- Cheap and cheerful, minus the cheap
- Unbelievable interior space
- Best safety in the class
- Loud, coarse engine
- Front seats could use more support
- Busy interior trim
The 2016 Honda Fit isn't as entertaining to drive as it once was, but it's unmatched in safety and space, thanks to the Magic Seat.
The 2016 Honda Fit is a five-door hatchback, the smallest Honda you can buy, and one of the best fuel-efficient cars on the road today.
It isn't a hot hatchback, not a hybrid, not coupe-like at all—it's practically devoid of buzzwords. The Fit simply does what Honda has always done well, and it does many things better even than the last-generation car.
It makes the best use of its small footprint. It's more appealing, outside and in. It earns the best crash-test scores of any small hatchback, not to mention exceptional fuel economy.
The Fit sets the benchmarks for interior space, utility, and safety for small hatchbacks. It's not as entertaining to drive as it once was, and some minor fit and finish niggles could use some attention, but by a wide margin, it's our top choice in its class.
Pragmatic but attractive, the Fit isn't styled so much like a scaled-down minivan anymore. It's grown more toward the current state of the art in hatchbacks, with deep side creases, a shoulder line that accentuates the wedge in its shape, and a leaner, tauter stance. The stubby, short hood and long roofline draw out the longer body, and the glass areas are in better balance—as are the Fit's bigger wheels and tires. It all concludes at a rear end that's very much like a latter-day Volvo—if only it weren't for the big chrome bar across the tail.
The restrained exterior could teach the interior a few things. The basic outlines are fine—the low dash opens up the cabin visually—but the Fit's dash is trimmed out in a lot of pieces. Bezels, surfaces, shapes, and trim textures—it all comes off OK, but a more uniform look with fewer cutlines would be a welcome upgrade.
We've always thought of the Fit as the leader of the affordable-hatchback cause. It carries on that tradition in this generation, for the most part, though some of the eager feel of its steering and suspension tune have been muted.
The latest Fit is powered by a direct-injected 1.5-liter inline-4 that produces 130 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. A sweet-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox is the standard transmission, but most Fits will arrive at dealerships with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that maximizes fuel efficiency, up to EPA ratings of 33 mpg city, 41 highway, 36 combined—which vaults Honda to the head of a class that includes the Chevrolet Sonic, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa, and Toyota Yaris. In a separate Sport mode, you can slick through seven "gears" with paddle-shifters, if you'd like.
Honda's done a better job of making the CVT tolerable than Nissan does, although we still find Subaru's CVTs the best among small cars. At speeds well above any U.S. speed limit, the Fit manages to suppress most exterior noise fairly well. It's hardly the hush of a luxury car, but among small and affordable hatchbacks, the new Fit is noticeably more refined than its predecessor was. If only Honda had paid a little more attention to engine noise, it would have been even better, as this Fit, with its new direct injection and composite intake, can sound a little raspy and uncouth. The Fit rides with a little more maturity than it has in the past, and keeps its responsive steering and handling, but the cost is that the driving experience isn't quite as tied to the driver's seat.
One of the keys to the Fit's simply unparalleled interior flexibility is its so-called "Magic Seat" rear-seat setup. The setup brings a split folding rear seat that can not only flip forward, but also flip back and upward, allowing four different modes that cater to specific kinds of large cargo—including a unique Tall mode and a futon-like Refresh mode. Back seats are happy places for tall, lanky folks, too—more so than in many swoopy-roofline cars a size or two larger. In front, the Fit is more ordinary for its class. Seat cushioning and support covers only the basics—even relative to other models in this segment—and some will wish for more rearward seat travel and adjustability.
Honda's 2016 Fit has earned very good safety scores from both the IIHS and the NHTSA. The NHTSA gives it five stars overall, and the Fit achieved "Good" ratings in all IIHS categories except the tough new small-overlap front crash tests, where it was rated "Acceptable."
The 2016 Honda Fit now essentially includes four models and primary builds: a base Fit LX, a mid-range EX, and a premium EX-L. Keyless entry, cruise control, a rearview camera, and air conditioning are among many items now included even on the base LX, while mid-level EX models get push-button start, upgraded infotainment, and Honda's impressive LaneWatch wide-angle lane-change aid from the Accord. The Fit EX-L heaps on leather and more luxury, while a navigation trim level finally gets a system worth the premium, with a high-contrast display and live traffic data.
The combination of the inline-4 and the 6-speed gearbox is pegged at 29 mpg city, 37 highway, 32 combined, whether it's the LX or EX model. With the CVT, the Fit's fuel economy is several miles per gallon better. It's rated at 33/41/36 mpg combined in LX trim; because of added equipment and weight, EX and EX-L models are rated at 32/38/35 mpg.