2007 Honda Fit Road Test
With current gas prices the way they are, many of the major car companies are taping into their arsenal of sub compact econoboxes that have been so popular in Europe and other parts of the world. These small cars are popular in places where gas prices have always been high and buying a small fuel efficient car is a must. With the cost of filling up some tanks reaching triple digits in the US, these small, fuel efficient cars are finding their way to our shores at a blistering pace.
Japanese manufacturers are leading the charge with cars like The Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and Honda Fit. All are extremely competent and, above all, thrifty. This article focuses on the Honda Fit, a versatile small car that has an EPA rating of 33 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway. Those are the kind of numbers that car buyers today are taking notice of. The Toyota Yaris gets a bit better mileage, 34 city and 40 Highway, but it is not quite as versatile. The Nissan Versa gets slightly worse mileage at 30 city and 36 highway, but it is roomier and is priced a bit lower.
The Honda Fit has been a very popular vehicle in Europe where it is sold under the name Jazz. The US version of the Fit is available with one engine, a 1.5 liter VTEC 4 cylinder that is rated at 109 horsepower. It can be mated to either a Standard 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 5-speed automatic transmission.
Acceleration was leisurely, but adequate for most driving needs with 0 to 60 times under 10 seconds for the manual transmission car. Handling and steering feel was typical Honda spot-on accurate and precise. I found it to be a fun car to drive. The ride was surprisingly good compared to the Civic's somewhat firmer ride. The Fit was able to cruise effortlessly on the freeway at 80 miles per hour without the usual buzzy feeling that you find on some small cars. The ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes felt strong and were easy to modulate.
The Fit is priced a bit more upscale than the average subcompact cars from other manufacturers. The starting price for a base model Fit with a manual transmission is $14,440 including the destination charge. There are two well equipped Fit models, the Fit and the Fit Sport. Both are equipped with air conditioning, power windows, power mirrors and power door locks as well as a full complement of safety equipment like 6 air bags and Antilock brakes.
However, the real story is with the versatility of the interior, especially the rear seats. Flip a lever and the seatback flips down normally to form a flat load floor. Nothing unusual there. What is unusual is that, instead of flipping the back down, you can lift the cushion up, like the seats in a movie theater, to make room for tall items in the rear seat area.
Another feature is that the rear seats are adjustable fore and aft and the rear seatback reclines a bit. If you push the rear seat toward the rear as far as it will go, the front seatbacks can be reclined (after removing the headrests) to form a (somewhat lumpy) bed. You can seat yourself in the back seat and have the feeling of sitting in a chaise lounge. Where was this feature during the days of the drive-in movies?
Actually, there are four different configurations for the seats. They are: the standard five passenger mode, the long object or utility mode, tall object mode and the refresh mode. In the normal passenger mode, all the seats were comfortable and roomy. Honda was able to open up the interior for this much versatility by relocating the fuel tank to the center of the vehicle. Normally the fuel tank is located under the rear seat cushion. By locating it under the front seat cushions instead, rear seat floor space was able to be increased dramatically.
The simplified instrument cluster has three gauges: a tach on the left, speedometer in the center and a fuel gauge in on the right. The temperature gauge is replaced by a Cold light and a Hot light. When the cold light goes out, it is the signal that you can turn the heater on. If the hot light comes on, it means that the engine is overheating. This simple layout is all you really need on any car. A real temperature gauge is rarely ever needed, and when there is a problem with the temperature, it is often not noticed until it is too late anyway.
I normally don't care for a manual transmission car, but the manual shifter on our test car made me reassess that feeling. The shifter was typical Honda, which means smooth and solid with short throws. This shifter was as good as any I have ever experienced.
The automatic transmission is also a 5 speed with the added feature of paddle shifters (on the Sport model only) behind the steering wheel for manual control when you feel like being sporty. The automatic transmission is a very sophisticated piece of technology that has full torque converter lockup for all forward speeds, not just a couple of speeds like in other transmissions. This technology makes it possible for the automatic to have fuel economy almost as good as the manual.
Cargo Volume with the rear seat up was 21.3 cubic feet. With the seat down, it stretches to 41.9 cu. ft. Headrests must be removed before dropping the rear seat backs down.
The fit uses an electric power steering system that also helps with fuel economy since there is no power steering pump to rob engine power. Steering feel is sharp and accurate, which is typical of Honda products.
The fit comes standard with a full complement of air bags on all models. There are dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags, dual front side airbags and side-curtain airbags for front and rear passengers. Antilock brakes (ABS) and electronic brake force distribution (EBD) are also standard.
The Fit is available in two trim levels, Standard and Sport. Both are well equipped and offer no factory options except for the automatic transmission. All Fit models come with power windows, mirrors and door locks. Air conditioning is also standard
The Sport model adds 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, leather wrapped steering wheel, a rear roofline spoiler and a lower body aerodynamic trim kit.
Just like the highly customizable Scion, Honda dealers will offer a list of add-on accessories so buyers can personalize the Fit to their liking. Some of the dealer-installed options include the the Honda iPod Music Link, additional ambient lighting, trim panel accents and shift knobs to name a few.
The Honda Fit takes the sub-compact car to the next level with a vehicle that is roomy, comfortable and, above all, versatile. You won't feel like you had to make a giant sacrifice in order to save gas. It is a car that will fit your lifestyle and fit the bottom line. Pun intended.