We’ve done the work and compared two of the best subcompact cars 2019 had to offer. Who’s better on the used market? The Honda Fit or the Chevrolet Sonic.
Take a long look around the automotive landscape of new and upcoming vehicles and you’ll notice that the 2021 Honda Fit stands out as one of the few remaining sub-compact vehicles available to new car buyers. Since buying a new sub-compact provides little in the way of options, the used market is an excellent choice for those searching for such a car.
Today we’ll compare a couple of used 2019 models, the Fit and a car that has since been canceled, the Chevrolet Sonic. These two people movers are so similar in terms of size and shape that you’d be forgiven for mistaking them at times. Pricing in the used market is incredibly close too with the vast majority of low mileage options running between $13,000 and $16,000. The question is, if you’re in the used market for one of these economical, peppy, city cars, which truly is best for under $15,000?
A used 2019 Chevrolet Sonic LT comes with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. That’s a sincere boost of additional grunt over the Fit EX from Honda that makes 130 horsepower but only 114 ft-lbs of torque. That dramatic difference is plainly obvious when behind the wheel. It’s also slightly less obvious at the pump. The used Honda Fit from 2019 manages to go some 29 miles in the city and 36 on the highway with just a single gallon of fuel, where the Sonic can only make it to the 26-mile mark in town and the 34-mile mark on the highway.
Each car achieved a 5-star crash test rating from the NHTSA and both have nearly identical dimensions with just .2-inches of difference in the wheelbase. The way space is used is fascinating though, because while they look similar, the rear of the Fit is dramatically more spacious. Let’s dive into the details of these two tiny puddle jumpers.
After you drive these two vehicles, it’s obvious how far small cars have come over the last twenty years. In the early 2000s’, a car as good as either of these would be considered one of the best hot hatches available. A used Honda Fit, which is noticeably slower than the Sonic, is still a blast to drive in tight corners and spaces. Cities are the perfect setting for both of them. They both steer and stop well, the Chevrolet provides just the slightest bit more feedback through the wheel, but the Honda is the better braking platform.
Ultimately, the car you pick between these two shouldn’t be about speed, because neither will truly fulfill that need. The used Sonic will surprisingly be more spritely though. The additional torque it provides makes it the more desirable driver certainly. Let’s pick through what these cars are truly excellent at though.
While a used Honda Fit and used Chevrolet Sonic are similarly sized, Honda does far more with its interior space than Chevrolet. Adults will be more comfortable in the Fit regardless of their size. Chevrolet combats this with slightly nicer materials throughout. Keep in mind that both of these are ultimately econoboxes, so neither is luxurious, but the Sonic feels nicer to sit in. The plastics are more attractive and sleek. That modern touch is seen throughout the interior space of the Sonic with bits of shiny plastic and chrome everywhere.
A single look at the inside of the Honda Fit and you’ll notice the highly familiar matte grey plastic that Honda has used for years. While it’s not intended to evoke thoughts of mid-2000s Civics, that’s exactly what we think of when we see it. Seating is comfortable regardless of your choice. The Sonic is slightly more well bolstered, but the Fit is probably the one we’d pick for longer highway journeys both because the seats are a bit cushier and it’s larger inside.
The Sonic does provide one benefit that the Fit simply can’t. If you want a subcompact sedan, the Sonic can be had in that format where the Fit only comes as a hatchback. That additional space could be exactly what some customers need. Still, though, these both work well as cargo haulers when needed as there are just under 20 cubic feet of space in the back with the seats up and roughly 50 once they’re folded down.
Each of these sub-compacts is available in three different trims. Used Chevrolet Sonic models can be found available in LS, LT, and Premier. Used Honda Fit models can be had in EX, LX, and Sport variants. We suggest avoiding the generic base models, because many were made available for fleet use and thusly they’re incredibly spartan inside. Look out for mid-tier models like the Fit EX and Sonic LT, as they are well suited to the test and the most widely available option on the used market today.
The infotainment system in either car is well laid out and responsive, but they split opinions when it comes to design. Where the Chevrolet fits the screen centrally into the control stack, the Fit almost looks as though it has a floating center screen. It doesn’t mind you, but the asymmetrical layout of the center controls is a bit more refined.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both standard on both platforms, but each car has its own distinct advantages. The Chevrolet Sonic gets remote start, 4G LTE, and projector headlights while the Honda Fit features a power moonroof, lane departure assist, and a feature Honda calls “Smart Entry” which locks and unlocks the vehicle as you approach or leave it.
Considering how close these two are in most aspects, most buyers will decide based purely on their usage case or personal preference and that’s reasonable. Neither sub-compact runs away as the clear winner unless we’re having a drag race. Safety is more apparent and important in the used Honda Fit where interior technology and a more flashy design is the focus of the used Chevrolet Sonic. Again, for the few who want a car like this but need a sedan, the Sonic is the obvious choice.
Used Honda Fit models offer a fantastic ride in and of itself for those who need an economical, practical, and pleasurable daily driver. If we had to put our money down on one or the other, it would be the Honda. We expect it to last a bit longer without mechanical issues and the combination of more advanced safety tech with more interior space makes it better at what a small people mover needs to be.