2018 Honda Fit Sport: Space-age small car?

Price: Starts at $17,500.

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the "peerless interior packaging, multi-way folding rear seats, excellent fuel economy" but not that it's "quite slow," with a "buzzy engine, handling isn't as fun as in Fits past."

Marketer's pitch: "2018 Car and Driver editor's choice."

Reality: Roomier than you think.

His boy Elroy … : This is not the first time I've been in the Honda Fit, but it's the first time I really put my finger on how I feel driving the Fit.

I feel like George Jetson.

Hanna-Barbera's space-age answer to its Flintstones franchise, The Jetsons was a much shorter-lived but far more clever series that brought us memorable characters like Rosie the Maid, Astro the dog, and the killer earworm theme song.

But most memorable were the bubble-topped, joystick-operated cars, where George or Jane sat way low at the controller and the roof seemed to stretch far above them.

Operation of components inside is easy, and the features look attractive, but comfort leaves a bit to be desired. Perhaps an upgrade will solve that.
Operation of components inside is easy, and the features look attractive, but comfort leaves a bit to be desired. Perhaps an upgrade will solve that.

Fit it all in: The flatiron-shaped Honda Fit is actually a big small car, probably the world's smallest minivan, with its stubby engine compartment and its 52.7 cubic feet of space behind the first row. It makes the car a good comparison for the Kia Soul, another tiny car but with 61 cubic feet of space behind the first row.

Fitting seats: The Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat and Sturgis Kid 4.0 noticed one corner cut from the Fit upon first sit — the tiny, foamy seats. After an hour ride to visit Sturgis Kid 3.0 in her new apartment, I asked 4.0 what he thought about the seats. "It had them," he replied. Of course, stuffing a 6-foot-2 17-year-old into the back of the Fit may seem like child abuse but note that he fits into the family's Kia Soul just fine and with no complaint.

Up to speed: Because who's not buying a Fit to impress their friends at the racetrack? The 130-horsepower four-cylinder underpowers the little Fit by 2018 standards. Drivers arrive at 60 mph after 8.2 seconds, according to Car and Driver. (Note that this is the same time as the recently tested Elantra GT, which felt far peppier.)

You'll feel the underpoweredness if your neighborhood is two miles up a country road, with a stoplight at the bottom of the first hill. That standing start reminded Mr. Driver's Seat of his old Volkswagen Beetle.

Shifty: The six-speed manual in the Fit tested was fun to operate and easy to shift. The clutch could be quite touchy, and I missed reverse more than a few times — too often for a car with just over 1,000 miles on it.

Fuel economy: A lower top gear would improve this even more. The Fit had averaged 42 mpg in the 800 miles of driving prior to mine; I was able to average only 37 because of my athletic starts and hurried highway miles.

Here, the Fit has it all over the Soul, which uses 25 percent more fuel.

On the road: Neither the Fit nor the Soul handles with great delight. The Soul actually feels more sporty, but its limits come far sooner than the Fit, and it wants to tip in the hard corners. The Fit just zips through the curves no matter what, but steering feedback is a lot more vague.

Play some tunes: The Fit benefits from Honda's pretty, ebony stereo interface, although no tuning knob doesn't help. Sound is an A+.

Night shift: The basic map light was too big and bright, and actually began growing brighter and brighter the longer it was on at one point. (I'd noticed this in a Mazda3 a while back as well.)

Where it's built: Celaya, Mexico.

How it's built: Consumer Reports predicts the Fit's reliability to be a 3 out of 5. Previous years have been about the same.

In the end: The battle between the Honda Fit and the Kia Soul is almost the minivan-SUV competition writ small: the Fit with its small engine compartment, great fuel economy, and lackluster styling vs. the Soul's cool boxy shape and piggishness. But while the largest SUVs can't hold a candle to the space in minivans, these little guys are the same size inside.

Choose the Soul for comfort, cool, and a bit of performance, the Fit for savings. (And the Fit if you want to feel as if you're driving to work at Spacely Sprockets or Cogswell Cogs.)