Honda Fit Versus Ford Fiesta: First Look

December 28, 2010

Despite the cold temperatures outside, the subcompact hatchback market in the U.S. is heating up. Two of the top contenders for the best small hatchback of the year are the Honda Fit and the Ford Fiesta. Both are comparably priced, fashionable, fun to drive, and safe. However, there are differences between these two models. Let’s take a look.

International roots

Both the Fit and Fiesta are effectively “world” cars—designed and sold in a variety of markets in countries all over the world. Honda was marketing the Honda Fit as the Jazz in Japan and Europe for about five years before it made its entry into the U.S. market in 2006. Some 3.5 million Fit/Jazz vehicles have been sold worldwide since then. The Fiesta was introduced to the European market in 1976 and has undergone many transformations over the years. Some 12 million Fiestas have been sold over the last 34 years.

The Honda Fit we see today is a second-generation vehicle. It received a significant redesign when the 2009 model was released. The current Fiesta is the sixth generation and was introduced to the U.S. market this year as a 2011 model.  

Why subcompacts?

Hybrids are all the rage. Yet, many consumers are realizing that, dollar-for-dollar, sub-compacts—with their amazing fuel efficiency and low price—can be a better deal over the long haul when compared to many hybrid vehicles on the market.

If we look at just highway driving, two of the most popular hybrids in the U.S. offer great EPA ratings: the Honda Civic Hybrid provides 43 mpg on the highway and the Toyota Prius, 48 mpg. Consumers pay a premium for both vehicles and their complicated, computer-controlled hybrid battery systems. Yet, the Ford Fiesta, with its regular gasoline engine, is rated at up to 40 mpg on the highway and costs many thousands of dollars less than either hybrid. The Honda Fit gets 35 mpg on the highway.

Unless you drive a large number of miles each year, the actual cost of ownership—even with relatively high gasoline costs—is less with a fuel-efficient sub-compact than one of the popular hybrid models. Subcompact owners also don’t have to deal with the ethical issue of adding more toxic batteries to the environment when their hybrid vehicle’s life span comes to an end.

Tomorrow we look at the specific differences between the Honda Fit and the Ford Fiesta.

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