2012 Honda Fit Review and Prices

Last Updated: Mar 30, 2012

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2012 Honda Fit Buying Advice

The 2012 Honda Fit is the best car for you if you appreciate a frugal little wagon that’s inexpensive and defines “small on the outside, big on the inside.”  

The 2012 Honda Fit subcompact undergoes its first styling changes since 2009. They’re subtle and confined primarily to the Fit Sport versions, which get a freshened grille and new front bumper. Unaltered is the ability of these four-door hatchbacks to easily carry four adults or an astonishing variety of cargo and deliver good gas mileage. Prices start at $15,945 and best of all, the 2012 Fit’s fun to drive.

Should you buy a 2012 Honda Fit or wait for the 2013 Honda Fit? The 2012 Fit has the updates that’ll carry this car to its next full redesign, slated for model-year 2014. The only notable change likely for the 2013 Fit is addition of a pure-electric version, though it’ll be available only in limited distribution and likely only as a lease. So buying a 2012 Fit gets you a 35-mpg five-seater with a design that’s still as advanced as any in its class. The 2012 Fit’s styling will have a longer shelf-life than the 2013’s, and you’ll avoid the almost-certain model-year price escalation.

2012 Honda Fit Changes back to top

Styling: The 2012 Honda Fit marks the maturing of a second-generation Fit that debuted for model-year 2009. With an all-new third-generation on tap for model-year 2014, changes to the 2012 Fit come under the heading of a midcycle freshening.

The 2012 Fit continues in base, upscale Sport, and top-line Sport with Navigation-system models. All have the same body and interior layout, with Sport versions again distinguished from the base Fit by larger tires on alloy wheels, a rear roof spoiler, fog lamps, and a shiny exhaust pipe.

Styling changes to the 2012 Fit Sport amount to a slightly reshaped grille and front bumper and addition of black headlight bezels and a machined-surface look to the alloy wheels. In the only appearance alteration to the 2012 Fit base model, black exterior mirrors are exchanged for body-color units, as on the Sports. Oh yes, Blue Raspberry Metallic and Orangeburst Metallic replace similar hues as exterior color choices.

Inside Fit Sport models, the finish on some plastic dashboard trim is now dark metallic instead of gray for a more unified decor. And all 2012 Fits get revised front cupholders and ambient illumination of their front center console. In all, the 2012 Fit’s interior has a sporty, airy feel and materials of a higher quality than in Honda’s more expensive Civic compact.  

The 2012 Honda Fit remains a front-wheel-drive car just 12 ½-feet long but with a relatively generous wheelbase (the distance between front and rear axles). Combined with a tall roof and a compact powertrain snuggled smartly under the briefest of noses, Fit’s ability to carry four adults in subcompact-class-leading comfort while also boasting category-topping cargo utility is a revelation. Part of this Honda’s secret is a unique rear-seat folding mechanism, detailed in the Features section below.

Mechanical: The 2012 Honda Fit is mechanically unchanged and remains an engaging little runabout that doesn’t weigh much and so can get by with small, fuel-efficient engine.

Fit’s 1.5-liter four-cylinder is again rated at 117 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque, output slightly below par for its competitive set. The 2012 Fit base model and the non-navigation Sport are available with a five-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic. The Fit Sport with Navigation model comes only with the automatic transmission. When equipped with the automatic, both Sport versions get steering-wheel paddles that allow manual-type gear control.

Note that some rivals employ six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions that extract additional performance and promote better fuel economy than Fit’s five-speed units. Still, typical of subcompact cars with engines similar to this, Fit feels liveliest with manual transmission, labors a bit with automatic, and never really counts acceleration among its assets.

In the negative column as well is Fit’s stiff ride over bumps and its paucity of sound insulation against wind and road noise. Honda attempts to address that second criticism by giving every 2012 Fit additional sound-deadening measures in the floor, front fenders and front roof pillars, plus thicker front corner-window glass.

Solidly on the plus side is responsive handling. Fit is downright fun to drive, and its nimble road manners are most vivid in the Sport models. They continue with 16-inch wheels and tires versus the base Fit’s 15s, plus a suspension fortified with a rear stabilizer bar.

All 2012 Fits return with antilock brakes as standard to aid control in emergency stops, although like the vast majority of subcompact cars, Fits have front-disc and rear-drum brakes. Honda took a step in the right direction with the 2011 Fit when it made its Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) antiskid system standard on all Fit models, not just the Sport with Navigation. This safety feature helps keep the car on course in sharp turns.

Features: The 2012 Honda Fit’s generous wheelbase, tall roofline, and compact exterior dimensions wouldn’t be nearly so efficient if not for a feat of engineering the carmaker calls the Magic Seat.

Using a clever concoction of hinges and levers, Fit’s 60/40 split rear seatback and cushions can be folded nearly flush with rear load floor. That takes advantage of Fit’s unusually low floorpan to create a cavernous cargo bay. But wait, there’s more: the Magic Seat’s bottom cushions hinge rearward to open a transverse channel behind the front seats big enough to hold a flat-screen TV box or a bicycle. And Fit’s front passenger seatback tips forward to make room for long objects like skis. No other subcompact is so versatile.

Indeed, the 2012 Fit continues as the pacesetter for subcompact-class cargo volume, with 20.6 cubic feet aft of the rear seatbacks and 57.3 cubic feet with the Magic Seat fully folded. These volumes rival those of some compact crossover SUVs.

The 2012 Honda Fit also continues among the few cars in this class to offer a factory navigation system. It’s again exclusive to the Sport model where its addition creates, appropriately enough, the Fit “Sport with Navigation.” The system employs a 6.5-inch dashboard screen and responds reasonably well to voice commands. It’s updated for model-year 2012 and now acquires data from a satellite link rather than relying on DVDs.

Also for model-year 2012, the navigation system is accompanied by Fit’s first Bluetooth hands-free mobile-phone connectivity. This is a safety feature widely available throughout the lineup of several Fit’s rivals. Unfortunately, Honda makes it exclusive to the most expensive 2012 Fit. Continuing as standard on all 2012 Fits is a USB iPod interface

Few cars in this class offer a sunroof or leather upholstery, and Fit doesn’t, either. Credit Honda, though, with bolstering the 2011 Fit’s standard equipment list by migrating desirable features such as cruise control, remote keyless entry, and an USB iPod interface – not to mention the antiskid system – from the Sport versions down to the base model.

Standard equipment on every 2012 Fit again includes a tilt/telescope steering column, air conditioning, power locks, and power windows with an automatic up/down driver’s window. A 2012 Fit buyer again must step up to a Sport model to get a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a security system, and cabin map lights.

The 2012 Fit repeats with a 160-watt single-CD audio system that works through four speakers on the base model and six on the Sports. An auxiliary plug for digital players is standard along with the USB interface. And for model-year 2012, steering-wheel audio controls are standard on every Fit Sport, not just Sport with Navigation models.

2012 Honda Fit Prices back to top

Price range for the 2012 Honda Fit is $15,945-$20,310. That’s slightly higher than the base-price range of competing subcompact hatchbacks, mostly because Honda does not offer extra-cost items as stand-alone options. Rather, it equips each model in a lineup with a set roster of features. When optioned to match a particular Fit model, comparable subcompacts usually cost the same or more.

The 2012 Honda Fit base model is priced at $15,945 with manual transmission and at $16,745 with automatic. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturers’ destination fee. Honda’s fee is $770 for the 2012 Fit.)

The 2012 Honda Fit Sport is priced at $17,680 with manual transmission and $18,530 with automatic. The 2012 Honda Fit Sport with Navigation is priced at $20,310 with its standard automatic transmission.

2012 Honda Fit Fuel Economy back to top

This second-generation Fit was for a time the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car of its size. But the powertrain hasn’t really changed since model-year 2009 and Fit’s been surpassed by rivals such as the Hyundai Accent and extra-cost versions of the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruise, all of which boast highway ratings of more than 40 mpg.

Still, EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2012 Fit are laudable and compare well with mainstream editions of most competitors. With manual transmission, the 2012 Fit is rated at 27/33/29 mpg city/highway/combined. With automatic transmission, base models rate 28/35/31 mpg and Fit Sports 27/33/30 mpg.

2012 Honda Fit Release Date back to top

The 2012 Honda Fit went on sale in August 2011.

What's next for the 2012 Honda Fit back to top

Don’t expect additional changes of substance until the next-generation Fit is launched for model-year 2014. The Fit EV, or electric vehicle, is designated a 2013 model and was first delivered in small numbers to Google Inc. and Stanford University as part of the Honda Electric Vehicle Demonstration program.

The Fit EV looks like a slightly more aerodynamic 2012 Fit – and could preview the styling of the redesigned 2014 Fit. Honda announced plans to begin leasing the plug-in electric commuter vehicle to customers in select California and Oregon markets during the summer of 2012, with a rollout to east coast markets planned for spring 2013. The Fit EV runs purely on an electric motor powered by an on-board lithium-ion battery. Honda says the Fit EV battery can be fully recharged in as little as 3 hours using a 240-volt circuit. With a full charge, it says the Fit EV has a 123-mile range in city-type driving and a 76-mile range in combined city/highway driving.

As for the next-generation Fit, expect a conventional gas-powered front-drive hatchback that follows the formula of the 2009-2013 Fit: small engine, light weight, clever packaging. The EV is likely to be part of the lineup, as well.

2012 Honda Fit Competition back to top

Chevrolet Sonic: Introduced for model-year 2012, Sonic is an unexpected subcompact-class win for an American automaker. Offered as a four-door sedan and four-door hatchback, Sonic has been a sales hit. With its separate trunk, the sedan provides a measure of storage security unavailable in a hatchback like the Fit. The Sonic hatch, meanwhile, is as large overall as the Fit but has less passenger or cargo room. Overall, Sonic feels more isolated from road and wind noise than the Fit. It isn’t quite as nimble but handles with confidence and is available with a choice of two four-cylinder engines, both with 138 horsepower and both with more torque than the Fit. Fuel economy ranges from 25/35/28 mpg city/highway/combined to 29/40/33, depending on the engine and choice of manual or automatic transmission. The 2012 Sonic sedans start at $14,660 and hatchbacks at $15,560.

Ford Fiesta: Ford tapped its global design resources to bring U.S. buyers the sort of small car that demanding Europeans have enjoyed for years. Fiesta comes as a four-door hatchback and four-door sedan. Neither is nearly as space-efficient as the Fit but both have outstanding road manners, top the class for suspension composure, and beat the Honda for quietness. “Adventurous” styling inside and out and a wealth of infotainment options are other keynotes. Horsepower is 120, torque 112 pound-feet, and Ford has a hotter turbo model in the pipeline. Fuel economy ranges from 28/37/32-29/40/33 mpg. The 2012 Fiesta sedan starts at $13,995 and the hatchback at $16,295, and both can exceed $21,000, fully loaded.   

Nissan Versa: Don’t buy a subcompact car without shopping this appealing ‘tweener. Redesigned for model-year 2012, Versa is priced like a subcompact but has the interior roominess of a larger, compact-class car. Our pick is the four-door hatchback over the sedan. Versa doesn’t quite handle with Fit’s verve and falls a bit short in cargo versatility. But it’s quieter and more comfortable on long drives, is priced competitively, and fuel economy tops out at a palatable 30/37/33 mpg.  Sedans have just 109 horsepower but start at only $11,750 stripped; they’re priced from $13,520 more sensibly equipped. Hatchbacks have 122 horsepower and have a base-price range of $15,140-$19,140.