My family shares our home and vehicles with three large dogs — two golden retrievers and a mixed breed — who range in weight from 50 to 65 pounds and height from 27 to 32 inches (measuring from toe to head). When car shopping, we consider how well a vehicle can handle our dogs and the equipment we use.
We participate in dog sports and travel to classes and trials in our 2004 GMC Safari van or 2014 Kia Sportage SUV; both are considerably larger than Cars.com’s long-term test Honda Fit EX hatchback. Since it arrived at our Chicago office I’ve been eager to see how well our dogs would, well, fit in the Fit.
Related: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Dog Kennel Tested
After spending a couple of weekends with the Fit, it is certainly a pet-friendly vehicle. Despite its diminutive proportions, the Fit can handle a lot of dog and dog equipment. Not only that, the Fit’s low step-in (jump-in?) height, wide-opening doors and lower-to-the-ground cargo area make it easy to get dogs of all sizes in and out.
The backseat is spacious enough to transport one dog comfortably, but two can also easily travel belted in using harnesses. Two of our dogs were able to sit and lay comfortably harnessed into the backseat. If you have a third dog, like us, there’s 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the backseat for a smaller crate. Our crates — at 36 inches long, 24 inches wide and 27 inches high — were too big for the cargo area, however. Even though our crate fit width and lengthwise, the top of the Fit’s backseat angles into the upper portion of the cargo area. That caused our crate to tilt forward, preventing us from closing the hatch.
Smaller crates should fit behind the seat — two of our cat carriers fit back there with room to spare. However, the Fit’s cargo hook tie-downs are rated to handle 220 pounds of force apiece, which isn’t enough to safely restrain a dog in a crate (at 35 mph a 50-pound dog will exert 1,500 pounds of force upon impact). So while crating a dog in the cargo area will keep it from being a driving distraction, crates may not protect dogs or passengers from injury in a crash. The rear floor between the front and rear seats is a safer place to put small pet carriers.
The Fit’s 60/40-split second-row seat folds down easily with the pull of a lever and provides 52.7 cubic feet of space. While we were able to fit two of our soft crates in the back with the seats down, we were not able close the hatch because of their height. Again, two smaller crates should fit. If you’re a dog owner interested in the Fit, bring your crate(s) with when shopping.
We also found the Fit suitable for spending half a day at a canine scenting trial. With Shadow — our German shepherd-husky-border collie mix — traveling on the backseat, we loaded the cargo area with a foldable soft crate, a foldable crate mat, two collapsible camping chairs, a small cooler, a medium-size carryall, a large reflective tarp (used to help keep vehicles cool during trials), a reflective windshield cover and a dog ramp. We still had room to spare.
We parked in an open, unshaded field at the trial, folded down the backseat, unfolded the crate and put it in the cargo area. Temps hovered around 70 degrees that day, so we opened the Fit’s windows and sunroof (standard in EX and EX-L models). It provided Shadow a safe, breezy “den” in which to wait his turn to compete.
While the Fit wouldn’t be our choice for a daylong trial with multiple dogs because of the need for humans and canines to spend much of the day in their vehicle waiting their turn to compete, it should work for owners of single large dogs or a couple medium-to-small dogs.
Honda’s discontinued boxy Element SUV earned accolades from dog owners for its pet friendliness. While the Fit isn’t as commodious as the Element, which offered 25.1 cubic feet of space in the cargo area and 74.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, it certainly helps fill the void.