2013 Honda Fit Road Test and Review: Introduction
Car and Driver magazine calls the 2013 Honda Fit one of the 10 best cars in America. That might be unexpected from a group of writers, editors, and analysts accustomed to flying down the Autobahn in the latest six-figure sports cars, but there you have it. Obviously, that crew of critics recognizes the Honda Fit’s general state of brilliance, even if it can’t go fast in a straight line.
I’m no stranger to the Fit, yet each time I drive one, I’m amazed by its sheer competency and genuine giggle factor. There are several things I personally dislike about the car, but only one of them represents a deal breaker. If you’re looking for an affordable, practical, and fun little car, this Honda ought to be on your list.
That said, the Fit is no longer the only compelling micro-machine for sale. The Chevrolet Sonic and Ford Fiesta are impressive, a Mazda 2 is just as much fun to toss around, and the Toyota Yaris possesses redeeming qualities. Nothing in the class beats a Kia Rio when it comes to style and front seat comfort, and if you need a big back seat and large trunk at the lowest price, look no further than a Nissan Versa Sedan.
Clearly, there is a silver lining to years of high gas prices. Tiny cars no longer equate to tinny cars.
2013 Honda Fit Road Test and Review: Models and Prices
There are three 2013 Honda Fit models from which to choose. The standard Fit costs $16,215, including the $790 destination charge. An automatic transmission is $850 extra, bringing the total to just over $17,000.
Our favorite version of this car is the Fit Sport, starting at $17,950 with the manual gearbox. This model adds 16-inch aluminum wheels, fog lights, a sporty body kit, an upgraded stereo, and a handful of additional extras. Get the optional automatic transmission, and you can also add a navigation system ($1,780) to this car.
Honda also offers the Fit as an electric vehicle (EV), a limited-production model offered in selected cities. The Fit EV costs $389 per month for a 3-year lease, is rated to get 118 MPGe, and comes with free maintenance, roadside assistance, and collision insurance coverage.
My test car was a Honda Fit Sport with an automatic transmission and a voice-activated navigation system with Bluetooth connectivity, wearing a window sticker of $20,580. Though this loaded model’s Bluetooth connection is appealing, we’d recommend sticking with a stick and ditching the navigation system in favor of using a smartphone for navigation and the USB connection for playing your music, saving $2,630 in the process.
2013 Honda Fit Road Test and Review: Design
- Midnight Plum Pearl paint color debuts
Shaped like a doorstop, the 2013 Honda Fit is all about function. Its big, jutting nose allows the small engine to sit as far forward as possible, maximizing interior room, and despite a tidy tail, the Fit offers a surprising amount of cargo space. Styling employs triangular and trapezoidal forms, and the windows are enormous, making occupants feel like they’re sitting in a giant fishbowl. Fit Sport models have machined-face aluminum wheels and styling details that provide the car with a jaunty personality.
Once seated, occupants face a desert of dark dashboard plastic baking under solar radiation. The Fit possesses a hose-me-out ambiance typical of small cars, yet Honda has clearly paid attention to design and function in equal measure. The gauges look terrific, the steering wheel is appealing and pleasing to grip, and the Fit offers an abundance of both cupholders and storage solutions.
2013 Honda Fit Road Test and Review: Comfort and Cargo
- No changes
If you believe that “Honda Fit” and “comfort and cargo” are mutually exclusive concepts, you are forgiven. This is, after all, one of the smallest cars for sale, measuring just 13.5 feet from one end to the other. Naturally, then, the assumption is that comfort levels and cargo space are casualties in the pursuit of fuel economy and an affordable price.
Believe it or not, the Fit is roomy enough for a family. My test car easily accommodated two adults and a couple of pre-schoolers in forward-facing car seats, and I’m not exactly a small guy. The Fit’s 20.6 cu.-ft. trunk ingested a full-size stroller without a problem, leaving enough room for diaper bags and camera cases and backpacks and shopping sacks. Seriously, the Fit proved more functional than some crossover SUVs I’ve driven.
Additionally, the Fit offers lots of utility. Consider that the Fit can swallow 57.3 cu.-ft. of stuff with the rear seat folded, that the front passenger’s seat folds in half to provide 7’9” of lengthwise load distance, and that the rear Magic Seat provides 4 feet of vertical load height when the 60/40-split bottom cushion is flipped up. Clearly, the fun and flexible Fit is just about as practical as a small pickup truck. Plus, your things don’t get all wet when it rains.
Believe it or not, the Fit Sport is also comfortable for four adults. The seats provide good support, and I had no trouble slipping into the back seat thanks to wide rear doors, a tall rear seat cushion, and decent knee and shin clearance. Plus, the front seatbacks are soft to increase comfort levels for those with longer legs.
I’ve got two complaints about the Fit’s interior. First, the fabric used in the Fit Sport model collects a ton of lint. Second, despite the presence of a manual seat height adjuster, the driver’s seat sits too low in the car. This feeling, however, is mainly due to the Fit’s massive windshield and towering side glass.
2013 Honda Fit Road Test and Review: Features and Controls
- No changes
Simple, functional, and stylish, the Honda Fit’s controls are arrayed around the steering wheel, combining large, round, clearly marked knobs with big buttons wearing legible lettering. Lacking complexity, the Fit’s interior is very easy to understand and use.
My test car had the optional voice-activated navigation system with Bluetooth connectivity. It is a rectangular touchscreen unit with a single knob controlling power and volume and two stacks of small buttons on either side of the screen, half of which are too far away to see easily, let alone stab. Compared to, say, the Chevy MyLink technology in a Chevrolet Sonic, the Fit’s infotainment system looks and feels yester-tech.
That’s one reason I recommend sticking with the standard stereo system, which retains the cabin’s circular design themes and offers both large knobs and big buttons. Plus, the standard stereo’s faceplate is a contrasting gray color, which helps to break up the monotony of black plastic inside the Fit.
The other reason I recommend skipping the navigation system is because it is only offered in conjunction with the Fit’s soul-robbing automatic transmission.
2013 Honda Fit Road Test and Review: Safety and Ratings
- No changes
Generally speaking, small cars offer basic levels of safety equipment and little more. That’s true of the Honda Fit, which is equipped with 6 airbags, anti-lock brakes, a traction and stability control system, and active front seat head restraints. Additionally, the Fit is designed to Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) standards, which are intended to make the lightweight, 2,496-lb. car crash-compatible with a wider range of vehicle sizes and types.
2013 Honda Fit Crash-Test Ratings:
Does ACE work? In crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Fit receives an overall rating of 4 stars. It bears mentioning, however, that in side-impact tests, the protection rating for the driver is 3 stars, and if the Fit were to slide off the road into a pole or tree, the NHTSA gives the car a 2-star protection rating.
Results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are more favorable. The IIHS calls the 2013 Honda Fit a “Top Safety Pick."
2013 Honda Fit Road Test and Review: Engines and Fuel Economy
- No changes
A 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard for the Honda Fit, making 117 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 106 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm. Those are small numbers that require lots of engine revving to access. Extra engine revving creates additional cacophony inside the Fit’s thinly isolated cabin, which means most drivers are going to working with less motive force than the car can muster in order to reduce cabin racket.
The engine is paired with a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. In the Fit Sport model, the automatic transmission includes steering wheel paddle shifters to offer greater control over shift points. A Sport mode keeps engine revs high to improved throttle response, but this also adds to the din inside the car.
According to the EPA, the Fit Sport with the automatic transmission is expected to return 27 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg in combined driving. We got 29.9 mpg in combined driving, nearly an exact match to the EPA rating. Still, shouldn’t a lightweight car with a little engine do better than this?
2013 Honda Fit Road Test and Review: Driving Impressions
Based on previous experience driving a Fit Sport, when equipped with Honda’s slick shifting manual gearbox, this car is gobs of fun to drive in the city and on a favorite back road. The automatic installed in my 2013 Fit Sport test sample, however, robbed the scrappy little car of entertainment value, despite the presence of a Sport mode and shift paddles on the steering wheel. On a positive note, the shift paddles proved responsive when hustling the Fit over a mountain range, and definitely added to the car’s fun factor compared to when letting the transmission decide shift points. But they still weren’t as satisfying to use as the Fit’s standard manual gearbox.
No matter the transmission choice, a Honda Fit is not fast, but neither are the go-karts at the local mini-golf complex, and you can’t stop smiling when you’re driving one of those. In most dynamic measures aside from acceleration, the Fit Sport displays amusing levels of athletic dexterity, squirting through tiny little holes in traffic, zipping around corners, and stopping on the proverbial dime despite its mediocre brake pedal feel and drum rear brake setup.
Indeed, there’s a good chance that you will giggle when driving a Honda Fit Sport. The car’s small footprint, sticky tires, and light curb weight let the driver fling it about and make maximum use of available pavement, helping to conserve enough momentum to cause local law enforcement authorities to take notice. Better yet, the Fit Sport handles well without compromising ride quality. You could drive one of these little cars all day long without complaint, as long as you wear some earplugs. Especially on the highway, this car is loud inside.
Speaking of the highway, it is in this environment where the Fit Sport is the least satisfying. In addition to the monotonous drone from the engine, the car doesn’t feel as buttoned down as it should at higher freeway speeds, the electric steering is too light on center, and the tiny tires tramline in pavement grooves. Rather, the Fit is at its best in the city, in the suburbs, and on roads that don’t travel in a straight line.
2013 Honda Fit Road Test and Review: Final Thoughts
There are many reasons for small car buyers to choose a Honda Fit. It’s easily affordable. It’s extremely reliable. It’s eminently practical. It gets 30 mpg without trying. If there’s any cause for concern, it’s the Fit’s mediocre side-impact crash-test ratings from the NHTSA.
2013 Honda Fit Road Test and Review: Pros and Cons
- Bulletproof reliability
- Riotous handling
- Magic Seat flexibility
- Surprising room for people
- Thoughtful accommodation of stuff
- Mediocre side-impact crash-test ratings
- Automatic transmission dulls the car’s personality
- Occasionally uncertain stability at highway speeds
- Disappointing fuel economy
- Fishbowl-style windows
Honda supplied the vehicle for this review
2013 Honda Fit Sport photos by Christian Wardlaw
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