Simplicity is sometimes the hardest thing to describe.
Honda’s entry-level subcompact Fit is simplicity at its best, but something I find difficult to put into words. In 2007, the Honda Fit came in as the new entry-level offering from the automaker. Previously it had been offered globally as the “Jazz” where the little five-door hatch is more of a perfect “fit” into the international mainstream.
Here in the good old U.S. of A. it would certainly “fit” into those tight spaces between two behemoth SUVs crowding the parking garage, and consumers quickly discovered that they can “fit” quite a bit of cargo inside the vehicle making the new Honda a good “fit” for new urban lifestyles.
In fact, consumers had a “fit” just getting the new car. This was the hottest seller of the summer of 2008 when gas topped four bucks a gallon. No sooner do we get settled into the newest little Honda and the automaker gives the model a makeover – sportier looks, better handling, more rigid body structure, safety enhancements and more power under the hood.
Four adults will “fit” comfortably inside Fit (although there is seating for up to five) and of course the new audio system will accommodate MP3 players. The rear seating is described as “60/40-split fold-flat rear magic seat” due to its multi-configurability allowing it to “fit” many needs.
Up front the new Honda is out“fit”ted with a new little 1.5-liter VTEC inline four-cylinder engine that produces 117hp, which is right on target with the rest of the segment which now includes the new Yaris from Toyota and Versa from Nissan. Behind the engine is your choice of five-speed manual or automatic gearboxes, with the automatics getting funky steering wheel shift paddles (on Sport models).
Fit is the perfect example of Honda’s “safety for everyone” initiative showcasing the fact that they pack a healthy amount of safety engineering and technology into even their lowest priced models. Fit offers front, front side and side curtain airbags along with ABS brakes, even on the base trim levels.
We enjoyed a week behind the wheel of the Fit Sport with the manual transmission and new navigation system and found the car to embody all that Honda has become well-known for – quality, performance and value. Fit offers the best feel behind the wheel of all the new entry models we have tested lately, and while maybe not being the softest on the road it is one of the best handling. We also enjoyed its interior and packaging. Fit is surprisingly large inside – deceptively large – despite its subcompact designation.
For all of this though, expect to pay only a tad more than its competitors. The base 2009 Honda Fit comes in at $14,550 with our Sport tester with nav system and manual gearbox starting at $17,910. Fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg city and 35 mpg highway where the EPA has the Fit listed in the small wagon comparison bracket.
As an extra feather in its cap, the new Honda Fit has received a five-star frontal crash rating from the National Traffic Safety Administration.
The 2009 Honda Fit is a fun, attractive package, and – should gas prices spike to four bucks a gallon again – will see folks standing in line to get one.