Described as charismatic, nimble, peppy, sporty and fun to drive, the Honda Fit, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price starting at $14,550 for the 2009 standard transmission model and up to 35 miles per gallon, has gained a high spot on the list of preferred subcompact cars in the U.S. As reported in an article in U.S. News & World Report, the 2008 Honda Fit ranked second among 34 affordable small cars, based on 66 reviews and test drives published in the auto press and on an analysis of reliability and safety. U.S. News gave the Honda Fit an overall rating of 9.2 and a perfect 10.0 for reliability.
In 2007, Motor Trend and Road and Track conducted comparison tests of the Honda Fit, the Nissan Versa and the Toyota Yaris, and both concluded that the Fit stood out for its driving performance. Car and Driver selected the Fit as one of its 10 best for 2008. Popular Mechanics gave the Honda Fit its Automotive Excellence Award in 2007 and again in 2009. And John Krewson, writing for Jalopnik, says it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like the Honda Fit.
In addition to its relatively low price and thrifty gas mileage, the Honda Fit has earned these high marks with its class-leading handling, ride, steering feel and brakes, the space and versatility of its interior with flopping and folding seats that offer various passenger and cargo carrying combinations, and the traditional Honda quality and attention to detail. According to the U.S. News and World Report article, the National Highway Safety Administration gave the 2008 Honda Fit five out of five stars in frontal crashes and front seat occupants’ protection in side crashes and three out of five stars in rear seat occupants’ protection in side crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Fit its highest rating in both frontal offset and side impact tests.
According to Edmunds, the Honda Fit has been a popular model since 2001 in Japan and Europe, where it was sold as the Honda Jazz. When the Fit first came to the U.S. in April 2006, Honda expected to sell 33,000, but demand surged and they sold around 40,000. That number increased to around 70,000 in 2008, and according to an article by James R. Healey, published on the USA Today website, Honda plans to sell 85,000 of the 2009 models.
Peter Lyon of Edmunds, reports that the 2009 Honda Fit has been redesigned with a 2-inch wider wheelbase, an increase of 2.2 inches in the overall length up to 153.5 inches, and only a 22-pound increase in overall weight. The windshield is moved forward by 4.7 inches giving the cabin a more roomy feeling, with triangular windows built into the side front doors to improve visibility. The 1.5-litre i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine with variable valve timing, generating 118 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 107 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm, pushes the Fit from 0 to 60 in 8.9 seconds. The 5-speed manual transmission is standard, and a 5-speed automatic is also available.
The steering and suspension have been improved and body rigidity has been enhanced. The 2009 Honda Fit has wider front and rear tracks, front McPherson strut suspension and torsion beam rear suspension settings, 15-inch wheels (16-inch on the Fit Sport model), anti-lock braking system with electronic brake distribution, electronic stability control and power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering.
Standard amenities on the 2009 Honda Fit include air conditioning, AM/FM radio (no satellite radio) and CD audio system, MP3/WMA playback capability, and auxiliary audio input jack. The Fit Sport has the Honda satellite navigation system with voice recognition and a 6.5 inch screen. All models have dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags, dual front-side airbags, and side-curtain airbags. The passenger space is about 90 cubic feet, with 2.6 cubic feet of cargo space. With the rear seat folded you can get up to 57 cubic feet of space in the back. The Honda Fit is rated to carry 850 pounds of people and cargo.
James R. Healey writing for USA Today points out the small gas tank, with less than 11 gallons, so even with the good fuel economy you have to fill up often. In his test drive, Healey found the ride to be stiff, especially on some bumps, and indicated that the power, while fine for city driving, was not enough for fast interstates or hilly terrain. But he found the shifting easy and pleasant with the manual transmission and felt the Honda Fit’s lively driving makes it more engaging that the Toyota Yaris or Nissan Versa.
The Honda Fit is not a hybrid, but rather a standard gasoline-powered vehicle, so its environmental friendliness comes from its good gas mileage. Motor Week estimates a low Energy Impact Score of 11 barrels of oil consumed per year by the Honda Fit, with a carbon footprint of 6.0 tons of CO2 emissions annually.
Car and Driver – 2008 10 Best Cars – 2008 Honda Fit: www.caranddriver.com
Edmunds Inside Line – Road Tests – First Drive: 2009 Honda Fit: www.edmunds.com
Jalopnik – 2009 Honda Fit, First Drive: http://jalopnik.com
Motor Trend – Road Tests – Economy Car Comparison: Honda Fit vs. Nissan Versa vs. Toyota Yaris: www.motortrend.com
Motor Week – Road Test – 2009 Honda Fit: www.mpt.org
msn autos – Honda Fit: http://autos.msn.com
Popular Mechanics – The Popular Mechanics 2009 Automotive Excellence Awards – Honda Fit: www.popularmechanics.com
Road & Track – Comparison Test: The Battle of the Bs at Little G: www.roadandtrack.com
USA Today – Money – Cars – Test Drive: New Honda Fit hits the fuel-efficient spot: www.usatoday.com
U.S. News & World Report – Rankings and Reviews – Automotive – New 2008 Honda Fit: http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com