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March 25, 2009 > Auto Review: Fit by Honda

Auto Review: Fit by Honda

Three years ago I did a report for the TriCity Voice on the Honda Fit. They have been sold in Japan and Europe since 2001. I enjoyed the 2007 model that went on sale in the US in April of 2006.

The up-rated 2009 model is just as much fun to drive and continues to be a good value. In fact, Consumer Reports just rated the Fit as one of the best values in the small car class. Automobile Magazine also liked the Fit and named it as one of its 2009 All-Stars.

Honda's engineers have managed to wrangle another 8 HP (now rated at 117HP) from the 1.5- liter VTEC, 4-valve per cylinder motor. So the performance level is slightly improved with either the 5-speed manual or the 5-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels.

Our test Fit Sport had the automatic that can be paddle-shifted. When you push the floor-mounted shift lever all the way back and select "S" (Sport), the Fit turns into an affordable paddle-shifter exotic car. Paddle shifting allows you to use more of the engine's rpm range to have all the fun and quick response of a manual transmission, while being able to use the normal "Drive" setting, so stop and go traffic is a breeze. I did find the Fit's performance a little doggy when it was in "Drive", so the Fit spent most of my drive time in "S."

The Fit continues to retain its "blast to drive" reputation. It is sporty, responsive, and fast for a 117 HP vehicle. It handles well, has good, stable braking potential, and keeps the driver entertained.

One of the Fit's strong suits is interior room. It's tall for a small car, so ingress and egress are very easy for its five passengers. Once inside, there is plenty of room so even the back seats are comfortable and supportive for adults. The rear seats fold down to increase cargo carrying capacity from 21 to 42 cubic feet.

Outward vision is really good. Fit has a huge front windshield and large side windows, so there are virtually no blind spots.

The manual Fit's EPA estimates are 27 city and 33 for the highway cycle. Honda uses a special lockup clutch inside the automatic transmission that eliminates slippage and INCREASES the automatic's EPA estimates to 28 city and 35 highway.

Honda has given the Fit a full range of safety features. Six airbags (two in the dash, two in the front corners, and two side curtain airbags) are standard. Front seat headrests are "active" and move forward in a collision setting to protect the passengers from "whiplash." ABS brakes and a tire pressure monitoring system are in every Fit sold. However, you need to buy the Sport model with the navigation system to get Honda's Vehicle Stability Assist system. I think those safety items should be standard equipment in every new car sold.

There are two Fit models. The base Fit's MSRP is $14,750 with the manual stick shift. The manual transmission Fit Sport starts at $16,260. Adding the automatic transmission to either one ups the ante only about $800. The Navigation system is only available on the Sport and adds $1,850 to your tab.

Honda equips the Fit with plenty of standard features such as air conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, and a 160-watt, 4-speaker, AM/FM/CD sound system. Moving up to the Fit Sport adds 2 speakers to the sound system. It also adds a bodywork kit, a spoiler on the rear, fog lights, a security system and other items.

Fit continues the Honda tradition of reliable, fun to drive, and economical small cars. It's a great value for today's uncertain economic conditions.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists

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