For those looking for an affordable, practical and fuel-efficient small car, two models always rise to the top of the list – the Honda Fit and the Toyota Corolla Hatchback. Both cars offer excellent fuel economy, generous cargo space and high reliability at a reasonable price point. But which one is ultimately the better choice?
In this comprehensive comparison, we’ll examine all the key factors you need to consider when choosing between the Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla Hatchback. We’ll compare exterior and interior dimensions, performance, fuel economy, pricing, tech features and more. We’ll also highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each vehicle to help you determine which is the right small hatchback for your needs.
Being in the small car class, neither the Honda Fit nor Toyota Corolla Hatchback are very big on the outside. However, there are some notable differences in their exterior dimensions:
|Toyota Corolla Hatchback
As you can see, the Toyota Corolla Hatchback is larger in every exterior dimension except for height. It has a longer wheelbase for a more stable ride, and more overall length and width for a more spacious interior. However, the Honda Fit is a bit taller with a more upright profile.
Interior Dimensions and Cargo Space
Inside the cabin, the size difference between the Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla Hatchback is less pronounced. Passenger volume is nearly identical, though the Toyota offers a bit more overall headroom:
|Toyota Corolla Hatchback
|93.5 cu ft
|92.0 cu ft
|39.3 in (front/rear)
However, cargo space is where the Honda Fit pulls ahead. With the rear seats folded, the Fit offers a maximum of 52.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity – significantly more than the Corolla Hatchback’s max of 47.1 cubic feet. Clever seat folding configurations like Honda’s Magic Seat also give the Fit added versatility for hauling bulky items.
Performance and Fuel Economy
The Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla Hatchback utilize different engine configurations to achieve good fuel economy while still delivering adequate performance:
|Toyota Corolla Hatchback
|6-speed manual or CVT
|33 city/40 hwy MPG
|31 city/40 hwy MPG
The Toyota has a more powerful 2.0-liter engine, generating 168 horsepower. The Honda Fit makes do with a smaller 1.5-liter unit generating 130 hp. However, both cars utilize the efficient CVT transmission for comparable fuel economy ratings in the low to mid 30s mpg city and right around 40 mpg highway.
In terms of drivability, the extra power does give the Corolla Hatchback a bit more zip at highway speeds. The Honda Fit feels adequate around town but can feel strained when accelerating hard. If performance is a priority, the Toyota has a clear edge.
One advantage for the Honda is that unlike the Toyota, a manual transmission is no longer offered on the Fit. The Corolla Hatchback’s manual gearbox hurts its fuel economy slightly. So drivers focused purely on mpg may prefer the Honda.
Ride and Handling
Fuel economy and cargo space are important, but how these hatchbacks drive and handle on the road is also key. Here is a comparison of some ride and handling characteristics:
|Ride & Handling
|Toyota Corolla Hatchback
|MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear
|MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear
|Electric power steering
|Electric power steering
|Disc front/drum rear
Here we see some significant differences that impact the driving experience. The Toyota utilizes a more sophisticated independent multi-link rear suspension versus the Honda’s simpler torsion beam setup. This allows the Corolla Hatchback to better maintain composure over bumps and when cornering.
The Toyota also upgrades to four-wheel disc brakes instead of the Honda’s rear drums. Disc brakes allow for better pedal feel and more consistent, fade-free stopping power.
Lastly, the Honda Fit has a shorter turning circle which makes it more maneuverable in tight spaces. Its smaller footprint pays dividends here. Over uneven roads and around turns though, the Corolla Hatchback has the handling edge.
Safety Features and Ratings
Safety is always a top priority for shoppers in the small car categories. Here is how the Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla Hatchback compare:
|Toyota Corolla Hatchback
|IIHS crash test rating
|Top Safety Pick+ (with LED headlights)
|Top Safety Pick+
|NHTSA overall safety rating
|Honda Sensing suite
|Toyota Safety Sense 2.0
The Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla Hatchback both achieve top honors for crashworthiness from the insurance industry (IIHS) and federal government (NHTSA). Front crash prevention systems and available advanced safety features earn high marks.
Honda Sensing and Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suites include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and other tech. Toyota does add blind spot monitoring, whereas Honda reserves that for higher trims. But overall both cars offer excellent standard safety.
Infotainment and Technology
Along with safety tech, infotainment and connectivity features are important for this tech-savvy buyer demographic. Here is what each model offers for onboard tech:
|Toyota Corolla Hatchback
|Base infotainment system
|7″ touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
|8″ touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
|4-speaker sound system, 1 USB port
|6-speaker sound system, 2 USB ports, HD Radio, SiriusXM
The baseline Honda Fit LX gets a tiny 5-inch non-touch display. Moving up to the Sport or EX trims upgrades to a more usable 7-inch touchscreen with smartphone integration. However, the Toyota Corolla starts with a 7-inch touchscreen even on the base LE trim, giving it an edge for connectivity.
Higher Corolla Hatchback trims can be equipped with an 8-inch touchscreen, HD radio and more stereo speakers than the Honda. So when it comes to infotainment tech, the Toyota Corolla Hatchback is the clear winner.
Pricing and Value Comparison
Being budget-friendly small cars, pricing is an important consideration for both the Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla Hatchback. Here are the base MSRPs and price ranges:
|Toyota Corolla Hatchback
The base price for the Honda Fit LX undercuts the Toyota Corolla LE by over $4,800. However, the Fit lacks features like the 7-inch touchscreen and blind spot monitoring that come standard on the Toyota. When comparing more equally-equipped EX and XSE models, the price difference narrows.
Historically, the Honda Fit has enjoyed better resale values as a percent of MSRP than the Toyota Corolla. That means Fit models may cost less to own long-term. But in the current market with constrained new car supply, Used Toyota values are appreciating faster than Honda’s.
Which Is the Better Buy?
So which one of these excellent small hatchbacks emerge as the winner between the Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla Hatchback? Here is a quick rundown of the key strengths of each car:
Honda Fit Strengths
- Lower base price
- More cargo room
- Magic Seat versatility
- Higher fuel economy
- Better turning radius
Toyota Corolla Hatchback Strengths
- More powerful engine
- Upgraded suspension and brakes
- Better handling dynamics
- More standard tech and safety features
- Higher-quality interior
In-Depth Look at the Honda Fit
As one of the top choices in the subcompact car class, the Honda Fit hatchback packs massive utility into a small, fuel-efficient package. Ever since its last full redesign in 2015, the Fit has offered unbeatable cargo and passenger space for its tiny footprint.
Let’s take a more detailed look at what makes the Honda Fit such a practical small car choice:
Versatile Magic Seat System
One of the Honda Fit’s signature features is its Magic Seat system. The rear seats fold completely flat in multiple configurations to handle just about any cargo shape and size. The seats split 60/40 and fold either flat or flip up “tall mode” style. There’s even an available fold-flat front passenger seat on higher trim Fit models. This versatility is a key advantage over the Toyota Corolla Hatchback.
Despite subcompact exterior dimensions, the Honda Fit enjoys 93.5 cubic feet of passenger volume – on par with larger compacts. Headroom is abundant in both rows, though legroom is tighter in the rear. Overall, interior space is excellent for a car of this size. Helping matters are the thin roof pillars and expansive windows that give a feeling of openness.
Don’t let the Fit’s practical layout fool you – it’s actually quite fun to drive. The short wheelbase enables responsive turn-in and the strut front/torsion beam rear suspension keeps body roll in check during cornering. The brakes are responsive and steering quick without being overly sensitive. It’s no hot hatch, but the Fit is easily the most nimble in its class.
In addition to interior spaciousness, outward visibility is excellent in the Honda Fit. The tall greenhouse provides commanding sight lines in all directions. Plus, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are available to supplement your over-the-shoulder checks. For urban driving and parking, the Fit’s visibility is a big asset.
Abundant Standard Safety Tech
Even base Honda Fit LX models come standard with the Honda Sensing suite of active safety features. This includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control. These potentially life-saving technologies provide peace of mind to drivers of all skill levels.
Fuel Efficient Powertrain
Powering the front wheels of the Honda Fit is a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 130 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. A CVT automatic transmission is standard, providing smooth, efficient power delivery. Fuel economy checks in at 33 mpg city/40 mpg highway/36 mpg combined. For a non-hybrid, this is excellent mileage that helps save money at the pump.
In-Depth Look at the Toyota Corolla Hatchback
The Corolla Hatchback debuted in 2019 as the successor to the short-lived Corolla iM hatchback. The latest generation Corolla moves to Toyota’s modern TNGA platform for improvements all around. While it lacks the Fit’s versatility, the Corolla Hatchback brings more power, technology and dynamic sophistication.
Refined Handling Dynamics
Whereas the previous Corolla iM felt uninspired to drive, the new TNGA platform transforms the hatchback variant into a legitimately fun car. The 2.0-liter engine provides a responsive 168 horsepower, while the multi-link independent rear suspension keeps the tires planted through turns. Steering feel is linear and nicely weighted as well. The Corolla Hatchback even offers an available 6-speed manual for maximum driver engagement.
Upscale Interior Treatment
The Corolla hatchback’s interior leans more premium than past generations. Soft touch materials abound, the dashboard angles elegantly forward and intricate HVAC vents add flair. The standard 7-inch infotainment touchscreen and digital gauge cluster lift the ambiance beyond its segment. Options like leather seats, contrast stitching and an 8-inch touchscreen make the cabin feel downright luxurious for an affordable compact car.
Loaded with Tech and Safety Features
In addition to its modern cockpit layout, the Corolla Hatchback impresses by making advanced features like Bluetooth, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, push button start, automatic climate control, lane keep assist and others standard across the lineup. Upper trim models can be equipped with a premium JBL sound system, built-in navigation, wireless device charging, rain-sensing wipers and more. Toyota packs this hatchback full of tech.
Proven Reliability and Resale Value
As a Toyota, the Corolla Hatchback benefits from the brand’s sterling reputation for reliability and durability. It should easily exceed 100,000 miles or 10 years of service with regular maintenance. Toyota residuals and resale value also top the class, meaning the Corolla Hatchback is likely to retain its value better than domestic and foreign rivals when it comes time to sell or trade-in.
Dressed up in details like a black mesh grille, rear hatch spoiler, rear diffuser, optional two-tone paint and 18-inch alloy wheels, the Corolla Hatchback adopts surprisingly sporty design cues. The low, wide stance and sloping roofline almost resemble a coupe. For drivers wanting a small car that makes a style statement, the Corolla Hatchback hits the mark.
Strengths of the Honda Fit
Now that we’ve taken an in-depth look the Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla Hatchback, let’s highlight some key strengths that make the Fit a compelling choice in the subcompact segment:
Cavernous Cargo Capacity
The Honda Fit’s cargo dimensions simply can’t be matched in its class. With all seats folded, the Fit boasts 52.7 cubic feet of storage – nearly as much as small SUVs like the Honda CR-V. The rear Magic Seats fold completely flat in multiple configurations to accommodate any combination of passengers and cargo. Skis, bikes, furniture and more fit easily thanks to the Fit’s practical layout.
Short Turning Radius
At just 34.5 feet, the Honda Fit has the shortest turning circle in its segment. This allows for effortless maneuverability in tight urban environments and small parking spaces. Where other subcompacts can struggle to make a U-turn or multi-point turn, the Fit pivots with ease. Its zippy steering and compact size make the Fit almost fun to parallel park.
Large windows, slim roof pillars and an upright driving position gift the Fit driver with fantastic outward visibility. Over-the-shoulder blind spots are minimized, while the low dash and hood make placing this hatchback easy. Add in standard features like backup camera, blind spot information and cross traffic monitoring and the Fit promotes confidence in close-quarters driving situations.
Known for bulletproof reliability and low maintenance costs, the Honda Fit consistently ranks among the longest-lasting vehicles in its segment. The modern 1.5-liter engine and CVT transmission avoid major issues seen in older Fits. As long as regular service is performed, the Fit easily exceeds 200,000 miles of faithful duty. That peace of mind is invaluable for owners planning to keep their Fit for the long haul.
Strong Resale Value
Thanks to Honda’s reputation for quality and the Fit’s versatility, it maintains resale values that consistently top the subcompact class. The Fit averages nearly 50 percent residual value after the first 5 years of ownership – extremely good for an affordable small car. That means the Fit will cost less to own long term than rivals from Nissan, Ford, Hyundai and others with weaker resale value.
Weaknesses of the Honda Fit
While we’re fans of how Honda packaged utility and efficiency into the Fit, it’s not without some drawbacks. Here are some of the Honda Fit’s disadvantages versus the Toyota Corolla Hatchback:
Lack of Interior Refinement
Cost-cutting is evident in the Honda Fit’s cabin, with lots of hard plastic surfaces. There’s no soft touch materials or upscale accents like the Corolla offers. Seat comfort is just adequate and higher trims lack features like leather upholstery and heated front seats. Interior storage spaces are also limited despite the massive cargo hold. The Fit prioritizes function over form.
One trade-off of the lightweight Fit is noticeable road and wind noise at highway speeds. The upright windshield and lack of sound insulation allow more noise to permeate the cabin versus rivals like the Corolla. Extended highway trips or phone calls can be fatiguing with the constant droning. Earplugs or headphones help for long hauls.
Limited Active Safety Tech
While the base Honda Fit includes excellent driver aids like collision mitigation braking and lane keep assist, you have to upgrade to EX or EX-L models to add blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. Toyota makes this tech standard across the Corolla Hatchback lineup. The Fit also lacks more advanced features like front/rear parking sensors, adaptive headlights and a surround view camera system offered on higher-end Toyotas.
Unproven Long-Term Reliability
This latest 3rd generation Honda Fit is too new to assess long-term mechanical durability just yet. Early production issues with the CVT transmission did require a recall and reflash by Honda. It remains to be seen if the modern turbocharged engine will hold up as well as the previous generation’s bulletproof drivetrains. Until more miles accumulate, the Fit is more of an unknown versus the consistently reliable Corolla.
Advantages of the Toyota Corolla Hatchback
Now let’s examine the key strengths that make the new Toyota Corolla Hatchback a top pick in the compact segment:
Smooth, Powerful Engine
A 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine comes standard in the Corolla Hatchback, making 168 eager horsepower. This gives the Corolla significantly more passing and pulling power than the Fit’s smaller engine. The Corolla has no problem merging or climbing steep grades, thanks to its strong acceleration. The engine feels refined with minimal vibration at idle and high rpm.
Sharper Handling Dynamics
The TNGA platform underpinning the Corolla Hatchback noticeably elevates its handling prowess. The suspension soaks up bumps without compromising composure in corners. The quicker steering ratio provides engaging feedback through turns. An available 6-speed manual gearbox only sweetens the pot for driving enthusiasts. With a refined chassis and confident brakes, the Corolla Hatchback excels on curvy back roads.
More Advanced Safety Technology
Toyota ups the ante by making blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert standard on every Corolla Hatchback. You also gain front/rear parking sensors and adaptive headlights on higher grades. Add in excellent crash test scores and Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, and the Corolla provides comprehensive active and passive safety protection.
Greater Interior Refinement
The Corolla Hatchback’s cabin looks and feels much more premium than the Fit’s basic digs. Available leather seats, contrast stitching, soft touch materials, and intricate air vents give off luxury vibes. The 8-inch touchscreen is crisp and high-mounted for optimal visibility. Passenger space is ample and noise isolation noticeably better for a more relaxed driving experience.
Toyota’s Stellar Reputation
Known for cars that can easily exceed 200,000 miles with proper maintenance, Toyota’s reputation for quality, durability and reliability is unmatched. The Corolla Hatchback will likely outlast most competitors with less breakdowns and unscheduled repairs. Toyota’s renowned resale value also makes the Corolla Hatchback less costly to own long-term.
Weaknesses of the Toyota Corolla Hatchback
While the Corolla Hatchback makes a compelling case to be your next hatchback, it’s not perfect. Here are some of the disadvantages and compromises versus the stellar utility of the Honda Fit:
Less Cargo Room
The sloped roofline that gives the Corolla Hatchback its sporty look does cut into cargo space versus the boxier Honda Fit. With rear seats folded, the Corolla offers 47.1 cubic feet of maximum storage – over 5 cubic feet less than the Magic Seat-equipped Fit. The Corolla’s rear seat also lacks the creative folding configurations of the Fit’s Flat mode and tall mode arrangements.
Tight Rear Seat Space
Compared to the spacious Fit, the Toyota Corolla Hatchback’s back seat feels more cramped. The sloping roofline cuts into headroom, while legroom is very tight due to the front seats being mounted further back. Fitting adults in the Corolla’s back seat for extended periods can be challenging. The Fit is clearly superior for carrying adult passengers in the rear.
Less Agile Handling
Despite improved dynamics, the Corolla Hatchback remains tuned more for comfort than sharp reflexes. Its longer wheelbase inhibits quick changes of direction versus the super nimble Fit. For maximum maneuverability through urban areas or tight spaces, the Fit still shines over the Corolla.
Higher Base Price
The least expensive Corolla Hatchback LE has an MSRP around $22,000 with destination – over $4,800 more than the cheapest Honda Fit LX. You do get added equipment like blind spot monitoring on the Toyota, but that’s still a significant price premium. Across equivalent trims, the Corolla costs more than the Fit too. The Honda wins for buyers focused purely on low purchase price.
CVT Still Lacks Refinement
Toyota’s CVT automatic transmission delivers efficient power delivery but lacks driver engagement. The engine drones loudly under hard acceleration as rpm soars. Paddle shifters on the Corolla don’t make up for the disconnect of a CVT. With Honda phasing out the Fit’s manual gearbox, neither hatch truly excels for transmission feel.
The Verdict – Which Hatchback is Best?
The Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla Hatchback take different approaches toward the subcompact segment. The Fit maximizes interior space and cargo utility, while keeping purchase prices accessible. Drivers want a reliability commuter car with excellent gas mileage will be well served by the versatile Fit.
Alternatively, the Corolla Hatchback brings more power under the hood and driving refinement previously missing from small Toyota cars. Its upscale interior treatment, abundant features and improved road manners justify its higher pricing. For an affordable car that doesn’t feel cheap, the Corolla Hatchback hits the mark.
We give the edge to the Corolla Hatchback, thanks to its broader combination of strengths. But savvy car shoppers would be happy with either hatchback. The Honda Fit remains the function over form cargo-hauling champ. The Toyota Corolla Hatchback brings style, amenities and driving enjoyment to the compact segment. As always, test driving both models is recommended before deciding between these stellar hatchbacks.