Bigger is better. Or is it? The new Fit challenges new-car trends by being smaller than the previous generation. But while 1.6 inches have been cut from overall length, there are many improvements to this second generation Fit. While the car is shorter, the wheelbase has grown. Honda has cleverly repackaged the Fit to extract more interior volume for cargo and passengers. The 1.5L engine makes 11% more power and 7.5% more torque for better responsiveness. And the steering and suspension calibrations have been reworked to improve the ride and handling. So maybe bigger isn’t better. In fact, according to Honda, less is more.
The Fit’s tall cabin is bright and open. The larger windows and upright seating position improve visibility and leave plenty of room for rear occupants. And since there’s nearly 5 more inches of rear leg room, two grown adults can actually sit comfortably in the back seats. One concession to be made, however, is that the driver’s seat feels one setting short of sliding back far enough for tall drivers. Our Fit EX arrived fitted with the 6-speed manual instead of the CVT. I’m 6’2” and with thick boots, I felt slightly too far up on the clutch pedal.
Honda has fitted the new Fit with standard automatic headlights and Bluetooth for easy motoring. In EX trim, our tester also included keyless entry with push-button start, a sunroof, a 7” touchscreen infotainment unit, 16” alloy wheels, and Honda LaneWatch. Unfortunately, the CVT-only EX-L is the only trim available with heated seats. But for an as-tested price of just over $18k, Honda’s latest Fit retains its excellent value proposition. With the rear seats folded down, the high roof and flat cargo space is enormous. Coupled with the IIHS Top Safety Pick Rating, it makes an ideal first car.
Unlike a number of subcompacts, the Fit is actually very good to drive. The longer wheelbase and revised suspension help the Honda feel more stable. The steering is light and a bit numb for our liking. Most feedback comes from the car’s attitude in corners and level of front-end grip. The suspension is supple enough to filter out minor bumps, but stiff enough to keep the Fit nimble and playful. Engine output is up to 130hp and 114 lb-ft torque thanks to direct fuel injection, Honda’s variable valve and timing systems, and a higher compression ratio. A close-ratio 6-speed manual offers greater driver involvement than the CVT alternative. Shifts are long, but smoothly satisfying with a high clutch uptake. Our only complaint is from the Fit’s buzzy high-revving on highways. 6th gear isn’t different enough from 5th, leaving the engine turning almost 3,000 RPM at 70 mph.
We covered 164 miles and averaged 31.5 mpg during our 4 days of driving. The Fit proved to be highly intuitive. It’s very easy to get in for the first time and be comfortable behind the wheel almost instantly. It’s also very good in slushy winter conditions. Low torque, the FWD platform, and narrow all-season tires offer surprising levels of grip and control. We traversed steep unplowed, hills, slushy inner-city streets, and highway lanes covered in windswept drifting without interruption. While we continue to wish for warmer weather, the Fit’s bright red paint and amenable driving attitude helped lift our spirits in a week of miserable cold.
|2014 Honda Fit EX 6MT
|As Tested MSRP||$18,225|
Escape: 2014 Honda Civic Si
Photos courtesy of Honda: