The current-generation Honda’s Fit is considerably less adorable than previous incarnations, but still a vehicle that’s easy to recommend to those with a specific price point and varied needs — especially if they also do all their driving in the city. However, it wasn’t perfect and rationalizing its purchase became difficult as upmarket models offered more car for less money.
For 2018, Honda has updated the subcompact Fit with driver-assist features, new looks, and some mild performance accoutrements for a not-unreasonable amount of cash. It doesn’t necessarily make it a better buy than the Civic you’ve been considering, but it should be enough to make the Fit deserving of a second look.
While the updated appearance leaves something to be desired, abandoning the plastic grille wasn’t the worst choice Honda could have made. But the new face of the Fit isn’t going to garner any design awards. It’s still a somewhat homely car and best suited for those who aren’t concerned with appearances. For those who are, and actually like the new styling, go with the Sport trim and option a “Helios Yellow” or “Orange Fury” paint job.
The most welcome upgrade to the refreshed Fit is, without question, the return of a physical stereo volume knob. Replacing the burdensome touch-slider with something tactile means no more frantic pawing at the center console while you utter a string of obscenities so vile that it nullifies any prospect of the car being a family-friendly option.
Second to the volume knob in terms of importance is the Honda Sensing package. This grab bag of tech adds adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation automatic braking with forward collision warning, lane keeping, road departure mitigation, and lane departure warning. Honda Sensing is standard on EX trim and higher, but can be added to any trim for a grand. That particular upgrade also adds a 4.2-inch display in the gauge cluster.
While some subcompacts provide emergency braking — the Chevrolet Spark, for example — only the Toyota Yaris offers lane departure. Honda’s decision to provide the works and adaptive cruise control really does help the Fit show up its rivals.
Bringing back the Sport trim is another welcome addition. In addition to some loud colors, reminiscent of the Fit’s early paint schemes, Honda adorned the Sport variant with a unique interior with orange stitching, orange pin-striping on the exterior, 16-inch gloss-black alloys, chrome exhaust tips, side sill garnishes, a front spoiler, and a rear diffuser.
The engine, however, has not been modified and remains the same 130 horsepower 1.5-liter DOHC unit with 114 lb-ft of torque. And if you want to get the most from it, you basically have to blip it off the redline. That makes it a hoot for some and a chore for others. Keeping the vehicle higher in the rev-range is also likely to diminish its EPA estimated fuel economy of 29 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg out on the open road.
The base LX Fits start at a pre-destination MSRP of $16,190 for a 6-speed with a clutch. Upgrading to the CVT adds a noticeable fuel economy bump and $800 to the final price, but also robs you of a couple of horsepower and the enjoyment of driving a manual. Sport-trimmed cars begin at $17,500 and include a sized-up 7-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Maxed out with Sensing’s safety suite and a CVT yields a $19,300 MSRP.
Starting at $18,160, the EX adds a moonroof, keyless entry, push-button start and a rearview camera to the passenger-side mirror to better monitor blind spots. It’s particularly useful for not running over bicyclists who don’t care that you’re about to make a right turn. The CVT version will run you $18,960 and heated leather sets are an additional $1,560. If you want absolutely everything, including in-car navigation, you can purchase a fully equipped EX-L for $21,520.
While those prices may sound steep for a subcompact runabout, the higher-trimmed cars really only represent a $250 increase over last year’s model. Those purchasing Sensing as an option will be the ones taking the biggest financial hit, while those seeking the EX trim will be getting a comparative bargain.