The 2018 Honda Fit heralds a mid-generation sprucing up for Honda’s superb subcompact hatchback. Naturally, there are some tweaks to the styling, but the more significant changes are the introduction of a new Sport trim, an updated infotainment system and greater availability of some advanced safety features.
Sport doesn’t live up to its name to any great degree. It’s all cosmetic, no special suspension setup or enhanced power numbers. But it’s still a pleasant mid-level trim that’s eligible for more options than the base model. Meanwhile, on all models, Honda has reinforced the body to improve noise, vibration and harshness, along with recalibrating the suspension for better handling and comfort.
The 2018 Honda Fit range starts out at $17,065 for the LX trim with the six-speed manual transmission. The Sport is priced from $18,375 and the EX starts at $19,035. The EX goes up higher still with a couple of sub-trims. For example, EX-L, from $21,395, means leather upholstery, heated front seats and side mirrors, and a standard automatic transmission. And EX-L with Navi, unsurprisingly, brings navigation into the mix. At that point, we’re looking at $22,395.
For comparison, the 2017 Ford Fiesta hatchback starts at $14,835 for the S version. The well-stocked Titanium-trim hatchback starts at $19,825. However, Ford has a host of individual extra-cost options, whereas Honda typically limits you to the features that come standard on a given trim level.
Standard equipment in the LX includes a rearview camera, LED brake lights, an instant fuel economy readout and a 160-watt audio system. Desirable features such as 16-inch alloy wheels kick in with Sport trim, along with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
EX models come standard with the Honda Sensing suite of safety features, even with the manual transmission. The EX also adds a moonroof, keyless entry/ignition and Honda LaneWatch — a camera built into the passenger-side mirror housing that can display a video of your blind spot on the dashboard screen whenever the right turn signal is activated.
Where it’s offered as an option rather than standard equipment, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is an extra $800. The safety features of the Honda Sensing safety package cost $1,000 in the LX and Sport trims; it’s standard at the EX level. To have more creature comforts usually means stretching the budget to a higher trim, but the Fit can also go off on a different, sportier tangent.
Meanwhile, the Honda Factory Performance division offers the chance to purchase a revised suspension setup and some aerodynamic body parts. These components have been developed through a racing series in which specially prepared Fits may compete. Similar extras include black-finished 16-inch alloy wheels, a titanium shift knob for the manual transmission’s gear lever, and aluminum pedals. Naturally, the Sport trim is a prime choice for such customization.
Comfort and Cargo
In both the Sport and EX-L trims, the front seats are well-shaped, do a good job of providing side support and adjust easily into a comfortable driving position. The steering wheel adjusts for height and reach, albeit within a small range of movement. Legroom and headroom are impressive in both sets of seats.
The Fit also excels with luggage. Not only do the second-row seats fold flat (in a 60/40 split) to present a generous 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space, the bottom cushions can also flip up, and the front passenger seatback reclines fully so the car can accommodate longer items like surfboards. When the rear seats are in place, there’s still a respectable 16.6 cubic feet behind them.
Engine and Fuel Economy
A 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine endows the Fit with 130 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque with the six-speed manual transmission. The optional CVT automatic has slightly reduced output: 128 hp and 113 lb-ft. Those power figures are good for the class.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates fuel consumption for the manual-transmission Fit as 29 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined. The CVT boosts those figures to 33/40/36 mpg for the LX or a less miserly 31/36/33 mpg on the Sport or EX trims.
This third-generation Fit received high scores in government and independent crash testing. And for a car with drums at the rear (there are discs up front), braking feel is noticeably reassuring.
The main news here, though, is that Honda Sensing — the company’s array of advanced safety features — is now available in this subcompact car. Honda Sensing comprises forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and, if you do leave your lane, a more aggressive “road departure mitigation system.”
One of the great things about the Fit’s cabin is how easy it is to look past. To explain: It’s been designed with a large glass area and high ceiling, so outward vision is excellent — especially when looking over the right shoulder. For a subcompact car, it doesn’t feel in the least bit claustrophobic.
We might gripe about the high center console and the considerable depth of the dashboard, along with the hard plastics on the tops of the doors and dashboard. But really, this is a small and reasonably priced mainstream car we’re talking about here. The competition doesn’t fare any better. And the 3D-effect speedometer looks cool.
As part of this mid-cycle refreshment, the Fit’s nose and tail have been redrawn. It’s nothing drastic, just bringing it more into line with Honda’s current family look. The Fit remains agreeable in the styling department, performing the fairly tricky task of staying tidy and aerodynamically effective on the outside while containing a relatively spacious interior. For 2018, paint choices now include yellow and orange.
The engine feels lively, eager to rev. There’s no perceptible difference between the two drivetrains, only that the manual transmission allows a driver to use what torque there is more effectively, since the automatic is slow in its responses. More low-end push would be good (it takes the best part of 10 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standstill), but there has to be some compromise between power and fuel consumption.
The steering is quick, light and precise, though not particularly informative regarding how the front tires’ behavior. Once they do lose grip, the nose washes wide predictably and progressively. All it takes easing off the throttle a touch and the cornering line becomes tidy again.
The 2018 Fit’s additional sound deadening has resulted in a fairly quiet cabin, while the chassis updates give a generally smooth ride. However, rough surfaces will make themselves heard before they’re bad enough to be felt. And the CVT still results in a subdued drone when the engine is asked to work harder.
Whatever shortcomings the previous infotainment system had, the new version works fine. The stereo sounds good and linking a smartphone through Bluetooth can be done in seconds without consulting the owner’s manual. The Fit also scores well in the resale stakes, with 55 percent of its value expected to be retained over three years. Regardless of any few and minor shortcomings, the 2018 Honda Fit is still a top-ranking subcompact.