Another Honda Fit question
August 17, 2017 7:58 AM   Subscribe

I test drove a 2015 Honda Fit yesterday (30k miles), and it was kind of terrible. Do I try again with a new (2017 or 2018) Fit, or look for a different subcompact (and if so, which one)?

Background: I owned a manual transmission 2016 Honda Fit when I lived in the UK, and I loved it. It wasn't the speediest car, but it didn't feel too pokey, and the cargo room was perfect for me (I lived alone and often needed space to haul things around, especially after I decided to move back to the US). My only real complaint was the amount of road noise (but that goes with the territory in a car of that type).

Now that I'm back in the US, I need a car. I was very excited when I found a used 2015 Fit (automatic transmission) since they don't come up for sale that often, and test drove it yesterday, but it was just disappointing. The body of the car was in good shape, but it wasn't any fun to drive. It felt sluggish and loud and bleh.

I'm not sure if this is an adjustment to driving US cars for nearly a year (I've been driving an automatic Honda CR-V and a manual Mini Roadster), or if it was just a bad Fit.

My budget is $15,000-$20,000. Is it worth test driving a new 2017 or 2018 Fit and seeing if I feel any differently about one of those, or do I need to turn my attention somewhere else? I would prefer to spend closer to the bottom end of my budget, of course, and I'm not super-keen on buying a new car if I can avoid it (but I will if it's my best option). I've been looking at certified pre-owned cars all morning and nothing's really clicked so far. (On the list: 2014 and 2015 Honda Civics, 2015 and 2016 Toyota Corollas, a 2015 Nissan Altima, and 2015 and 2017 Hyundai Elantras.)

I don't live alone at the moment, but am planning on doing so in 2018 at some point. Reliability is important to me, being able to haul as much as I could with a Fit is important (I have a dog), and I want city MPG over 30 if at all possible. (Most of the cars on my certified pre-owned list are just below that, although the Civics are 30.) I've thought about a Prius, but I don't like the amount of rear visibility. I would like a car that's at least marginally fun to drive. (I understand that's subjective!)

What do you recommend?
posted by minsies to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total)
I just got a 17 Fit EX. When I use the paddle shifters (I have an automatic), and sacrifice a little bit of MPG, I can step on the gas and it will *go*. It handles nicely too. But, on balance, I'm imagining it won't be too too different from the prior years' models for you.
posted by hijinx at 8:03 AM on August 17, 2017

I drove a Fit for three years. Just bought a new Honda HRV and I do love it. The stripped down new models are in your price range, albeit at the top. We have a CRV and had the Fit, and the HRV falls right in the middle. I've only had it a few weeks, but I do love it so far. Except for the weird touch-screen controls, I hate those but am getting used to them.
posted by raisingsand at 8:07 AM on August 17, 2017

I was disappointed with driving the Fit as well (though I haven't driven a newer model). I wound up with a Kia Soul, which I like for the cargo room and general handling (it's a great city car), but the automatic transmission can be sluggish.
posted by lunasol at 8:30 AM on August 17, 2017

I needed a new car last winter and drove the Fit and was shocked at how much I disliked it. Sluggish, yeah, but I also thought there were too many visibility issues and just didn't get the love. I drove a newer Civic as well and didn't like it either, and ended up with a brand new (2016) automatic transmission Ford Fiesta for about $13,500 out the door. They were having end-of-year deals so that knocked a couple thousand off it, but I got it upgraded to an 8-year, 100,000 mile warranty for another $1000 or so and it didn't end up costing me any more than a used Fit/Civic/Corrolla would've. It doesn't have the greatest pickup, but it holds A LOT (I had a Ford Escort before this one an was sure I wasn't going to get another Ford...) and gets great gas mileage. I recently drove about 300 highway miles on roughly half a tank of gas, and I'm sure it's at least 30mpg around town. I'm not madly in love with it but I am madly in love with my warranty and finally having a reliable car.
posted by jabes at 8:53 AM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's the difference between the automatic and the manual versions of that car. I passed on the automatic because it felt sluggish and underpowered and bought the manual because it was peppy and fun to drive.
posted by asphericalcow at 9:24 AM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think it's the automatic vs the manual. I test drove a 2016 automatic Fit and haaaated it. It felt like there were 4 wheezing hamsters powering the car. I have a relative with a manual Fit and they really like it. Manuals can be hard to find though--when I was car shopping there was 1 available in the whole state (not in my city).

I like hatchbacks and ended up with a VW Golf GTI, which I love and which is very roomy but doesn't have the same bulletproof reliability that Hondas and Toyotas do (although nothing major). Other used car suggestions that kept coming up when I was shopping were the Mazda 3 and the Toyota Matrix.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 9:33 AM on August 17, 2017

If you liked the other manual fit, I'd say you find the automatic sluggish because it isn't manual. Can you test drive a new manual Fit to confirm you like it, and if so perhaps consider extending your search area or pay a little extra for a place like CarMax to deliver?
posted by czytm at 9:37 AM on August 17, 2017

When I was shopping in 2014 I hated driving the Fit and ended up with a Mazda3 - fun to drive, great gas mileage. It doesn't have the Fit's level of flexible cargo space, but it does have a hatchback option. You could definitely get a recent used one in your budget, maybe a new one.
posted by songs about trains at 9:40 AM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also, if you really want a peppy subcompact, you could find a used Ford Fiesta ST (note: the ST version is the fast one) to test drive. You definitely won't be disappointed in the peppiness.
posted by czytm at 9:41 AM on August 17, 2017

I have a 2016 and if the "Eco" mode is engaged it is very sluggish. If engaged, a green leaf icon will appear on the dash. Look for a green button down and to the left (I think) to engage/disengage.
posted by dforemsky at 9:46 AM on August 17, 2017

Int he wake of the Honda Fit crowd, try a new Chevy Sonic. I can't comment on the manual, but we have an 2014 automatic and love it.
posted by RhysPenbras at 10:07 AM on August 17, 2017

I agree with the others saying it's the manual vs the automatic. I've noticed the same thing when test driving manual vs automatic cars. Plus, if you've been driving a manual Mini Roadster, most subcompacts are going to feel sluggish, doubly so if it's an automatic transmission.
posted by thejanna at 10:26 AM on August 17, 2017

I have a 2014 automatic and like driving it. It's true that it's a bit loud when you're accelerating on the harder side, which at first might give you some negative feedback about doing that (and it's loud in general, lots of road noise), but it's perfectly speedy once you get used to that. It's actually quite comparable to my girlfriend's (automatic) mazda 3 in my experience, just louder. If I have one complaint about the driving it's that the electronic steering has a slightly mushy center.
posted by advil at 10:42 AM on August 17, 2017

This is going back to 2013, but I test drove a new (automatic transmission) Honda Fit when we were car-shopping, and I LOVED LOVED LOVED the storage and interior use of space in general, but it was just too underpowered compared to similarly-sized cars. I wound up with a Hyundai Accent (again, auto transmission).
posted by desuetude at 11:20 AM on August 17, 2017

Nthing that it's the manual vs. automatic transmission. If you're used to a manual Mini, just about everything else will feel like you're driving a gigantic barcalounger.

FWIW, I routinely get over 35+ mpg in my manual 2013 Mini Cooper, and it's got a surprising amount of room once the back seats are folded down. I can also attest that it's Rottweiler-proof.
posted by culfinglin at 12:47 PM on August 17, 2017

I test drove a 2014 or 2015 (automatic) Fit a few years ago, *hated* it. It wouldn't go, was uncomfortable to sit in, and I felt like I couldn't see out of it properly. (I'm 5'1", with very short legs, which is part of it). It was just a terrible driving experience.

I ended up buying a 2014 VW Golf, which I've really liked. I'm perfectly happy with its gas mileage (I get around 35 mpg combined city/highway), but even better, it is easy to drive. It *goes*. (And I can reach the pedals without pulling the seat up all the way to the steering wheel.)

The Fit made me feel unsafe driving. Now, I have friends who love theirs, but I'm not sorry I didn't get one. I don't even like riding in them.
posted by lysimache at 4:33 PM on August 17, 2017

Thanks, all! I test drove a 2015 Kia Soul that I'm going to be buying today, so I've given the best answer to lunasol for giving me another direction in which to look!

(The car is yeeeeeeeeeeellloooooooow!)
posted by minsies at 9:26 AM on August 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Awesome! Enjoy it.
posted by lunasol at 9:40 AM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

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