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Is Honda's New Fit a Hit or a Miss?

Honda revealed the next-generation Fit subcompact in Japan on Friday. Photo credit: Honda.

Will Honda's (NYSE: HMC  ) new Fit build on the old car's success?

The car was revealed this past week in Japan. It's a prototype of the all-new Honda Fit. The new Fit is due to be rolled out in Japan this fall, and it will be here in the U.S. by next summer.

Stylistically, it's ... well, let's say it's a departure from the outgoing model, which has won many fans with its endearing looks. In a way, the current Fit is a lot like Hondas of old: light, simple, well thought out.

The new Fit might not have the visual appeal of the old one. But at least in its hybrid incarnation, it has something else: record-breaking fuel economy.

The new Fit Hybrid is amazing, and not coming to the U.S.
Honda says the hybrid version of the new Fit will get 36.4 kilometers from each liter of gas in the standard fuel-economy test the Japanese government uses. That translates to about 84 miles per gallon -- good enough to make it Japan's most fuel-efficient car.

It's also a 30% improvement over the outgoing Fit Hybrid, which is a big seller in Japan -- but which was never offered here in the United States.

Honda says the new Fit Hybrid won't come here, either -- a strange decision, given that the Fit Hybrid's closest competitor is the Japan-market version of Toyota's Prius c, which has been offered in the U.S for a while now. But we will see the Fit's hybrid powertrain in two new variants: a small sedan and a subcompact crossover SUV based on the Fit.

The U.S. is expected to get the Fit with a new 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine as the only powertrain option in the Fit itself. The new U.S.-market Fit and its new variants will all be built in a new factory in Mexico that's set to open early next year.

So will it succeed?

Can the new Fit live up to the old car?
The outgoing Honda Fit might be the company's most beloved current model. Unlike Honda's bigger cars, which have grown in size and weight (and price) from the lightweight, efficient models that built Honda's reputation here in the U.S., the Fit is still small and light -- and very fuel-efficient.

The current Honda Fit has won fans with its fuel economy and simple, endearing look. Photo credit: Honda.

Sales of the Fit have remained strong even as strong contenders such as Ford's (NYSE: F  ) Fiesta have gained ground. Through June, U.S. sales of Honda's subcompact were up 5.2%, a good gain for an outgoing model in a segment that has lagged a bit as consumers have started moving back toward larger cars and SUVs.

The appeal of the old car is obvious, especially if you talk to a Fit owner. But I'm not sure what to make of the new car. The look is definitely a departure from the current car's, and it appears to take visual cues from Honda's Insight hybrid, which has been a very slow seller.

When Honda redesigned its Civic a few years back, fans and critics were disappointed -- the car didn't seem to have what it needed to compete with hot new contenders such as Ford's Focus. Honda had to rush an updated version to market far ahead of schedule. That updated version has fared better, but it was an un-Honda-like misstep. Will this new Fit turn out to be another?

What do you think? Is the new car a winner, or is Honda losing its touch? Scroll down to leave a comment and let me know.

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Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2013, at 8:42 AM, wonderpill wrote:

    I am a Fit owner, and the only thing that is bad about the Fit I own is the power. And 110hp to be honest, isn't horrible, its just not what I was used to, after owning a Prelude.

    It is an entry level car, with Mid-grade interior qualities, that are crowned off by some things that I would consider Luxurious, in cars that other manufacturers would use to compete.

    The overall build Quality of the Fit is A+, even if the materials used are C-, they are built with such craftsmanship, that they are above survivable, and actually give you the hidden benefit of keeping the curb weight down.

    The fit offers a lot of great function, some of which is hidden in the look of the car. While most people can simply look at the car as a passerby, and grimace, the true beauty is in the driver's seat, and ultimately, you learn the Beauty of this car, only once you sit in it.

    If the Ugly Fascia, (I do not like the CIVIC face), of the New fit, puts you off, doing a side-by-side comparison of a 2013 leftover, and the 2014, may lead you to accept that the 2013, for a few bucks less, without your choice of options, may be the way to go, and Honda may have another Re-design on their hands, A LA Integra.

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2013, at 9:20 AM, goldcorvette86 wrote:

    Visited the Honda dealership last year, fully intending to purchase a Fit. I liked the look, the utilitarian space, the seat comfort, and interior. Not world class, but well put together and sensible. Then I drove it, and was very disappointed for one major reason........the road noise entering the cabin was annoying. I knew within 2 minutes I could not purchase the Fit, as much as I really wanted to. Part of the problem is the condition of roads on Long Island........plenty of repaired potholes and worn concrete. Maybe the Bridgestone tires contributed to the road noise also. But I knew if I bought it, I would regret the purchase.

    I do think the redesigned Honda Fit looks modern and attractive.

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2013, at 10:45 AM, jcphenry wrote:

    A hit. The people who like Hondas will like this. I looks similar to a Civic, which is widely liked. I suspect there will be cross-shopping from Civic sedan buyers to this car.

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2013, at 11:11 AM, sabebrush6 wrote:

    I own a '08 Honda Civic 5-speed Coupe and it seems to be a great little car getting 39 mpg & sometime a bit more. I bought it for a run-around car to save my Vette's miles. It ok for this purpose and great for a commuter car. I'm retired, so I seem to find endless trips to hdwe stores, etc for different projects to keep me occupied in between vac's. It does it's job extremely well, especially for the price. And it's kind of fun to drive. Not good for long trips, though.

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2013, at 11:18 AM, quasihedron wrote:

    Only Munchkins can FIT in this car. LOL.

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2013, at 12:39 PM, 91civichatchback wrote:

    I currently own a 91 honda civic hatchback. It's still in very good condition, only has 59K original mileage on it, and it's only 1 of less then 800 special editions made for that year. I've been tempted for years to buy a Fit as it has great visibility and cargo room just like my Civic has. But the difference is that the car is still very ugly to this day. Why can't Honda just refresh the Civic Hatchback already? Volkswagen has been doing it for decades with the Golf. The biggest difference between my Civic Hatchback and a Fit is, I still get people of all ages trying to buy my car from me. And it's 22 years old! Wake up Honda and hire some real designers already.

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2013, at 1:32 PM, rstrick6003 wrote:

    As a Honda FIT owner since 2007, I am disappointed in the new design. My main reason for buying the FIT was the funky design. It was different and fun. The new design is conventional. I say to Honda, "Stay with innovation!"

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2013, at 1:46 PM, LungsOfSteel wrote:

    The Fit's styling is par for the course for Honda. There is nothing significant about it that would require an article about it.

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2013, at 3:20 PM, Spudospam wrote:

    I have a 2009 Fit. For me, this car was an experiment, as previously I had Avalons and other bigger cars. While the Fit looks small on the outside, there is ample room for driver, front seat passenger, and cargo. I can spread out more in that car in the driver's seat than my wife's Lexus SUV. Back seat passengers are a bit cramped but not too bad. Good mileage, Honda dependability, ability to haul unexpected size items all pluses. These come at a price though. Car doesn't have much power, and to maintain the gas mileage they do things like cycle the air conditioning compressor on an off. On very hot days with the combination of greenhouse like conditions with all the glass, black dashboard that absorbs a ton of heat and the compressor issue makes it hard to keep cool. The new design is OK, but me probably going back to something bigger next year.

  • Report this Comment On July 22, 2013, at 2:11 AM, tmacchia wrote:

    Not bringing the Fit Hybrid to the US?

    Are you crazy Honda?


    Please reconsider and I'll reconsider buying a new Honda. Who wants a sedan or SUV? I'll keep my Civic Hatch back.

  • Report this Comment On July 23, 2013, at 1:25 PM, Nohurry1 wrote:

    I visited a Honda dealership, among others on Sunday. I looked at the FIT and instantly knew it isn't for me. The ONLY part of that car I find remotely interesting is the wheels. To me, the rest is rather ugly and all about tiny. I knew right away, I would never feel safe in a FIT.

    I test drove the Accord sedan and coupe, each with a V6 in my case, as the 4cyl engine is simply far too short on power. I mean, like 100hp short.

    Those I drove were very nice, each being EX-L models. I would indeed own either, except a few things. #1, I can get a Taurus or Fusion from Ford for around the same, or less money. There's no way Honda will drop price as low as Ford and they claim it's because the Honda is that much better. Problem is, THEY are completely incorrect on that. I was surprised, frankly, the Taurus and Fusion each quite easily matched the Accord, all being in top trim. The Fusion can be had for less and it actually has more amenities than ACCORD. SURPRISE!!! Yes, Accord has things not on Fusion, but that cuts both ways. Finally, the color I want on the Honda is a blue ONLY available on coupe models and I need the sedan, as my parents are in the advanced age part of life and can no longer climb into a couple. Sorry Honda, but you should offer all colors on each model. CAN'T possibly cost you more overall.

    The FIT is not in the league of Accord, nor will it ever be. However, it is capable of reaching CR-Z levels, but it isn't there by any means either. Considering Honda's other offerings, I call the FIT a MISS... It's not up to Honda standards from my viewpoint. It's ugly, lacking power, lacking space and appears to lack safety. If you want a Honda, look at the rest too, then decide. For me, I'm passing on the Honda this time(and I've liked my previous Hondas).

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