Alexandria, VA – If there is one overriding impression during the first two weeks of a long-term stay in the D.C. area, it’s the overwhelming number of small cars in D.C. and – comparatively – the relative dearth of them in my home state of Texas. And, as you might guess with its preponderance of small cars, there is a notable lack of pickups; most here are used for commercial purposes, and those without signage are – at least anecdotally – attached to a member of the Armed Forces. More Ford Fiestas are spotted in a day than I’d see in the Dallas area over a week, and Subaru’s Forester seems more common than Toyota’s Camry.
Of course, there are few better times to consider a small car or compact SUV. You’ll find more choices in Milan than in Manhattan, but the breadth of selection here in the U.S. has never been better. And as more people – especially young people – reawaken to the personal and professional positives offered by urban lifestyles, more will opt for the inherent convenience of the small automotive footprint. And with them in mind, we’re taking a brief look at two of the best: Honda’s redesigned Fit and the Ford Fiesta, now propelled by a turbocharged 3-cylinder.
Both the Fit and Fiesta are well-established brands. For ’15, however, the Fit benefits from an all-new redesign, while the Fiesta benefits from a new-to-the-U.S. EcoBoost triple. We’ve been a fan of the Fit since its arrival Stateside; of course, so has America. Sourced in Japan, and occupying the $15K to $20K space which assures Honda of no profit when sourced in Japan, the Fit remains the unique proposition in the segment. There is an amazing amount of utility within its tiny footprint, accomplished via a rear seat that, when folded, could seemingly swallow Fiat’s 500 or Scion’s iQ. (But don’t try that at home.) We’ve also enjoyed the Fit’s nimble handling and precise manual transmission.
This year Honda bumps efficiency to 32/38/35 combined (with CVT – in stop-and-go – we achieved 32), an ‘abundance’ of standard features and segment-exclusive rearview camera, while refining the ride/handling balance and keeping its price within $100 of the outgoing model. And with the new model now sourced in Mexico – or, according to its Monroney, roughly 70% of it is sourced in Mexico – it’s a business model Honda can presumably make some money on, even while keeping the base price around $15K and topping out at roughly twenty-$omething.
Our test Fit, an EX-L, included everything but the kitchen sink. From the outside one could enjoy the power moonroof, alloy wheels, fog lights, LED brakelights, rear spoiler and ‘smart’ entry. Inside, leather-trimmed seating coddles you, upgraded audio entertains you and a 7-inch display informs you. There’s more, of course, and all of it comes at a price: just under $22K with destination. And as you know, any number of new Accords can be purchased at or around $22K; the price/value equation of a loaded Fit may – or may not – fit your budget.