2012 Honda Fit Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 26, 2012

The 2012 Honda Fit is peppy and fun to drive, and its interior is incredibly space-efficient; but some might be turned off by its rather utilitarian look.

The Fit is Honda's entry-level model (and lowest-priced model) in the U.S., and it perhaps comes closest to emulating what the Civic used to be: well-configured, affordable transportation with a fun-to-drive edge.

While the Civic has become somewhat larger, softer, and more anonymous in look and feel over the years, the smaller Fit manages to feel nearly as roomy thanks to its tall, upright body style and still-best-in-class 'Magic Seat' seat-folding arrangement.

Depending on how you see the 2012 Honda Fit—and how you value a voluptuous exterior—you might be turned off somewhat by its obvious preference of function over form. It's difficult to make a super-practical, small, tall hatchback like the Fit look even vaguely sexy, and the tall proportions arguably make it look like a scaled-down minivan in some respects. Inside, the Fit has an airier feel than in some other small cars, with a relatively low (by today's standards) beltline and a vast expanse of dashboard ahead, due to the rakish windshield.

You won't find impressive performance from the 1.5-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine in the 2012 Honda Fit, but provided you don't have a stopwatch in your hand you'll find it quite fun-to-drive with the manual gearbox. A five-speed automatic is also offered and comes with paddle-shifters in Fit Sport trims. And though sheer velocity might not come easy in the Fit, its handling and maneuverability are stellar, with this small hatchback possessing a responsive, tossable feel around town or in tight corners.

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The Fit feels just fine at 80 mph, and settled enough for longer-distance highway cruising. Honda claims to have made the Fit even quieter for 2012 with more insulation from road noise.

If you're cross-shopping a lot of small cars, you'll notice that while appointments are simple and sturdy in the Fit, something is very different—in a good way—about its interior packaging. The Fit makes the most out of a small space, for both passengers and cargo--and it feels like Honda has applied some minivan ideas here. There's enough headroom and legroom for two adults—or three kids—in back, and the so-called Magic Seat folds flat by lifting a single lever and pushing the seatback forward, with no need to remove rear headrests in the process. In front the driving position is upright but comfortable, with a good view forward.

The cargo floor is especially low for easy loading, amassing an impressive 20.6 cubic feet of EPA cargo room. In addition, there are two glove compartments (upper and lower), plenty of cup holders (redesigned in the center console for 2012), and many useful storage compartments and cubbies in the center console, dash, and doors—as well as under the back seat.

The Honda Fit has earned respectable safety ratings from the IIHS, although it roof strength score was just 'acceptable.' That said, the 2012 Honda Fit offers an especially strong body structure, along with a long list of safety features including front seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain bags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes.

The 2012 Honda Fit includes plenty of features and option possibilities and manages to buck the stripped-down small-car stereotype in this respect. Both the Fit and Fit Sport models include a pretty generous list of features, and for 2012, equipment on the Fit Sport has been bolstered, with additional dash trim, steering-wheel audio controls, and upgraded seat fabric. Air conditioning; power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; keyless entry; a USB input; and an MP3-compatible CD sound system are included with the base Fit. The Fit Sport gets larger 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, keyless entry, a security system, and USB connectivity for the sound system, along with sporty cues throughout. Offered only on Fit Sport models is a package adding the navigation system. The navigation system now includes Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and streaming audio, but that's unfortunately the only way to get it.

6

2012 Honda Fit

Styling

There's not a lot of inspiration to be found in the shape of the 2012 Honda; but it makes up for it somewhat in the details.

Depending on how you see the 2012 Honda Fit—and how you value a voluptuous exterior—you might be turned off somewhat by its obvious preference of function over form. It's difficult to make a super-practical, small, tall hatchback like the Fit look even vaguely sexy, and the tall proportions arguably make it look like a scaled-down minivan in some respects.

It only takes a quick glance to identify that the 2012 Honda Fit prioritizes function over form. It's difficult to make a super-practical, small, tall hatchback like the Fit look even vaguely sexy, and to those who value style, the tall proportions arguably make it look like a scaled-down minivan in some respects.

What the Fit doesn't have in silhouette it makes up for--partly from a style perspective, but fully in terms of functionality--in the finer points. With its last redesign for 2009, the Fit got a more aerodynamic, better-detailed look, with small side windows just ahead of the front doors to aid visibility, and a pair of character lines that run from the snout through the grille and hood.

Inside, the Fit has an airier feel than in some other small cars, with a relatively low (by today's standards) beltline and a vast expanse of dashboard ahead, due to the rakish windshield. The swoopy, two-tiered instrument panel employs textured and matte-metallic plastic surfaces, along with upholstery and trim that are simple but sturdy.

8

2012 Honda Fit

Performance

The 2012 Honda Fit isn't fast, but it feels quick and nimble.

You won't find impressive performance from the 117-horsepower, 1.5-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine in the 2012 Honda Fit, but provided you don't have a stopwatch it'll feel quick. Especially with the five-speed manual gearbox, the Fit feels lively and responsive--at least at city speeds.

The five-speed automatic that's available comes with paddle-shifters in Fit Sport trims, and in compared to some other automatics in this segment it tends to work pretty well for perkiness, though it brings out some additional coarseness and engine noise, it seems.

While sheer velocity might not come all that easy in the Fit, its handling and maneuverability are stellar, with this small hatchback possessing a responsive, tossable feel around town or in tight corners.

The Fit feels just fine at 80 mph, with none if the twitchy, pitchy feeling that can make long highway cruises more exhausting than they should be. Honda claims to have made the Fit even quieter for 2012 with more insulation from road noise.

10

2012 Honda Fit

Comfort & Quality

The 2012 Honda Fit works some interior-design magic that makes it a small-car standout.

If you're cross-shopping a lot of small cars, you'll notice that while appointments are simple and sturdy in the 2012 Honda Fit, something is very different—in a good way—about its interior packaging. It will likely have you stepping back out and doing a double-take the first time you get inside. More than almost any other vehicle's design, the Fit makes the most out of a small space, for both passengers and cargo.

The 2012 Fit is one of the most comfortable-riding cars in its class, with a firm but compliant suspension--though of course there's no way you could call it luxurious. Switchgear is high-quality, but the look and feel of cabin appointments is quite good for the money.

Honda has looked to minivans and larger MPVs for inspiration in the Fit's cabin design, and the results are phenomenal. There's enough headroom and legroom for two adults—or three kids—in back, and the so-called Magic Seat folds flat by lifting a single lever and pushing the seatback forward, with no need to remove rear headrests in the process. In front the driving position is upright but comfortable, with a good view forward. And the steering wheel telescopes on all modelsThe cargo floor is especially low for easy loading, amassing an impressive 20.6 cubic feet of EPA cargo room.

In addition, there are two glove compartments (upper and lower), plenty of cup holders (redesigned in the center console for 2012), and many useful storage compartments and cubbies in the center console, dash, and doors—as well as under the back seat.

8

2012 Honda Fit

Safety

The 2012 Honda Fit gets ratings that shouldn't scare away safety-conscious shoppers who want a small car.

With a good set of safety features, as well as a reputation for strong occupant-safety scores, the 2012 Honda Fit remains one of the better picks among small cars—although it's not a top performer in all respects.

The Honda Fit has earned great safety ratings from the IIHS--earning back its Top Safety Pick award for 2012 with an improved 'good' rating for roof strength. However its results in the federal NCAP testing program are less impressive--mostly four stars, although with a worrisome two-star rating in the side pole test.

That said, the 2012 Honda Fit offers an especially strong body structure, along with a long list of safety features including front seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain bags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes.

The Fit's rather low beltline aids outward visibility--so most drivers tend to get a good view for parking or lane changes.
8

2012 Honda Fit

Features

The 2012 Honda Fit costs a little more than other cars in its class, yet some now-common features like Bluetooth and satellite radio aren't found in much of the lineup.

The 2012 Honda Fit isn't a stripped-down small car; both the Fit and Fit Sport models include a pretty generous list of features.

Air conditioning; power windows, locks, and mirrors; and an MP3-compatible CD sound system are included with the base Fit. Cruise control, a USB sound-system input, and keyless entry are also now standard all Fit models. And for a little more money, the Honda Fit Sport gets larger 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, keyless entry, and a security system, along with sporty cues throughout. Offered only on Fit Sport models is a package adding the navigation system.

A package adding the navigation system, which now includes Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and streaming audio, is offered on Fit Sport models; but that's unfortunately the only way to get Bluetooth.
8

2012 Honda Fit

Fuel Economy

The 2012 Honda Fit is no standout for gas mileage; in fact, it's outdone by the larger Civic.

Surprisingly, if you get a 2012 Honda Civic, you'll end up with better mileage than you will from the Honda Fit.

EPA estimates rate manual transmission Honda Fits and Honda Fit Sports with the automatic at 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The base Honda Fit with the five-speed automatic fares slightly better, with EPA estimates of 28 mpg city and 35 mpg on the highway. In a class where 40 mpg highway ratings are becoming the norm, that's not all that impressive.
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April 28, 2015
2012 Honda Fit 5-Door HB Manual Sport

Honda Fit Doesn't Fit my Body

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The Honda Fit is a great little car. It is fuel efficient. It is highly maneuverable. It is very reliable. Regrettably, the seats do not adjust vertically and are not comfortable. Long rides are miserable.
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8.0
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Styling 6.0
Performance 8.0
Comfort & Quality 10.0
Safety 8.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy 8.0
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