2008 Honda Fit

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Review: 2007 Honda Fit

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2008.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

Fits easily in growing market for cute entry-level, fuel-efficient small cars.
Pros:
  • Fuel efficient
  • Fairly roomy
  • Decent performance
Cons:
  • Small engine
  • Long-throw clutch
  • Hard-to-read gauges

Honda gives its new, early 2007 Fit a wonderfully appropriate name.

That's because this small 4-door hatchback slides nicely into the rapidly growing market for cute, fairly roomy, fuel-stingy subcompact cars often bought as entry vehicles by young buyers who automakers hope will eventually move up to their larger, more profitable models.

This market includes upcoming Fit rivals such as the 2007 Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa.

The front-wheel-drive Fit is called the "Jazz" in Europe and Japan, and actually is pretty jazzy. Utilitarian, fun-to-drive autos such as the Fit are popular in Europe and Japan, where roads are narrow, urban congestion is awful and gasoline prices are seemingly high enough to provide a ransom for a family's first-born.

Honda figured that if BMW's MINI Cooper could be a hit in America, the Fit also can make a splash here. That's especially because few motorists expect gas prices to fall below $2 a gallon anytime soon—and possibly will top $3 a gallon this summer.

Premium Entry Car
The Fit was introduced in Japan in 2001 and more than 1 million units have been sold in more than 70 countries with various engines and trim levels. It's a cute "premium entry car," as Honda describes it. That's because the Fit has a good amount of standard comfort, safety and convenience items—not to mention Honda's reputation for reliability, quality and high resale value.

Such features include air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD audio system with four to six (depending on trim level) speakers, six airbags (including front-seat side and side-curtain bags), fairly wide 65-series tires, anti-lock brakes and power windows, mirrors and door locks.

Some Cost Cutting
However, there are no power seats or sunroof. And some cost-cutting is obvious. For example, inside door handles are small and feel cheap. And the driver's sun visor has an unlit vanity mirror, while the passenger sun visor has no vanity mirror.

Honda says the Fit is a 5-seater, and there are three-point seat belts at all seating positions. But only four adults have decent room in the sporty two-tone interior because the middle of the rear seat is too hard for comfort.

And, while the supportive driver's seat moves back a lot to accommodate extra-tall folks, legroom becomes tight for a 6-footer behind a driver who slides his seat back a lot.

Magic Seat
A 60/40 split "Magic Seat" allows the rear seatbacks, or the entire back seat, to be flipped forward without removing headrests—or rear seat bottoms to flip up to provide lots of seating and cargo carrying configurations. Front seats can recline flush with the rear seats; this creates a long, flat surface, to allow a roadside nap for a driver who can't find a vacant motel.

The Fit's fuel tank isn't located where it's usually found in a car (under the back seat or trunk). Rather it is put toward the middle of the car to provide more interior room and allow those seat arrangement modes, which aren't possible in a regular car.

The cargo area has a low, wide opening and is fairly large even with rear seats in their normal upright positions.

Efficient Engine
The Fit has a smooth 4-cylinder engine, although it's pretty small at 1.5 liters. However, with an overhead-camshaft design, 16 valves and variable valve timing, it pumps out 109 horsepower.

That was enough power to provide my test Fit, which had a 5-speed manual transmission, with fairly quick merges onto freeways and decent 65-75 mph passing with only a downshift to fourth gear needed—at least with no passengers or cargo aboard.

The Fit is lively because the base trim level with the manual gearbox weighs a relatively light 2,432 pounds and the higher-line Fit Sport with an automatic transmission isn't much heavier at 2,551 pounds.

Paddle Shifters
The 5-speed manual is standard and the 5-speed automatic is an $800 option, with the Fit Sport equipping it with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual shifting.

A Fit with the automatic wasn't available for testing, but a 5-speed automatic should let the car nearly equal the performance of the more efficient manual-transmission version, although the manual has a rather notchy gearbox and clutch with a light action but long throw.

Fuel Stingy
Estimated fuel economy of the standard Fit with the manual is 33 mpg in the city and 38 on highways and 31 and 38 with the automatic. The Fit Sport provides 33 and 38 with manual, 31 and 37 with automatic.

The Fit with the manual lists at $13,850 and costs $14,650 with the automatic. The Fit Sport is $15,170 with the manual and $15,970 with the paddle-shifter automatic.

Sportier Sport
The Fit Sport is definitely sportier, with an underbody kit and rear roofline spoiler for better aerodynamics, fog lights and 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels with wider (55-series) tires. It also has cruise control, a premium 200-watt AM/FM/CD system with MP3/WMA playback capability and auxiliary audio jack to connect any portable music player. And there's a security system with remote keyless entry.

Fit Sport extras include a sport muffler, chrome exhaust tip and sport mesh grille.

Fun to Drive
The rigidly built Fit is reasonably fun to drive. Its electric power steering is quick, and the sophisticated suspension provides good handling and a supple ride. The brake pedal has a progressive action for smooth stops.

The standard Fit's 14-inch wheels and 65-series tires handicap handling a little. But here's a key option to enhance handling and braking: accessory alloy wheels and tires from the Honda Factory Performance division. They're available for both the Fit and Fit Sport in a 16-inch size with 45-series performance tires.

Easy In and Out
High, wide opening doors make it easy to slide in or out. Front doors have distinct detents to hold them open at various degrees and fully open at a nearly 80-degree angle.

Deeply recessed gauges can be hard to read during the day, and the transmission shifter gets in the way of the dual front cupholders. However, the rather narrow cabin allows controls to be easily reached, and large climate controls are especially easy to use.

There's no reason why the Fit shouldn't be popular, especially since Honda's former entry-level Civic has grown in size and price.

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BB05 - 9/22/2014 3:40:05 AM