2019 Honda Fit
The five-door Honda Fit is the biggest thing in subcompacts. It excels in cabin roominess, packaging, cargo capacity, looks, and fuel efficiency. It’s quick enough, and the ride is good even on bumpy roads.
With that winning formula, Honda hasn’t significantly changed the Fit in the last two years. For 2019, a color called Platinum Pearl White replaces a color called White Orchid Pearl. Self-dimming headlights are added to the available suite of safety equipment called Honda Sensing. Prices haven’t changed for 2019 either.
The Fit is powered by a plucky 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with direct injection, making 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 10 seconds. A smooth 6-speed manual gearbox is standard, but a seven-step continuously variable transmission (CVT) with sport mode and paddle shifters comes on most models.
The cabin is deceptively vast, with plenty of head room, while the rear seats (called Magic Seats) can fold and recline, opening up a tall cargo space behind the front seats. When folded all the way down, the Fit is large enough inside to carry a couple of mountain bikes. Meanwhile the front seat folds flat, so it’s possible to carry long objects inside the Fit.
Then there’s the great fuel mileage, EPA-rated at 33 mpg city, 40 highway, and 36 combined with the CVT. With a manual, the Fit is rated 29/36/31 mpg. That 5-mpg difference is what CVTs are all about. Higher trim levels with larger wheels are rated at 31/36/33 mpg.
The Fit scores well on crash tests, with mostly “Good” scores from the IIHS, although its headlights were rated “Poor.” Honda Sensing safety technology is available in all models, offering forward-collision warnings, lane departure alerts, and more.
The 2019 Fit is offered in four trims: LX, Sport, EX, and EX-L. Base LX models ($16,190 with 6-speed manual, $16,990 with CVT) come with power windows and door locks, rearview camera, 5.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth audio, and USB connections. Honda’s Magic Seats are standard here, and Honda Sensing active safety tech is optional.
Added to the line last year, the Sport model ($18,300) brings attractive exterior styling mods and blacked-out wheels, also opening up the tech package to include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Topping off the Fit’s trim packages, the EX-L ($20,520) brings heated leather seats, standard CVT with paddle shifters, and includes standard Honda Sensing and power moonroof from the EX model.
Advanced safety features such as adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic emergency braking are standard on EX models and higher. The features are available on LX and Sport versions for $1,000.
The Fit rides tall for such a small vehicle. Sixty inches high, it’s five inches taller than the Honda Civic sedan. Its long roofline and big windows make it look more like a boxy wagon with a wedge-shaped nose, than a hatchback. The design works though, and has held up over the last four years.
The Fit isn’t sleek like the Ford Fiesta, but it’s attractive and eye-catching in its angular way. The windshield is nearly as steep as the short nose. A sharp character crease low on the sides exaggerates the length. The rear end hints Volvo, with long vertical taillights that drop from the liftgate to the bumper. A big chrome bar runs across the back, in contrast to the otherwise cohesive styling.
The LX gets 15-inch wheels, while Sport models get blacked-out 16-inchers that look downright muscular on such a small car. EX and EX-L models get 16-inch alloys as well.
The look and feel of the interior may not be impressive, but the space and flexibility are unrivaled. It’s roomier inside than many mid-size sedans, with 39.3 inches of rear legroom.
The rear seatback drops down and the rear seats flip up, to create relatively vast cargo space. The so-called Magic Seat has four cargo/seating arrangements. A Refresh mode tilts the rear seatbacks like a lounge chair. The front passenger seat in Long mode also can fold flat, wonderful for sports equipment or construction materials. A whole bicycle or small kayak can fit in the cargo area, something that’s not possible with many crossovers.
The rear seat has great legroom and headroom, although the Magic Seat cushion is a bit thin. The tall door openings make entry and exit easy for a subcompact.
The front seats are only adequate. Long-legged drivers might not fit because the seat doesn’t slide back so far. The passenger footwell has an odd shape that cants the seating position. The interior materials are durable enough, but not very luxurious. The ambitious and busy dashboard has many angles, shapes, bits and pieces.
Unlike others, including Honda with their Civic Si and Type R, there is no hot-hatchback version of the Fit. The Sport model gets bigger wheels and some sporty trim, but isn’t any quicker. All Fit models use the same engine, a 1.5-liter four cylinder making a modest 130 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque. It’s responsive enough, but not objectively quick.
The 1.5-liter engine is peaky, reaching its maximum torque of 115 pound-feet at 4600 rpm, while its sweet spot for zip is about 4000 rpm. That’s the far other end of some small-displacement turbocharged engines, that have their torque down low. Those engines are more relaxing to drive because they’re responsive even if you’re lazy with the throttle.
A sweet 6-speed manual is standard, and is precise with light shift action; it’s about the best we’ve experienced in a subcompact. The 6-speed deals with the engine’s powerband much better, because the CVT seems to be slightly mismatched to the powerband. However the 6-speed requires constant engagement from the driver. The choice might be moot, because 6-speeds are very hard to find, and anyhow get 4 fewer miles per gallon than the CVT.
Fortunately the paddle-shifting 7-speed CVT makes downshifting for torque quick and easy. The CVT has a sport mode that quickens throttle response, as well. It doesn’t feel like a big rubber band like so many others.
The handling of the latest Fit isn’t as responsive as previous generations, and it leans more in corners and dives more under braking, but it’s still one of the better-handling compacts. Its suspension (front struts, rear torsion beam) is designed for a solid and controlled ride, which it delivers despite its short wheelbase. The ride is smooth, with a suspension that’s well-tuned to soak up most road imperfections, working as well as any small car on the market today. The brake pedal is precise and easy to modulate.
The 2019 Honda Fit is in a class of its own among subcompact hatchbacks, a winner in style, interior room, versatility, reliability, ride, and fuel mileage.