May 27, 2008
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.
Doug Lloyd, Senior Copy Editor @ 25,138 miles
October 18, 2007
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.
Doug Lloyd, Senior Copy Editor, @ 18,201 miles
July 02, 2007
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.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor, 15,233 miles
June 07, 2007
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.
Doug Lloyd, Senior Copy Editor, @ 14,318 miles
May 25, 2007
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.
May 07, 2007
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.
April 30, 2007
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.
Production Editor Caroline Pardilla at 10,057 miles
February 20, 2007
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.
Doug Lloyd, Copy Editor
January 29, 2007
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.
November 28, 2006
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.
Brian Moody @ 2509 miles.