In the subcompact car class your search begins and ends with the Honda Fit. It is efficient, fun to drive, astonishingly versatile and blessed with Honda's long-standing reputation for reliability. It's also helped that its scant few competitors haven't been worth considering unless a dealer gave you an offer you couldn't refuse, not to mention a free gym membership.
To make it a bit easier to make a choice in this now crowded market segment, let's look at why the Fit continues to be such a desirable little car. Its four-cylinder engine will save you plenty at the gas pump. This is also an enjoyable little car to drive, harking back to Honda's early days when tiny, nimble hatchbacks were its calling card. This ability to be both fun and frugal is something everyone is able to support.
Yet it's functionality that truly sets the Fit apart from the pack. Thanks to clever packaging, the Fit offers a perfectly flat load floor when the rear seats are folded down. The resulting 57 cubic feet of cargo space is more than that contained within some compact crossovers. And the backseat tricks don't end there. Its seat bottom flips up, leaving a flat, unencumbered space perfect for transporting a large dog or perhaps a flat-screen TV. Should you need it for actually carrying people, the Fit provides the most spacious, passenger-friendly cabins in the class.
The 2013 Honda Fit is a subcompact, four-door hatchback available in two trim levels: Fit and Fit Sport.
The base Fit comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split backseat (folding seatback, flip-up seat bottom) and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Fit Sport adds 16-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, a rear spoiler, sporty styling elements, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, transmission paddle shifters (automatic transmission), a driver armrest, floor mats and a six-speaker sound system. The only option available for the Sport is a navigation system, which includes a touchscreen interface, Bluetooth phone connectivity and voice controls.
Every 2013 Honda Fit is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 117 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. The latter includes shift paddles on the steering wheel for manual control with the Fit Sport model.
In edmunds.com performance testing, the Fit Sport with the manual went from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. With the automatic, the time moves to 11 seconds.
EPA-estimated fuel economy is 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined with the manual. The base Fit with the automatic returns 28/35/31, while the Fit Sport automatic returns 27/33/30.
Every 2013 Honda Fit comes standard with antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active head restraints. In edmunds.com brake testing, the Fit came to a stop from 60 mph in 134 feet.
In government crash testing, the Fit received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars in all frontal crash and side crash protection categories. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Fit the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Seating comfort is good all around, including a rear seat that can accommodate two adults.
What really sets the Fit's interior apart, though, is the cleverly designed 60/40-split "Magic" rear seat. Flipping up the seat bottom creates a tall, narrow opening that accommodates taller items that would not otherwise fit within such a small car and also reveals a handy storage compartment. The Fit is also a great choice for those with large dogs -- Fido can easily lie across the floor. Fold both rear seatbacks down and you have a flat load floor with 57.3 cubic feet of cargo room, which is just as much as in several small crossovers. If that's not enough, the Fit's front seat also folds flat to allow you to squeeze in items nearly 8 feet long.
The 2013 Honda Fit's light weight, lively four-cylinder engine and responsive steering combine to make it an enjoyable car to drive. It can zip happily through traffic and possesses that wonderful nimble quality that has characterized small Hondas for so long.