Vehicles vying for the top spot in the competitive sub-compact hatchback category must have 1) great gas mileage 2) a low price, and 3) have all the safety features consumers expect AND have a great safety rating so passengers feel safe in such a small car.
Two vehicles in the running for the top spot in this extra-compact class are the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta. Both are peppy sub-compacts, fun to drive, priced within a few dollars of each other, and each receives high marks for safety. Let’s see how they compared when key specifications are placed side by side.
Dollars and Cents – Advantage Honda
I was surprised to discover that the Ford Fiesta is slightly more expensive than the Honda Fit. Honda has the reputation of being a top contender in most classifications of vehicles, but it’s also often more expensive than its competitors. Yet, when we compare a base Honda Fit with the Ford Fiesta SE—both with automatic transmissions but not including destination fees—we discover that the Fiesta is $290 more expensive than the Fit.
-- Ford Fiesta SE w/automatic transmission – MSRP: $16,190
-- Honda Fit w/automatic transmission – MSRP: $15,900
Under the Hood – Advantage Ford
The Honda Fit comes standard with a 1.5-liter, 117-hp engine. The Ford Fiesta brings a bit more power to the table with a 1.6-liter, 120-hp engine. Both are fun to drive, but the Fiesta is peppier with more get-up-and-go.
In this category—entry-level transportation for many young buyers, and run-around vehicles for seniors on the other end of the age range— it’s not just what the engine can do, but what kind of gas mileage it gets while doing it that’s important. Another surprise: Honda comes in second to Ford in fuel economy. The Ford Fiesta is rated at an impressive 29 mpg/city and 38 mpg/hwy. The Honda Fit trails those figures with 28 mpg/city and 35 mpg/hwy.
Elbow Room and Functionality – Advantage Honda
The Honda Fit is so much better designed for both passengers and cargo. The advantage in functionality begins with the oval shaped opening that’s revealed when the Fit’s hatchback is raised. Flip the rear seats forward and the true magic of Honda’s design is discovered. The first time I saw the Fit in full functional mode I did a double-take. It hit me llike an optical illusion where the inside of the rear cargo area seems bigger than the outside of the vehicle.Kudos to Honda.
If you flip the seats back up and ask two large friends to sit in the second row, then ask them to sit in the rear seat of the Ford Fiesta, it will become obvious that the Fit is more advantageous for passengers as well as cargo. So if you plan to use your sub-compact as a workhorse, hauling God-know-what around town, the Honda Fit is head-and-shoulders ahead of the Ford Fiesta in functionality.
Safety Features - ??
Tomorrow we look at who wins in the very important category of safety.