We're not strangers to the holiday shopping rush, but we were a bit surprised to see adults lining up for one particular toy - the Honda Fit. Demand for the subcompact five-door peaked along with gas prices last summer, but even as 2008 drew to a close, dealers across the country had only a nineteen-day supply of the all-new 2009 model.
We must have been very good boys and girls in 2008, though, because we received a Four Seasons Fit Sport right before Christmas. The Fit quickly won the approval of many staffers, including Assistant Editor David Zenlea.
"While I generally can't stand cars this size," he wrote, "I'm completely charmed by the Fit. Unlike most econoboxes, there's a clear sense that lots of thought and care went into this car's design."
That's perhaps most noticeable inside, where Honda has provided a seemingly infinite amount of space. Senior Editor Joe Lorio managed to squeeze in four tall passengers, ranging from 5'11" to 6'5" in height, without a problem. Technical Editor Don Sherman noted that the Fit offers "ample room for five, and it is easily convertible into a cargo ship."
As good as the Fit may be, however, we're finding some room for further improvement. It's refined, but it isn't quite as even-keeled over broken pavement as we'd like - something Sherman attributes to the car's simplistic beam-type rear axle. Zenlea found the Fit "skittish" on his trip to Chicago, leading him to proclaim that the Fit is fine for urban dwellers, but a Civic may be better for those who regularly hit the highway.
There's also the issue of pricing. Our particular Fit Sport has no options (though one equipped with navigation runs almost $2000 over a "basic" Sport model) and doesn't include floor mats yet is burdened by a fairly substantial sticker price.
"The Fit is a perfectly adequate little hatch," writes Senior Online Editor Phil Floraday, "but it seems crazy to option one up to $18,500 right now. I know people were adding tons of options to small cars last summer when fuel was expensive, but sub-$2-per-gallon gas seems to be restoring the mindset that little cars need to be dirt-cheap penalty boxes."
That said, we hope America doesn't forget how pleasant cars in this class can be - and we also hope the next eleven months with our new Fit go as smoothly as the first.
2009 Honda Fit Sport with navigation
Base price (with dest.): $16,930
Price as tested: $18,780
Body Style: 4-door hatchback
Construction: Steel unibody
Engine: i-VTEC 16-valve SOHC I-4
Displacement: 1.5 liters
Power: 117 hp @ 6600 rpm
Torque: 106 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Fuel economy: 27/33/29 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Steering: Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns lock-to-lock: 2.5
Turning Circle: 34.4 ft
Suspension, Front: MacPherson strut
Suspension, Rear: Torsion beam
Brakes F/R: Power-assisted ventilated disc/drum; ABS
Wheels: 15-in aluminum alloy
Tires: Dunlop SP Sport (all-season)
Tire Size: 185/55 R16 83H
Headroom F/R: 40.4 / 39.0 in
Legroom F/R: 41.3 / 34.5 in
Shoulder Room F/R: 52.7 / 51.3 in
Wheelbase: 98.4 in
Track F/R: 58.1 / 57.4 in
L x W x H: 161.6 x 66.7 x 60.0 in
Cargo Capacity: 20.6 / 57.3 cu ft (rear/with seats folded)
Weight: 2534 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: 62 / 38%
Fuel Capacity: 10.6 gal
Est. Range: 315 miles
Fuel Grade: 87 octane
Front, side and side curtain airbags
Tire pressure monitoring system
Power windows, locks, and remote start
Tilt and telescopic steering wheel
MP3 jack, USB interface