The Honda Fit is a sporty subcompact that's fun to drive, practical and economical. The Fit has an amazingly configurable interior, with a second row of seats that can be folded, flattened, and flipped into position depending on your needs.
The Fit is fuel efficient, earning an EPA-estimated 27/33 mpg City/Highway. The 1.5-liter engine delivers 117-horsepower at 6600 rpm and 106 pound-feet of torque at 4800 rpm. Its overall size is just right for many drivers.
The Fit was redesigned for 2009. New styling resulted in a more upscale appearance, with better materials and seats inside. Improvements included better performance and slightly more power on the road. A new 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine gave the Fit slightly more horsepower and torque, while upgrades to chassis and suspension components improved the overall ride and handling experience. Larger standard wheels helped as well. There have been no additional changes for 2010. The Fit was first introduced to the U.S. market as a 2007 model.
The Fit has always been considered modern, though few people would have called the original, 2007-08 model stylish. That changed with the 2009 edition, thanks to a new look that's both functional and attractive, with sharply styled headlights, larger front quarter windows and a more aerodynamic contour.
Additional design changes for 2009 included a wider stance, more aggressive fender flares and sharper character lines along the side.
This revised styling, which carries over unchanged for 2010, makes the Fit arguably the most appealing small car in its class, avoiding some of the quirks found on competitors such as the Scion xD; while improving the practical nature of the car, e.g. outward visibility.
Since it debuted for 2007, what's inside the Fit has been perhaps its most talked about feature, both good and bad. Case in point: While the seats adjusted into a multitude of handy configurations, the quality of the materials left many wanting.
But along with all the other changes last year, Honda improved critical elements of the interior, while leaving the awesome utility of the little car mostly intact. To begin, the new model sits taller and wider, providing slightly more room for passengers.
The Fit got new front seats as well. All materials feel more ample and durable, and the center stack layout is among the easiest, most intuitively placed schemes we've seen in some time. The large knobs that control the environmental settings curve around the stereo controls on the driver's side, making the design stylish and easy to reach, though the plastic controls still feel a bit thin to the touch.
Other high points of the new interior are the in-dash cupholders and split glovebox, though both upper and lower compartments are too small to be of much use. Even with all these revisions, the best thing about the Fit hasn't changed much: Magic Seats. No, they won't transport you like George Jetson or Aladdin, but Honda's Magic Seats do move in a number of ways, from folding flat for utility to flipping up for tall objects. There's even a storage compartment under the seats for small items.
Interior room ranges from almost-spacious in front to adequate in back, especially for a car this size. Surprisingly, the latest Fit offers slightly more cargo volume than even the 50.4 cubic feet of the versatile Nissan Versa.
Overall, the Fit feels large inside, thanks to its expansive greenhouse and new seats. Visibility from the driver's seat is excellent. (The side mirrors are 30 percent larger than those on the previous model.) The most noticeable difference is up front, where a broader front windshield and close-up seating improve sightlines and feel for the road. Slender roof pillars front and rear minimize blind spots and create a more airy feel to the cabin.
The Fit is fun to drive. For everyday driving it's an obedient and comfortable conveyance, thanks to last year’s new seats and suspension changes that smoothed out the previous model's ride.
While the Fit's power supply is modest, we found that driving one equipped with either the manual transmission or an automatic with paddle shifters upped the fun meter (relative to the base automatic) by allowing drivers to dip down into the vehicle's torque band when needed.
On twisty corners, the Fit is much more fun, and almost as efficient as the Scion xD or Nissan Versa. Most of the time, the rear of the car nicely follows the front, even under aggressive duress, and with its electric power steering (improved last year, but still lacking in touch), the Fit communicates its intent clearly, if not with authority. We found the Fit to be quite tossable, the kind of car that's easy and predictable under spirited driving, without much wallow or ungainly lean in the corners.
We found that the clutch on the manual transmission easy to manipulate and quite fun to operate.
Most versions of the Fit deliver an EPA-estimated 27/33 miles per gallon, City/Highway. The one exception is the base-level automatic, which manages an even better 28/35, thanks probably to its 33 percent taller (overall) top gear. Either way, Fit is a nice fit between fun-to-drive and frugality.
Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of driving the Fit is the noise: The engine squeals when you hammer the throttle, whining and moaning its displeasure even under normal driving situations, like accelerating from a stop light. You get a more muted response from the competition. Then again, you get more muted performance, as well.
The Honda Fit offers a compelling balance of economy, fun, interior convenience and comfort. It delivers engineering excellence and value. From a healthy list of standard safety equipment to multiple seat configurations and ample storage room, the Fit simplifies your life. Drawbacks include a noisy and thrashy ride, slightly numb steering and a small (split) glovebox.
Brian Chee filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after his test drive of the Honda Fit models in Southern California.