2007 Honda Fit: What's It Like to Live With?
Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2009 Ford Flex as our editors live with this car for a year.
What do you want to know about?
- They all Fit
- Catch that wiener
- Winning Over the Claustrophobic
- Not "Fit" for LA Freeways
- Fit Beauty is in the Details
- Parking Valets Take Advantage of its Small Dimensions
- Long-Term Fit Gets Hit
- I Like Your Personality
- Honda Fit
- Fit Fixed
- Honda Fit
- Bemoaning the 2007 Honda Fit's MPG
- Poor Driving Position
- Winter Winds Bat It Around Like a Cat Toy
- Pound for pound, the most practical car in our fleet
- Zip & Go = Fun in the City
- Honda Fit — Through Thick and Thin
- 2007 Honda Fit's Little Annoyances
- Big on Simplicity
- Ultimate Space Efficiency
- I simply don't fit
- Honda Fit indifferent to flogging
- The Honda That Zigs
- I can't believe it FIT!
- Scheduled Service
- Lessons in Lightness
- Seating Position
- Sticks Are for Kids...
- Nice touch in a subcompact
- fill 'er up
- Lefty-Centric Seat-Track Adjuster
- Honda Fit Meets Scooby Doo's Velma — in piñata form
- Honda Fit Sport — National Character
- Mystery Scratches
- Honda Fit Goes on a Road Trip
- Stuck in second place
- All in the family
- Concert on Wheels
- Small Begets Small
- Honda Fit Sport — Anti-Theft Foolishness
- The Fit Is No Go
- 10,000-mile Service
- Additional Mystery Service?
- Honda Fit Goes to Oregon, Part One
- Honda Fit Goes to Oregon, Part Two
- Splitting Eights and Double Down
- Honda Fit's Aural Connection
- Quantifying the Fun Factor
- Slip sliding away
- Seat comfort and brakes
- AAC? You might be SOL
- Branding at its best
- Business Class
- MPG and impressions
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder
- Creature of the night
- Do I Fit in the Fit?
- Beep Worse Than Its Bite
- Looks Aren't Everything
- Slip 'n Slide
- Trappedway Friend
- Not so Fit, needs a Workout
- How We're Doing on Fuel Economy
- Small and Friendly
- Fit for Five
- Everything Where It Should Be
- The Elusive Brake Judder
- The Highway Man
- Lightning for 5 Feet
- I Got Blisters On My Feet!
- I Got Blisters On My Feet! Part 2
- Dirty Transmission Fluid
- 20,000-mile Service
- Honda's Minicar, Then and Now.
- Transmisison Trouble Trumped!
- Easy Driver
- Where Does Your Foot Go?
- Favorited By Editor With Jet Lag
- Little, Big
- The Most Forgiving Manual
- A Fit(-and-finish) Haiku
- My Unlovely Honda Hump
- The Secret of Tiny Wheels
- What really fits in a 2007 Honda Fit Sport?
- Supple Shifter
- My Photo Sherpa
- The New Mule
- Simplicity Itself
- Full-Throttle Eulogy
- Surprisingly hard to shift smoothly
- Input = Output
- Fuel Economy Update
- Fit for a Dog
We've driven and reviewed the significant new offerings from the subcompact class of 2007. Each takes advantage of unique features to differentiate itself from the next guy: Aveo's interior space; Accent's warranty; Versa's engine; and storage compartments galore in the Yaris. But our short-term tests showed one hatchback comfortably seated at the front of this class, the Honda Fit. Adding a 2007 Honda Fit Sport to our long-term test fleet seemed like the best way to confirm our short-term results and determine whether this car is truly the cream of the crop.
Senior Consumer Advice Editor Phil Reed contacted several dealerships to check the availability of purchasing the car. His answer from dealers was the same, "We don't have any Fits. We are not expecting any Fits. The Fit is impossible to find." At one point we were offered a Fit Sport automatic but turned it down because a manual transmission was our preference. This went on for two months until one day our luck changed.
Phil was "driving" on the 405 freeway, but as usual in Los Angeles, traffic was at a standstill. Glancing over at a Honda dealership alongside the freeway he spotted a Storm Silver Metallic Fit on the lot. He called Carson Honda, in the city of Carson, and was connected with Internet Manager Joe Davis. "Yes, the Fit is still for sale," Davis told him, "but it's a Sport. I should tell you, too, that it's a manual transmission." Phil couldn't believe his ears. They discussed price and settled on buying the Fit at sticker, which was also the current Edmunds.com TMV® price. He drove to the dealership that afternoon and signed on the dotted line for $15,170. The service at Carson Honda was excellent and Joe Davis was very helpful and thorough.
The upper-trim Sport model purchased did not have any options. Instead, it was loaded with standard features: a 109-horsepower VTEC 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, front-passenger dual-stage airbags in addition to side airbags, rear curtain airbags, ABS brakes and 15-inch alloy wheels to name a few.
As with all long-term test vehicles, we test performance capability at the beginning and end of the one-year period. After 1,000 miles of daily use we took the Fit to our testing facility where it accelerated from zero to 60 in 9.5 seconds and completed the quarter-mile in 17 seconds at 79.8 mph. Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton noted, "There is not much power but the shifter is awesome. I never came close to missing a shift." Stopping from 60 mph took 128 feet and the pedal remained firm through each attempt.
Grip from its P195/55R15 Dunlop tires proved to be the limiting factor for the 2,490-pound Fit during our skid pad testing, where the car produced 0.77g. Following a few runs through the slalom course, Chris was surprised by its recorded 65.5-mph speed. "The Fit can rotate confidently and still manage to maintain poise. Love the well-bolstered seat and quick steering."
Is the Fit really "Go?" We hope to find out over the next 12 months. We will be sure to leave a trail of our exploits behind the wheel on the long-term road test blog page.
Current Odometer: 1,378
Best Fuel Economy: 34.7 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 27.4 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 31.6 mpg
Body Repair Costs: None
Maintenance Costs: None
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
They all Fit
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to let one of my large friends drive our long-term Honda Fit around a parking lot. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but this particular friend is 6'6" tall and the Fit is a subcompact. It was an opportunity for humor, or so I thought.
Not only did Gigantor squeeze into the Fit, he was perfectly comfortable. This photo of 6'1" vehicle testing assistant Mike Schmidt proves the Fit's roominess. The cell phone is there for scale and shows that there's at least 3 inches of remaining headroom.
Catch that wiener
This morning I'm driving to work in our long-term Honda Fit, listening to Rush and minding my own business when out of no-where the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile blew my doors off. The big bad wiener on wheels went by so fast it almost sucked the little Fit right off the road. Next time I run into that weiner I hope I'm driving something with a little more guts. The Fit might be fuel efficient, but it's no hot dog, er, I mean hot rod...
Winning Over the Claustrophobic
I really liked this car, surprisingly enough. I thought it was going to be claustrophobic since it looks so small from the outside and that the materials would be cheapy but I was pleasantly surprised. The materials are actually a better quality than what one would expect from a $15K car. Love that leather-wrapped steering wheel...
And even though the Sport model has 109 horsepower, with the five-speed manual, I was able to get around Corollas that didn't know any better. (Actually a lot of drivers who didn't know any better. Fun!)
My friend who is in the market for a new, economical car was intrigued by all the features present in our long-termer at such a low price — cruise control, aux input and keyless entry are all standard. After spending a weekend in it as the passenger she ended up looking it up on our site, wanting to buy one herself.
But what impressed me most was when I had to do a bit of grocery shopping at Costco for a large housewarming party, the Fit easily stored the grocery bags, two 20-pound bags of ice, beer, etc. with room to spare. I'm sure if I had even more to lug, the folding rear seat would have accommodated that. Too bad that the cargo area didn't come with a cover, though.
Not "Fit" for LA Freeways
It's been a long time since I've reached for the A/C button hoping to get just a wee bit more power by turning it off but that's exactly how I felt today as I tried to make the carpool lane before the double yellow lines kicked in. Sure I could just cross anyway like everyone else but that's just plain wrong and we all know it. I could also wind the little Fit up to redline in hopes of gaining a little extra grunt but OOOhhhh the racket. The Fit's a great city car though...
Fit Beauty is in the Details
The Fit is full of compromises - it needs more power, lacks even basic features like a sun visor mirror and can be noisy on the highway. But Fit owners will likely NOT feel short changed as the car is full of little details that give the clear impression that the Fit is something special. The Sport's stereo is impressive for the price, the blue gauges add an upscale flair and little things like the dot over the "i" in Fit help the car to ditch a low buck image.
Plus, after a long holiday weekend of errand running and shopping I used a little more than half a tank of gas...
Total cost for 162 miles worth of city driving? $13.42 - suddenly the Fit's critics are remarkably silent.
Parking Valets Take Advantage of its Small Dimensions
On my way into the unveiling of the 2008 Buick Enclave last night, I left our long-term Honda Fit in the care of the parking valets at Art Center. When I returned for it, I spotted it here wedged between a couple of news vans and an old Explorer. Evidently, it's not just the Fit owner who reaps the benefits of the car's small size.
Long-Term Fit Gets Hit
Our long-term Honda Fit received its first battle scars in the war called Driving in LA. This morning as I was turning right into a Chevron station, a BMW 5 Series sedan ('97-'03 generation) nipped our hatchback's right rear corner. Mr. Bimmer was making a right on red from the side street adjacent to the gas station and evidently was in too much of a hurry to wait for the Fit to complete the turn...
He was also in too much of a hurry to pull over and exchange information, so now he's got a hit-and-run riding on his conscience.
I didn't get a plate number, but you can tell from the scrape on our Fit Sport's lower skirt that the 5 Series had dark blue paint.
I Like Your Personality
I've been driving our Fit Sport for the last several days, and we're getting along great. This car drives like it's half a class above the other subcompacts (Versa, Yaris, Rio5 and Aveo), and the way it moves through traffic reminds me of an '02-'06 Mini Cooper. No question, the Honda lacks the Mini's sharp responses, but I had a lot of fun with it as I sped up LA's 110 freeway (which gets twisty as you near Pasadena). The Fit gets around turns with little body roll and provides unexpectedly good feedback to its driver. And it manages to do this without ruining the ride quality — impressive for a car with a pretty basic suspension design...
Starting up the Honda Fit this morning I am greeted with a "check fuel cap" warning on the IP. I get out of the car to check it out and sure enough, its not screwed on tight - - guess that means the warning did its job. Only setback now is that the light keeps flashing even though the problem is fixed.
The owner's manual says "it will take several days of normal driving for the vehicle to turn the warning off." That's a lot of help. I have to press the select/reset button every time I start the car to make it go away until the car decides it's ready to reset...
Good feature, but annoying execution.
Turns out that "several days of normal driving" amounts to about 10 miles. Why didn't they just write that in the owner's manual?
The crying and gnashing of teeth — not to mention the harsh accusations — can cease now. The Fit is Fixed. I picked up our 2007 Honda Fit Sport from Burke Auto Body in Long Beach, California, and you can never tell it got hit. All's right with the world again...
I suppose it is high time that I confess that I am the knucklehead who liked the Fit so much I bought one as our family car. I bought it partly because I loved the versatility of the seats. I bought it partly it because I love Hondas. I bought it partly because it handles so well. But mostly I bought it because it is inexpensive and I am — I admit it! — a cheapskate. It was $15,170 before tax, title and license fees. Yes, I could have bought a car that cost less. But not one I could get excited about.
Do I wish it had more power? Only if the fuel economy remained the same. Do I wish it was bigger? No, I like squeezing into small parking spaces. And so far there hasn't been anything I wanted to haul that wouldn't fit into it. Do I feel safe on the freeway? Absolutely not. But that has more to do with the other drivers than the car I'm driving.
So, aside from a few really picky things, I like our Fit, which looks exactly like the Edmunds long term Fit. More importantly, my wife likes it. And the key to inner peace is to have a happy wife.
I have had the altogether pleasant opportunity to drive our 2007 Honda Fit Sport the last few days. The Fit is classified as a subcompact, which in real-world terms, means really really really small. Lilliputian, if you will. But inside it's actually quite large. I'm a big fella, 6'1 and about 205 pounds, and I had plenty of room and GOBS of headroom as well...
As usual, I had a rehearsal/gigs while driving the Fit, so I was tasked with photographing it with all my gear inside.
As you can see, it fit perfectly. With the backseats folded flat, the keyboard laid flat. Mind you, this keyboard has 88 full-size keys. It's larger than some members of our editorial staff. I had to move the front passenger seat all the way forward, but Saturday night, with my girlfriend in that seat, I simply turned the keyboard so it was on its side and lying diagonally, front right to back left. The amp and assorted stands fit without a problem. I could have easily added a drum kit as well.
The point is, the Fit is a very roomy little car. It's fairly quick, handles great, even looks kinda stylish for what it is. And since it's so tiny, it's very easy to park anywhere. For a frugal couple in the city (roughly $15,000 out the door) with even two children, there's more than enough room. Groceries? No prob. Christmas tree. Piece of cake. Even a touch of performance. At one point, I looked down at the speedometer and I was going well above the legal limit and totally unaware of it. Not in a Cadillac. But in a Honda Fit with 15-inch wheels. Smooth. Tight. OK, didn't really like the very-upright-like-a-bus-driver seating position. But that's a minor gripe. Is it worthy of great passion and reams of praise? No. But it sets out to do a mission and in my opinion, does it perfectly.
Bemoaning the 2007 Honda Fit's MPG
Last night I drove the Fit home and then back to work again. Since I own my own Fit I was interested to see if the mileage was comparable. In my Fit, driven mostly by my wife in an around-town setting, we get about 26 mpg — a far cry from the 33 mpg the EPA estimates for city mileage. My commute in the Edmunds.com Fit was about 62 miles and it had 71 miles on it when I filled it up due to some around town driving...
I was discouraged to see it took 2.9 gallons which told me I got 24.5 mpg. Here is an action shot of 6 a.m. at the Shell station in Santa Monica.
While I was parked at the pump a Nissan Versa slid up beside me. It was an Edmunds.com editor checking his mileage. We stood in the cold and compared notes about the cars and gas mileage and how it was pretty damn cold for Southern California.
Hoping to cheer myself up I pulled out the logbook and ran the lifetime average. I'm including an action shot of that, as well. The lifetime average for the Fit was 30.2 mpg. This is pretty good compared to other cars, but again abysmally short of the EPA estimated 38 mpg highway. No big surprise there. I did a review of the long term fleet and found that EPA estimates are 14 percent high. A quicker way to estimate what you will get for a lifetime average is to deduct a few miles from the EPA's estimated city mileage. This holds up for our Fit since it its EPA city mileage is 33 mpg and we are getting 30.2 mpg.
One bright note: when we first got our Fit we drove to Las Vegas with four people and four suitcases in 100 degree temperatures. We got 36.5 mpg. Now that's more like it.
Poor Driving Position
OK, here's the one thing I really don't like about our Honda Fit (and you're sure to hear this from other editors as well): The steering wheel is mounted very close to the dash and it doesn't telescope. For someone like me, who's of average height (5-foot-10), this means you either need collapsible legs or super stretchy arms to find a comfortable driving position. Which is to say I've never found a truly comfortable driving position in the Fit.
Of course, the Fit occupies a price-sensitive part of the market, so I've tried to think of what other amenities I'd be willing to give up to get a telescoping steering wheel...
Cruise control? Nah, I get fussy on long road trips. Perhaps the lower skirts on our Sport trim model? Probably not, since the Fit looks naked without them. The MP3 player jack? Definitely not.
Evidently, slight discomfort is the only thing for it.
Winter Winds Bat It Around Like a Cat Toy
I've written about how adroitly our long-term Honda Fit handles when picking through city traffic, but last night, high crosswinds on the I-5 and 405 freeways made it feel more like the budget subcompact it is.
With its lightweight body (about 2,500 lbs) and tall, flat exterior panels, the Fit was an easy target for what must have been 40-mph gusts. Reduced speed and considerable steering correction were necessary to keep it from wandering into other lanes.
Pound for pound, the most practical car in our fleet
Laundry and a major cleanup project in my apartment took up much of the holiday weekend. Mundane stuff, sure, but my days weren't at all unpleasant and our Honda Fit had a lot to do with that. With few exceptions, this is the perfect city car for me. Not only does it fit anywhere I care to park it, it has rear seats that can fold down or up — and this makes all the difference...
I love the fact that the seats fold up (like in a pickup) and I left them in that position all weekend. This setup provided a more secure hold for transporting bags of laundry (which tend to topple over when seats are folded down). It was also useful for hauling sorted bags of plastics and paper to the recycling plant.
The fact the Fit is fun to drive only adds to its appeal, because I continued to take corners with gusto while running my errands — can't do that in a Yaris or Versa. Plus, this is probably the only Honda that's legitimately cute and it gets the occasional compliment on the basis of cuteness alone, which would save me the trouble of buying a dog.
Zip & Go = Fun in the City
Yesterday I wrote about how I had such a jerky ride in the Miata and wondered if that was due to my long break from driving stick. But last night when I took the Fit home I had a different experience. In the Honda, my unfamiliarity with stick wasn't really an issue as the clutch was easier to work. I felt confident dancing around slower-moving cars with the Honda's quick shifter and light clutch... Busy city streets? Fun! when piloting a zippy, little car. And with its high riding position and spacious interior, I didn't feel vulnerable to bullying from other vehicles.
The only moment of doubt came during braking when the brake pedal required more stomp than I had anticipated. For a sec, I was worried as I halted a little closer to another car than was comfortable. But in our first track test of the Honda, a tester commented that it took 128 feet to haul to a stop "and the pedal remained firm through each attempt."
Eh, maybe my bobble with the Fit's brake was because I was just getting off my weekend stint in the Miata, which has a more responsive brake pedal.
Honda Fit — Through Thick and Thin
I love the Honda Fit. As I've said before, it's quick, kinda cool looking, carries plenty of gear via its fold-flat seats, and sporty. And cheap. Everything it sets out to do...
But as I said, it's very inexpensive, and for good reason. It's not exactly a '56 Chevy Bel-Air. It's modern and very thin. I'm not decrying the build quality, but the below shot is of the open rear hatch.
My fingers are grasping the outside steel edge. Paper-thin. Doesn't rattle, doesn't feel like a death trap. But if you're wondering how Honda's engineers saved money in its development, that's one clue.
2007 Honda Fit's Little Annoyances
I was going to write yet another post about how much I like the Fit and how it's perfect for someone like me — a single, city dweller — but figure you've heard that all before so I'll just list off some small issues I encountered with Honda's little five-door when I had it this weekend...even though I still enjoyed driving it around. Mind you, I'm not just complaining for the sake of complaining. If these things annoyed me, they could annoy some small-car shopper out there.
The door locks are so annoyingly small, making them kinda difficult to unlock because you have to pinch them and pull up. I know it's just a matter of my getting used to pressing the universal lock/unlock button on the door's armrest instead and maybe that's why Honda made them so small because it assumes you'll never handle the little plungers. But why not just make them like the Civic Si's easy-to-push see-saw buttons in the side of the door? (I bring up the Si since it's the only other Honda I've recently encountered in our fleet.) Why does the entry-level hatch get this lock treatment which seems to just call attention to its cheapness? Is it because it's cheaper to make?
I love the fact that this low-price car comes with an aux power point, but trouble is I didn't know it had one at first glance while searching for it in our low-lit subterranean garage. I looked in the usual places, like near the stereo face and the center console but couldn't find it. So I didn't take our community aux cable with me for the weekend. It wasn't until I emerged from the garage that I saw the aux power point was in the center camouflaged by its own dark, handy-dandy rubber coverlet. Sure, it's discreet and once you know where it is, you won't forget. But having it hidden prevented me from enjoying my iPod in the car this weekend. Boo-hoo.
Big on Simplicity
There's a lot to be said for simplicity, especially when you're talking car audio controls. I recently spent time in our Mercedes-Benz R500 long-termer. I was trying to change channels on the radio, and for one dark moment (or two) I thought I was going to have to haul out the owner's manual. The owner's manual is great for discovering little secrets in your car's bag of tricks, but if you feel the need to use it for something as basic as changing channels on your car's radio, I don't think the car's designers have properly done their job... Adding salt to the wound is the fact that the R500's stereo controls feature teeny buttons that can be tricky to access.
You'll never have that problem with the Honda Fit. Its audio controls are laid out so clearly a toddler could figure them out, and its buttons and knobs are so king-sized, they look like they belong on a Playskool toy.
Want to turn up the volume on that Nina Simone remix? No problem! The volume control knob is so hard-to-miss you could probably see it from outer space. Feel the need to switch from CD to radio? Easy as cake! The gargantuan AM/FM button on the periphery of the volume control knob makes it clear what you have to do.
Older drivers with arthritis and other mobility issues will likely appreciate these design cues most, since big buttons and large knobs are easier to grab and navigate. But youngish people who get cranky when simple things are made unnecessarily complex will appreciate them also.
Ultimate Space Efficiency
We all know that the Fit is perhaps the most entertaining econobox out there in terms of driving dynamics. But equally impressive is its ease of use for carrying bulky items. Fold the rear seats down and there's 42 cubic feet of cargo space available, about average for the class. But unlike some small cars where the folded seatbacks angle upward, the Fit's cargo bay floor is nearly perfectly flat when in max hauling mode, making it easier to slide heavy items in from the rear hatch or side door openings.
Another small but appreciated detail is the recessed grab handle to pull the hatch down, something that cost like $5 to incorporate into the car, but something not all budget hatchbacks have.
I simply don't fit
Even though the following is lame, I just have to purge it from my brain: I'm unfit for the Fit. Why? I don't fit. And I'm tried of it.
When your knee whams the back of the steering wheel every time you let the clutch out, you tend to have a hard time liking a car. Sure, there's gobs of headroom, but I feel all praying mantis in this thing. I know Erin mentioned it in her post, but at 6'2" tall the problem is mission critical for me. I could never own one of these, however good it may be.
A telescopic steering wheel is an absolute must. Contrary to what you might think, it is the taller of us who need to pull the steering wheel out to give the knees room to schroom.
In fact, the first thing I do in any car so-equipped is slide the wheel all the way out. I've never found one yet that telescoped too far. In the shot below, I've placed my hands where I'd like them to be. I figure I need the steering to be 40 or 50mm closer.
It's pretty obvious that the 2007 Honda Fit is an adapted-for-the-US JDM car. The odd thing is that the CRX was too. But I owned a gen 2 version of that car and had tons of space. In fact, it was possible to slide the seat so far back that I couldn't press the pedals!
For me at least, the Fit is no go.
Honda Fit indifferent to flogging
My heavy foot wasn't enough to dislodge the Fit's average fuel economy out of the low 30s. At its most recent fillup, it averaged 32 mpg for a tank driven entirely in my care.
That's pretty impressive, and there's no doubt it can do better if driven with economy in mind. I tend to drive "spirited-ly," so for me, 32 mpg may well be the highest fuel economy I've ever registered in a car...
What's the best single tank average you've ever had, and in what car was it achieved?
The Honda That Zigs
Last weekend I spent a few days driving our long-term Toyota FJ Cruiser up in the mountains. Absolutely perfect for the job. Strong, torquey engine, big size, thick tires, lots of ground clearance. Perfect for the big country, the America of pick-ups and 4WD, of mountains and four-season weather...
Unstoppable in snow and ice. But not much in the city. It has the turning radius of an Airbus A300 and the subtlety of Gilbert Gottfried.
Conversely, this weekend I drove the Honda Fit Sport. I was in the city. I can't imagine anything worse in snow, what with its extremely low ground clearance, small tires, and relatively whiny engine. (Haven't driven it there; it could be sure-footed and tough.) But in the city it's utterly fantastic. It's so much FUN to drive, whips around parking lots, a crazy-quick point guard to the FJ's thunder dunker. Mugsy Bogues to the FJ's Shaquille O'Neal. Which is great. Whips through traffic, great visibility, smart, ergonomically laid-out controls. One CD at a time so you simply push eject and the CD pops out and you put a new one in. And there's a great little console for your CDs up front. It just makes SENSE.
And not the extra bells and whistles that I can't stand. A passenger's in the car and hasn't put his belt on yet? It'll beep a couple times, but then leave you ALONE. When you click the lock on the key fob, it flashes its lights for a sec but doesn't HONK at you. A tremendous car. For the city.
I can't believe it FIT!
I used the long-term Honda Fit for some heaving lifting duty yesterday. I knew I had one large package and several smaller boxes to move, but figured it would simply be a great way to test out the Fit's versatility. Well, it was. When I finally saw the box in question my first thought was, "I think I over-estimated the Fit's functionality." But then I folded the second-row seats into the floor and reclined the front passenger seat all-the-way back (it won't fold all-the-way forward like in a PT Cruiser). With that configuration the box fit — barely.
I had to lift my head to see out the passenger side of the car, but otherwise it was an easy drive home (even the rearview mirror still worked to see out the back). Power and handling were unaffected because the box was more bulk than weight, which meant I could still fling the Fit around corners and even pass slow-moving traffic with ease (after a downshift).
I did notice that the oil service light was on, with an ominous "5%" indicated. Made me feel a bit like a starship captain.
"Ensign, I need a status report!"
"Sir, fuel supply is still above 50 percent, but oil life is down to 5 percent and needs to be changed soon!"
I am an idiot. I know, I know, I hear you're howls of protest but let me convince you - no, really you need convincing.
I just spent more money on one compact disc than it cost to service the Honda Fit. It's a long story but let's just say I wasn't intending to "win" the auction and now my Pay Pal account is $45 lighter...
If you must know it was for the Eric Martin Band. Gotta love the 80s.
In the past we've been surprised by how much the manufacturer recommended service can cost on some cars. Prices in excess of $150 are not uncommon. We just spent $72 on servicing the Hyundai Azera and that was a slightly discounted price. The Hyundai service did include a tire rotation while the Fit's service did not.
Total cost for the Fit's first service - $36.64. Inexpensive cars should have inexpensive service. Well done Honda.
We used Honda of Santa Monica and were very pleased. The car was ready earlier than promised and our service writer, Howard, did not keep us waiting at drop off or pick-up.
Lessons in Lightness
With a 2,471-lb curb weight spec for a manual-shift Honda Fit Sport, it shouldn't come as a surprise that our long-term car imparts a lightweight, unencumbered feel when you drive it. Over the weekend, though, I realized how Honda designers took care to ensure that this sensation comes across in virtually every detail. The doors, for instance, are super light, and thanks to their two detents, there's no chance of them whapping back on you in a tight parking lot.
Then, there's the clutch pedal, which is so light and so forgiving. The clutch engages right when you expect it to for an economy car — not too close to the floor, but not too high in the pedal travel. On Saturday night, I drove the Fit while wearing 3-inch heels and didn't have a problem. Maybe it sounds silly to those of you who don't wear heels, but this is a definite advantage for me: A clutch that's compatible with all my footwear is just practical.
Finally, the shifter. It doesn't have quite positive feel of other Honda gearboxes, but it's oh-so-light running between the gates, which just adds to the feeling that the Fit is the sort of car that minimizes life's hassles rather than adding to them. Yet, it's still fun to drive. Cool.
Among the many user friendly features of the Honda Fit is its seats. Thanks to what car designers call a "high hip point" (which means the seat cushion is rather high), it's easy to slide into the Fit, whether you're getting into one of the front or rear seats. Another benefit of the higher seating position is the better view outward it allows. Visibility out over the small hood and out to the sides is excellent and an asset when dealing with the cut and thrust of city driving.
Typical of a Honda, the Fit provides plenty of cubbies. The open slot next to the parking brake is ideal for my wallet (I stopped leaving it in my back pocket when I started having lower back trouble).
Sticks Are for Kids...
...of course I mean that in a good way. I know the Honda Fit Sport is available in automatic (with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles nonetheless), but I can't imagine that would be as much fun to drive as the stick-shift model. Something about zooming around traffic and flicking the gearshift to get that boost to pass that makes this little econocar go-kartlike. Sure it has just 109 horsepower and five gears to run through, but here it's not about the speed but about the zip...
This morning, I actually enjoyed my little 3-mile commute on city streets. Instead of zoning out and just focusing on getting to Point B, I danced the Fit around the other drones. And for a second I daydreamed I was playing GT4...except slower of course.
Nice touch in a subcompact
Since when did the gauges in subcompact cars get so pretty? Not only are our long-term Honda Fit's gauges large, legible and illuminated in a lovely bright blue, they're recessed in their own individual binnacles — not an ergonomic benefit per se, but certainly an aesthetic one.
To me, these gauges go a long way toward making the economy-biased Fit enjoyable to drive. One of the reasons I dislike my stepfather's '92 Civic VX hatchback, for instance, is the fact that its instruments are lit by a single tiny bulb with the luminosity of a xmas light — makes the car feel dank and spooky at night...
fill 'er up
I noticed the Fit's fuel gauge heading towards 'E' last night. Sure enough, the orange 'low fuel' light flicked on during this morning's commute.
I'd started the weekend with a full tank. So this morning's fillup would be the perfect comparison to the last time in the Fit, where I'd broken my personal mpg best.
This time, it covered 282.5 miles on 9.802 gallons. 28.8 mpg. Quite a bit short of my last stint.
So what happened? It's all in the driving conditions. The Fit spent most of the weekend in stop and go driving, as well as a blast up the winding roads near Glendora. If it wasn't crawling, the throttle was pinned. Oh, and thanks to the hordes of dumbfounded dipsticks on the freeway, my 33 mile commute took nearly two soul-withering hours this morning.
Scanning the Fit's logbook, I noticed that our Michael Jordan gets the prize for the most miles traveled on a tank (332.5 miles). But no one has yet run the tank as low as I just did, making me the boldest (or stupidest) Fit driver yet. Gotta feel good about something after that hell commute...
Lefty-Centric Seat-Track Adjuster
Whenever I get into our Honda Fit, I always reach in the wrong place to move the seat on its track. Most cars with manual fore/aft adjustment either locate the lever on the lower right side of the seat, or they have a bar that goes all the way across. On the Fit, there's just a small lever on the left side. This would be great if I was left-handed but I'm not...
I wonder if it's a function of the fact that the Fit was originally designed as a right-hand-drive car — perhaps Honda just picked up the driver seat and moved it to the opposite side of the car, levers and all?
In other news, I realized recently I had never run the Fit's 1.5-liter engine to its 6,500-rpm redline in the course of normal driving. So I tried it and it wasn't memorable. For normal acceleration purposes, there seems to be little benefit to going beyond 5,000. And the engine isn't that happy beyond this point anyway. To its credit, it's still pretty smooth. As you can see, it's easy to check the oil in the Fit, so after snapping my photo, that's just what I did. The level registered smack in the middle of the dipstick.
Honda Fit Meets Scooby Doo's Velma — in piñata form
Any doubts I had about whether the cartoony Honda Fit would get along with my neighbors were put to rest this morning. We ran into Velma on the way out of the driveway. She was all done up in paper mâche, and didn't say much, but behind that blank smile, I just know there's love and understanding for small, funky hatchbacks.
Honda Fit Sport — National Character
I have driven the Honda Fit Sport many times and I have nothing but praise for it. It's a fantastic city car, carries everything I need to haul due to its fold-flat seats, is quick, parks easily, has great sight lines and incredibly easy-to-use and intuitive controls. And it's cheap.
But to be honest, I also REALLY like the way it looks... It's so very Japanese.
I had a Fiat Brava when I was in high school. Unmistakably European. Probably the most European-looking car I've ever seen. Audi A4. Same deal. No question where that's from. Ford Crown Vic, Chrysler 300C? No question those big boys are American. But the Fit Sport, with its tiny little wheels and squeezed body and high roof line? Fantastically Japanese. Versa? Snoozemobile. (Sorry, just had to include that). Considering it's a low-priced subcompact, the Fit could be a boring, cheap-looking econobox. But the Fit has such a great little style, great lines, and character. And it even has a rear spoiler. How cool is THAT?
Someone pointed this out to me since I hadn't noticed it on my own and didn't see any blog posts about it, but it seems the Fit has another boo-boo. This time on its rear driver-side bumper. From the location of the damage, it doesn't look like another car could have done it since it's located so low on the bumper and there aren't any dents, just these scratches. Maybe a very mean bush?
Honda Fit Goes on a Road Trip
Although I've written frequently about the virtues of our 2007 Honda Fit, this past weekend was my first opportunity to take a real road trip in the car — about 700 miles total.
I'd been worried that the car's less than ideal driving position would make for an uncomfortable trip, but this turned out not to be such a big deal. The driver seat is nicely shaped and the cushioning held up for the first 3-4 hours; after that, the seat-bottom support began to wear thin. Ride quality was excellent for a subcompact, though, and unlike some other Hondas I've driven, road noise is well controlled...
As a moderately aggressive driver, I found the power adequate, though in some cases, barely so. Judicious shifting was essential to keep the 1.5-liter engine in its power band on highway grades, and I occasionally found it tricky to take advantage of passing zones on two-lane mountain roads — redline in third gear became the norm. I managed 33 mpg for the trip — not great for a subcompact, but considering all the time spent on back roads, I'll take it.
Those back roads were saturated by rain and snow showers, but the Fit's 195/55-15 Dunlop tires tracked nicely on the slick asphault. The hatchback's carefully tuned suspension complemented that grip, such that the Fit was still fun to drive in a driving rain. This scrappy character is what I like most about Honda's supermini.
Stuck in second place
In keeping with the spirit of Earth Day weekend, I embarked on my Honda Fit road trip determined to burn 20-plus gallons of petroleum into the atmosphere as gradually as possible. I followed all the rules: no passengers, A/C off, light right foot, all upshifts by 2,500 RPM, cruise control locked and loaded at every possible moment. Hey, nothing beats a stingy, stickshift, subcompact-sized Honda nailed to the freeway by a geeky anti-fun driver, right?
Well, on the two tanks that were entirely mine, I scored 33 and 34 MPG. From a macro perspective that's great, and better than almost any car you can name. Unfortunately, the exception happens to be archrival Toyota Yaris, in which I scored 35 and 38 under similar conditions — and that was with an efficiency-killing automatic.
Why the easy victory? We're dealing with two 1.5-liter engines here (smallest in any car today) and pretty close gearing. Could the culprit be the Fit's extra 183 extra pounds? Its 3.3 inches of excess height? Tire choice and/or high rolling resistance? At least one thing's for sure: on a certain steep downhill stretch I've taken dozens of times, most cars accelerate on their own well into the 80 MPH range; some exceed 90. The Fit maxed out at 77.
Whatever the cause, the effect is clear: the Fit must make peace with being the second-most frugal non-hybrid, gas-powered automobile of 2007.
All in the family
Entry-level Hondas and entry-level Acuras may play in different leagues, but anyone who's driven the late, great RSX will have fond flashbacks after a spin in the Fit. Its engine feels like a 1.5-liter chip off the 2.0-liter block, boasting the same invigorating soundtrack and feeling equally at home revving at redline. The shifter's got the same tightness, the same pinpoint precision, and begs the same question of whether this could be the best manual on the market. Together, the two add up to score big points in powertrain nirvana.
Of course, the RSX's rack-and-pinion steering felt nicer, its fiercer VTEC kick would give the Fit a much-needed second wind (with 109 horsepower, is there even a first?), and the Fit's torsion beam thwacking makes a guy wish for the wishbones in that Acura's suspension. But at 15 grand and change, the Fit is forgiven.
Concert on Wheels
Since I skipped out on going to Coachella, the annual two-day concert in the desert, this weekend, I contented myself by making a Coachella playlist consisting of songs from the concert performers — i.e. Rage Against the Machine, Amy Winehouse, Bjork. Fortunately I had the fun city car, our long-termer Honda Fit Sport for this weekend. So I plugged in my iPod via the car's aux input and enjoyed my own Coachella concert as I zipped around L.A...
Lily Allen's "Smile" served as a fitting soundtrack to my gleeful drive in the Fit.
The Fit Sport comes standard with 200 watts and six speakers (base model is 160 watts, four speakers) making for a rich sound. Really impressive for an economy subcompact. I have an aftermarket stereo in my Corolla which has a "Concert" feature and it doesn't sound nearly as good as the Fit's stereo. Aw.
If an iPod is your primary source for music there's a Honda MusicLink for iPod accessory available for all those who'd rather use the car's audio system to search and play songs. But if you don't want to pay extra for this convenience, the storage area behind the cupholders under the stereo console is adequate for keeping your iPod within easy reach.
Small Begets Small
I try to make a habit of crawling around the engine bays of new cars. Never know what you new doohicky you might find. Plus, they're a whole lot cleaner under there than crusty old cars.
It dawned on me that I've never seen the Fit's engine bay. If you're so inclined, or as much of a geek as I, join me as we explore the tidy heart of this little runabout.
What jumps out is how small everything is. Small battery. Small alternator. Puny clutch reservoir. Tiny intake manifold runners.
At first glance, the engine appears crammed in there. Look closer and you notice it's an illusion created by the absurdly short nose. In fact, the hood is wider than it is long. And the radiator core support is pushed way inboard relative to normal cars. Craning my neck around back, I see there's oodles of room on the exhaust side of the engine. Turbo kit, anyone?
That airbox looks montrous, but it's not. The photo's perspective distorts it's size. It houses the smallest air filter I've ever seen. And the diameter of the tube feeding the airbox is about the size of golf ball. Turns out 1.5 liters don't need a lot of air. Check this out:
To meet US crash regs, Honda engineered a lot of crush space in the front of the Fit. There's fifteen inches between the back of the core support and the nose:
A light car doesn't need big heavy supporting equipment. Inherent smallness reverses the death spiral of size found in most modern cars. Small cars can be small because they're small. Colin Chapman would be proud.
Honda Fit Sport — Anti-Theft Foolishness
If any of you lovely readers attended the Brad Mehldau concert at Pepperdine this weekend, and heard the announcement regarding the car with its lights on in the parking lot, uh, that was me. D'OH!
But, of course, I was too embarrassed to check and didn't happen to have the license plate memorized. (The announcer didn't mention that the car was a silver 2007 Honda Fit Sport). Needless to say, at the end of the show, when I discovered the headlights fading (after a mere two hours???), I was horrified. And Triple-A-less. Fortunately, a former employer was also in attendance and she and her husband helped me jump-start the Fit, which fired immediately.
That's where the trouble started. The damn error message.
See, apparently the Fit's stereo doesn't work if the battery is jump-started. Why? I spent much of the weekend pondering this. I had no problem driving the car, but thought, OF COURSE! If you steal the car, you can only do it in silence. It gives you time to think of how awful a person you are. Or better yet, in my case, the silence gave me time to think about not leaving the headlights on next time. (Sidebar: Why does a car like this even NEED that feature? I get that on a big SUV or work truck or something like that (camping trips and such, where one might actually need to shed light on something), but a city car like the Fit? Particularly if the battery runs out in a short two hours with the lights on? In my opinion, the lights should automatically go off with the car.)
Anyway, after much R'ing of TFM, I located the problem. Nowhere under the jump-start section. Nowhere in the pages related to the stereo. And forget the index. No "code," no "error message," no "troubleshooting." After repeated analysis of TFM, I finally found it under the anti-theft pages. Apparently there's a little card that comes with the car, with the code. I punched in the code and the stereo returned to normal.
Which led me to further ponder the utter stupidity of this system. To wit: Can't find it in TFM in any logical place. Totally unclear what this feature serves to prevent. (Feel free, dear readers, to opine.) And lastly, most people are simply going to leave the little card in the car, so if you DO steal the stereo system (which is fairly cumbersome and probably not very easy to remove, and not exactly a Rockford Fosgate or B&O), simply make sure to grab the manual packet from the glovebox so you can punch in the little code.
And yes, I realize this was all my fault. Should have just turned off the lights. Double-D'oh!
The Fit Is No Go
As I drove into the garage today I noticed that the little yellow wrench (aka "Service Soon") light came on near the fuel gauge. It had come on once before at about 5,000 miles. Now hitting past the 10,500 mark, I guess the Fit wants us to take it again. What a helpful and nonthreatening way to let you know...
Checking the Edmunds maintenance guide, it looks like we are now up to the 15,000-mile service which requires that the air and cabin air filters be changed as well as the engine oil. Estimated cost is about $99.40. Master of Keys Mike Schmidt has already made an appointment for tomorrow so we'll see how close the estimated amount is to the final price.
Our Fit is back from Honda of Santa Monica following its 10k mile maintenance. Service comprised of a tire rotation, tire pressure check, engine oil and filter change, fluid top-off, and standard visual inspections of brakes and moving parts.
We spent $165.37 for the complete service. Labor alone was $135. Had I done this at home on my own Fit I'm fairly confident the work could be completed in under an hour - - with a sandwich break in the middle... Maybe I'm in the wrong field.
Additional Mystery Service?
So I dropped off the Fit at Honda of Santa Monica today because the yellow wrench light appeared , and the guy there said that judging from the mileage it would actually get the 10,000-mile service not the 15,000-mile one that the Edmunds Maintenance Guide suggested. OK, that's fine. But when I got back to the office and looked at the work order, it said the preliminary estimate is $165, not $77 (as the guide noted). Apparently in addition to the 10,000-mile service, I was getting fixed up with 32 fluid ounces of something called ZMax "for new and used car improved break-in improved performance." Wha?
Mike, the Vehicle Testing Assistant, called the garage right away to make sure they took that off and reiterated that we just want the suggested manufacturer service maintenance and the guy said that he took it off...
I can't help but wonder if that addition was a genuine mistake or if it was more sinister like thinking a "girl" wouldn't notice something like that? But, oh, I noticed.
Honda Fit Goes to Oregon, Part One
Earlier this week I took our long-term Honda Fit on a long-haul getaway to the Oregon coast, specifically Cape Perpetua, south of Yachats. Partly, I chose the Fit because I wanted something small, spunky and manual-shift to drive. And partly, I wanted a bit of a challenge — 2,300 miles in a subcompact.
Within a couple hours of leaving home, the Fit's driver seat became a major annoyance (surprise!). There just isn't enough firm support built into the seat-bottom cushion to keep me comfortable for more than two hours, and with the minimal seat adjustments, there's not much you can do to reconfigure the seat. For the rest of the trip, I pretty much stopped every two hours down to the minute.
However, once I turned onto the back roads (CA Hwys 89 and 299 for a detour through the Modoc Nat'l Forest), nearly all was forgiven. Here, the car's carefully tuned chassis made it easy to drive quickly (or at least feel like I was), provided I was on task with the shifting — and I usually was thanks to the Fit's easy heel-and-toeability. In particular, the steering feels good with a surprising level of feedback.
The good feelings continued to Oregon's coast, as the Fit scampered around trucks in a driving rain on scenic Highway 58 and embarassed more than its share of larger, more expensive cars through the turns. It also managed the 2.5-mile climb up this well-groomed gravel road (no ruts) to the remote Cummins Ridge trailhead in the Siuslaw Nat'l Forest, suffering no ill effects.
Complaints? Overtaking in uphill passing zones was sometimes a problem. There's a lot of space between 3rd and 4th gears, leaving me with a choice between not having quite enough juice in 4th and bouncing off the rev limiter in 3rd. Also, I'm not wild about the Fit's brakes (front discs/rear drums). Pedal feel is OK, but they don't feel very powerful. And I think our long-termer's front rotors may be slightly warped, as I noted pulsation during moderate braking efforts throughout the trip. (Incidentally, during the car's recent 10K service, the dealer listed the remaining pad/shoe life at 80 percent.)
Final thoughts and mileage totals to come in tomorrow's entry.
Honda Fit Goes to Oregon, Part Two
Although the Honda Fit's thinly padded driver seat challenged my pain thresholds (especially on the 15-hour drive home from Oregon), I don't regret choosing it for my five-day road trip. The hatchback's size was incredibly convenient for maneuvering around cities I wasn't familiar with. Basically, I could park it anywhere. Plus, its diminutive size made it more endearing. During my overnight stay in Alturas, CA, where everybody drives diesel 3/4-ton pickups, I parked it right below my room at the Super 8 so I could keep an eye on it. It was the automotive equivalent of a toddler.
And I did get good fuel economy. The Fit returned 34.2 mpg over 2,260 miles; its lifetime average is 30.7 mpg. My best tank, 37.4 mpg, came while traveling south on I-5 through southern Oregon and northern California (lots of downhill grades, lower speed limits, ample state trooper coverage). My worst tank was 29.3 mpg.
Storage and cupholder provisions proved adequate for a frequent snacker — I even found a use for the slot above the glovebox.
Despite the audio system's dual CD player/aux input functionality, however, stereo performance was lacking on the long haul. The speakers simply aren't up to a steady diet of metal and hip-hop (Perfect Circle, Dan the Automator), and I think the right door speaker may be blown.
As much as I like the Fit, after this trip, I'm less convinced that it's a real deal for a shopper with 10K to 15K to spend on transportation. Compared to a used Civic, acceleration, handling, fuel economy, seat comfort and stereo quality are pretty much a wash. Yeah, the Fit has cute bodywork and a neat reconfigurable interior, but would I choose it over a Civic with independent rear suspension? Not sure I would.
Splitting Eights and Double Down
For the long weekend I took the Fit out to meet up with some friends in Vegas for a bachelor party. Vegas, baby! As the lone driver of the group of friends, the Fits primary use besides getting me out there was an airport shuttle. I made two trips, the first time to pick up two guys and the second time to pick up three...
Thankfully, the crew didn't bring much in the ways of luggage.
The small cargo area was just able to accommodate the second groups' bags without flowing above the shoulder level of the back seats. With four grown men riding together in the second trip, there was just enough wiggle room so each person was comfortable. I did notice, however, the Fits' AC was barely able to cope with the desert heat. It kept the cabin cool enough so that we didn't sweat for the trip back to the hotel. Needless to say, we were paying closer attention to what we were going to do than what the Fit had to offer.
On the long ride back to LA, I got to be very familiar with the Fit. Four hours of mindless driving through the barren wastelands of the Mojave will do that to you. I found the interior design engaging for its price point and the drive pretty comfortable. The only real complaints I'd have is that the engine is pretty loud during those long sustained high speed cruises and said engine doesn't have a lot of guts to it. It made highway passing an event planned well in advance.
I guess for some extra change you'd get more sound-deadening and a little more umpf. But with the package and price point you get now, those cons are easy to look past.
Honda Fit's Aural Connection
I have put in a lot of seat time in our long-term Honda Fit Sport and I'm a big fan of it. As a city car. I think it's absolutely perfect for the city. Zippy, quick, very compact, easy to park, great turning radius, carries a lot of stuff...
But beyond its mere competence, I decided to explore the extras. Last night I spent some time exploring the sound of the stereo stystem: from 80s rock (Yes) to KJZZ's "Jazz on the Latin Side," I was impressed by the clarity and quality of the radio.
But what I really like: the engine. There has been a lot of criticism that the high-revving little motor is grating during long road trips and extended time on the highway. This doesn't surprise me. Because it's loud and revvy. But during quick squirts around slower-moving traffic, I imagine a little animated hamster, with goggles and an aerodynamic pair of running shoes, racing around that wheel and working his little heart off. This is, of course, in direct opposition to something like our long-departed long-term Pontiac Solstice, whose engine was more like a fat ol' bear, wheezing and sweating but not actually doing anything. Loud, sucking wind, but not actually making any power. Out of shape and mama bear waiting to call 911. Then of course there's the Miata. Pure performance and sounding like Carl Lewis in the 440.
Like I said, the Fit's engine is probably a nightmare in the 80s for a few hours on a road trip, tach pegged at 3,200. But in the city, I dig it. Sometimes I overrev it just a sec and imagine that little hamster, eager to please, racing toward the tape, the roar of the crowd in his ears.
Quantifying the Fun Factor
When a discount rack car gets waves of raves for being fun to drive — like it has here — the rationale is usually that the car "feels more than the sum of its parts" or "bonds with its driver" or some other fuzzy esoteric emotional deal. It can't be about the numbers. Never. Well, except maybe one.
Try this: 12.8:1. That's the Honda Fit's steering ratio — meaning one full 360-degree spin of the Fit's steering wheel pivots the front tires 28.1 degrees. In English, that's cat-quick response, and it's what makes the Fit lunge at a new heading whenever your hand moves one micron. I'm not sure a car with a 96.5-inch wheelbase needs such amplified alertness, though I suppose it works.
But geez, what a contrast to the past. As a co-owner of a 2000 Accord, I can attest to that car's lumbering response. Surely, those of you with pre-2001 Civics whose steering wheels have 3.6 turns of play know the feeling too. Heck, the Acura NSX had an 18.6:1 ratio! By comparison, a car like the Fit represents a leap of the quantum variety.
Any opinions on Honda's newfound hyperactivity? Is faster better, or is enough enough?
Slip sliding away
File this under "Small peeves big enough to blog about": Our Fit has floor mats that don't like to stay in place. Taking a closer look, I noticed the two holes in the mat and thought "Oh, just like my friends '03 Miata, these holes must lock onto a couple of hooks in the carpet.
Only problem is, there are no hooks. Holes in the mats, but no hooks to secure them to the carpet. Turns out there are supposed to be hooks included with the mats, that you install yourself. We don't have them so we called the local Honda dealer who informed us we can order them and that that the instructions to install them are four pages long.
Of course, this raises a few questions: 1) Why weren't the hooks installed by the dealer? 2) If it's a DIY deal, why didn't we get the hooks? When we get to the bottom of this, we'll be sure to let you know. BTW, anybody out there in blogger land experience this too?
Seat comfort and brakes
A couple of our editors have commented previously about the relative lack of seat comfort in our Honda Fit. And it's true that without a telescoping steering wheel, the Fit can make one feel like he's driving a car originally meant for the Japanese market. (Erm, which it is...) Still, on a recent four-hour drive, I found the Fit pretty agreeable. Actual seat comfort for my body size (5'-10" and skinny) is quite good in my opinion...
To compensate for the lack of a telescoping wheel, I've come up with two slightly different driving positions. There's one for long-distance driving that has me a bit further away from the wheel than I'd like to maximize leg comfort, and another one for urban commuting that puts me closer in for a better arm positioning. I'm not defending the lack of a telescoping wheel and it'd be nice but prospective buyers shouldn't see it as a deal-breaker, either.
As an aside, I've noticed some minor pulsation/variation in the brakes when coming to stop. Looking back at previous posts, Erin also observed the pulsation in her drive to Oregon. It's not yet enough to warrant replacement/repair, but given Honda's less than stellar reputation for brake durability, the rise of a potentially warped rotor(s) is discouraging.
AAC? You might be SOL
Most new 2007 and 2008 vehicles have in-dash CD players that can play unprotected digital music files. Though this feature might seem inconsequential if a vehicle has an auxiliary input jack (as our Honda Fit does), it can be refreshing to not have to worry about theft or potential safety issues. Playing a CD's digital audio files allows title and track info to be displayed on the head unit and also allows the use of steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
There's a problem, though...
The iPod is the most popular player out there and its associated software, iTunes, rips files in the AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) format for its default setting. Almost all factory-installed head units can read MP3 or WMA (Windows Media Audio) files but not necessarily AAC. I tried playing AAC files in our Honda Fit and, sure enough, no go.
A solution for iPod owners is to simply rip one's music collection in iTunes using the (inferior) MP3 format. But look for more cars and trucks to be coming out with enhanced compatibility. The stereo in the 2008 Scion xB, for instance, come standard with AAC compatibility as well as a dedicated iPod input jack.
Branding at its best
I've really enjoyed driving our Honda Fit the past few weeks. Things like the smooth-sliding shifter, sporty handling and smartly designed interior instantly remind me of other small Hondas I've owned or driven. Like BMW, Honda is a master at maintaining certain attributes across product lineups and timelines. There's even the familiar "d-d-d-dit" Morse code "H" sound when the key is left in the ignition...
It's automotive branding at its best.
In a variety of earlier posts, we've written highly about the Honda Fit's versatile seat configurations. One can fold the 60/40-split rear seat completely flat, for instance, or raise the rear seat cushions to create a taller area for carrying bulky items.
Well, here's another neat trick: If you move the front seats all the way forward and then fully recline their seatbacks, the seatbacks touch flush with the rear seat cushions to create a rear-seat recliner. Unless your inseam goes past 50 inches, you'll have plenty of legroom...
The rear seatbacks recline for additional comfort, and there's a cupholder in the door for your cool, delicious beverage.
Were I a highly paid executive in need of chauffeuring, I think a $16,000 Honda Fit would be a strangely appealing choice over a $426,000 Maybach 62.
MPG and impressions
As of today, our 2007 Honda Fit Sport is averaging 31.3 mpg. Its best lifetime fill-ups so far are in the 36-to-37 mpg range while the worst drop into the high 20s. We still have three months to go on our one-year test but the Fit will certainly end up as being one of the most fuel-efficient, non-hybrid cars we've ever had in our long-term fleet.
I've had the luxury of spending the past month driving the Fit and I'll be a little sad to return into the normal long-term rotation later this week...
Certainly, the car has a few flaws, but they're more than made up for by positive attributes. I really like the configurable rear seats, the high mileage, the maneuverability and the dose of fun the car imparts through its anime styling and sporty handling.
I could potentially see myself owning one. But were I to get a Honda Fit, I think I'd want mine in black. In fact, there's a black one commonly parked in our office's parking garage with dark, gold-painted aftermarket wheels. Yeah, I know black and gold is gaudy and only fitting for late 1970s Firebirds with giant screaming chicken decals on the hood. But somehow it works.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
I got into the Fit last night after its month-long vacation in Fresno, and I realized I'd missed our subcompact while it was away. This is no great revelation coming from a Fit supporter, but there are certain details in this entry-level Honda that you won't find in other cars in this class.
For instance, the way the steering wheel fits in your hands is as pleasing as in cars costing tens of thousands of dollars more...
There's also the shifter's mechanical sound and feel when moving from gate to gate (something that was noticeable to me even though I'd driven the hypermechanical G35 the evening before). Honda probably could have gotten away with putting a less refined setup in the car, given that manual shifters in subcompacts are usually about as satisfying as stirring pudding with a plastic spoon. But the company opted to go beyond that in the Fit, and it's one of the things that makes this hatchback endearing.
Creature of the night
During the daytime, the Fit's interior gets the job done. Exceedingly simple lines, with enough hard plastic to craft a line of children's toys, but all in all, not too shabby for an economy-priced subcompact.
However, the Fit's interior really shines at night. The darkness swallows all the less-than-ideal aspects of the car's cabin... All that industrial-looking plastic becomes invisible. The eye is left to behold the most aesthetically impressive aspect of the Fit's cabin: its exquisitely illuminated gauges.
Do I Fit in the Fit?
I have tried my best to avoid driving the Fit home at night. I love the little Honda — it's a blast to drive and is a marvel of packaging — but based on past experiences I ironically just don't fit in the Fit. Knowing that I didn't have to amass great distances this weekend, I grabbed the key to see if a little more seat time would change my impression. While it still doesn't provide nearly enough 6-foot-3-friendly space, it was a little better than I remembered it...
I wouldn't want to drive to Vermont in the thing, but around town, I was comfortable enough.
In fact, after driving our new long-term Honda Civic GX, I found that I was more comfortable in the Fit. The bigger Civic's leg room is pretty bad too, but the Fit's higher seat cushion gives it a slight tall-dude advantage. I couldn't possibly buy either car, but it's good to know that I don't have to so readily dismiss the Fit for a night.
Beep Worse Than Its Bite
Yesterday as I was driving our sporty, little 2007 Honda Fit through Beverly Hills, the Range Rover driver in front of me decided he wanted to turn left but didn't get all the way into the left-turn lane. Rather, he straddled the solid white line. Naturally, I honked at him to let him know that he still had some ways to go before he was out of the way of the drivers behind him. But instead of the helpful meeep I expected, the Fit emitted a pretty loud honnnk...
Someone once told me that Japanese cars tend to have higher, non-threatening horns because in Japan honking a horn means "Sorry, go ahead." And of course, in America it means the complete opposite, thus American cars have a louder, deeper sound.
I don't know if this is really true but I can see that being the case. Anyway, that's why I was surprised that our little Honda gave the Range Rover the business. Comes in handy when you're a small hatchback living in a city filled with SUVs.
BTW, the Fit is due for another tune-up. The yellow wrench has spoken. I already let Vehicle Testing Coordinator Mike Schmidt know and he said he'd take care of it next week.
Looks Aren't Everything
Sorry, I know this isn't a picture of our silver long-term 2007 Honda Fit but I left my digicam at home. Anyway, ever mistake the Fit for the Chevy Aveo hatchback? I do all the time, well, on the rare occasion that I spot an Aveo on the road. Sure, it only takes a second for me to realize my error but the fact that I pause at all says something to me. Of course the Fit appears to have more tone, looking like an Aveo that's spent too many hours at the gym. But its similarity was one of the reasons I wasn't keen on the Fit at first. It ain't exactly cute.
But looking at both photos the Fit definitely has more attitude and flair. Check out those side skirts. And its windows look bigger than the Aveo as well, affording better visibility.
Slip 'n Slide
Ok, I've heard of cost cutting in cars. I once heard about a manufacturer who had the idea of trimming the wiring under a power seat to shave a few pennies, only to have it cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs because the wires would pull out when the seat was put all the way back.
I think not having clips to hold the floor mat is another one of those bad ideas. I'll pay the extra buck or two to have it stay in place...
The chump change paid upfront is more than worth the frustration of a mat that slides around and gets in the way of your pedals and/or feet.
While stuck on the 10 trappedway (I feel that "freeway" is a misnomer here in the land of perpetual gridlock, aka L.A.) during my "drive" to work today, I noticed something about the Fit. Or rather, almost didn't notice.
Our Fit has a manual transmission but even in my aggravating, all-of-six-miles commute, I wasn't the slightest bit annoyed by it. That's saying a lot when sometimes the drive home can take 45-50 minutes (by comparison, I used to run six miles in under 38 minutes) and you work the clutch about 1,000 times per 100 yards. Both the clutch and gearshift have a light, precise feel that makes constant use a joy rather than a pain in the butt. So even in L.A., I'd take the Fit with a manual gearbox and enjoy the additional performance and entertainment it provides (when you're not in traffic). If that's not a ringing endorsement of a carmaker's manual tranny, then I don't know what is.
Our long-term 2007 Honda Fit Sport is still fun to drive, but there are two small issues to address. First, the information center is telling us that oil life is down to five percent (I actually saw it switch from 10 to five percent as I was driving it home). Second, it has a noticeable vibration through both the steering wheel and the floor, though it subsides somewhat after about 20 miles of driving. Not sure if it's wheel balance, tire cupping or something else...
We'll have both items checked at the next service.
I updated our fuel economy spreadsheet this morning, and through 17,198 miles, our manual-shift 2007 Honda Fit is averaging 30.7 mpg. Our best tank, recorded at 15,768 miles, is 38.5 mpg. Our worst tank, recorded at 2,259 miles, is 22.4 mpg. Undoubtedly, anyone living outside Southern California with more access to wide-open highways would do better than we have...
However, when you look at the EPA's revised fuel economy estimates for a five-speed Fit — 28 city, 34 highway vs. 33/38 on the original window sticker — our results are about where they should be.
After having had the 2007 Honda Fit for a couple of days, I'm even more impressed with it than I was when we first added it to our fleet.
First of all, I love its dimensions. You kinda get it all with the Fit. I had to parallel-park in a spot so small it would have been a no-go for most cars; the Fit hustled its way in with a refreshing absence of drama...
But you'd never know how compact it is from sitting in its roomy cabin. Shoulder- and headroom, especially, are excellent.
I also dig the way in which the Fit's shifter does its thing. This Honda may just have the friendliest shifter in its class. It offers supreme fluidity; moving from gear to gear is almost effortless.
This past weekend was the last weekend of the Los Angeles County fair, so a few friends and I decided to take our 2007 Honda Fit and drive the hour out to the fair grounds. By a few friends I mean myself plus four full size, adult passengers. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a tight fit, however the Fit handled it just fine. What surprised me even more was that when merging onto the highway the Fit seemed to be unaffected by the full load. I guess this little car has more to offer than I thought.
I've driven our long-term 2007 Honda Fit Sport many, many times, and I am growing increasingly enamored of it. Because it's just so incredibly well thought out. Is it fast or sexy or high-tech? Not really. But it knows exactly what it is and makes no pretensions otherwise...
It's inexpensive, bare-bones, and absolutely perfect at that. It doesn't have a nav system or a CD changer. It doesn't have any special bells and whistles.
But as such, it doesn't require the manual, pretty much ever. The layout you see before you could not be clearer. Everything's right there. Clearly marked, good, simple, large buttons and switches. Just get in and drive. Turn up the heat, switch on the lights. Check your fuel level. Toss in a CD. And then just GO.
A pulsation in the 2007 Honda Fit's brake pedal has been observed by some of our editors during its time with us. Last week I experienced it myself.
The pulsation was there on Wednesday. It was mild, and didn't require getting the brakes especially hot for the judder to materialize. Just normal braking around town would elicit it.
Then I parked the Fit at the airport for four days. When I returned and drove it home, the pedal judder was gone. Go figure.
Brake judder or pulsation is nearly always misdiagnosed as warped rotors. In reality, this phenomenon is attributable to uneven pad deposits on the rotors. This results in high spots on the rotors which make themselves known as a wobbly-feeling pedal.
Sometimes the cure is to get the brakes good and hot to even out the pad transfer. Didn't get a chance to do it this time, but I'll give it a shot next time I have the Fit.
The Highway Man
Ah, the road trip.
My most recent road trip found me behind the wheel of our long term Honda Fit Sport. I'd like to share some discoveries I made about myself, gastronomic combinations and lastly, about the Fit itself.
Firstly, I discovered that I inexplicably know the lyrics to Fleetwood Mac's 'Fun'...
Secondly, I discovered the best energy drink to go with a packet of raspberry Zingers is not Rockstar Pomegranate. Nor is it Red Bull, or Monster. I'm beginning to think that nothing goes with raspberry Zingers except a stomach ache.
Thirdly, the Honda Fit's seats are apparently lightly upholstered marble benches. Seriously, I have never been in a car that gave me as much seat related discomfort. Ever. But, because I'm a guy, I toughed it out for the five hour journey only to wish that I hadn't. I was incapacitated for a good ten minutes after I got out of the car. However, the memory of pain faded after I spent the better part of the weekend driving the Fit in San Francisco. What a perfect little city car. Nimble, fun and small enough to fit into some pretty tight parking spaces, it made the weekend a breeze.
Now if only we could skip that 5 hour bit between Santa Monica and San Francisco...
That stunning power plant you see before you is the 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine of the 2007 Honda Fit Sport. I'll wait a moment whilst you catch your collective breath.
I have driven this car many times, and I really like it. It's very inexpensive, it's nicely styled (actually, in my opinion, far more interesting looking than the 2009 restyle) and despite its diminutive size, surprisingly roomy and capacious inside...
But it's really kinda slow. I know, no shock. 109 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. But I guess I didn't realize it in the past due to a lot of stop-and-go city driving. It's kinda like what my college friend Chris Fisher used to say about the VW Bug (the original). "Nothing beats it from zero to 5 feet." The Fit does great in 1st, not bad in 2nd and then kinda runs out of steam past about 3rd gear. I have a feeling it would drive me crazy on anything like a road trip.
I'm just a power junkie. Give me a 250-350 hp V6 and I'm like a pig in slop.
I bit the bullet and jumped into the fray of holiday shopping this part weekend. I don't like the crowds, the idiotic debates over whether my sister would like a salad spinner or not and I really don't like traffic.
This hat trick of fun was compounded when I was in the parking lot of a local mall. I loaded my stuff into the cargo area, hopped in, started the car and put it into reverse... Except it didn't want to go into reverse.
I tried revving it bit to get it in, tried to let the car roll a touch to get the gears in the right place, everything I did wouldn't work. As I tried to mash the shifter into place, two cars were contesting each other for my parking space and my girlfriend was wondering why I was swearing so much. I was stressing out.
My only solution was to Fred Flintstone it. I opened my car door and literally pushed the car out of its space with my foot. People stopped and stared. The two cars vying for my space didn't seem to car about each other anymore. Not only was it a little difficult to get the car out of the space, it was embarrassing.
While I sheepishly slunk out of the parking lot, I thought back on what it could have been. I then remembered I heard what sounded like a lot of keys and change banging around in my girlfriends purse on the way to the mall. No purse my friends; it was the tranny taking a dump on the roadway. Ho ho ho.
Next on my shopping list: a Honda dealership.
We dropped off our mono-course Fit at the dealership to take a look at the aforementioned reverse gear issue. The Service Advisor gave us a quizzical look.
He hopped in and tried to shift into reverse. He tried revving, engaging disengaging, the roll... . nothing worked. He called over a mechanic and explained the situation. The mechanic got in, tried all those tricks plus extra muscle. After staring at the shifter for a bit he shut the car off.
The mechanic walked over and calmly stated, "Yeah, we can't get it in either. We'll take a look at it and let you know."
"Really? Hmm. Yes, please do."
While our Fit is in the loving care of the Honda mechanic, it'll also get it's 20k service and have its warped rotors looked at. We'll keep you posted.
Dirty Transmission Fluid
The Honda service advisor called to say our 2007 Honda Fit Sport is nearly ready for pick-up. Seems its failure to go into reverse issue was caused by dirty transmisson fluid. The fluid was changed under warranty, and they're now addressing the warped brake rotors.
We'll post a full service report after the Fit returns to our garage...
We just spent $607.23 to get our Fit back in working order. A standard 20,000-mile service cost us $143, with an additional $67 air filter and $120 cabin filter replacement at our request. The front rotors were also warped. To turn them down and replace the brake pads we spent another $265.
For those following the dirty transmission, the latest updates are now posted...
I haven't driven the Fit in quite some time, since before the transmission problem. And it seems, the dealer's magic fluid fix didn't do the trick, either. After hopping in and firing it up, it was reluctant to go into revo. I didn't try to force it and after maybe four or five tries (employing the old tricks like moving the selector through the other gears and moving the car forward a few inches) it slid into reverse. We're not going to let this slide and are planning another dealer visit soon, as we're looking to sell the car and want it in "no excuses" condition.
On another note, I wondered how the Fit compared to Honda's first Civic in terms of size and performance. My memory seemed to think they were like-sized. Those of you old enough to remember shows like "Happy Days" and "The Six Million Dollar Man" might know what I'm talking about — the 1973 to 1979 Civic generation. To be as "apples to apples" as possible, let's compare that generation's Civic wagon to the Fit. Yes, they called it a wagon, even though like the Fit it was was essentially a four-door hatchback as the Civic's "wagon" portion of the body wasn't really extended in terms of additional rear overhang / length.
1977 Honda Civic Wagon
Overall Length: 160 inches
Wheelbase: 89.9 inches
Engine: 1.5-liter four with 53 horsepower
Weight: About 1700 pounds
2007 Honda Fit:
Overall Length: 157.4 inches
Wheelbase: 96.5 inches
Engine: 1.5-liter four with 109 Horsepower
Weight: 2432 pounds
As you can see, these little Hondas are within 3 inches of each other in length. In later years, automotive designers discovered the wisdom of pushing the wheels as far to the corners as possible to open up cabin space, hence the Fit's longer wheelbase even though it's shorter overall. The Fit's additional weight is significant, and due no doubt to the modern car's more robust construction and safety features such as antilock brakes and a slew of airbags, which the old Civic didn't have. The performance of the newest small Honda also benefits from three decades of development: as both vehicles have 1.5-liter inline fours, the modern version makes over twice the power, while also meeting much tougher emissions standards.
It's done. Again. Finally.
After one failed attempt, and 11 days out of service our Fit's finicky transmissionis fixed. For good. We hope.
Here's how it went down:
Day one: Drop off Fit. Complain about car still not going into reverse.
Day two: Receive call from service advisor, "We will need to open up the transmission to get to the bottom of this. Do you authorize this? It's $800. You'll only have to pay if the problem is not under warranty." "$800? US Dollars? Fine, fine. Do it." He said we'd get a call when he knew more. Just a few hours later we got the call. They'd found the problem. A bolt had fallen out of the shift-arm linkage. (That could explain the noise Scott Jacobs heard that faithful day in the parking lot.) They said it must have been loose from the factory as this piece coming loose by itself was near-impossible.
The loose fork damaged the reverse gear, reverse idler gear, first and second-gear synchros, synchro springs, synchronizing friction damper, and shift fork was heavily worn. The reverse gear assembly and synchro rings would need replacing.
Parts for the Fit's transmission are scarce and had to be shipped in from various distribution centers/dealers across the country. The parts would be in and the car repaired in 8 more days.
Days 3-8: No contact.
Day 8: I initiated contact. It took a few minutes for them to get on the ball. Nobody had my paperwork handy or could remember what Fit I had brought in. When they finally figured it out, I got some bad news; They needed another part that would be in same-day, and installed. Our advisor told me the car wouldn't be ready until early on the morning of day 9.
I nearly lost my cool there, but another few hours wasn't going to hurt anything. Even so, I let them know I wasn't thrilled.
Day 9: No contact until 3pm when I, again, initiated. Still not done. This time I lost my cool. 10 solid minutes of argument followed. Words like "unprofessional," "unacceptable," and "sloppy" were thrown around. More than once I asked him if this was a joke. Was I on some low-budget automotive-industry version of Punked?
Then he said he'd have to call me back and hung up.
Less than five minutes later the Service and Parts manager of Santa Monica Honda called. The manager, as it turns out, was actually helpful. He had a full scope of the issue and let us know that they needed to have Honda's corporate service people in to have a go at this — they hadn't taken apart a fit transmission before — and that they'd broken a part the day prior and that's why the repair needed an extra few days. Again, it turns out parts for this transmission are not easy to find. He was apologetic, cool and collected, clearly someone who's used to being yelled at. I let him know that above all our problem was in the complete lack of communication from them. He promised to call me by noon. I made a few side-bets on that one.
Day 10: The call came at 10:30am, the Fit was finished and we could pick it up at any point during the day.
When I finally got the dealership everything was lined up and ready to go. In and out in less than five minutes with no charge. My service advisor came over to apologize again for the mishaps and mishandling. While it doesn't excuse what happened, the service dept. there was truly bothered that a service had gone so poorly. This is a stark contrast to the attitude of our Audi dealer. Getting into the car I noticed it wasn't vacuumed and they had tracked something into the cabin. It was a long 10 days and I didn't have any will left to complain again.
I tested the reverse engagement a few times before leaving the lot. It worked fine every time. The shifter also felt more solid and more precise than when it left. (Obviously.)
"I can tell everyone's annoyed that you know how to drive in the rain," my driving companion said as I scooted the recently repaired 2007 Honda Fit Sport around West L.A.'s slower moving traffic. I was enjoying the light shifter; flicking the stick with just two fingers. I especially liked how it was such a smooth transition between gears so that I didn't have to worry about jostling my passenger (memories driving my angry brother around in the Mini swimming in my head). And the clutch is easy on the legs, which I was particularly thankful for as I sat in rainy rush-hour traffic with L.A... drivers who seemed utterly confused that water was falling from the sky.
I've driven our Honda Fit several times and each time I do I find another reason to like it, whether it's the surprising amount of room, the handling, or being able to find a parking spot virtually anywhere I always walk away with a new reason to like the car. This time however I have a complaint.
I took our Fit to Las Vegas this past weekend and noticed that there was something missing. The Honda Fit Sport has no dead peddle for your left foot. I have always driven our Fit around town and never noticed the lack of a dead peddle before but it became painfully obvious on a longer trip.
I know the Honda Fit is supposed to be a budget friendly car, but it can't cost too much more to add a place to rest your left foot. I would rather pay a little more for the extra comfort on longer trips...
If I traveled internationally every week, our 2007 Honda Fit would be the car I'd leave at the airport. I mean the hatchback no disrespect when I say this, but I find it very easy and un-challenging to drive when I'm out of sorts (but still operating within the legal limits).
I don't think I've ever encountered a car that managed to convey such lightness through its steering, pedals and shifter while still feeling so direct during these interactions. Most subcompacts get the lightness bit of it, but fumble on the directness...
This was the first time I've driven the Fit since the transmission scare, and it felt no worse for the wear... it's the same as before. The car's general well-being, along with the nameplate's 7-year lifespan in Japan, makes me think the incident was anomalous. However, I still wish it hadn't happened to our Fit.
I have been posting on the Driving Woman about my search for a fuel-efficient vehicle. The lease on my Volvo XC90 is up soon and we aren't planning on keeping it due to the 18 mpg it averages on my 105-mile round trip commute.
Mike and Mike, keepers of the cars, were kind enough to loan me the Honda Fit for the night so that I could get real mileage numbers for my commute. This can't be right, can it?..
107 miles on 2.5 gallons of gas for 42.8 mpg? I filled up the tank. I double checked the figure. It sure was 2.5 gallons. I checked the mileage, it sure was 107 miles since the last fill up (105.1 miles for my trip). If my math is accurate, that is pretty damn good. I only got 39.4 mpg on the same route in a 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid.
I like the Honda Fit. I thought it was zippy and cute, and nothing about it irritated me. If I buy an economy car, I am going to have to remember to turn the headlights on and off myself. The Fit needed a little jump this morning due to my forgetfulness.
I posted on the Driving Womanabout the car seat fit.
Everyone knows that some manual transmission vehicles are harder to drive than others. Being a Joni-come-lately to the stick shift world (I'm not a road test editor), I had to cut my teeth (and likely some of the gears' as well) in heavy rush hour traffic, on whatever random manual vehicle was occassionally available to me. I struggled with our VW and Audi...
I had an easier time with our old MItsubishi Eclipse. Finally, I asked to have the Fit for an entire week, to give me some real practice.
As a result, the Fit will remain forever in my heart as the car that got me comfortable with manual transmissions. Why? The Fit's clutch is the most forgiving one I've yet encountered. As opposed to cars that have a very precise engagement point you have to hit — or risk stalling out — the Fit cuts the driver a lot of slack. And as others have mentioned, the shifter is easy to control with just your fingertips. After a week in this car, all that anxiety about getting it right was (more or less) gone. I began to actually have fun with it, to gain confidence. Shifting finally became second nature. I even made it up some steep hills — in real traffic.
So if you're trying to get someone to drive a stick — a significant other, a roommate, whatever — this is a great car for them to learn on.
A Fit(-and-finish) Haiku
Dash rattle so soon?
Coming from the center stack.
Japan-made. What gives?
I've been spending a lot of quality time with our venerable long-term Fit recently, and I have to say I'm less than aurally impressed with its engine. While the Fit's engine note has been lauded by at least one of my colleagues, I can't find much to like about the 1.5-liter's uncouth booming north of 4,000 rpm. Thing about the Fit is, you'll be north of 4k rather frequently if you want to keep up with traffic, so you're going to hear that strident soundtrack on the regular, like it or not. It doesn't help that the emissions-friendly engine calibration has given our Fit an unfortunate (though not uncommon) case of hanging revs...
Hey, I know the Fit's a budget compact, but when I see "VTEC" on an engine cover, I expect a more pleasant aural experience en route to redline.
My Unlovely Honda Hump
I don't know about you all, but I refuse to drive around by myself with the front passenger seat slid all the way forward. Whenever I see that someone's left the seat that way, I compulsively slide it back so that it's roughly parallel with the driver seat. So it was in our long-term Honda Fit when I brought it along to Joshua Tree National Park last week — someone had left the passenger seat all the way up, so I promptly slid it back. Except this time I got a little more than I'd bargained for. In the name of Soichiro Honda, I exclaimed, what is THAT!
I'm taking suggestions. Meanwhile, browse onward for a few Joshua Tree pics. I averaged a little over 35 mpg for the trip, by the way — mainly unimpeded highway driving, A/C blasting (to the extent that the Fit's apathetic A/C can be said to blast), with some stop-and-go mixed in.
The Secret of Tiny Wheels
We are dope fiends for big wheels, aren't we?
It's the sidewall of the tires that we should be talking about, of course. Since big wheels simply make it possible to produce tires with narrower sidewalls, and that's the feature that delivers quicker steering response. But instead we're all over the wheels, equating bigger with better. When you look at design renderings for future concept cars, you can barely see any tire at all.
And yet the secret to the Honda Fit is its tiny wheels.
If you want real packaging efficiency with as much interior space as possible, it's a good idea to start with smaller wheels. Take a seat in the Honda Fit and you'll notice you're not swinging your legs around a giant wheel well in front of you, and there's plenty of room in the footwell to set up the pedals in a natural position...
(Well kind of natural, since the Fit's driving position is calibrated for shorter drivers.)
That's the message of the Honda Fit. If you want to maximize your people space, maybe you need tiny wheels, not a bigger package.
Of course, any kid in design school would rather eat a bug than draw a car with tiny wheels.
I took our 2007 Honda Fit Sport to the relatives' this weekend, where I was bestowed with a hand-me-down vanity set for my young daughter. The obvious question: Could I get it home in this tiny economy car?
Fortunately, the answer was yes, The vanity, which was about 17" deep and twice as high, fit nicely behind the second row of seats when turned on its side. The stool tucked in as well...
We couldn't have lowered the rear seats even if we had wanted to, because then we'd have no way to get the kids home. But all four of us, with booster seats, the vanity and a couple of bags of swim clothes (sorry America, it was 95 degrees here on Sunday) fit into the Fit.
There was no room for anything else, though... I had to choose between the vanity set and the two large plastic storage boxes I also wanted to take. But I suppose you can't demand quite that much cargo room from such a diminutive vehicle.
We've praised the Honda Fit's incredibly fluid shifter before, but for some reason, I was more aware of it than ever this weekend. Every shift was so light , so effortless. It honestly felt as if my hand was being guided by a chorus of incredibly attentive anime angels. When the temperature is as butt-scalding-hot as it was the weekend, the last thing you want to have to do is work too hard...
The Fit seemed to literally assimilate itself into my wavelength, taking me to and from with a spirit of fun and ease.
My upstairs neighbor in my apartment building is thinking about downsizing from his lumbering Equinox. He's considering both the Fit and the Chevrolet Aveo. When he asked me which one I'd recommend, the answer was a no-brainer.
The Fit doesn't always get the respect it deserves. We might as well call it Rodney.
Well Rodney, my good friend, If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be able to do my job. With your seats folded flat I'm able to haul my gear around easily... And because you have a low cargo lift level, I'm able to take some nice car to car shots.
So, thanks pal. Even if others roll their eyes at the prospect of driving you, I know you're a good friend to me.
Above, our Fit is patiently waiting for a photo shoot to wrap. It's been getting a lot of use as the photo mule these days. So why is that?
- 1. For some reason the Ford GT is never available...
- 2. It holds everything we need it to hold.
- 3. It goes off road.
- 4. It doesn't talk about the last episode of American Idol.
- 5. It has a low load floor for easy car to car photography.
- 6. It thinks Whoopi is easily the best host on The View.
- 7. The lively ride keeps you awake on long drives home.
- 8. It gets
I have put many miles on our long-term Honda Fit, and I have to say, it's really quite an enjoyable little car. As a car fan and a fast, enthusiastic driver, I'd want something more powerful, quick and sporty, but that said, it's really such a pleasant little city car. What I think I like most about it is its utter simplicity and purity. While so many cars come loaded to the gills with gadgets and lights and beeps and cameras and traffic sensors and all kinds of, well, extra goodies (the dreaded iDrive comes to mind), this one's got a single-CD stereo, easily readable buttons and a great climate control system...
Basically, what every other car had before the advent of nav systems and voice activation and all that gadgetry.
It's a perfect car for a Luddite. You want to know where to go? Bring a map and write down directions? Traffic? Listen to the traffic reports on the radio. But there's no learning curve. It's all clearly marked, easy to reach, and well-designed. Seems simple, right? How hard can that be? When you drive as many different cars as we do over the course of our work, you realize how rare that really is.
On another note, I carried three passengers in comfort this weekend (full-size adults) and on another occasion, used it to transport my bike. No prob.
Notice that it's jammed up under the gas pedal which prevents one from achieving wide-open throttle — a much-needed position in a car with only 109 horsepower. The red arrows show where the retaining clips which once held it in place used to reside. Good-bye full throttle. Rest in peace...
Surprisingly hard to shift smoothly
Sometimes I like to stir the pot with a controversial manual-shifter-related post. Today's bold claim: shifting our long-term Honda Fit smoothly is not the no-brainer it should be. I was trying to figure out exactly what the problem was while puttering around town last night, and I've concluded it's twofold: (1) the clutch's takeup point is narrow and abrupt (as opposed to the Lancer's, for example, which is extraordinarily forgiving), and (2) the Fit's emissions-control software causes the revs to "hang" for an extra beat or two while the clutch is depressed, so that if you're shifting quickly — which the snick-snick shifter encourages you to do — the revs may still be hanging when you've finished upshifting to the next gear, causing the car to lurch a bit.
Honda has historically made some of the best shifter/clutch combos in the business, so the Fit's awkwardness in this regard is a surprise...
But when I look at our roster of long-term manual-shift cars, the Fit's the only one on the list that I never feel entirely comfortable driving. Even the Ferrari's clutch is a cinch after a couple miles. In the Fit, though, I'm never quite sure whether my next shift will be a smooth one.
Call me weird.
Ok, you can stop now.
Anyway, I like the car I'm driving to have controls with the weight and feedback proportionate to the car's performance potential and personality. Take the Fit, for example...
Every major control in the car tells you that this is a fun, light-hearted and easy car to drive. The clutch is light (almost to a fault), the steering is precise, but not too heavy, and the gear lever can be flung from one gear to the next. I'd say the controls are a perfect match for the car.
Good gracious. The last time we posted fuel economy numbers for our spry little Honda Fit was last September . I guess we've had our hands full with other things and more other things since then. But gas mileage is the name of the game these days, so here's how we're doing.
Best tank: 40.1
Worst tank: 22.4
Lifetime average: 31.0
Thanks to the unique folding properties of our 2007 Honda Fit Sport's rear seat, a trip to the groomer was easy for Rudie, our 80 lb. German Shepard mix. He came from a shelter, so the actual ingredients of the mix are anyone's guess. Rottie or Doberman are the two leading theories.
What isn't in doubt is the utter flexibility of the Fit's rear seat design. In addition to folding down the usual way to expand the volume when loaded from the hatch, the rear seat bottoms can be folded up against the seat backs to create a tall space suitable for a big dog, a bicycle or any other sort of tall, slender cargo. A big-screen, perhaps? Framed artworks? No problem. Simply load them from the curb via the rear door.
The hidden secret that makes it work even better is an unusual gas tank location — under the front seats. This provides an ultra-low and ultra-flat load floor unlike any other.
The Fit is GOne.
After an extended tour of duty with our team — 18 months — we bid farewell to our 2007 Honda Fit Sport.
Has Honda's cheapest car tarnished the company's sterling reputation? Did we tire of the compromises (were there any?) required of a car that will get more than 30 mpg? In real-world conditions with real drivers, is the Honda Fit GO for the American market (as Honda's advertising claims)?
Why We Bought It
Honda recently found itself in a very awkward position. It was, for the first time in its history, without a small car for the American market, a segment it helped define with the introduction of the Civic in 1972. Year after year, car after car; bigger was better where the Civic has been concerned. More safety, more gadgets, more storage space, more, more, more. The current Civic is bigger than Accords of only a few years ago. Accords are bigger than an old BMW 5 Series, and the Pilot is now roughly the size of Rhode Island.
Honda had been studying the market for entry-level cars for some time, but only when Scion demonstrated that the market was bigger than anticipated did Honda finally make a move. Honda certified its small car already doing duty in Japan as the Fit and in Europe as the Jazz. (A sedan version known as the City is also available in Japan.)
When the Honda Fit appeared in the U.S. market in mid-2006, Honda hoped to sell 25,000 or so. Then gas began to rise toward $4 per gallon, and Fit sales took off as Americans sought out fuel-efficient vehicles. For the 2008 model year, Fit sales reached 85,000. Just as you'd expect from a Honda, the Fit is small, light, nimble, remarkably spacious, fuel-efficient and quirky enough in appearance to counter the frumpy-and-frugal image that hatchbacks have acquired here in the States.
We figured the Honda Fit would fill the gap in Honda's lineup left by the gentrification of the Civic and give Honda a solid entry to compete with the new breed of inexpensive fuel misers like the Chevy Aveo, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris.
Twelve months and 20,000 miles; that's our mantra for long-term test cars. It takes something serious for us to change course, or not to meet our goals. Sometimes cars are just too impractical to live with daily (like our long-term 1984 Ferrari 308 GTB and our 2007 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited) and it keeps them from hitting the mileage requirements. Sometimes they go and do something scary, like need to have the transmission rebuilt (like our long-term 2007 Chevy Silverado LT) which keeps them in service a little longer. Our 2007 Honda Fit Sport fell into the latter category.
Mileagewise, the Fit was on track for a traditional 12-month loan, but then Senior Photographer Scott Jacobs got his hands on the car. Shifting into Reverse, he heard a clang that sounded not unlike change dropping into a pan. Vehicle Testing Assistant Mike Magrath described the Fit's subsequent transmission repair: "A bolt had fallen out of the shift-arm linkage. (This could explain the noise Jacobs had heard that fateful day in the parking lot.) The dealer said it must have been loose from the factory, as this piece coming loose by itself was near impossible. The loose shifting fork damaged the reverse gear, reverse idler gear, 1st- and 2nd-gear synchros, synchro springs, synchronizing friction damper, and the shift fork was heavily worn. The reverse gear assembly and synchro rings would need replacing."
It took 11 days to complete this complicated repair, and we decided to add another six months of reliability testing onto the Fit's tour of duty.
Apart from the transmission repair, our 2007 Honda Fit visited the dealer four times. Each of those visits included routine oil changes that averaged about 30 bucks a pop. The 10,000-mile service also included a full inspection and air filter replacement, bringing the grand total (including oil change) to $165.37. At its 20,000-mile service, it was clear that the Fit's front brakes were in trouble, as they not only squealed but shuddered when used with conviction. Replacing the pads and resurfacing the rotors cost us $607.23.
While it was good that the major transmission repair was covered under warranty, we think it's safe to say that our Fit visited the dealership more often — and with a higher price tag — than its direct competitors in our long-term fleet, notably our 2007 Nissan Versa.
Complaints also abounded on the Fit's interior packaging. Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds, who stands 6-foot-3, just didn't fit the Fit: "When your knee whams the back of the steering wheel every time you let the clutch out, you tend to have a hard time liking a car. Sure, there're gobs of headroom, but I feel like a praying mantis in this thing.... A telescopic steering wheel is an absolute must. Contrary to what you might think, it is the taller of us who need to pull the steering wheel out to give the knees room to schroom."
It seemed obvious to us that the upright driving position of the 2007 Honda Fit had been scaled for Japanese drivers. Most of our editors over 5-foot-10 expressed similar difficulties with the driving position. Others criticized the lack of a proper dead pedal in the footwell. And still others complained about the angle of the pedals, which seemed to have been designed for short drivers sitting close to the steering wheel.
Total Body Repair Costs: $650
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 18 months): $866.62
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: 1
Non-Warranty Repairs: 1
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Days Out of Service: 12
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: 1
Performance and Fuel Economy
Fuel economy is one of the prime motivations for the purchase of a small car. And boasting an EPA rating of 33 mpg city/38 mpg highway, the 2007 Honda Fit is a strong competitor in the non-hybrid fuel economy wars. Our fuel economy numbers at the end of a long-term test are right in line with the Fit's revised fuel economy estimates. Even so, our combined average was only 31.4 mpg, which is well short of the EPA's 35.5-mpg combined average. Leafing through the fuel log, more than a few entries are in the high 30s, but more still are in the mid-20s. Why? We think it's a combination of our location in Southern California with its mix of high-speed freeways and jammed commute-hour traffic and our driving habits. While the Fit can achieve excellent fuel economy — as evidenced by our best tank of 42 mpg — we tended to drive it very aggressively.
Track testing the Fit at the end of its service confirmed our seat-of-the-pants assessment of its ability. Snaking through the slalom at 66.3 mph and wrapping itself around the skid pad at 0.79g, the Fit was praised for its excellent poise, willingness to rotate toward the apex, well-bolstered seats and quick steering. It was knocked, however, for the softer damping compared to our initial test. Straight-line acceleration in the quarter-mile improved by 0.2 second in the 27,000 miles we recorded, clicking the timers at 16.8 seconds at 79.8 mph. Reduced tread on the 195/55R15 Dunlop SP37s contributes some of the improvement.
Best Fuel Economy: 42 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 23.4 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 31.4 mpg
The 2007 Honda Fit Sport did an excellent job of retaining value. When we purchased our vehicle, there was a long waiting list. We got lucky and found a Fit Sport sitting on a dealer lot, unsold primarily because of its manual transmission (back to that L.A. traffic again). Considering this and the current climate of fuel prices, a lightly used Honda, we thought, would command a premium at resale time. Our long-term 2007 Mini Cooper S did. Running the Edmunds True Market Value (TMV®) calculator, we found that our Fit was worth $14,117, roughly $1,000 below what we paid for the Fit new. Clearly the littlest Honda is still in demand. The car was sold, as is our policy, to a dealership that offered us $13,600. More could have been had if we'd sold it to a private party.
True Market Value at service end: $14,117
What it sold for: $13,600
Depreciation: $2,195 or 7.2% of original paid price
Final Odometer Reading: 26,900
Reliability, fuel economy, practicality. That is what the 2007 Honda Fit Sport promised and that's what we were expecting. We were not expecting this five-door hatchback to be so much fun. Nor were we expecting its light-effort five-speed manual transmission and clutch to be so accommodating both in heavy traffic and on twisty mountain roads. We were expecting a car compromised for frugality, but what we ended up with was just a car with compromises. We didn't expect problems with packaging, service intervals and reliability, but these are exactly where issues cropped up.
As it turned out, this Fit represents the end of this particular Fit generation. The next-generation 2009 Honda Fit is already in showrooms and we've noted that the driving position is notably better thanks to the incorporation of a telescoping steering wheel and reconfigured pedal action. A better packaged, more powerful, more reliable and more Americanized Honda Fit is a pleasant proposition indeed.
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.