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Is 2015 Honda Fit EX-L with navigation superior to Kia Rio SX premium package?

Torque News discovers that 2015 Honda Fit EX-L with navigation may not be the most expensive sub-compact 5 door hatchback in its segment. Is it the best value for your dollar spent? We scrutinize the competition for an answer or two


As a traveling automotive journalist I’m afforded the opportunity to drive a variant of automobiles, luxury and otherwise. When I’m traveling on my own dime and not afforded the privilege of an accommodating manufacturer’s ‘press car,’ I tend to opt for something mid sized or smaller. It’s not the $10 to $20 dollars per day difference in the rental fee, I actually enjoy driving smaller, agile sub-compact offerings, and have done so in North America and Europe.

Anyone one that reads me(thank you) knows that I’m a Honda, Acura man. I’ve met many folks that work in different capacities at American Honda and Acura Division and have yet to encounter one that I didn’t find a genuine connection with. I admire the tenacity of Honda and the people that work there.

They build a fine product and stand behind the line-up 100%.Yes, the company is experiencing a bit of overload at this time in several categories, the 2015 Honda Fit is not one of them; unless you measure the impact of a hopefully short term, supply and demand deficit.

At the time of this writing Honda dealers are scrambling to fill consumer demand for the all new and totally redesigned 2015 Fit, even though it’s(one of) the highest priced sub-compact 5 door hatchback in its segment.

Is 2015 Honda Fit EX-L with navigation worth $2700 more than Kia Rio 5 door?

That’s a good question. I spent 10 days in Ireland a few years ago driving a Kia. While not a fancy car by any measure, the Kia proved to be fun to drive, a decent performer and as tight on gasoline as Ebenezer Scrooge at Xmas time. It handled well on the Irish 2 lane backroads, packing 2 people and 10 days worth of gear and luggage in relative comfort. We’ll get back to Kia Rio soon, allow me to ramble a bit.

Now, I started today’s comparison with a 2015 Toyota Yaris. It doesn’t come up to Fit’s included 'standard features’ list. With a base price of $14845, Yaris is cheap, you get what you pay for. While the exterior look is pleasant enough, Yaris is underpowered and under geared in direct comparison the the 2015 Honda Fit 1.5 L “EarthDreams” 6 MT or CVT. It’s seats are stiff, trim levels limited with arguably the worst user-interface navigable website in the automotive universe. It sucks! so I dumped that comparison and looked for higher ground.

Stumbling on North America Kia’s site I rediscovered the 2015 Kia Rio 5 door hatchback. A good looking hatchback offering the longest extended warranty in the industry, Kia Rio at first look appears to smoke Honda Fit as to horsepower, torque and price. It took a bit of navigation on Kia’s site to reach the truth of the matter. While 2015 Kia Rio does post impressive horsepower(+6) and torque(+9) over Honda Fit, how it gets to the road is a different story. Kia offers an (optional) 6 speed close ratio transmission and traction control, front wheel drive and superior ABS disc brakes on all four wheels. There’s a bit of a trade off here as to Fit’s rear drum brakes, both are electronic distribution assisted, and work exceptionally well.

Where I find the greatest difference between KIa and Honda is in the drive train. While Kia Rio does offer a smidge more hp and torque, they’ve opted to retain the 6 speed automatic transmission with overdrive. I found it to ‘ search and wander’ quite a bit more than Honda’s state of the art CVT. Although KIa claims the highest power output in the segment tested(Ford Fiesta hatchback,Nissan Versa Note,Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit) I don’t find any disparity in usable mid range torque while driving between Kia Rio and Honda Fit. Out of fairness to Kia, Ford Fiesta has the ‘busiest’ transmission in this grouping.

Interior Fit and finish goes to Honda Fit

It’s a personal preference call when it comes to the measurable difference in Kia and Honda’s dash layout and personal connectivity interface. While both makers offer a decent voice command navigation and Bluetooth compatible cell phone connectivity, Kia Rio doesn’t feature Honda Lane Watch, expanded driver side mirror view, 7 inch touch screen with touch and swipe capability, Econo drive-mode button or Honda’s 60/40 magic seat rear bench. The only one in the segment that converts to a flat cargo deck.

I’m out of breath so I’m going to stop here. What we do discover is that Kia Rio when compared to a mid trim level 2015 Honda Fit is a comparable deal. Both maker’s top out at close to $21,000 + fees. I believe that Honda Fit is the greater purchase value when standard safety features and estimated residual value is included in the equation. However, I recommend that you explore both makers before writing the check.

If you own a late model sub-compact import 3 or 5 door hatchback I’d like to read your ownership experience here.


JeffS (not verified)    December 11, 2014 - 9:37AM

"Good day" Parks, writers cramp yet? While admittedly not up to snuff on Kia's current Safety ratings, in the past have not been so good. Honda seems to shine in terms of safety, (less the airbag fiasco). To some that won't make a hill of beans of difference. The same can be said for past Kia build quality, questionable in some respects according to what I have read. I have owned several Hondas and found them to be bullet proof and screwed together extremely well.
I do like the look of the stock Rio over the stock Fit, (as you know, personally not a big fan). You have pointed out, in other articles you penned, the aftermarket seems to have embraced the Fit and there are several packages that turn, "Frumpy" into, "Wicked" and would resolve the, "looks" issue with me. I doubt if the same can be said for the Rio. If one plans to do some tuning, my guess again would be that the Fit has much more to choose from regarding aftermarket performance mods, designed for the Fit. The Koreans have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time, impressive. My view is that they still have a little way to go before catching up to the, "Leaders" of the industry, such as Honda.