Honda Fit vs. Nissan Versa

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - February 19, 2020

The game of economy cars is one of inches. Starting prices are low, and frames are small – whichever automaker can squeeze the best experience into a small package will win the hearts of drivers.

Two long-standing rivals in the class both come from Japanese brands: the Honda Fit and the Nissan Versa. The Fit is a favorite for its bite-size practicality, while the Versa is newly equipped with a full suite of technology. We took a closer look to see which economy car best fulfills the promise of competence on a budget.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Fit & Versa »

What the Fit Gets Right

The biggest difference between the Fit and the Versa is the shape. For 2020, Nissan eliminated the Versa hatchback, likely to avoid competition with the new Kicks subcompact crossover.

This leaves the Fit with an easy victory on practicality. It has an impressive 16.6 cubic feet behind the seats, which expands to 52.7 with the seats down. The Fit even has a nifty “Magic Seat” that folds up behind the front row to create a deeper area. The Versa’s 14.7 cubic feet is impressive for a sedan, but it can’t compare to the Fit’s utility.

You might think that the Fit would sacrifice some passenger space for cargo, but here, too, the Honda scores a resounding win. With 39.3 inches of rear legroom, the Fit has over 8 inches more room to stretch than the Versa. For adults, that makes a serious difference. There’s more headroom in the rear, too.

The Fit has historically offered proof that cheap cars can be fun to drive. This latest generation isn’t quite as amusing as Fits past, but its short wheelbase joins responsive steering to make it reasonably engaging behind the wheel.

The Fit comes out ahead on power, with 130 horsepower to the Versa’s 122 hp. That may not seem like much, but in cars this small, a little power goes a long way. In spite of the extra performance, the Fit squeaks ahead on efficiency as well, managing an EPA-estimated 36 miles per gallon combined against the Versa's 35 mpg combined.

What the Versa Gets Right

The Versa may only come as a sedan, but the Fit charges a premium for the practicality. The Versa starts nearly $1,500 below the Honda’s starting price. For the price, the Versa includes some impressive tech. Automatic emergency braking is standard on every model, a feat the Fit can’t equal.

The Versa’s standard infotainment is better, too. Both cars require moving up a trim to get smartphone compatibility, but even the cheapest Versa S rolls off the lot with a spacious 7-inch touchscreen. A base Fit makes do with a smaller 5-inch screen.

The Versa’s cabin may not be quite as spacious as the Fit, especially in the rear. But the quality of those seats is equally important, and the Versa’s padded front seats outshine the thin and flat cushions in the Fit.

Finally, the Nissan looks better in our eyes. The Fit’s bulging interior forces it into an awkward egg shape, while the Versa’s lines give it a sharp and engaging profile. A contrast roof is cheerful, and overall the Versa looks more expensive than it really is.

Paying For Space

Most of the difference between these two cars comes down to the body. The Versa is the cheaper car, and it’s better equipped in some ways. Honda charges a higher price of entry, but they give a surprisingly livable package for a subcompact car in return. Nifty folding seats and 8 extra inches of legroom are hard to turn down.

Our Verdict: Honda Fit

This one’s close and the Nissan Versa comes nearer the mark than it has in the past. Nissan continues to pack features into its economy cars, and we’re enjoying the work their designers are doing.

But economy cars are all about stretching the budget, and the Honda Fit stretches it mighty far. Despite losing a little verve in the corners, the new Fit is practical, sensible, capable, and efficient. It remains one of the better all-around cars on the market.

Take a closer look at the Honda Fit »

Take a closer look at the Nissan Versa »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


Privacy Policy|Do Not Sell My Personal Information|Terms of Use|Cookie Policy|Disclaimer
COPYRIGHT 1999-2020 MH Sub I, LLC dba CarsDirect.com