2008 Honda Fit

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2007 Honda Fit

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2008.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Rating: 10

Bottom Line:

Don't underestimate the Honda Fit 5-door hatchback because of its plain looks and a starting retail price of less than $14,000. The Fit is an intriguing mix of practical, small, fuel-thrifty and smart.
Pros:
  • Fuel sipper
  • Nifty rear-seat moves
  • Easy to maneuver
Cons:
  • Not exactly sexy styling
  • Touches of utilitarianism here and there
  • Cheap cargo floor material

Don't let the unassuming looks and size of Honda's smallest car fool you.

The 13-foot-long Honda Fit is very long on practicality and smart, utilitarian charm.

Its government fuel economy rating is the third best for a gasoline-powered, non-hybrid, new car sold in the United States. Specifically, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rates the 2007 Fit with 5-speed manual transmission at 33 miles a gallon in city driving and 38 mpg on the highway, for a combined 35 mpg.

Even with automatic transmission, the Fit's combined fuel economy rating is well over 30 mpg. And yes, the Fit needs only regular, not premium, fuel.

Keep in mind that this fuel-thrifty character is available at a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price of less than $14,000, which means this is a car that's thousands less than a gasoline-electric hybrid.

Indeed, the Fit, which has been sold for years in Asia and only came to the States starting in the 2007 model year, now is Honda's lowest-priced car.

If you haven't noticed, Honda's previously lowest-priced small car, the Civic, now has a starting retail price of nearly $15,000.

The Fit may be lowest-priced at Honda, but it isn't short on features.

Six airbags, including curtain airbags, are standard, and the little Fit is the first in its segment offered with race car-type paddle shifters that drivers activate with their fingers to move from gear to gear via a 5-speed automatic. The norm among small, lower-priced cars is a 4-speed automatic without sport shifting.

Last but not least, the different ways the Fit's rear seats can be configured to accommodate cargo are something to behold. Would you believe that a sizable, 49-inch-tall house plant can stand upright behind the Fit's front passenger seat?

It's no wonder that savvy shoppers, concerned about gasoline prices and their pocketbooks, are making the Fit a strong seller.

In its early months of U.S. sales, the Fit easily surpassed Honda officials' sales expectations.

New for us As I mentioned, the Honda Fit isn't exactly new. In Asia and Europe, buyers get a choice of the 5-door Fit hatchback or a Fit sedan. But Americans get only the hatchback, which is good because its styling is more interesting, even if it's still plain.

Honda officials said they studied to determine a good time to bring the Fit to the U.S., and their timing, it seems, couldn't have been better.

With families and young, single Americans coming to grips with stubbornly high gasoline prices, these target buyers for the Fit are finding their way to Honda showrooms.

More interesting inside than out I admit the Fit isn't exactly cute or retro the way a MINI Cooper is.

The look on the outside of the Fit is more utilitarian, with a short hood and wagon-like shape aft of the windshield. (In fact, the EPA classifies the 5-door Fit as a small wagon.)

But things get interesting when you look at interior space.

Thanks to a taller profile than the Civic, the Fit's passenger room—a total of 90.1 cubic feet—is surprisingly close to the 90.9 cubic feet in a Honda Civic sedan.

Passengers in the Fit's front and back seats sit more upright than expected, which aids legroom. My legs in the test Fit dangled downward, not out in front of me. So, I also didn't feel like I was riding right down on the pavement. Legroom back there measures 33.7 inches, which is just an inch shy of that in the back of a Civic sedan.

Headroom, front and back, actually is greater than that in the Civic, and cargo room in the Fit behind the rear seats is a surprising 21.3 cubic feet. This is more than the 12 cubic feet in a Civic sedan trunk.

Zippy personality Able to travel an estimated 370 miles on a 10.8-gallon tank of gasoline, the Fit is powered by a 1.5-liter 4 cylinder with Honda's VTEC valve system.

This powerplant generates just 109 horsepower, but this is OK because the Fit weighs less than 2,500 pounds. The car feels sprightly, and the engine does not sound like a straining, weak unit.

In fact, most of the time the Fit's powerplant was quieter than I expected as it went about its business.

Torque peaks at 105 lb-ft at 4800 rpm, and only when I slammed the accelerator hard for instant response did I notice the 4 cylinder booming as it worked to get up to speed.

The Fit test car was the top-of-the-line Sport model with 5-speed automatic and sporty paddle shifters. A driver can put the transmission into "Drive" and drive normally or slip the shifter into "Sport" and then shift manually sans clutch pedal. This is a nice compromise for people who have to commute in congested traffic but who also like sporty driving on weekends.

Odds and ends I enjoyed how easily the front-wheel-drive Fit maneuvered into parking spaces. Even parallel parking was less of a chore than in most other vehicles.

The suspension—MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam in back — is packaged compactly to allow for the Fit's flat, low floor. Passengers feel pretty much like they're rolling over and atop road bumps.

Steering assist is electric and doesn't feel artificial the way some electric steering systems have in some other vehicles.

The Fit's rear seats split one-third and two-thirds, and while seatbacks fold down as expected, they come to rest lower than in other vehicles. This, combined with the Fit's tall profile, helps explain the generous cargo space.

But I also marveled at the one-hand maneuver that raises the rear seat cushions up against the seatbacks, thereby creating a nifty storage area for taller items.

There are a few reminders that the Fit is a low-priced car. There's no center armrest in the back seat, and the cargo floor in back has cheap-feeling material covering it.

And the middle rider in back must watch that the shoulder belt doesn't chafe his or her neck.

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BB03 - 4/20/2014 11:31:48 AM