First Drive: 2018 Honda Fit
Refreshed Fit gets fitter thanks to some new sporting goods
Working out is hard. It's only slightly easier if you do it regularly and aren't sucking wind on the treadmill for the first time in six months. The Honda Fit is already in a pretty healthy place — so much so we named it a 2016 Automobile All-Star back when the third-gen model first appeared. But Honda felt it was time for its subcompact hatch to get back into the gym, and the resulting updates to the 2018 Honda Fit help to whip this little whip into even better shape.
In today's "selfie" world, everyone wants to look good for the camera. The Fit's no different. All trim levels benefit from a revised front fascia, highlighted by a new two-piece black lower and chrome upper grille that's been designed to evoke a lower, wider, and yes, more athletic appearance.
But it's the all-new Fit Sport that Honda is hoping will turn the heads of first-time buyers in the market for a stylish and versatile entry-level ride. The Sport appearance package includes a front splitter and rear three-strake diffuser trimmed in orange, gloss-black 16-inch alloy wheels, integrated fog lamps, side sills, and a chrome exhaust finish. And if new colors Helios Yellow and Orange Fury don't look hot in every fitness model's Instagram feed, we don't know what will. No filter required.
The first of the two Fits we rolled around L.A. 's urban jungle was a Sport with the 6-speed manual. Shift action is outstanding, as smooth as the Harvard rowing team gliding across the Charles River. We found the sweet spot of Honda's 1.5-liter DOHC direct-injected I-4 with 130 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque to be around 4,200 rpm on the way to its peak power at 6,600 rpm (models with Honda's continuously variable transmission lose 2 hp and 1 lb-ft). Whatever the trim, the Fit is an efficient long distance runner to the tune of 31 mpg combined for the manual trans and 33 mpg for the EX-L trim with CVT.
If driven aggressively, the Fit's 16-valve, i-VTEC equipped four banger has more than enough grunt to push the Fit up steep grades without it feeling like it's been working out too long on a Bowflex. (Weight ranges from 2,522 to 2,648 lbs depending on configuration.) The suspension is on the soft side, but its MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear does the job.
The Fit feels happiest on the highway humming along between 60 and 70 mph, and thanks to thicker glass and additional insulation under the sheetmetal, it's quieter in the cabin. But when you keep the revs high the engine noise can negate any Zen derived from those improvements. Inside, additions to the new Sport trim include contrast stitching and argyle-type patterned cloth seats that up the style ante and lend the interior a slightly more premium feel.
Even better for the 2018 Fit is the impending availability of a Honda Factory Performance (HFP) package for all trim levels save the base LX (though you will be able to order HFP parts separately). Sadly, there's no more muscle for the engine, but the HFP kit lowers the car by 10 millimeters (0.4-inch), firms up the suspension by re-tuning the shocks, and sharpens the steering by increasing the rigidity of the steering rack bearings of the pinion shaft. An HPD titanium shift knob, sport pedals, floor mats, and a more aggressive tailgate spoiler are also part of the package, the pricing and availability of which will be available at the end of October.
Our second stint was in an HPD-equipped, top-of-the-line Fit EX-L with the CVT. It was clear from the outset that the HPD car had a far superior ride and felt more connected and responsive from a handing perspective. The CVT is a bit on the rubber-bandy side, but employing the paddles gives the driver more control. The first thing we'd do is throw on some wider tires because the set of 185/55 all-season rubber tended to squeal during aggressive cornering.
The EX-L's black leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter gave off a premium feel, though some of the cabin's plastic bits looked a tad lackluster. But for a base price of $17,065, we're not complaining about the lack of carbon fiber and Alcantara. This is a budget-minded, entry level subcompact after all.
The 2018 Fit's infotainment system with its 7.0-inch touchscreen interface feels a bit layered and it takes a couple of steps to find things, but once there, it works well enough and the graphics are clear and sharp. Knobs haven't gone by the wayside yet, so feeling your way around while driving is still possible. It's only a matter of time though before we're all barking directions at our cars like an aggressive Soul Cycle instructor. Embrace the knobs while we've still got them.
As has been the case since it arrived on the market, the Fit's versatility and functionality is where it flexes some mighty muscle, with a whopping 52.7 cu-ft of cargo space with the seats down—a number that punches way above its class. The similarly wheelbased Ford Focus comes in at only 44.8 cu-ft and the Chevy Trax checks in with 48.4 cu-ft. The Fit matches haulage area with the Volkswagen Golf, which has a three-inch longer wheelbase.
A good chunk of that extra space is due to Honda's split second row Magic Seat, with its deeper foot well that provides more legroom for passengers in the rear and allows for multiple configurations. When putting the back seats down the seat bottoms collapse into those deeper foot wells, allowing for increased height between the lowered seat backs and the roof. By removing the front passenger seat headrest and reclining it flat in "refresh mode" as Honda calls it, storage space extends the length of the interior and could easily accommodate a surfboard or skis with the hatch closed.
Honda has also spent a good deal of energy improving the connectivity and safety features on the 2018 Fit. In a first for the model, Honda Sensing, the automaker's suite of driver assistance features, is optional for the LX and Sport and standard on EX and EX-L. Additionally, customer favorites such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available from the Sport trim on up to the EX-L.
While it's not the hot hatch of our dreams, the Fit has always been a favorite of ours, and when you throw in the extra sport-themed bennies the HFP kit offers, it's certainly getting a little warmer. We do wonder however how much more fun the Fit could be with some true performance upgrades. Fit Si, anyone?
The 2018 Fit is hitting dealerships now. It's a car that's definitely been drinking its protein shakes, getting into the gym and working out. Only time will tell how much it really bulks up in future.
2018 Honda Fit Specifications
|ENGINE||1.5L DOHC 16-valve I-4/130 hp @ 6,600 rpm, 114 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed manual or continuously variable|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD hatchback|
|EPA MILEAGE||29-33/36-40 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||161.4 x 67.0 x 60.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||8.5 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||119 mph|