- New Car Test Drive
- Price As Tested:
“The enthusiast's subcompact.”
Compact outside, the Honda Fit is roomy inside. From the driver's seat, it feels like a bigger car than it is. That's due partly to space efficiency, partly to the raked windshield and deep dashboard, partly to the acres of legroom.
The black cloth seats that come standard are wonderful. It's a smooth comfortable material that's pleasing to the touch, and the bolstering is just right, with excellent cornering support. They'd work in a sports car.
Thanks to the expansive greenhouse and big mirrors, there's excellent visibility in all directions, including out the vertical and unobstructed rear glass. But especially through the large windshield. With so little distance between the bottom of the A-pillar and the front bumper, and with that sloped nose, the driver can't see the front corners of the car, but bumping into things is unlikely because the distance to them is so short.
The A-pillar was made especially thin, and those triangular windows just behind the A pillar are as big as possible, largely for driving in Japan, with all its tight spaces and pedestrian crosswalks. But that big windshield is nice here in America, too. We drove one long afternoon for about 200 interstate miles in the rain and drizzle, and with strong wipers and that big windshield, our broad visibility made us more relaxed and safer. Many cars today have thick A-pillars that can block the driver's view of pedestrians and, at times, cars. Not the case here. Those triangular windows are made from thicker glass on 2012 Fit models to help keep noise out of the cabin. For 2012, sound insulation has been added to the floor, front fenders, and A-pillars.
The little things have been well thought out, including molding cubby holes into the plastic at almost every opportunity, from thin slots about the size of a deck of cards, located behind the e-brake lever between the seats; to cupholders on the far left and right of the dashboard. There are also two cupholders forward of the shift lever on the floor, and two more for the rear seat passengers. And two gloveboxes, enabling cleaner organization.
There are comfortable usable armrests on the front doors for the driver and passenger, and flip-up armrests between the front seats. The center stack offers three big foolproof knobs for climate control; it doesn't get any simpler than that and it's a relief.
The plastic and trim materials feel like they belong on a $15,000 car, where they are. However the perforated leather steering wheel in the Sport feels like it belongs on a $19,000 car, where it is. Its controls include audio, cruise and voice command. The paddles for the automatic transmission fit the fingers very nicely, no bigger than necessary, something you can't say about a lot of high-performance cars that have them.
Honda has added a dash of class to the 2012 Sport, replacing last year's two-tone black-and-gray controls with a single, dark-metallic scheme highlghted by chrome rings around the instruments. The instrumentation itself remains basic, with a digital display between in the center of the speedometer that shows odometer, trip odo, average mpg, and oil life. Unfortunately, the range, or DTE (distance to empty), is not included, and for the life of us, we can't imagine why. A Honda rep told us that oil life is a priority to Honda (if not so much owners), because there are so many Fits in rental car fleets, it's about mass maintenance.
The optional satellite-linked navigation system has also been redesigned for 2012. It now features 16GB of flash memory in place of the DVD-based system used previously. Honda promises simple, intuitive operation and an extensive on-board database.
Legroom in the rear is good, at 34.5 inches. Compare that to the all-new Toyota Yaris, 33.3 inches; Mazda2, 33.0 inches; and Ford Fiesta, 31.2 inches. None of these are anywhere near the Nissan Versa hatchback's 38.0 inches, but then the Versa hatch is 7.5 inches longer than the Fit. It's in the same price range, but it's a compact car, not a subcompact.
The Fit beats the Versa hatchback in overall cargo volume, however. With the rear seats folded, the Fit offers a humongous 57.8 cubic feet, to Versa's 50.4 cubic feet, with the other hatchback subcompacts far behind.
This big number comes thanks to the best thing about the Fit's interior, Honda's Magic Seats. They move in a number of ways, from folding flat for utility to flipping up for tall objects. There's even a storage compartment under the seats for small items.