Honda Fit vs Civic: brutally honest advice from a Fit owner

Honda Fit vs Civic: brutally honest advice from a Fit owner

So, it has come down to this: it’s the Honda fit vs Civic. You’ve done all your research, you’ve test driven both (perhaps multiple times), and you still can’t decide which one is best for you. Based on my years of experience with both of these cars, I think I can help:

  • The Honda Fit is good for people who need a reliable and highly-practical car for the least amount of money.
  • The Honda Civic is better for people who are willing to give up some practicality for more comfort and performance.

Not only that, the Fit feels more like a small minivan (or SUV) than a car. If that’s not what you’re looking for in a daily driver, then the Civic is most definitely for you.

Still feeling confused? I totally get it! Let’s break this comparison down part by part:

Comparing the engines of the Honda Fit and the Civic

Both the Honda Civic and Fit offer highly-reliable and extremely economical engine options. The Fit has always had just one engine option, while the Honda Civic usually offers a choice for those who prefer to have a more customized / personalized experience.

Honda Civic engines

The nice thing about Honda Civic engines is that there’s an option for drivers with different preferences. For example:

  • Those who just want a basic daily driver with no frills, you can get a 2022 model with a highly-economical 158 hp 2.0 L four-cylinder.
  • For those that want a more sporty experience, there is a turbocharged four-cylinder option with 180 hp.
Honda Civic engine
I will concede that there are better engines available for the Civic than there are for the Fit. But I still like my Fit better!

Honda Fit engine

Here in the US, you’ll only get one engine option for the Honda Fit (although, there was a Hybrid option available from 2013-2015). As a matter of fact, one of the biggest things that I was worried about before I bought my Honda Fit was the 1.5 L four-cylinder engine.

I’ve always had high performance cars as daily drivers, and I didn’t know if a little 117 hp engine was going to be enough. After 10 years of ownership, I can say that it’s more than enough for every day driving. Even if you drive like an ***hole.

Honda Fit 1.5 L engine
The hamster-like 1.5 L of my Honda Fit isn’t going to win me any races, but it’ll scoot just fine on freeway on-ramps. If you read my 2010 Honda Fit review, you’d already know that. 

Basically, when it comes down to choosing between the Fit versus the Civic based on the engines alone, this is all you need to know:

  • If horsepower matters to you the most, then the Civic will be a better car for you than the Fit.
  • If fuel economy matters to you the most, then he will probably be more satisfied with the Fit (it gets better gas mileage than the base model Civic).

Honda Fit handling vs Honda Civic handling

I’m just going to come right out and say it. Nobody buys a Honda Fit because of how well you can toss it around in the corners (even with the upgraded tire and wheel options). The Civic, on the other hand, is available with suspension options that range from mild to wild, and that’s going to be the car for you if cornering ability is important.

Civic Type R
No, you don’t have to spring for the “hot boy” Civic Type R to get a decent handling car. The base Civic, although far from being considered “hot”, does ok in the corners.

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that the Honda Fit is a poorly handling car. For daily driving, which means being able to handle a wide variety of bumps and other road imperfections, the Fit does just fine. I’ve never once thought that it wasn’t comfortable enough to be a daily driver.

Me driving a 2010 Honda Fit
Ain’t nothing “hot boy” about the way my Honda Fit handles. Aggressive it is not!

Based on my experience, the base model Civic handles in a very similar fashion to the Fit. It’s a bit floaty, and understeers if you push it too hard into a corner. It doesn’t handle heavy loads very well.

It’s crazy to me to think that you can get a Honda Civic with a suspension package that’ll make it handle just as well as some of the world’s best sports cars. There’s definitely a market for that sort of thing, and if you’re part of that market, then the Civic is absolutely a better choice than the Fit.

Honda Fit exterior vs Civic exterior

When it comes to exterior design, the Honda fit and the Honda Civic couldn’t be any more different (this is very much unlike my Honda Accord vs Civic comparison). The Fit is a very small and upright 5 door hatchback, whereas the Civic comes in a wide variety of body styles. You can get it has a two door coupe, a 4 door sedan, or a 5 door hatchback.

Red Honda Civic
It’s no coincidence that this is the second red Civic that I’ve posted in this guide so far. If I ever buy a Civic, it’s going to be red!

If you ask me:

  • The Civic is a far better looking car than a Honda Fit (and it hurts me to say that because I own a Fit).
  • The Civic looks like a somewhat expensive car, whereas the Fit screams “entry-level” from nearly every angle. Everyone knows you bought a cheap car when you drive a Fit, but that isn’t always the case with the Civic.

Part of the reason for this discrepancy, beyond just the shape of the cars themselves, is the fact that the Civic has a more extensive range of body trim options available. The Honda Fit does come in a sport package, which adds some extra body cladding and a spoiler.

Blue 2010 Honda Fit
My lowly Honda Fit. A frumpy (perhaps “cute”) car it may be, but…I’m man enough to admit that I enjoy driving it.

However, the Civic offers everything the Fit does, as well as a handful of other trim levels that range from “classy” to “balls-out race car.” In other words, there’s an option for nearly every kind of driver.

Silver Honda Fit
It should be noted that newer versions of the Fit are less “cute” and more Civic-like. Once again, I’m man enough to admit that I like my 2010 model better!

Honda Civic vs Fit interior

It seems with each new generation, the interior of the Honda Civic is becoming more and sporty (and dare I say it: luxurious). In contrast, the interior of the Honda Fit has always been as basic as they could get away with.

Remember – the Fit is designed to be a high-quality car for drivers on a budget. This means that you won’t get many of the same sport and luxury options that are available on the Civic.

2010 Honda Fit interior
The interior of the Honda Fit is far from being sporty (or luxurious), but it’s practical AF.

I love the interior of my Honda Fit. As a daily driver, the simplicity of it makes my life so much easier:

  • It’s simple to get in and out of
  • The materials are flat and easy to clean
  • It’s so simple and basic that I don’t have to worry about the potential of electronic glitches down the road
Honda Civic interior
If “practical AF” isn’t your cup of tea, there’s a lot you’re going to like about the interior of the Civic.

If you can’t stand the thought of a bare-bones interior, then the Honda fit is definitely not the car for you. In that case, you’re going to be right at home in the Civic.

Civic vs Fit value for the money

I may be a bit biased since I’ve been a happy owner of a Honda Fit for over 10 years now, but in my opinion, it’s the best new car you can get for your money. My Honda Fit has been 100% reliable, and even after all these years, I’ve never had to worry about it breaking down or leaving me stranded.

Part of the reason for this reliability is that it’s such a simple car. There are very few options for the Fit, which means less things to break.

Daily driving a 2010 Honda Fit
It’s true. My Fit is so practical that I can’t help but to feel smart for choosing it over the Civic. Not that I’m anywhere near being intelligent, but driving a Fit certainly helps me to look the part.

On the flipside, you get a lot of car for the money with a Honda Civic. Yes, it is a lot more expensive than the Honda Fit, but you’re also getting many more creature comforts such as leather seats, high-end infotainment systems, better audio systems, and more.

The problem, however, is that a lot of other cars offer these things as well. For less money.

For me, spending less money on a simpler car (the Fit) is about the smartest financial decision that I’ve ever made in my life. The Honda Fit is worth every penny of its sticker price, but I can’t say that as easily about the Civic.

The Civic is not the cheapest car in its class. It may be one of the most reliable, but in terms of overall value for your money (and what you get for it) there are better options.

Is a Honda Fit cheaper to maintain than a Honda Civic?

Absolutely! The Honda Fit is pretty much the most basic car you can buy in the US right now. Not only is it one of the smallest, it’s arguably the cheapest to maintain as well. Being a basic low-budget car, all it requires is basic low-budget maintenance.

Driving Honda Fit at night
Go ahead. Drive your Fit into a sketchy part of town late at night. It (probably) won’t leave you stranded!

Based on my experience, the quality of parts on a Honda Fit are just as good as the parts on a Honda Civic (or any other mid range car). If you read my guide on 2010 Honda Fit problems, you’ll know that the first set of brakes on my Fit lasted 60,000 miles.

The tires lasted 40,000 miles (these are the best tires for a Honda Fit IMHO). The air-conditioning needed its first recharge after the eighth year. The suspension components have yet to be replaced.

On the flip side, I have friends with Honda Civic‘s of all model years, and none of them get that kind of mileage out of their parts. Part of the reason for this might be that the Honda fit is so slow and boring that you can’t drive it hard (thus, stuff doesn’t wear out as fast).

honda civic badge
Most of my friends with Civics drive normally (except for one or two complete maniacs), and they all seem to be amazed at how little maintenance I have to do to my Fit.

Honda Fit vs Civic practicality as a daily driver

My Honda Fit is so simple that I never have to worry about large unexpected repair bills popping up at the worst possible moments. Yes, you will have to maintain it just like any other car, but the beauty is in its simplicity.

When it comes to real world daily driving, I much prefer the Fit over the Civic. Mainly because:

  • The driving position in the Honda Fit is much more upright compared to the Civic, and you don’t need to bend down so much when getting in and out of it. You just open the door and slide in and out without much effort.
  • Even though the Fit is smaller than the Civic, hauling cargo is so much easier. The amount of stuff that I’ve crammed into the back of my Fit would surprise you. It may look like a small car, but when you faold down the rear seats, the resulting cargo area is absolutely massive. I can easily fit three bikes in the back of my Fit, but that would never happen in a Honda Civic.
Honda Fit cargo area
My packing skills may be lacking, but I’m happy that my Fit will swallow anything I throw into the rear cargo area.

Another thing you need to think about for daily driving is the fact that there’s something very liberating about driving a cheaper car.

The Fit is (on average) is $5-10,000 cheaper than a Civic. The way you treat your car ultimately comes down to your own personality, but for me, I like not worrying about my car if I don’t have to.

I can almost guarantee that I’d be more stressed out about finding a good parking spot if I drove a highly-spec’d Civic instead of a base model Fit. Even comparing base model to base model of each, the Fit is still a cheaper car – and one that I would ultimately worry less about.

Just something to think about before you make the big purchase. If you’re still not convinced, reading about the 5 things I hate most about my Honda Fit might be the next best step.

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