The Sell: The fun-to-drive practical commuter at a killer price
The Test: The six-speed stick shift on the all-new Honda Fit ($18,380; 29 mpg city/37 hwy) is not a down-market move. Instead, it plays to the Fit’s strength as a sporty ride despite its puny 130-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. That engine, coupled with its svelte weight, allowed us to zip through traffic with ease. In this day of ever bigger vehicles, the Fit is a snap to park, helped by its rearview camera. Over 285 miles of heavy urban driving at altitude in Denver, the mighty mite delivered 35 mpg. On the highway it returned miles per gallon in the mid 40s. Not hybrid numbers, but for a vehicle that costs $18,000, we were impressed.
But the car’s signature is its brilliant use of interior room and its cargo-carrying juju. The second row’s seat cushions fold up to create a three-foot-tall space, enough for us to load a 61-centimeter road bike vertically after removing the front wheel. Folding the back row forward and flat gave us nearly 53 cubic feet of room, which beats what you’ll find in Subaru’s XV Crosstrek and is plenty large enough to accommodate two 29ers and all our gear. Need even more room? The front passenger seat folds back and flat to accommodate a surfboard, skis or a rod up to 7 feet, 9 inches long.
What’s Missing? While the Fit shines in the city, the 1.5-liter engine works hard to maintain 80 mph on the interstate. Passing can be a nerve-wracking adventure. At more than 65 miles per hour, and especially in windy conditions, we found the Fit’s small, lightweight tires affected its stability.
The Verdict: The best urban commuter for under $20,000 with room for all your gear