rear seat bottoms up, completely flat down (one of the few to truly yield a full flat floor) or a combination of 60/40 split. As silly as this sounds, the Fit’s numbers do not lie – you can net at least 470L of trunk space which more than triples up to a maximum of 1,492L when both are rears are folded. As a hatchback owner, it is unbelievably useful to have a flat floor because stacking items is so much easier.
At a MSRP of $19,890, this 2018 Honda Fit LX with Honda SensingTM is an interesting one to compare against the other subcompacts. The $17,995 Kia Rio LX+ AT doesn’t have Android Auto / Apple Carplay nor does it have any active safety features but offers a more mature ride. The $17,800 Toyota Yaris LE doesn’t have the connectivity, and its active safety systems can be considered crude in comparison to the Fit but they still work as advertised. Long story short, the Fit, well fits, into the segment in terms of strategic pricing and offers compelling features and a suspension that while sporty, might be too youthful for some. For a subcompact hatchback shopper, this plethora of choices is a good problem to have.