2012 Honda Fit Hatchback - FROM $15,325
The 2012 Honda Fit is no longer the only choice for a fun-to-drive, well-rounded subcompact, but it remains the hands-down utility champ.
What's New for 2012
The 2012 Honda Fit Sport gets minor styling updates, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and an upgraded Bluetooth system that now offers streaming audio capabilities. All Fits receive additional sound insulation for a quieter cabin.
When you think of affordable subcompact cars, the last things that probably come to mind are eye-catching styling, a spacious interior and a fun-to-drive personality. Yet this is exactly why the 2012 Honda Fit is such a pleasant surprise.
In fact, this distinctive-looking four-door hatchback defies a number of common expectations about small cars. For starters, its interior offers as much cargo room as some small crossover SUVs. The space is flexible as well, with a fold-flat front passenger seat and a 60/40-split rear seat with bottom cushions that you can fold up to make room for especially tall cargo, or seatbacks that you can fold down to create a perfectly flat load floor.
Thankfully, its utility doesn't mean the Fit is a snooze to drive. Its 117-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and nicely tuned suspension give this hatch a zippy quality that actually makes errand-running kind of fun. The fact that this powertrain manages to be fairly frugal with a gallon of gas is also a plus.
Some new standard features were added to the Fit last year including stability control, keyless entry, cruise control and an iPod/USB audio input. For 2012 there are a few more small improvements, including freshened styling inside and out, additional sound insulation and a new Bluetooth system that adds streaming audio capability.
The recent introduction of several appealing new hatchbacks means buyers now have a number of very good choices, and the Fit's upgrades help it remain current. Two impressive rivals are the Chevy Sonic and Ford Fiesta. Both offer a better ride, improved fuel economy and a quieter cabin, but they're not as roomy. We'd also suggest having a look at the new Hyundai Accent, as it offers better fuel economy and a more stylish interior. Overall, though, the 2012 Honda Fit continues to be one of our favorites and will likely surprise you with its mix of practicality, frugality and fun.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Honda Fit is a subcompact four-door hatchback that's offered in two trim levels.
The base model comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, cruise control, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio input jack and an iPod/USB interface.
The Fit Sport adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, a sport body kit with chrome exhaust tip, foglights, a driver seat armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, shift paddles (automatic transmission only) and two additional speakers for the sound system. A navigation system with touchscreen interface, voice controls, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a digital audio card reader is available as an option on Sport models.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Honda Fit is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder good for 117 hp and 106 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles is available as an option.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Fit Sport with the manual went from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. A base Fit with the automatic took a more leisurely 11 seconds in the same test.
The manual-transmission Fit returns an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. The Fit Sport with the automatic returns the same. More conservative throttle programming on the automatic-equipped base model helps it achieve 28/35/31 (at the expense of quicker acceleration). These numbers are good, but quite a few other subcompacts are even better.
Every 2012 Honda Fit comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), front-seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags that cover both rows and active front head restraints.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Fit Sport screeched to a halt from 60 mph in 134 feet, which makes the car's braking performance only adequate for this segment.
In government crash testing, the Fit received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal impact protection and four stars for overall side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Fit a top mark of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side crash tests, and a second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the roof-strength test.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Fit's passenger cabin gets points for stylish design, though the quality of the materials is just so-so. Seating comfort is good all around, including a rear seat that can accommodate two adults with nary a complaint. The fact that the driver seat lacks a height adjustment may present a problem for shorter drivers, but the steering wheel's tilt-and-telescoping adjustability helps fine-tune the driving position. Though the off-center placement of some controls is a bit unconventional, everything is easy to see and operate.
What really sets the Fit's interior apart, though, is the cleverly designed 60/40-split "Magic" rear seat. Folding the seat bottoms up creates a tall narrow opening that accommodates taller items that would not otherwise fit, and reveals a handy underseat storage compartment. Fold both rear seatbacks down and you have a flat load floor with 57.3 cubic feet of cargo room. If that's not enough, the Fit's front seat also folds flat to allow you to squeeze in items nearly 8 feet long.
Light weight, a lively four-cylinder engine and responsive steering combine to make the 2012 Honda Fit an enjoyable car to drive. Manual-transmission-equipped models are the most entertaining, though the paddle-shift automatic is a passable alternative. The base model's automatic trades off some performance for slightly better fuel economy. This year's addition of more soundproofing should help minimize the wind, engine and tire noise that plagued earlier models.