The Ford Fiesta is in its sixth generation of production. The Honda Fit has barely been around for a decade and is only in its second generation. Despite their difference in age, these two compacts have reached the point of giving each other

some stiff competition in sales. We’ll dig into the research archives at Car and Driver, Consumer Reports, Edmunds, and Motor Trend to see which 2010-2011 model fits the bill as the best overall value in the compact sedan/hatchback market.

Powertrain: The 1.6L 4-cylinder engine of the Ford Fiesta and the 1.5L 4-cylinder in the Honda Fit are nearly dead even in horsepower and torque. Both come standard with a five-speed manual transmission and have the option of automatics. Acceleration was dead even as well as both vehicles hit 60 mph in 9.5 seconds, though the Fit with the automatic transmission lowered that time to a yawning 11 seconds. The deciding factor in powertrain for these two is going to come down to fuel efficiency where the Ford has the edge at 30/40 mpg (city/highway) to the Honda’s 27/33 mpg.

Winner: Ford Fiesta

Braking/Safety/Handling: Both vehicles are five-star crash test award winners in frontal impact safety but braking is decidedly better on the Ford as it took only 119 feet to stop from 60 mph, compared to 134 feet from the Honda. The Fiesta also comes standard with stability and traction control whereas the Fit only equips these items on models with the navigation system. Handling on both vehicles is well above average for this class, providing a tremendous driving experience either way you go.

Winner: Ford Fiesta

Cargo/Hauling: Cargo space in the Fiesta is really at a minimum even for this class. The rear seats do not fold completely flat, making it difficult to load certain items all the way in. It also has a maximum cargo space of only 26 cubic feet. That pales in comparison to the Fit, which can be arranged to hold up to 57.3 cubic feet and even has a front-passenger-seat-fold-down feature which allows storage of items up to 7 feet 9 inches in length. The rear seat cushions of the Honda also flip up to create a cargo storage area directly behind the front seats.

Winner: Honda Fit

Comfort/Interior: Both vehicles provide a very roomy interior for being compact cars. Both offer a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, making driver comfort more convenient, and the center-stack controls are both intuitive and easy to use on either model. The edge does go to Ford on materials quality as the metallic accents and fashionable styling give the feel of a vehicle much more luxurious than its economy class. The Honda materials aren’t cheap, but they are so-so in many areas. Honda still has a major problem with road noise as well.

Winner: Ford Fiesta

Amenities/Options: Despite the Honda’s available options of lower body extensions, a rear spoiler, foglights, and an upgraded audio system, it’s becoming very difficult for competitors to beat Ford’s Sync system, which allows voice control over the radio, your cell phone, and the turn-by-turn navigation system. The Fiesta also offers leather seating, a sunroof, and keyless entry/ignition. Curiously, the navigation system on the Honda is only available on the Sport model.

Winner: Ford Fiesta

Value for the $: Both models have five style choices, but the MSRP on the Ford starts well below the Honda. The Fiesta has a base price of $13,320 compared to $14,900 for the Honda. The max you’ll pay for the premium 5-door hatchback Fiesta is $17,120. In contrast, the Fit can climb to $19,110.

Winner: This one is a fairly easy call. Not only does the Fiesta win in nearly every category, but it’s cheaper and more economical at the gas pump. Despite Honda’s best efforts, they may have to release the third-generation Fit before they can compete with the Fiesta.

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