Now, more than ever, the Honda Fit seems appropriate. It’s one of the few efficient small cars without excuses, without compromises, and without apologies – it behaves like a real automobile, it’s at least a little entertaining to drive, and it doesn’t feel as cheap as it is. I like it. So, apparently, does most of America; sales are up more than 50 percent this year.
That said, I wasn’t too impressed with the old Fit – it seemed like the un-Honda Honda, a car that fit the mold and filled the numerical bill but was decidedly un-fun once you got behind the wheel. Its suspension was too soft, its shift linkage too mushy, its steering too numb. Happily, Honda seems to have fixed some of these issues with the 2009 Fit. The damper and spring tuning is a little sharper, the shift linkage a little crisper. The whole car seems a little more dialed-in than before.
There’s a reason these things sell like crazy. Simply put, the Fit is head and shoulders above most of its competition.
Sam Smith, Associate Editor
The 2009 Honda Fit is a pleasing, if not groundbreaking, second act to an already quite good car. All of the 2008 Honda Fit‘s high points have made the transition: the brilliant interior packaging; the excellent ergonomics; the superb sightlines via the vast glass, low cowl, and A-pillars with window buttresses; the willing and refined four-cylinder engine. A much better, more precise gearshifter has been added.
Also added: a bit more body control, so the car seems more tied down. However, having just driven the new Ford Fiesta, I’d venture that it is better tuned for both comfort and chassis response. Sadly for Ford and happily for Honda, though, that car is two years away from the American market.
Inside the Fit, there are many people-pleasing features. The rear-seat headrests are nicely integrated into the seatbacks, such that when you flip the seatbacks forward, the headrests don’t impede the seatbacks from lying flat. Alternately, you can flip the rear seat bottoms up, creating a nice floor storage space. The trunk itself, accessed through the hatch, is wide and flat and low.
Up front, the driver and passenger each have two cupholders, including outboard ones near the doors, and these aren’t flimsy things, either; they’ll actually hold a beverage securely in place. There are two nice little slots flanking the handbrake that are perfect for cell phones and BlackBerrys.
I can’t say that the car is significantly more handsome than it was before, but it’s a little less dorky and ungainly looking.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
I was a fan of the old Fit, not because it was a groundbreaking car or great fun to drive, but because I like the idea of basic transportation that harks back to Honda’s roots with fuel-efficiency and reliability. Having said that, the previous Fit definitely left room for improvement, and this new Fit is an even better example of basic, reliable transportation. No, it still isn’t great fun to drive, but it’s no dog, either. The Fit’s four-cylinder engine only makes 117 hp, but with the manual transmission, you can wring every bit of power out of it. The ride is more refined than that of the previous Fit, but “refined” still isn’t an adjective you’d generally use to describe this car.
Moving to the interior: I’m a fan of the triangles of glass at the bottom of the A-pillar that negate any forward blind spot, and controls are simple and straightforward, as in most Hondas. The carpet still seems to be made of some odd mix of materials that seems to fall somewhere between cardboard and carpet.
The best thing about the Fit is the amount of storage space it affords, despite its being a compact vehicle. Fold down the rear seats, and the storage space seems to equal that of many small SUVs. You can even fold the front seat flat to carry longer items.
With gas prices not showing any signs of falling off, it seems likely the Fit will continue to be a big seller for Honda, and it’s nice to see that those buyers who are watching their pennies can still get a lot of car for their money.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
It ain’t the meat, it’s the motion. Inexpensive materials, put together in a thoughtful, pleasing way. Door and headliner covering that is soft to the touch, if not pricey. A dash structure that’s creased and carved to give your peripheral vision a little treat. The A-pillar triangular windows and low cowl (first introduced in the Civic in the Eighties but dropped) giving you a panoramic view of the road. The quirky creases of an exterior that would otherwise look like a box. Not mention fuel economy, price, reliability, resale value. The Fit rocks.
Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief
2009 Honda Fit
Base Price (with destination): $18,580
Price as tested: $18,580
Fuel Economy: 27/33/29 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 1.5-liter 16 Valve SOHC I-4
HP: 117 hp @ 6600 rpm
Torque: 106 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Weight: 2534 lbs
Wheel/Tire Info: 16-inch alloy wheels, P185/55 R16 tires