Honda Fit Takes Laughter and Serves Up Cool

March 12, 2016 Updated: March 15, 2016
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Right before the Fit arrived for a visit, I had been driving a Range Rover. When my co-worker looked out to the parking lot to see the little Honda sitting where a large luxury liner had once rested, belly laughs rolled out down the hall and through my door. Amusing, I’m sure. But, you know, the joke may be on my friend. The Honda is a cool little car.

The Fit has always been a weird little car that is just normal enough to be lovable. The dramatic slope nose and soft curves of the last model were replaced by an edgier and more dynamic design. A grille insert, slimmer headlamps, chiseled bodysides, sportier grille, fog lamps, 16-inch alloys, and color-matched spoiler give the car a more planted stance and angrier attitude. I think the rear with horizontal chrome and lamp pods is especially fetching.

Interiors are spacious with an additional 4.8 inch of rear legroom over the second generation. And, they’re more luxurious with stitched vinyl on the dash, available heated leather seats, silver doorhandles, and sweet-smelling leather (cloth standard). Fit’s rear flip-up “Magic Seat” remains to cross-load bicycles, flower pots, or a haul from the outlet mall. Bluetooth, USB inputs, and auto headlamps come standard. Check additional boxes for a one-touch power moonroof, keyless entry/starting, premium audio, and touchscreen. Get navigation too!

Revving out the powertrain is a delight.

Honda’s old touchscreen design was not ideal, but the new flashier one, even with iPad-style gesture recognition, is a pain to use. Just give me a knob to tune the radio and adjust volume. At least the screen is perfect for watching the rearview camera and Lane Watch system that uses a camera on the passenger side to show drivers what they’re missing when they flip the blinker. Of course, that also flips away whatever you’re doing on the touchscreen every time you turn right. Fit is best enjoyed when looking ahead.

Revving out the powertrain is a delight. Employing Honda’s “Earth Dreams Technology” that includes variable valve timing and direct injection, the 1.5 L DOHC 4-cylinder engine spools out 130 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. The standard 6-speed manual comes with feather-light clutch, but the sport-shift continuously variable automatic transmission is a better choice for city driving. Fuel economy with the CVT is rated 32/38-mpg city/hwy—better than with the manual.

Light weight, quick steering, and a sprightly chassis keep the Fit from being a bore. In fact, like most Hondas, it feels like engineers actually cared about the driving experience, no matter the car’s price and purpose. You find yourself looking for the long, curvy way home just to rev out the engine and toss it into a corner. And, I hope you enjoy listening to a revving engine, because you’ll hear it plenty. A longer wheelbase improves ride comfort and handling, giving the car a more stable feel. The stiff body structure is noticed in the car’s quietness and solidity, but also helps Honda ace NHTSA and IIHS crash tests.

Success shouldn’t be surprising as the Fit continues a long Honda tradition of building simple, well-engineered cars that are functional and efficient—all while causing owners barely any trouble. While the Fit is no Range Rover, it was roomy and comfortable with fuel economy that causes me to laugh at any full-size SUV. It takes laughter and serves up cool.

A base price of $15,890, or $22,000 as-tested, is a great value.

2016 Honda Fit
Five-passenger, FWD sub-compact
Powertrain: 130 hp 1.5 L I4, CVT auto trans
Suspension f/r: Ind/Torsion beam
Wheels f/r: 16-inch/16-inch alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/drum
Must-have features: Space, powertrain
Fuel economy: 32/38 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Celaya, Mexico
Base/as-tested price: $15,890/$22,000