2010 Car Comparison: Honda Fit v Toyota Yaris v Hyundai Accent
Inexpensive and fuel-efficient subcompact cars were almost an afterthought in automakers’ U.S. lineups during the last two decades. Cheap gas and a booming economy had buyers indulging themselves with large and powerful cars and trucks. All that began to change once gasoline prices started their upward spiral and, combined with an economic downturn, forced many buyers into downsizing their rides. Today, subcompacts are not necessarily entry-level cars aimed exclusively at budget-watchers and recent graduates. Some, like the Mini Cooper, are sporty and luxurious in their own right and automakers are readying more stylish and upscale subcompacts for those who want a small and efficient car but don’t necessarily care to drive a “penalty box” in the bargain.
This comparison test pits the three top-selling subcompact cars: the 2010 Honda Fit, 2010 Toyota Yaris, and 2010 Hyundai Accent. The Fit debuted stateside in 2007 and was subsequently updated for the 2009 model year. The Toyota Yaris has been in production with only nominal changes since its introduction for the 2007 model year. The Hyundai Accent has long been a staple of the automaker’s lineup and continues as one of the least-expensive autos available, at least in its base version. It hasn’t seen a major redesign since 2006.
- The Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, and Hyundai Accent are the lowest-priced models from their respective manufacturers.
- All pack small four-cylinder engines with admirable fuel economy as their main virtue: The 117-horsepower 1.5-liter engine in the Fit gets an estimated 28/35 mpg (city/highway) with the available five-speed automatic transmission. The Yaris comes with a 106-horsepower 1.5-liter rated at 29/36 with its standard five-speed manual transmission. Accent’s 110-horsepower 1.6-liter engine gets 27/36 with the available four-speed automatic gearbox.
- All come standard with five-speed manual transmissions, which we recommend you consider because that’s the best way to garner sufficient acceleration from these diminutive engines, particularly in highway passing and on-ramp merging.
- At best, each can carry four passengers, though rear-seat legroom is generally compromised for the tallest riders. All offer folding rear seatbacks to maximize cargo-carrying abilities.
- All come standard with front, side, and head-protecting curtain side airbags.
- As befits their youthful nature, all three models offer audio systems that include inputs for iPods and other portable music players.
- The Honda Fit is available only as a four-door hatchback. The Toyota Yaris line consists of a four-door sedan and two- and four-door hatchbacks. The Hyundai Accent comes in two-door hatchback and four-door sedan body styles. With any of these cars, a four-door hatchback body style is the most versatile in terms of cargo-carrying abilities. Two-door models might as well be considered two-seaters for all practical purposes.
- The Yaris and particularly the Accent are offered in stripper base models that trade equipment for cut-rate pricing -- around $13,400 and $10,700, respectively. Fit comes standard with a requisite number of features at a somewhat higher starting price of around $15,600. Beware that adding amenities considered staples on cars in other segments -- air conditioning, power locks and windows --- can quickly drive up prices of these cars. The top Accent GLS version, for example, comes in just under $17,000.
- The automatic transmission offer on the Yaris and Accent has four speeds. Fit buyers can choose a smoother and more-responsive five-speed automatic.
- Antilock brakes for better control in emergency stops come standard on the Fit and Yaris and are optional on the Accent.
- The Yaris features oddball center-mounted instrumentation, which Toyota says enhances the car’s forward visibility. At the least, it takes some getting used to.
By a large margin, the winner here is the perky and reasonably stylish Honda Fit. Its handling is far more entertaining than that of either the Yaris or Accent, which makes the Fit a good choice as an economical commuter for driving enthusiasts. The available five-speed automatic is likewise a definite plus. Fit’s tall-roof hatchback design not only makes loading and unloading easier, it maximizes passenger headroom. Best of all, it’s affordable without feeling “cheap;” Honda uses high-quality materials used throughout Fit’s cabin. The Fit may carry a higher base sticker price than the Yaris or Accent, but it comes well equipped with no factory options offered -- save the $800 automatic transmission. The base Fit model should suit most buyers. The Fit Sport model is worth stretching to, however, for its larger wheels and tires (for a slightly smoother ride), steering-wheel paddle shifters with automatic transmission, some cosmetic add-ons, and a few extra features.