2009 Honda Fit: What's It Like to Live With?
Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2009 Honda Fit as our editors live with this car for a year.
What do you want to know about?
- Buy The Nav, If Only For One Reason
- Better in every way!
- Living Larger
- What's Your Hurry?
- Great For Picking up Dresses
- A Better Driving Position
- Underused Space in the Instrument Panel
- The Hatch Is Back
- Suspension Walkaround
- Two Great Features That Should Go Together
- Open Thread
- Track Tested!
- 10 Cool Bits
- Get the Automatic
- Wonky MPG Number
- How Green Is It?
- USB Port and Display Screen
- Not Slow Unless You Want To Go Fast
- Small Car, Big Storage
- Revised MPG Opinion
- I Can See All
- Nerd — Press Start!
- Talented, but Needs Torque
- Little Rascal
- Lucerne Valley Rocks
- A Wok in the Park (ing Lot)
- No Cargo Cover?
- Crash Test Videos
- Our Favorite Caption
- Do What You Do Best
- Which Is The Better Highway Car?
- I Could Live With This Stereo
- Small item trays
- Arcade Shifter
- What's With the High Chair?
- Will it Fit?
- I Want To Shoot This Car
- Bashed by the IIHS
- Fit is Fast, Says Preschooler
- Meet the New Boss...
- Dead Battery
- House Hunter
- Excellent Lazy Man Steering Position
- Flight Deck
- Attention, Scion!
- Fi(s)t Full of Trouble
- Picking Nits on the Fit
- Fit for Competition
- Maybe Not Looks, but Plenty of Personality
- Back on the Road
- Will it Fit? (Canine Edition)
- Easy Loader for Easy Rider
- Three Days, Three Scenarios, Five Thumbs
- Small Made Easy
- Sounds Familiar
- Maintenance Minder
- Don't Ya Wish Your Car Was Orange Like Me?
- 10,000-mile service
- Easy Dimmer - One Knob, No Waiting
- Upright Citizens Brigade
- I think There's a Rattlesnake in the Dash
- Ergonomic Error
- It's No SUV but It Gets the Job Done
- Love the Sound of a Small Engine in a Small Car
- The Weakest Link
- MPGs In The Land Of SUVs
- Driving Style And Fuel Economy
- The Little Things
- Unrestful Armrest
- Attitude Change
- Honda's Shifting Priorities
- Time for Maths Camp
- Deactivating Big Brother
- Road Trip to Palm Springs
- Are most of them Orange?
- Sun Visor Fail
- I Fit A Bit Better in the Fit
- Life is What You Make It
- Baby Wipes
- Automated Rear Wiper
- Another Day in the Life of the Edmunds.com Truckster
- Blue Skies Ahead
- Steers Smartly
- Reverse Issue Part II?
- Making It Less Adorable
- No Nose
- Cross-Country Travel
- Happy 20,000 (or so) Miles
- One Trip Per Customer, Please
- Visit to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
- Service Due
- Time for Your Check-Up
- Feel of the Wheel Might Seal the Deal
- Test-Driving the Cupholder Open-Top
- The Real Deal
- Road Pop
- What the Manual Says About Towing
The 2009 Honda Fit seems to be the right car at the right time. When the Fit first appeared in the U.S. midway through 2006, even Honda seemed unsure just how many examples could be sold in America, envisioning it more as a cool rival to the Scion xA than the super fuel-efficient people mover that had become a sales phenomenon as the Honda Jazz in Europe. But from the first, this small, frugal wagonette found an audience in America and Honda found itself ratcheting up the number of boats bringing the Fit across the water from Japan.
Soon after, Edmunds.com bought a 2007 Honda Fit Sport for a long-term road test. We loved it, but also thought the small car wasn't quite up to the demands of drivers built to the corn-fed scale of Americans. As our Dan Edmunds noted in the road test logbook: "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. I feel like a praying mantis in this thing. A telescopic steering wheel is an absolute must."
Fortunately, Honda heard his plea. The 2009 Honda Fit Sport not only has a telescoping steering wheel, it also has a personality that suits our country of big spaces and wide-open roads. The 2009 Honda Fit Sport might look familiar, but this Fit is all-new, a car that has been designed from the ground up with American tastes in mind. Being Americans, we decided to call Honda's bluff, so a 2009 Honda Fit Sport has joined our long-term fleet. Let's see if it really is more 'Merican.
What We Bought
As is customary with Honda, there are no options as such for the 2009 Honda Fit. Instead the options are bundled together and sold as trim levels. The 2009 Fit lineup is comprised of the Fit, Fit Sport and Fit Sport with Navigation.
Central to the revised Fit is an upgraded 1.5-liter inline-4 that produces 117 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque compared to the 109 hp and 105 lb-ft for the previous-generation Fit. The new power comes at the price of a slight decrease in fuel economy, as it records an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, a 1 mpg loss compared to the previous car, which was also 63 pounds lighter.
Transmission options have not changed, as a five-speed automatic is available (with shift paddles on the Sport model) and a five-speed manual is standard.
What separates the 2009 Honda Fit and Fit Sport starts at the ground and works up. Wheels on the 2009 Fit Sport are 16s wrapped with 185/55R16 all-season Bridgestone Turanza EL470 tires. Non-Sport models are equipped with 15-inch wheels and skinnier tires. This represents a full 1-inch increase in diameter across the board from the prior Fit, making it more American both in appearance and in on-ramp cornering grip. The Fit Sport also benefits from a 17mm rear stabilizer bar to reduce understeer for livelier handling, while the base Fit predictably makes due without one at all. The Sport also has a kit of bodywork trim, foglights and a chrome exhaust tip.
Mechanically and visually, the Sport might not seem to add up to anything special, but there are a host of convenience and comfort features available on the Sport that tip the scale in its favor. The features include a security system with remote entry, power door locks, cruise control, map lights, a six-speaker stereo system with USB audio interface and an armrest. The Fit Sport also includes a steering wheel from the current Honda Civic, which includes stereo controls and a leather-wrapped rim.
Like the first generation, the new Fit has a "Magic Seat" feature that allows the rear seat to be configured in numerous ways. The seat can be folded flat with just the touch of a lever. The rear seat cushion also flips up to allow the Fit to accommodate tall cargo.
We chose the 2009 Honda Fit Sport with Navigation. Navigation is an option that is getting more common by the day but is still a treat in a sub-$20,000 car. When navigation is applied to a Fit Sport, stability control (Vehicle Stability Assist) and traction control are also added. It seems an odd pairing at first, but the reasoning is sound.
Why We Bought It
The 2009 Honda Fit Sport's iPod adapter, navigation system and stability control make it apparent that Honda has learned from the transition the first-generation Fit made when jumping across the pond, as this one has been designed to appease U.S. drivers.
What might not be as obvious are the demographics of Fit buyers. Take a look at the 2009 Fit's seat bottom (sounds thrilling, doesn't it?). It will look strangely familiar to those who have spent a lot of time in the Honda Accord because it is from the Honda Accord.
The Accord's seat bottom is wider and longer and thus more comfortable for larger and older drivers. Honda discovered that Fit buyers — much like a large percentage of Scion buyers — were not the kids looking for a cheap ride, even though this had been the target audience. Instead, Fit buyers have been older drivers who were trading down to something smaller, easier, greener and cheaper. These buyers expect more than a tin can that gets 30 mpg, and Honda's finally giving them what they wanted the first go-round.
In our full test of the 2009 Honda Fit Sport, Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton praises the '09 Fit for its "broader torque plateau; improved driving position for taller drivers; better ride quality." He concluded, "If only every sequel were so good. It's as if Honda used our long-term test blog about the 2007 Fit as a road map for the 2009 model's improvements."
It's check time again, Honda. Is the '09 just going to serve as a beta platform for the 2012 Fit, or will this prove as thoroughly engineered for the American road as we hope?
Follow along for the 12-month, 20,000-mile ride on our long-term road test blog.
Current Odometer: 1,052
Best Fuel Economy: 34.2 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 33.5 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 33.8 mpg
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
The nav, besides functionality, adds so much to the interior.
Wouldn't you get the nav?
Kids love the new Honda Fit. "Daddy, it's so cute" they say. I can't say I LOVE the new version but I do like it quite a bit. I spent a lot of time with the previous version of the Honda Fit and found it to be just adequate - decent fuel economy, nice interior space but with the expected compromises in terms of noise, harshness and power.
The 2009 version has an even roomier interior, looks more substantial and forces FAR fewer compromises around town and on the highway. The car is clearly more powerful, the transmission feels more precise and, this is a big one, the interior remains surprisingly quiet even at 70 mph and the ride is much more comfortable. Relax people, good fuel economy no longer means earplugs and bruised kidneys - thanks Honda.
For 2009, the Fit has a slightly longer wheelbase than the previous generation, and it also benefits from some suspension tweaks. The happy end result of all this is a car that feels more stable and composed. On highways and city streets this weekend, our spunky little hatch felt pleasantly well-planted. It's a big improvement relative to first-generation models, which can feel a bit lightweight in certain situations.
Oh, and it turns out kids aren't the only ones who find themselves drawn to the Fit. As I was reversing out of a parking space at the grocery store on Friday, I had to stab the brakes to avoid flattening an elderly gentleman, who had walked directly into the path of the car. Turns out he wanted to quiz me about the Fit, as he's thinking about buying one.
Our long-term 2009 Honda Fit's five-speed doesn't like to be rushed. Sure, the lever itself flits from gate to gate with uncommon lightness and rapidity, but the emissions-control software (I'm guessing) operates on a considerably more relaxed schedule. The result is what's known as "hanging revs" — when you're accelerating at, say, 4,500 rpm and depress the clutch to upshift, the engine keeps spinning at 4,500 rpm for an extra couple beats before slowly dropping toward idle speed. Our old Fit had the same issue, and if anything it's more pronounced on the new one.
So what's the big deal? Well, it's way too easy to outpace the hanging revs when you're upshifting. I'm not talking all-out acceleration runs here; even a normal (for me) shifting rhythm has the Fit in fits. Let's go back to the 4,500-rpm example. Suppose I'm shifting from third to fourth at that engine speed: I take my foot off the gas, depress the clutch, engage fourth and get back on the gas...but in the Fit, the revs are still hanging up around 4,500 rpm, resulting in an unavoidable lurch as they plummet to 3,200 rpm (or whatever the number would be in fourth).
The solution is to pause for a second after you've depressed the clutch, then go on with your normal upshifting procedure — that gives the revs time to drop down to where they're supposed to be. I don't know about y'all, but personally I'd rather not have to do this much thinking every time I shift.
Had enough of Octo-mom? Me too.
How about Octo-Fit? Apparently, we may have that covered soon.
I don't frequent dry cleaners. Partly because I don't wear things nice enough to dry clean and partly because I'm too lazy/cheap to venture to a dry cleaners. An uncontrollable urge to ride on the wicked cool hanging conveyor belt is another reason. But I went to the dry cleaners yesterday and I was driving the 2009 Honda Fit..
When I got back with my hands full of hangers, I discovered the Fit's left rear seat bottom was flipped up. I had often extolled the virtues of this feature, but I realized another use last night. As the picture shows, I could hang all those shirts, jackets and dresses up on the oh schmidt handle without them getting crunkled up on the seat bottom. And no, those aren't my dresses. Not that there's anything wrong with a dude who has dresses, but they're not mine. Where was I?
Oh yeah, the Honda Fit is really good at picking up dry cleaning. How's that for real-world, affordable car impressions?
One of the main reasons I disliked driving our 2007 Honda Fit was that I didn't fit in it. It had no seat height adjustment and the non-telescopic steering wheel was too far away. My 6-ft 2-inch frame was utterly incompatible with what felt like a hasty JDM adpatation.
All of my complaints have been magically wiped away in the 2009 Honda Fit. Being able to lower the seats and pull the new telescopic wheel back has several benefits. My knees have clearance behind the wheel, which means I can operate the clutch and other pedals without splaying my legs apart, mantis-style. I can also reach the wheel without reaching, maintaining a nice bend in my arm. And my ankle doesn't feel strained because it no longer takes an awkward bend to rest it on the throttle.
And it goes beyond mere driving position. The 2009 Fit is more stable and precise when it comes to maneuverability and steering. And it has a less-wheezy engine, so I find myself downshifting far less often to summon speed when passing.
To me, the 2009 Honda Fit is an entirely different car. It went from a car I steadfastly avoided in 2007 to one I seek out in 2009. I've always favored small cars, and the 2009 Fit restores my faith in the genre.
There's nothing seriously wrong with the gauges in the 2009 Honda Fit. They're functional enough, and they light up in cool blue at night.
But one thing that has bugged me ever since I first drove the redesigned Fit is the right-hand pod with the fuel gauge in it. There's all this unused space and I can't take my eyes off it.
Why not make the needle smaller and add a temperature gauge?
Being a hatchback owner in my real life, I'm excited to see the new Honda Fit in our long-term fleet.
I still own my Acura Integra and I'm not letting go of her any time soon. I can fit anything in the back of that thing. You wouldn't believe the furniture I've carted around in there.
With its second row folded flat, the 2009 Honda Fit offers up max cargo capacity of 57 cubic feet. Just look at all that space in the photo above. The Fit is like a mini minivan.
How do you feel about hatchbacks?
Ever wonder what it looks like behind the wheels of your car? Never removed a tire in your life? Well, even if you have, there are subtle details you might overlook.
Here, then, are a few suspension photos of our 2009 Honda Fit Sport.
Honda Fits have a simple strut front suspension with a one-piece lower control arm. You can also see the rear-mounted steering rack that all transverse-engined front-wheel drive cars have. And you can see why this results in a forward-mounted brake caliper.
But let's change the angle a bit for a couple of other nuggets.
We can see that the caliper is a single piston sliding design. Changing Honda brake pads is as easy as it gets. You simply remove the lower slide bolt (just left of the lower bellows), rotate the main sliding half of the caliper up 180 degrees using the identical upper bolt as your pivot, push back the piston, slap in some new pads and put it back together. It takes five minutes tops if you have the wheels off, a few basic tools and some confidence. Really. The most likely way to screw it up is to over-torque the slender slide bolt when you put everything back together or forget to install the pad anti-rattle clips. New rotors add to the time and the degree of difficulty, but not by much.
And check out that long slender black stabilizer link. It attaches directly to the strut housing, which means the stabilizer bar (just visible at the bottom end) enjoys nearly 100% efficiency with respect to the motion of the tire: wheel goes up 2 inches, the stabilizer bar end moves up the same as it twists the bar.
While this design is becoming more common, a lot of cars still don't have this. Instead their stabilizer bar links mount to the lower control arm (LCA), usually about halfway between the ball joint and the arm pivot axis. This means that the stabilizer bar motion ratio is only 50 or 60%. When the wheel moves 2 inches, the stabilizer bar end moves only one inch or so. This inefficiency means the car with the LCA mount will need a bigger stabilizer bar to generate the same roll stiffness as one mounted like the Fit.
How much bigger? Well, the spring rate of a torsion bar is proportional to its diameter to the fourth power. Our Fit has a 22 mm front stabilizer bar. If it attached to the LCA with a 60% motion ratio, it would have to be 25 mm in diameter to generate the same approximate roll stiffness.
Here is our Fit Sport's rear suspension. It's a semi-independent twist beam, a simple design that leaves room for a deep well between the wheels — one of the reasons why the Fit can carry so much stuff. The Sport has a 17 mm rear stabilizer bar, but it's all but hidden from view. Non-Sport Fits don't have a rear stabilizer bar, but that's not really true.
That's because a twist beam is nothing more than a giant, car-wide stabilizer bar with wheels on the ends. It's one piece, but because it's so wide it twists, hence the semi-independent designation. Another way to look at it is as a too-wide motorcycle swingarm with one wheel facing out of each leg.
Since the whole thing behaves like a stabilizer bar, increasing the roll stiffness can be accomplished by adding material across the middle to make the beam torsionally stiffer. Here an additional 17 mm stabilizer bar has been welded-in where it can span across. You can see the round nub end of it in the center of the picture. The beam doesn't twist very much, so 17mm isn't as impressive as it sounds. A standard Fit without this kind of supplemental rear stabilizer bar will understeer a little more, but it doesn't feel dramatically different.
I recently got back from a photo assignment with about 500 miles worth of driving. If there was something I could change about our Fit it would be one of two things on the same theme:
1) A sixth gear to reduce the high rev whine while driving on the freeway.
2) More sound deadening material to reduce engine noise when driving on the freeway.
Option one and two together would be even better. After two hours of highway driving at high rev/noise, I felt like I drank too much coffee at work. I got a little anxious to get out of the car for an extended period of time.
What do you want to know about the new 2009 Honda Fit?
Or give us your review of the new Fit.
We await your comments.
(photo by Scott Jacobs)
Car of the Week can be such a tease. Day after day of driving impressions, liveability issues, comfort, blah blah blah. I know what you've been clamoring for: test data from the 2009 Honda Fit Sport!
0-60. 1/4 mile. Braking from 60. Slalom. Skidpad. We did it all. Follow the jump for full results.
Vehicle: 2009 Honda Fit Sport 5MT
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Drive Type: Front Wheel Drive
Transmission Type: 5-speed manual
Engine Type: inline 4
Displacement (cc / cu-in): 1,497cc (91cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,600
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 117 @ 6600
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 106 @ 4800
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc
Brake Type (rear): Drum
Steering System: Electric power steering
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut
Suspension Type (rear): Torsion beam
Tire Size (front): 185/55R16
Tire Size (rear): 185/55R16
Tire Brand: Bridgestone
Tire Model: Turanza EL470
Tire Type: All-season
Wheel Size: 16 X 6.0 front — 16 X 6.0 rear
Wheel Material (front/rear): Alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 2,516
0 - 30 (sec): 3.0
0 - 45 (sec): 5.5
0 - 60 (sec): 8.9 (9.8 with traction control enabled)
0 - 75 (sec): 13.7
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 16.6 @ 81.6 (17.1 @ 81.0 with traction control enabled)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 8.6 (9.4 with traction control enabled)
30 - 0 (ft): 35
60 - 0 (ft): 137
Braking Rating: Poor
Slalom (mph): 65.8 (62.9 with traction control enabled)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.78 ( .75 with traction control enabled)
Handling Rating: Good
Db @ Idle: 42.0
Db @ Full Throttle: 77.1
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 68.0
Acceleration Comments: Ultra-light control feel, minimal power and little grip mean there's little technique to launching the Fit...just get her moving and shift fast. Fortunately, the shifter works well.
Braking Comments: No fade, but the pedal feels a bit flimsy / floppy and 137 feet won't win the Fit any awards.
Handling Comments: (Skid pad) Heavy understeer is the Fit's preferred balane around the pad and there's little that can be done to change it. (Slalom) The Fit does little wrong here as it assumes a "safe" attitude when it comes to changing directions. But it also isn't terribly engaging with little grip and low limits.
Our 2009 Honda Fit Sport is all ate up with convenience features. Start crawling around this car, and you can't help but be impressed by the thoughtful tweaks and constant attention to space utilization and function. Start factoring in price, and it's almost hard to believe how much effort must have gone into the small details. If you're wondering why the staff keeps going on about the savvy features and keen engineering of this sub-$20K wonder, I'll point out 10 of the slickest.
Few cars at any price point feature solid three-spoke steering wheels with perforated leather wraps and cruise, audio, and voice-activated nav controls at hand.
The shifter ball is not leather, but its chunky size and super-grippy rubber coating make it fun to snap off shifts.
Flying-buttress door pockets make access to short or tall items a breeze, and note the indent in the door to accommodate taller beverage containers.
An actual driver's armrest that's both solid and soft-skinned, which can be rotated and firmly stashed out of the way for gymkhana maneuvers.
How to get the last bits of that acre-size windshield clean? With this passenger-side canted mini-wiper, of course. Note the beveled indent in the windshield surround to accommodate the blade.
Safest place for a child's car seat is in middle of the rear seat, right?. How about a LATCH anchor for that position deftly cached into the roof above the cargo area.
What about a middle passenger in the rear seat? No problem, and the Fit provides a secure, out of the way binnacle for the shoulder strap when not in use.
Fat side-view mirrors (plus the cool front ports also sported by the Suzuki SX4 x-over) provide impressive lateral visibility.
Each side of the cargo bay provides grocery bag hooks to prevent way-home omelets, with metal D-rings also haunting each corner of the cargo bay floor.
The corner-dash cupholders (two of six cup spots in the front cabin) may be ripe to soda stain the instrument panel, but they're the perfect spot for your cell phone in hands-free mode.
(Photo by Scott Jacobs)
Thinking about adding a 2009 Honda Fit (or any Honda Fit, this applies to the last gen, too) to your own personal long term fleet? Stay away from the manual and go for the five-speed automatic instead.
Why? Because the clutch and shifter mechanism in this car is pathetic. It's irritating and sloppy. The engagement point of the clutch is too high and offers little feedback when met. The clutch is too light. An untied shoelace flopped over the pedal would push it down. The uptake is so light I'm often wondering if the pedal is going with my foot, or if it's just decided to stay on the floor.
And then there's the shifter.
Kurt Niebuhr, in his 135 blog, said the M3's shifter felt like dislocating a cadaver's elbow. I would relish that sort of feel in the '09 Honda Fit. If the M3's shifter is like dislocating the elbow, the Fit's action is like shaking that limb around by the wrist with reckless abandon — a practce, incidentally, that is frequent amongst Med School students when they're done with a particular limb — hoping the ball with fall back into the socket. And don't start with the cartoonish shift knob. It looks like a Super Ball, feels like a Super Ball and has about as much business being on a shift lever as a Super Ball.
All of the above applies to daily driving. Get the Fit out on a twisty road with frequent hard shifts and the clutch / shifter combo is fine. Maybe even good. But that's a scenario where you're spending as little time as possible using those components, shifting as fast as is prudent to keep the revs where they need to be. And it's probably the place the average Fit will spend the least amount of time.
Getting an automatic does have some drawbacks: The automatic is slower by about 2-seconds according to our tests. I don't care in the slightest and I doubt most Fit buyers would even notice. Also, the automatic with shift paddles on the sport package is an extra $850.
Like with the G35/37 I should want the manual transmisison, but I don't.
Ever since the revised EPA fuel economy testing regimen came out, I've found it to be a generally good indicator on what to expect. The 2009 Honda Fit Sport checks in at 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. So I was a little surprised to see on Donna's fuel-economy rundown that somebody previously got 37.1 mpg as our best mpg. In checking the fuel log, I noticed that the fuel-up was during the car's track testing. Normally, that would be a cause for worse mpg, not better. Either way, though, the 37.1 mpg number is circumspect.
I would dismiss it entirely, yet there's another similar number on the Fit's log. It's 36.9 mpg after 359 miles of driving by somebody unknown.
Curious to get a number of my own, I drove 161 miles on the freeway yesterday as a test. I wasn't trying to maximize fuel economy but rather just be steady and realistic. I used a lot of cruise control to stay at 72 mph, with a few increases to 75 mph to pass. The topography was almost all flat except for a few initial miles of downhill that required little or no throttle. The final result was 32.6 mpg.
One item of note: the in-car fuel economy calculator had a wildly different number. It showed 41.5 for that same stretch. I cannot explain it, but we've found in-car calculators to be innacurate in the past.
Obviously, it's still very early in the Fit's one-year stay with us. More fill-ups will give us a better statistical average than we have right now.
In light of Saint Patrick's Day, I've taken a look at our 2009 Honda Fit's green credentials.
Fuel Economy: As noted in last week's post, our Fit Sport has a 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway estimate from the EPA. A base Fit with the automatic is a little better at 28/35 mpg.
Tailpipe Emissions: It's rated Bin5 federally — Bin5 equals a "six" on the EPA's air pollution scale, with a "10" being the highest score for cleanliness. Fits sold in California and other California-emissions states are slightly cleaner with a ULEV rating (a "7").
Are these "green" numbers?
Objectively, I'd say the Fit's fuel economy is pretty good. But 27/33 mpg isn't any better than what the main competition can do, and you can certainly buy non-hybrid cars that are more efficient (a Mini Cooper being one).
The Fit doesn't stand out at all for emissions, either. Just about every significant small car is Bin5/ULEV. Also, some other cars, like the Hyundai Elantra and VW Rabbit, are PZEV-rated (a score of "nine") in California-emission states. VW's new diesel Jetta is Bin5 nationwide.
So, the Fit has pretty good fuel economy but doesn't do anything to advance the game. That's probably sufficient for most people. And maybe if you really want green Honda, you'd just get a new Honda Insight. But if your expectation was that the Honda Fit would somehow be better than everything else (because back in the day, you know, Civic VXs and CRX HFs really were better than everything else for mpg), then the Fit's "green cred" is probably a letdown.
The Sport version of the 2009 Honda Fit comes standard with a USB port/cable located in the upper glove box. Today, I connected my iPod to the USB cable via my iPod's sync cable.
The Fit detected my iPod immediately. Compared to the interfaces on some of our higher-end long-term cars (like the Audi A4 and Infiniti FX50), you can't do as much with the Fit's. It doesn't display as many of the iPod's main menu items, and navigating around involves lots of tedious button-tapping. Still, it's way better than just hooking up one's MP3 device to the regular auxiliary audio jack (which our Fit also has).
One other note: I was planning on criticizing the look of our Honda Fit's touch-screen display — the low-resolution blue map background, silver screen buttons and red jumping audio-level-bar display made me think Honda used a Windows 95 PC for inspiration. Really, it was awful. But then I discovered you can customize the look of the display. Our Fit now has a much more pleasing white map background and black display buttons. I turned off the background audio display, too.
I've been doing a lot of city driving in our 2009 Honda Fit recently and have been impressed by the torque output from the car's 1.5-liter engine. The 2009 engine revisions have made this car more tractable than our original long-term 2007 Fit. Even when I upshift in every gear at about 2,500 rpm (this gets me into fifth gear by 40 mph), there's enough acceleration here to match urban traffic flow.
Nailing the throttle for maximum acceleration, though, is a good reminder that the Fit is still running with just 117 horsepower. If you're really in a hurry, the speedo's upward movement can seem quite slow if you've gotten used to today's world of 270-hp V6 family sedans. (As we posted earlier, the car can do zero to 60 mph in a respectable 8.9 seconds (or 8.6 seconds with a 1-foot rollout), but the traction-control-enabled 9.8-second 0-60 mph and 17.1-second quarter mile times are more reflective of the car in the real world.) Even so, I'm very pleased with our Fit's around-town, general-use performance.
As Steve Carell's Andy Stitzer said in The 40 Year Old Virgin, "I hope you've got a big trunk ... because I'm puttin' my bike in it." For today's special post, I've got the scoop on all the places you can store stuff in our 2009 Honda Fit. There's even an ultra-secret storage place you probably didn't know about.
(all thumbnails are expandable)
Double gloveboxes: Neither is huge, but combined there's a respectable amount of storage space here. The uppper box is where the car's USB cable is, so typically you'll be putting your MP3 player in here. There's also a pen holder inside the upper box.
Storage shelf between the gloveboxes: I'm not sure what you'd put here, but it's here nonetheless. It's probably useful for the front passenger if you're going on a roadtrip.
Center front cupholders/storage bin:
Two main cupholders here plus a deep shelf. Given that each front passenger has three cupholders to choose from, this is a good, general-purpose area to throw stuff. I haven't been able to test the cupholders' effectiveness on holding large water bottles, though.
Dash-mounted cupholders: Master Seredynski already noted this earlier — they're great for phones and, yes, chilling your favorite beverage given their location in front of the air vents. There's one on each side.
Center console: The Fit doesn't have a bin. Instead, it has two slots and two open pockets. Again, mostly general purpose usage here — coins, snacks, maybe an MP3 player if you're running off the AUX jack. The slots might be useful for holding wallets.
Front door bins/bottle holders: A decent-sized bin that can actually hold fairly tall items thanks to its design. You won't be able to fit large water bottles in the holder, but smaller ones are fine.
Rear door bottle holders: One each for the rear doors.
Ultra-secret bin: It's located underneath the left-side rear passenger seat, which means it's not visible if the seat cushion is down. Good for small items that you want out of sight.
Rear map pocket: There's one located behind the front passenger seat.
Rear cargo area cubbie: It's an open bin on the right side of the cargo area. Might be good for a small first-aid kit.
The Fit is small but efficient with its space. That's what makes it cool.
Two weeks ago, I cast doubt on our ability to achieve fuel economy significantly above the EPA's estimate of 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway. Yet my last two fill ups would seem to indicate that our Honda Fit might have some surprises up its sleeve after all.
From 220 miles of mostly city driving, I achieved 30.4 mpg. On another fill up from 230 miles of highway driving I just did yesterday, it calculated out to 39 mpg. Yeah, I'm having trouble believing it myself. In both cases, I was probably driving a bit more conservative than normal (you know, because it's a Fit) but I certainly wasn't aiming for any efficiency awards. It will be interesting to follow the Fit's economy over the next few months.
In other news, I checked our Fit's oil and found that it was a quart low. We had about two-thirds of a bottle of the recommended 5W20 left over from a recent Mazda 6 fill, so I added that to the Fit.
This weekend was my first time in our 2009 Honda Fit Sport and in addition to its ultra-light shifter I was pleased with its awesome visibility — an important feature for a small car, I think. No, not its visibility to other drivers. How can you miss that searing orange? (BTW one passer-by actually told me that "my car" was ugly.) Rather both the Fit's front view and rear view present a near panoramic picture of the surrounding environment (difficult to capture on camera, sorry!). This made me confident enough to squirt in and out of traffic as well as cross busy intersections where all I got is a stop sign.
My previous brief drives in the 2009 Honda Fit were — Surprise! — uninspiring.
But I thought the more I drove it, the more I'd like it.
It's not working out like that.
One thing I'm not loving is the shifter. At first I was going to write how it behaves like a shift-by-wire transmission (where there is no direct mechanical connection between the shifter and the transmission.) And the Fit shift lever doesn't feel like it's connected to the transmission.
But what it more closely approximates is the shifter on a video game — arcade-style, not xbox.
Our Copy Editor loves the shifter on the popular the Fast and the Furious arcade game — and it's somewhat close in feeling to the shifter of the Fit.
Now we just have to rig up our long-term Fit with a N2O switch.
The more I drive the Fit, the more I wonder if most of us need more car than this. The Fit will probably handle 90 percent of what 90 percent of us need in a car day-to-day. An impressive piece, all is not perfect in this wildly versatile and frugal little wedge. The electronic throttle definitely needs some recalibration, as it tends to hang on to revs, and is too sensitive when getting underway, often resulting in some high-revving histrionics when all you wanted was a reasonably swift stop-light launch.
The little 1.5-liter four-cylinder feels peppy when unladen (aided by the Fit's low weight, you can carry impressive speed into corners as you cane this frisky little pod), and the annoying e-throttle actually tends to help with rev-matched downshifts. With five adults on-board however, 106 lb-ft of torque suddenly feels completely inadequate when trying to hustle the Fit up a short, steep onramp to anything approaching freeway speeds. Once up to speed, road noise is also excessive, not uncommon on Hondas, and an obvious trade-off for light weight. The lack of sound deadening does not make the Fit a first choice for long freeway stretches, a prejudice compounded by its slightly nervous high-speed demeanor.
Those same traits pay dividends on surface streets, and as an errand-running star in your personal fleet, the Fit is practically unmatched. I can only imagine how sweet the Fit could be with a torquey little turbo-diesel engine and a more hunkered down and stability enhancing sport suspension. The rumor mill is saying we can expect an upcoming hybrid version of the Fit, but I'd hate to see any new proulsion system that has a weight penalty. For what's real and available now, the Fit continues to impress, but would you "Jazz" it up with a hybrid's torque/weight, a larger Civic motor or an oil-burner?
OK, I have to admit, last night was my first time in our new Honda Fit Sport. I haven't really been avoiding it as much as I've managed to choose other cars for the night. But most of our staffers like it so I figured it was high time to give it a go.
It's like a naughty little boy: somewhat untidy and mischievous but not a bad kid. And you have to drive it. There's something to be said for having to engage with your vehicle.
I found all three pedals to be positioned strangely low to the floor and they felt mushy. But the clutch engages quickly and is easy on the leg muscles. The wobbly shifter has loooong throws. Where's 5th gear? Oh, hello, over there. How's the weather?
Overall, it's a fun little devil.
P.S. Photo by Scott Jacobs
This weekend my nephew entered his first-ever desert race. So my daughters and I piled into the 2009 Honda Fit to head out to their campsite in Lucerne Valley to wish him well and roast a few marshmallows with my brother and the rest of his family.
They'd parked the Airstream and unloaded the dirt bikes well off of the pavement in an unmarked primitive "campsite." To get there, the Fit had to negotiate 6 miles of washboard dirt road and packed sand tracks. Granite Road and Transmission Line Road see more use than you'd think, so it wasn't much of a problem.
It was pitch black when we headed home, as only the desert on a moonless night can be. But the Fit's headlights proved more than up for it. (As big as they are, I would have been shocked it they weren't.)
I didn't expect these dirt tracks to be in the navigation system's database, but they were. The system had no trouble establishing a route right from the campsite, and it guided us back out through the maze of criss-crossing dirt tracks easily.
Nice job, Fit.
Yesterday was our first 100-degree day of the year, and the 2009 Honda Fit Sport revealed a weakness.
(1) Tons of glass = a lot of heat inside. They don't call it "greenhouse" for nothing. The worst part is the windshield: this heavily-sloped baby extends so far back that it readily exposes the steering wheel and most of the seats to direct sunlight. The wheel in particular stays hot to the touch for quite awhile. Visibility is indeed a two-edged sword.
Such a thing as "solar control glass" exists, but it costs money and is therefore left out of low-priced cars such as this.
(2) Honda air conditioning = still weak in this case. My old 1986 Acura Integra had weak-sauce A/C, and the Fit isn't much different. The air coming out of the vents isn't cold enough, so cabin cool-down drags on forever in the face of all of that sun-load. Perhaps this is because the Fit isn't an Ohio-developed Honda. How hot does it ever get in Japan, anyway?
(3) No rear A/C vents. OK, this condition is par for the economy-car course, but others get away with it if they don't have condition (1) or (2). As it stands, the Fit's front center vents aren't able to push much cool air between the front seats to the rear. My daughter complained bitterly about being too hot back there, even when it was just 80 outside.
Bottom line: Buy and use a sunshade or park an extra 100 yards away if it means you get to park in shade.
And don't look for the 2009 Honda Fit to be named "The Official Car of Phoenix, Arizona" anytime soon.
After spending the weekend in our long-term 2009 Honda Fit and using it for family runaround duty, parking it successfully in all sorts of small places, and using it to lug Target purchases home, I found myself asking "Why no cargo cover?" I recently spent some time in a 2009 Toyota Yaris S four-door hatchback, which did have a rigid cargo cover/shelf that was quite convenient for shielding my belongings from prying eyes. A quick search of our site, Honda's consumer and media sites, and a Fit enthusiast forum or two suggests that a cargo cover isn't available. Shouldn't all hatchbacks come with covers for the cargo area, especially economy hatchbacks that cost nearly $19,000?
Thanks to Franchitti27 for this week's favorite caption.
Here are the honorable mentions:
It followed her to school one day...school one day... (miniharryc)
Biker: "These desert bugs get bigger every year!" carguy622
After losing the motocross race, Joe drove off in a Fit of anger. (ergsum)
I can do more than you, because I'm Fit and your 2 tired. (mnorm1)
The clowns must be around here somewhere. (lawnboy3)
I needed to clean a bunch of stuff out of a friend's apartment last night. I could have used our long-term Infiniti FX50 or our Audi A4 Avant for the task, but when my eyes landed on the Honda Fit, I wanted the orange hatchback. You see, I didn't know how much stuff I'd be hauling, and even though our Fit has a lower max cargo volume than the FX50 — 57.3 cubic feet vs. 62.0 (A4 has 51 even) — it's perfectly flat-folding seats and low lift-over height make it much more desirable.
I ended up hauling the computers that got us through college (warning: old people ahead... a Macintosh Performa 636CD circa 1995 and a Compaq Presario circa 1997) off to the safe disposal site at the Santa Monica municipal dump — you have to show ID proving you're a resident. I also boxed up a bunch of old slide carousels, convoluted term papers on postmodernism and a CD collection that includes every U2 album from 1980-1996.
It's not always flattering to see who you were 10 years ago, but the Honda Fit didn't seem to be judging me. It took every last dusty box and inkjet printer. Then, we got on the freeway, and the Fit drove in its usual honest manner. You always hear its 1.5-liter engine working, because even at a 75-mph cruise, it needs to be up around 3,500-4,000 rpm. There's always body roll through the I-5 South/I-10 East interchange, because this is a tall hatchback with soft suspension and it's good to know its limitations.
There are plenty of cars on the market that try to hide potential shortcomings, but not the Fit. It's exactly what it appears to be, and frankly, as an economy hatchback, it excels.
A few weeks ago, my esteemed coworker "Bono" Sadlier wrote that he thought our long-term Suzuki SX4 was a quieter and smoother car on the freeway than our Honda Fit. I raised a Spock-ish eyebrow at that, as I wasn't sure I agreed. Can you really trust a guy who recreates U2 album photos in his spare time?
To gain a better perspective, Sadlier and I took out the SX4 and the Fit on Monday for a quick 25-mile comparison drive on Los Angeles' 405 freeway.
Almost immediately, we determined that the SX4 was the more agreeable car in terms of ride quality. While the Fit was busy and firm-riding on the 405's less-than-stellar concrete, the SX4 was much more composed. Sadlier even mumbled something about a Germanic feeling of solidity.
The SX4's gearing was also noticeably taller, as he noted in that earlier post, allowing it to cruise in top (fourth) gear at about 700 rpm less than what the Fit was doing in fifth gear. Consequently, you can't hear the SX4's engine at speed, whereas the Fit's engine drones audibly above 70 mph. In terms of road and wind noise, though, we thought the cars were about equal in a sort of "noisy but still acceptable" sort of way, and our test numbers for the Fit and SX4 seem to back that up .
Josh also wrote in his San Diego post that he liked the SX4's steering more than the Fit's, though his impressions were based solely on highway driving. The Suzuki's steering does provide a notable amount of meaty stability to the car on the highway, but it seems to be a result of a strong self-centering tendency; if you drive through corners in the SX4, the steering can feel artificially springy. If you take twisty roads into account, I'd say the Fit's got more enjoyable overall steering.
Even so, the SX4 surprised me here a little. For highway driving, it edges out the Fit.
I have always liked the Honda Fit, both this generation and the original. I so enjoy this car's scrappy personality that I tend to be a little too forgiving about its shortcomings. Case in point: I still liked our 2007 Fit after enduring its unsupportive seats and sub-par stereo on a 15-hour drive back from Oregon.
Really, though, I couldn't own a first-gen Fit without making modifications to its sound system. However, such is not the case with our 2009 Honda Fit Sport's stereo. While not exactly top of the line, this six-speaker setup is bearable in a supermini. 3 points in its favor:
1. Clean signal from the amplifier. I listen to metal and hip-hop a lot (Talib Kweli for most of the weekend), and so far the Fit's amp isn't muddying them up.
2. Good soundstage. No rear subs in the Fit, but the combination of dash tweeters and drivers in each door makes for a pretty spacious feel in this surprisingly roomy hatchback.
3. Decent bass response. I am as surprised as you are, but Talib Kweli's "Beautiful Struggle" album actually has some punch to it in the 2009 Honda Fit as opposed to sounding flat.
Maybe it's a male thing, but I love it when this happens. Check out the harmony between my Costanza wallet and cell phone and the Fit's small-items trays. Doesn't it make you feel good just looking at it? It's like Honda designed those trays for my small items. And since I remove both of them from my pockets every time I drive a car, I find these little guys exceptionally accommodating.
These are the perfect trays: Exactly the right depth to handle these items without them falling out or flopping around.
I don't think the Honda Fit's shifter is mechanically attached to the transmission. It is so ridiculously light and devoid of any resistance, moving the stick through its gates feels more like the manual shifter on an arcade game. If you were to tell me that putting the Fit's shifter into each gate triggers an electrical signal that triggers a gear elsewhere, I wouldn't be surprised. The Fit's lack of torque certainly contributes to this toy car feel.
It certainly makes for easy shifting — dropping from third to second can be accomplished with your pinky — but count me as a person who would like some actual mechanical feel to my manual transmission. I don't need some stiff thing that feels like its attached to a John Deere grain combine (cough, Infiniti G35, cough), but some inkling of response would be nice. A Mini Cooper S is one example of how to do it right.
And this is coming from a person who owned an Acura TSX, another car with one of Honda's typically low-effort gearboxes. Perhaps it's because the shifter wasn't capped with a giant super ball, but the TSX and other more powerful Hondas manage to avoid feeling like the Fit's arcade shifter.
When did our Honda Fit get so uncomfortable? Got in it last night and the seating position is terrible. Ok, maybe not terrible, it does have a telescoping steering wheel, but the seat is way too high.
Granted, at 6'2" I'm a little taller than most, but it felt like I was starting down at the top of the dashboard. I suppose it's set up that way to give the average size driver a good view through the windshield, but how about they just add a seat height adjuster instead? This is the "Sport" model after all, right?
In the spirit of Blendtec's internet sensation "Will it Blend?", we introduce "Will it Fit?", featuring our long-term Honda Fit (how fitting). None of my personal vehicles are capable of transporting a 15.5 gallon beverage container (also known as a half barrel/full keg), so I gave it a shot in our Fit...
The short answer is an emphatic "Yes!" But I was actually surprised how easily an empty keg of Boddingtons fits. So easily in fact, that I may be able to fit two in the hatch. But an empty keg only weighs 30 pounds, making it fairly effortless to hurl it into the trunk. I would suspect that a 170 lb. full keg would be a job for two people and cause quite a bit of wear and tear to the interior trim during loading, despite the relatively low liftover height. And just so you know, the keg only takes up 2.75 cubic feet of the Fit's 20.6 cubes.
So there you have it. What do you think we should try to fit next? (I think if we had our Smart ForTwo "cubed" at a wrecking yard, it'd fit in the Fit.)
I Want To Shoot This Car
Ok, full disclosure before I head on: I had a couple of big glasses of red wine at home with dinner. When I woke up this morning, my thumping head wasn't happy with my decision making last night. No big deal. A couple of ibu's and a cup of coffee and I'm fine, right?
Not so much. I was a little grumpy as I went to work this morning and thankfully my commute is pretty short. Fueling my ill temper was a constant squeaking coming from the glove box door. Funny, I didn't hear anything when I drove it home last night, but this morning it was possessed.
Slight pressure would help make the noise go away, but it didn't cure it. By the time I got to the office I wanted to blast that door off. I couldn't figure out why it was doing that, but I was able to walk away from it. More coffee and ibu's please.
I gave serious thought to backing our long-term 2009 Honda Fit into a parking-garage pole today. Thank heavens the IIHS is around to scare me straight.
Of course, if you watch the video on the IIHS website, you see that the barrier they use for this test was too high for the Fit such that it crashed into the car's hatch instead of the bumper. So, really, this is another example of the industry-wide bumper-height incompatibility problem, more than it is a referendum on the Honda Fit's bumper design. So if more crossovers and SUVs were designed for bumper compatibility with the tiniest cars, well, there'd be no grave financial danger in driving a subcompact.
"Grandma, come see my mommy's car! It's real fast! See, it's ORANGE!" — Nusia, age 3
...he's pretty much the same as the old boss.
I guess you could say the same for our 2009 Honda Fit Sport. While it boasts a fair amount of upgrades, it's still pretty much the same car that our 2007 Honda Fit Sport was. It's still (relatively) slow, the steering is still (almost too) quick, it's a piece of cake to drive and apparently, it doesn't seem to mind getting attacked by bugs while waiting for me to climb down from some photo location, toss in my gear and zip off to the next location.
Yesterday, Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor of Edmunds.com tosses me a key, and, while walking away quickly, mumbles something about something being dead and that a Honda was involved. Odd behavior, really, considering his jovial and talkative nature. I read the tag on the key, thought about what he said and then re-read the tag on the key. Surely he had killed someone with the Honda FIt and was fleeing the country. I put the key in my desk, figured I'd wait for the scene to calm down.
Later, upon closer inspection and a dab of rational thought, it turned out to be little more than a dead battery. A quick jump got it started, and that's really where the interesting part begins.
After the jump I let the car idle for about 15 minutes and then went for a ride around town. 45 minutes later I was back in the office where I parked the 2009 Fit, turned off the ignition and then, just to be safe, tried to turn it back on.
*click*click*click*click*click* went the car
*Grawrrrrrr* went the vehicle testing assistant.
It was late by then and I gave up. The next day (today) I'd jump it and send it off to the Honda shop.
Today rolled around and I grabbed an assistant to help with the errand. He jumped in the Fit and, while I was pulling up the helper vehicle, started the stupid thing without issue. I swore it didn't do that yesterday; he called me a liar; I made the clicking noise while waving my hands frantically; he asked if he could go back up to the office.
The Fit is in fine working order now and has started and stopped many times with no fault or hint of decreased cranking power.
Oh, the cause of the dead battery? The hatch was left not-quite-shut which left the small light on back there. Combine that with three-or-four days of disuse, and you've got a very dead battery.
I had plenty of choices for the weekend car, but I took the Fit for the single reason that it had a good nav system in it. The lady and I have been looking to take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit so our search area is a broad swath of the L.A. area.
The nav first came in handy when we left dinner on Saturday with time to spare a run to Scoops Ice Cream, a place way across town from where we were in an unfamiliar area. I 411'd their address, plugged it into the nav and off we went. Two scoops later and we made a mad dash back to the movie theatre.
On Sunday, we had a list of six places to see. With the easy touch type nav screen, I plugged in address after address and it effortlessly guided us to each destination. We didn't find anything we could afford or even really liked all that much, but at least the Fit made the process easy.
I almost always drive at 3 and 9, but there comes a time when stuck in traffic or mindlessly trudging down an endless strip of desert highway where I like to resort to the lazy man steering position. Elbow on the door sill, fingers at 9.
Cars with a thin sill (or high beltline) make this almost impossible with the window up, but others make it really easy. You could serve drinks on most Volvos door sills, they're so flat and wide. The last two generations of VW Jetta and Golfs come to mind as well. Add the 2009 Honda Fit to that list. It too is flat and wide, plus the car's telescoping steering wheel allows me to keep a reasonably firm grip on the wheel with thumb and fingers. Makes being lazy easy.
After a couple of weeks in assorted high-style cars with fast windshields, gracefully arching roofs, high protective doors and all the usual suspects of what passes for modern design, the 2009 Honda Fit Sport is a great relief. You can actually see the road again!
The tight little cabins of modern cars look really snappy in design renderings, but they leave you feeling like you're driving in some kind armored personnel carrier. In comparison, the Honda Fit puts so much glass in front of you that you feel like you've just walked onto the flight deck of some classic airliner from the golden age of air travel.
And for this you can thank Honda's big book of standards and practices, the manual of officially approved design and construction that determines the final form of every Honda built. In fact, it's this emphasis on visibility that has everything to do with the ease with which every Honda drives.
When Honda makes a car, it carefully plots the driver's field of view through 360 degrees, determining sightlines and minimizing the obstruction by the roof pillars. Even after crash-safety regulations have led to an increase in the width of roof pillars (both to accommodate curtain-type airbags and to improve rollover protection), you'll notice that Honda still does its best to keep the front bulkhead low, the beltline below your shoulder and the windows large and expansive.
The visibility of the Honda Fit can be a little bit of a shock at first. The windshield of the redesigned Fit seems farther away than before, and there are some unflattering design cues from the dustbin-style GM minivans of the 1990s, but the field of view gives you a great view of the metropolitan cityscape, which is just what you want when you're trying to thread your way through Ford F-250 pickups on city streets. When you can see, driving is a thoroughly naturally exercise. You just go where you need to go; it's as if there's no mechanical interface (you know, the car itself) to get in the way.
It gives me the same feeling that you get in old airliners, the ones built in the days when pilots were afraid of running into things. I still remember being led onto the flight deck of an old Boeing 377 Stratocruiser from the days when Pan American Airways flew this derivative of the WWII-era B-29 bomber between San Francisco and Hawaii. It was an airplane from a long time ago, when airliners actually carried a flight engineer to monitor the propellers and piston engines (the 377's four Pratt & Whitneys were notoriously sensitive to combustion temperature and were monitored with a crude cathode-ray device), but the idea of great visibility still seems as modern as tomorrow.
Everything is easier when you can see.
2009 Honda Fit reported sales: 29,722. 2009 Scion xB reported sales: 11,566. 2009 Scion xD reported sales: 5,747.
Attention, Scion! Figure it out.
But then on Sunday I noticed the "open door" warning light had come on. I opened and slammed every door, including the hatch, more than once to see if that fixed it. The light stayed on. My suspicion is that the hatch door has a bad latch. I could be wrong, but to have both the noise and the warning light points me in that direction.
To add insult to injury, the lock button on the key fob doesn't function. Unlock works just fine, but to lock it you have to do it the old fashioned way: twisting the key in the door.
Looks like we'll be bringing it in a little early for service, we'll let you know what we find out.
Readers of the Long-Term Blog know by now that the Fit is a hit among the staffers, and I count myself as one of the "fitties". But there are just a few tiny items I'd like to see fixed in future Fits.
Nav Screen: Leaving the office last night, the navigation screen looked nearly blacked out. My initial reaction was to blame my polarized sunglasses, but no, still dark and now I'm squinting. Maybe the headlights are on? Nope, they were off. The theory put forth by Executive Editor Seredynski was simple — the previous driver may have switched the display mode from auto (or day) to night, or possibly adjusted the brightness level to make the screen legible in their particular environment. Now this is more of a driver setting issue, but the screen is prone to catching a lot of glare since it lacks any kind of binnacle or cowl to provide shade.While we're on the subject of the screen, how 'bout updating the graphics, Honda? The interface reminds me of Windows 95! Get a mac-based designer to sweeten up the artwork for you, mmmkay?
Armrest: The fold-down driver's armrest feels a bit lower than the armrest in the door panel. Not by much, maybe half an inch or so. It makes me feel like I have scoliosis. Other cars like our Jetta TDI have a ratcheting armrest so the driver can adjust the height. This would be a welcome addition, but I'd still prefer an even perch for my elbows.
Now, there's probably something in the fine print here that keeps us from actually winning the Honda Fit Photo Contest, but check out Honda's latest 2009 Honda Fit social networking / consumer content / PR gimmick game: What Can you Fit in the Fit. We're not sure we like being used as marketing pawns, but we are sure we love competition as much as we love trying to see how much crap we can fit into cars (see: Ford Flex, Ford Flex, and Audi A4 for a brief overview.)
According to the Ad, the Honda Fit has some 57 cubic feet of useable space that we're to fill with something and then take a picture which we'll upload to Facebook (someone will have to teach me how to use that thing) and then get votes.
We've got our own ideas (pumpkins, interns, thousands of mini Stigs), what say you Blogosphere? We've got the '09 Fit and some editors with sensational packing abilities. What do we jam it full of?
Took the Fit on a quick early-morning trip to Huntington Beach (about 40 miles from my home) this weekend. The 405 freeway was relatively empty, so I was able to experience the Fit at a higher speed than I usually do on my 7-mile stop-and-go commute. I noticed that the 2,500-pound hatchback can feel pretty squirrelly at higher speeds (which isn't so surprising for a subcompact), and more than once the freeway's rain grooves caused the Bridgestone Turanza EL470 all-season tires to hunt rather fiercely (which, combined with the squirrelliness, can make the experience even more disquieting).
Most of the driving I'd do if I owned the Fit would be on city streets at a slower pace, so it wouldn't be an issue most of the time, and maybe I'd have the luxury of owning a heavier car that was more suitable for road trips and highway travel. But for Fit owners with more modest budgets, the occasional, slightly disconcerting freeway wiggle will have to suffice.
While slogging through the 5-to-20 mph traffic on the 10 trapped-way last evening, my mind got numb but my clutch leg didn't. In the annoying world of L.A.'s perpetual traffic you appreciate things like the Fit's light-effort clutch and gear shifter. When my exit came up (thankfully clear of traffic), I grabbed second, hit it, grabbed third and let the Fit fly as we sliced through the ramp's turn, the Honda's eager engine and planted chassis adding a much-needed six seconds of joy to my drive home.
It may not be much of a looker, but the Fit's a heck of a charmer.
We reported a problem with door-ajar warning light on our 2009 Honda Fit Sport awhile back. No matter how hard (or softly) we closed each door the light wouldn't turn off. And since one door registered open at all times, the remote lock wouldn't work either.
Our advisor at Honda of Santa Monica nodded as we described the issue, "We are familiar with this complaint." We left the car. And an hour later the phone rang. We found Waldo, our advisor, at the other end of the line. He explained, "We performed a dome light circuit test and found the right front door switch to be broken. The switch assembly will have to be ordered. But I expect to have it back together by tomorrow." This was yesterday.
This morning we got the call. Our Fit was ready for pick up. So now we're back on the road.
Total Cost: None (work performed under warranty)
Days out of Service: 1
The last time we played "Will it Fit?", this boxy Honda swallowed a beer keg faster than a frat party in Death Valley. How will the Fit fare against a dog? A very large dog...
This is Soleil, a 120+ lb. Akita. Our first attempt at getting him into the trunk failed miserably as he immediately leapt over the seatbacks and took his customary position in the rear quarters. "Nobody puts baby in the corner," is what I imagined him saying as he stared me down.
Although this doesn't qualify for a "Will it fit inside the Fit?" entry, it does show how the small Honda can make potentially awkward and back-straining tasks much less of a hassle. I recently had to transport new tires along with the wheels/old tires for my motorcycle to the shop to have them mounted.
With the Fit's rear seat flipped down, I could either slide them in through the hatch or the side doors. I tried both methods and they were both easy.
Had I just a subcompact sedan, I might've fit either the new tires or the wheels/tires in the trunk, but probably not both. It would've involved wrestling the buggers both into the trunk and the rear seat area, possibly aggravating my lower back and then requiring copious applications of Ben Gay.
Thanks to the cargo-friendly, hatchback Fit, my part of the office will not be filled with the scent of menthol and the wrinkled noses of my colleagues.
I put the Fit through its paces this weekend, subjecting it to three wide-ranging scenarios, some enjoyable, some not. In the end, the Fit earned five thumbs.
Friday evening: L.A.'s obscene rush hour traffic — Two thumbs up.
The Fit's easy clutch and gearshift efforts kill the "I'd rather have an automatic transmission in the city" argument that so many people "automatically" make. The Fit's light, precise and progressive setup bolsters the "manual gearbox is more responsive and fun" argument. You barely notice the clutch effort and can flick the stick through the gates with two fingers.
Saturday evening: A 60-mile (round-trip) freeway run from Culver City to San Pedro — One thumb up.
The Fit cruises at 75 no problem. But though the engine is commendably smooth at higher revs, a sixth gear would be nice to lower those revs and the cabin noise.
Sunday: A run through twisty canyon roads in Malibu, followed by a run down the PCH — Two thumbs up.
The eager, thrash-free engine, buttoned-down chassis and communicative (for the segment) steering were enough to give me grins and a few reminders about the speed limit from my girlfriend.
The Honda Fit just hit 10,000 miles. Here are a few pros and cons:
Pros - If you can keep the rpms reasonably low, the Fit is actually quiet enough to live with everyday. The added power versus the previous Fit is noticeable - if you're looking for a used Fit, waiting for a current generation example to come up for sale is probably worth it based on the engine alone. The fold flat rear seats make the Fit a mini-minivan in terms of cargo hauling.
Cons - The shifter is imprecise (at best). The material covering the seats attracts too much lint and dust and schmootz. There's lots of storage under the rear seats - but it all has to come out as soon as you want to fold them down. Too much engine noise above 70 mph even in 5th gear.
Small cars require inherent sacrifices but if I were getting a new small car, I might wait for the Fiesta. Anyone think the Fit will be better than the Fiesta?
Oh, and here's the obligatory pic of the odometer on 10,000.
I am not a big fan of small cars - I'd rather have a 5 year old large or midsize sedan than any new subcompact (I know, I'm part of the problem blah blah blah). Still, when comparing super small cars like the Fit, Yaris, Smart and others I'm forced to admit that the Fit is not that bad. Keep the RPMs low and you don't get that thrashy engine noise like on other subcompacts. The reconfigurable rear seats also make the small Fit MUCH easier to live with. If you're a fan of the first Fit - you will like this one even more - a lot more. Got a cash for clunkers car you want to trade in for a more fuel efficient model? The Fit is an excellent choice as is the Ford Focus.
BTW - does anyone out there actually prefer small cars for reasons other than better fuel economy?
Small four cynlinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, rear drum brakes, hatchback with folding rear seat - the Fit, on paper, looks like Honda simply reinvented the 1981 Honda Accord.
Curuiosly, I think this old Accord was a little quieter and more comfy inside - here's why:
Saturday morning, 8:10 am, 605 freeway - My 7 year old son summed up the Fit quiet nicely. His simple request went like this: "Daddy, can you turn the radio up, all I can hear is the road." Exactly, The Fit is great for city dwellers but not so good on the highway. I would not be happy commuting in this car unless I lived 20 min or so from work. I hope to live that close to work one day but that day is not today. Fit doesn't work for me based on interior noise levels and slightly nervous highway ride. On the other hand, I loved that old Honda and put about 240,000 miles on it.
Our Fit is shining a little wrench at us. But unlike a lot of cars, it's also being helpful by 1) telling us the oil has 15% of its life left and 2) displaying a code to help us figure out what that little wrench means. I pulled out the owner's manual to decode the code: A=Oil change. 1=Rotate tires. Thank you, Fit! We'll make sure to take care of that.
On the way home the other night, I was merging onto the freeway in our pumpkin spice Fit and noticed that every single other car in my immediate vicinity was a drab silver or gray. Mercedes, Toyota, Smart, Honda, Ford. Everywhere I looked, bland-colored cars on the bland, gray background of the freeway. Made me happy to be a bright spot of color in a sea of silver.
Would you buy a car in a bold or out-of-the-ordinary color car?
"This is our slowest day all year. We don't know why. See the four guys standing around outside trying to look busy? Those are our mechanics. Your Fit will be finished in no time" explained our service advisor at Honda of Santa Monica.
We delivered our 2009 Honda Fit Sport to address its 10,000-mile service. In Hondaspeak this is service A1. It includes the oil and filter change, tire rotation and various safety inspections. And in Santa Monica that sort of thing costs $85.41.
Upon handing over the keys we noticed a bubble on the sidewall of the right-front tire. We chose not to mention this to our advisor as a test. And the dealership passed, sort of. The tire rotation was completed, since the bubble moved to the right-rear position at the time of pick up. But the dealer apparently didn't notice the tire damage, since it was not brought to our attention.
In the meantime a spare tire was ordered through a more affordable channel than the dealership. We'll report how that goes when the replacement tire is mounted. For the time being we are running on the spare.
Easy Dimmer - One Knob, No Waiting
Since we jump in and out of different cars all the time, it's easy to notice the little differences that make a car special, even if it's something most consumers wouldn't care about like cupholder placement or whether there's a mirror on the passenger-side sun visor. But props really have to be given to our 2009 Honda Fit Sport for having a really easy-to-find dimmer switch. Some cars I've been in make you scroll through screens to dim the interior lights while others have two different switches for the nav screen and the dash lights.
But in the Fit? One knob, no waiting. I don't know if you can see my hand in the above video, but the knob is right there below the instrument panel. AND you can turn it down really low for those with sensitive eyes or switch it to really bright in which case it switches the background on the nav screen map from night black to day white (not shown). Easy-peasy!
It's been a while since I've driven out Fit. In fact, I've been driving my own car, a Mazda3 a lot. The first thing I noticed when I got into the Fit was how high up the seats felt. Almost like a mini minivan.I kept looking for some way to lower the seat bottom.
For the first time I thought our Fit was very uncomfortable. It's bizarre to me since before I loved the way it felt. Amazing the difference a few days makes.
I drove our long-term 2009 Honda Fit up to and back from Westlake Village yesterday. It's about a 35 mile freeway run each way. During the trip I noticed an intermittent rattlesnake-like sound coming from under the dash.
At first I thought it might be a heat shield or something vibrating under the car, but then I realized the sound was actually coming from inside the car over on the passenger side. And then the hunt began.
Since it stops when I shut off the Fit's air conditioning I'd say it has something to do with the Fit's air conditioning, which is ice cold by the way.
We'll keep you posted.
Hondas are usually ergonomic successes — the various controls are usually intuitive in operation and right about where you'd expect them to be. The trip computer in our Fit, however, doesn't follow that design dictum.
Located right near the speedo like a mechanical trip meter's reset button, the Fit's button must be accessed either through or around the steering wheel. Awkward either way and not a good idea if you want to check on your fuel economy or other info while driving. Other car makers mount this button either on the side of the instrument binnacle (Nissan) or on the center stack (Ford), both of which are much more user-friendly than the Fit's fussy location.
The 2009 Honda Fit Sport with Mount Whitney looming behind. Photo by Andrew Reed.
We were at about 8,000 feet, climbing into the Sierra north of Bishop, California, when I looked in my rearview mirror. Two giant SUVs and a pickup truck were slowly closing in on me.
I downshifted, punched it and gradually put distance between the 2009 Honda Fit Sport and these hulking behemoths. When I came to the next set of tight mountain curves, the distance grew until these vehicles were small dots in my mirror.
Later that day I stopped for gas and ran the numbers on my Blackberry calculator. Despite the steep climb, three guys and all our gear, we got 37.4 mpg. I couldn't help but wonder what kind of mileage the SUVs and pickup truck logged over the same road.
It's quite likely that the drivers of those vehicles didn't check their mileage and wouldn't have cared about the result if they had. But I'm kind of fixated on this subject so I was pleased to find it had performed so well.
One minor reservation though, while we were getting 37.4 mpg the onboard gauge was telling us we were getting 40 mpg. Not a huge difference but it's nice to be accurate.
There's really no point in complaining that the 2009 Honda Fit is noisier than it should be or could be. Among the current population of smaller-displacement four-cylinder engines in the U.S., you won't find one that sounds better than this 117-horsepower 1.5-liter. It develops a rather satisfying growl at higher rpm and it never acts displeased to be worked past 5,000.
But you're always going to hear the engine, so you'd better learn to love its scrappy demeanor. It's not that the Fit's gearing is so terribly short (0.552 5th gear, 4.56 final drive) — at 70 mph, it's closing in on 3,500 rpm. It's that there simply isn't a lot of sound deadening material in this car. It's not serene. But that's a big reason why the Fit is lightweight (about 2,500 lbs), at least by modern small-car standards. Lack of weight is what makes it feel as quick and nimble as it does for its modest price tag. And it's an easy (and cheap) way to keep fuel consumption low.
So it has never once occurred to me that the Fit should be quieter. On the contrary, a quieter Fit would be a heavier, less direct-handling Fit, and I'll have none of that.
If I had to name the 2009 Honda Fit's greatest weakness (and I do have to name it, otherwise this blog post would be about something else, like kittens, or that giant burrito editor MacKinnon ate for lunch last week), it'd be highway noise.
Sure enough, the Fit isn't an Audi S5 on a nighttime drive. Roadnoise is pervasive, and it's certainly louder in the Fit than it is in our other in-fleet economy car, the Suzuki SX4. And I still find myself pining for a sixth gear to lower the highway rpm some. But honestly, this isn't reason enough to skip over the Fit for a purchase. The rest of the car is an impressively solid package.
"Nice car. What kind of mileage does it get?"
The guy directing people on where to park their vehicles at yesterday's Fresno Fair was asking me about the Fit as I shut off its engine and began unloading my family for a day of cows, corndogs, amusement rides and famers' tans.
"Oh, about 35 mpg on the highway."
"Thirty five?" he asked. "Dang, that's pretty good. What car is this? A Honda?"
I told him it was a Fit and that they cost about $16,000. "Huh," was all he said, but I took that to mean that he was at least a little impressed. I, however, was quite pleased to have the Fit. Its luggage area had enough space for our gear, its small footprint made it easy to park, and its orange paint made it easy to spot once we were leaving. The more I drive our Honda Fit, the more I truly like it.
When Donna posted our last fuel economy list, I saw the 2009 Honda Fit's all-time best of 39.0 mpg and thought to myself: "Thirty nine mpg? No way that's right." Official EPA highway fuel economy is only 33 mpg. So I went to our fuel log to see who managed that 39 mpg number. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was, well, me. This was back in March, and I even wrote a post about it here.
Since March, we've had a few more high-mpg tanks, including three of them in the 37 mpg range, but nothing higher than that. Could that 39-mpg be a bit inflated? Sure, I'll allow for the possibility. After all, the Fit is averaging 30.8 mpg overall, which is just a little above the vehicle's combined EPA of 29 mpg.
But I also think driving style plays a huge part. It's easier to drive the Fit conservatively than, say, the M3. You could drive the Fit hard, but what's the point? Instead, just relax and enjoy the mpg benefits. Earlier this week I did 190 miles of mostly highway fuel economy. I wasn't even trying to get a great number — just had the cruise control set when I could and stayed close to the 70-mph speed limit — and I got 33.9 mpg (calculated at the pump, not the in-car gauge, as we always do for our reporting).
It's pretty much like we discovered in a fuel economy "We Test The Tips II" article we published a couple of years ago. Driving style and speed, more than anything else by a huge margin, will determine what kind of fuel economy you get.
Sometimes it's a relief to get into a car that's not filled with fancy, overinvolved controls. Thank you, Fit, for your simple and easy-to-use climate controls. Three knobs, two buttons and one slidey lever. That's all you need.
I'll admit that the Fit's diminutive size doesn't really require dual zone or rear seat climate control, both of which usually conspire to turn the dashboards of vehicles so-equipped into an overcrowded landscape of crazy-making buttons. But sometimes you just have to be thankful for what you've got, and this weekend I had the uncomplicated Fit and its simple, straightforward climate control set-up.
If Honda can put a gas cap holder on the the $14,750 Fit, shouldn't every car made have some similar accommodation? I think so. Keeping the thing off the paint is so nice.
When people ask me for car-buying advice, I usually ask them a bunch of questions in return. "What kind of driver are you?" "What have you liked driving in the past?" "What are your priorities?" Etc. I can't just tell you what to buy right off the bat — there are too many solid options these days.
But the economy hatchback segment is an exception. At its base price of $15,610 including destination, there's nothing else like the Honda Fit. Editor Oldham has piqued my curiosity about the refreshed Suzuki SX4, but it's not available yet, and we already know it lacks the Fit's cargo space (57.3 cubic feet!) and trick rear seat. The Mazda3 hatchback and new Volkswagen Golf are the best small hatchbacks you can buy, but they're considerably pricier and less practical. Scion's got the xB and the xD, and I'd never recommend either one. The upcoming Ford Fiesta drives better than the Fit, yet it can't hold a candle to the Honda's versatility. And the two rivals depicted above? You can't be serious.
There's only one competitively priced Fit rival that gives me pause, and that's the Kia Soul. Similar maximum cargo capacity (53 cubes), funky styling, roomy rear seating, surprisingly entertaining to drive. The cabin materials are dime-store cheap, however, and Soul loses the fuel-economy fight too. Moreover, the Fit's "magic seat" gives it the edge in utility.
Best econobox for around $15k? Honda Fit. No-brainer.
I was sitting in the back of the Fit recently and decided to rest my arm on the armrest on the door. It wouldn't let me. The slope of the rear-most part is pretty extremely raked, and my arm sort of kept slipping off. I jumped in the front seat to see if this was the case up there. Yup. The picture above is of the front passenger arm rest. Note the sloping rear section of the armrest. There's no place to keep your elbow anchored. Any other Fit drivers disagree?
One of the things that struck me most about the Fit this weekend was its sense of playfulness. It's not the kind of car that you could drive with a blindfold on and both hands tied behind your back. The frisky Fit forces you to engage — piloting it requires some focus on the part of the driver. Its reflexes are sharp and road feel is good, but acceleration from the 117-horsepower mill ain't that brisk, so you have to keep your wits about you to finesse maneuvers calling for sudden bursts of speed. It all combines to make time spent behind the wheel an adventure. Wouldn't miss it for the world.
It kinda feels like a hot rod style pool ball shifter when palmed so I think giving it an Eight Ball shifter would "toughen up" its wimpy demeanor. Give it a fun attitude spark, even if in reality it's still the Chihuahua yapping at the big dogs.
Last week I called the Honda Fit the "no-brainer" winner among econoboxes, and nothing changed my mind in the spirited discussion that ensued. But what I'm stuck on today is the fact that the Fit is frankly the only no-brainer Honda has left. Back in the day, this company was an engineer's delight, pushing the envelope with thrilling VTEC engines, focused interior designs, distinctive low cowls and sophisticated driving dynamics. Now it makes the Pilot and the TSX and the overrated Accord. What happened? Where did the so-called Japanese BMW go wrong?
I'm prepared to accept the sales argument. You know how it goes. "Americans don't like that old kind of Honda. They don't care about how a Prelude VTEC sounds at 7,000 rpm, or an Integra GS-R at 8,000, or even a mid-'90s Accord EX at 6,500. They don't care about superior forward visibility or classically sporty gauges. They never noticed the instantaneous steering response of those old hydraulic-assist Hondas, the remarkable precision of their manual transmissions, the extraordinary athleticism they displayed in corners despite those ridiculously skinny OEM tires.
"What Americans want is size, broader powerbands and chunky styling, and maybe some randomly weird dashboard layouts. And that's what the new Honda provides."
Fair enough. But as an enthusiast who's intimately familiar with the old Honda, I can't help feeling like the company has lost its edge. It used to be the engaging Japanese option, the one with superior engineering that made you feel like you got what you paid for. Now, I'm searching for reasons why I shouldn't tell people to buy Fords or Hyundais instead.
Click on to check your answer
You suckers probably thought it was 33.47. Not even close, goober! It's 33.469999. How do I know? Because the 2009 Honda Fit and its built-in calculator told me so.
Our resident nerds can't explain this, so if you've got an in at a calculator factory, please, give me the low-down, but what I do know is this: I don't want this computer in charge of giving me my change at the supermarket. (What would I do with $0.000001?)
All that over complication of simple subtraction aside, this is a pretty neat feature that has some extra goodies like automotive measurement calculators and some other handy features if you're stuck in a remote area of Vermont and all of the signs are in metric and need to know how many more kilometers your car will go on a liter of petrol.
I can see the logic/appeal of automatically-locking power door locks. Maybe you have or regularly transport little kids, or maybe you have to regularly drive through sketchy neighborhoods. I have neither of those concerns and find the auto-locking locks an annoyance.
The Fit's default setting is that they automatically lock at 9 mph (why 9 and not a nice even 10, I dunno, but that bugs me too). And on manual-transmission cars (like ours) they automatically unlock when you turn off the engine (automatic-tranny cars auto-unlock when you put the gear selector in Park). So why the pet peeve?
A number of times over the weekend I had to quickly drop people off (friend at his car, girlfriend at the mall's entrance, girlfriend in front of restaurant to put our names in while I parked). We're talking just letting them hop out of the car — a few seconds event that doesn't warrant shutting off the car. And every time, said passenger would grab the door release lever in vain, followed by both of us fumbling for the lock button. It could also make for a rather embarrassing, Seinfeldian scene on a first date, too.
Long story shortened, I grabbed the manual and in 3 quick steps (turn ignition to 'on' position, press and hold power lock button until you hear a click, release switch and turn ignition back to 'lock' position) easily canceled the auto-lock function, leaving the decision of when to lock 'em up, up to me.
The Fit strikes a pose, backed by the windmills of Palm Springs.
Our spunky Honda Fit got a chance to stretch its legs on a recent road trip, traveling south to that gaudy bit of desert tinsel known as Palm Springs. It proved to be a fun companion — as we've noted before, the engine gets clamorous at high revs, but the car's pleasantly frisky spirit more than made up for this shortcoming during the journey. Mileage was outstanding — the Honda averaged 35.7 miles per gallon over a total of 230 mostly highway miles.
One of my fave things about the Fit has got to be its nav system. The system is easy to use — entering locations is a cinch. It's also pleasant to experience, especially as far as its vocal reminders are concerned. In other cars I've driven, these reminders can be strident and excessive, with each upcoming turn preceded by a hailstorm of grating admonishments. Not so with the Fit. Its nav system delivers just enough reminders to inform without annoying, and the nav lady's voice sounds mellow, not shrill.
Oh look! Autumn leaves! Matching car! Blah, blah, blah.
If you wanted a good little city car and had $19k to spend, you'd probably buy a Smart. You'd probably also have a yoga mat for every day of the week (Bikram yoga makes your mat all sweaty) as well as a subscription to a hummus of the month club - not to mention a screw loose.
If you took that $19k and bought a Honda Fit, you get not only a great city car, you also get back seats, good fuel economy and it will allow you to do something that no one in their right mind would do in a Smart; you can drive it across the state of California.
I can count as one of the sketchiest things I've ever done as driving our old Smart from Los Angeles to Bakersfield. I thought I was going to die. Four times. By contrast, I piled 1,200 miles onto our Fit this past weekend, driving it from Santa Monica to San Francisco, around the Bay Area and back without once having a near death experience. Did I mention I used 87 octane gas as well as haul around 2-3 friends and family members at the same time? Yeah, you can't do that in a Smart either.
I took our 2009 Honda Fit yesterday to the Los Angeles Auto Show.
As you know, ours is a copper-tinged orange.
As I pulled into the LA Convention Center parking lot, another Fit followed me in. It was orange.
And at my school parking garage, I usually see the same Fit there. It's orange.
I've even driven by some orange Fits in Santa Monica, expecting to see one of my colleagues in our long-term car, only to find a complete stranger driving it.
What — you boosted our test car?
Nope, it's just that in my experience, nearly every Fit I see is orange.
As a matter of fact, earlier this year Edmunds had two of them at the same time — both orange, of course.
Don't you hate when this happens? The sun managed to find that (none-too-small) open space between either of the Honda Fit's sun visors on my drive home. There was no relief to be found with any amount of swinging, flipping, or otherwise manipulating the visors. Some manufacturers offer multiple defenses for this annoyance like mini center sun visors above the mirror, sun visors that slide side-to-side on their mounting arms, or auxiliary visors that deploy from the parent visors. The Fit has none of those and a very large, fast-raked windshield to make matters worse. The windshield's dot-matrix pattern did little to mitigate the problem. Argh, just looking at this photo is giving me a head ache.
Hot on the heels of my cramped adventures in the SX4, I drew the Fit straw last night. The last Fit fit me pretty similar as the SX4 — not enough seat travel, the back of the seat was mounted too high, there was no height adjustment and no telescoping steering wheel.
The new Fit, however, is better. There's still no height adjustment, but the back of the seat is mounted a little lower. The telescoping wheel is also a big help. I'm generally more comfortable, but I still wouldn't want to travel very far in the Fit. This isn't a small car thing, either. The Mini is fantastic and the new Ford Fiesta is pretty good, too. Hell, even the Smart was OK. I'm curious to see what the small Fiats (500, Panda) will be like if and when they show up in Chrysler dealerships.
I stirred up a baby hornets nest the other day when I said that I preferred the Insight to the Fit. I drove the Fit the last couple of days and confirmed my thoughts: although I still prefer the Insight, I would give both fun-to-drive ratings of "Not very."
I see the primary reason for getting a small car as the fuel economy. And the Insight comes up big here with 39 mpg; others would probably get an even better figure.
Why anyone would get a dink car that gets lousy fuel efficiency (not the Fit) is beyond me.
Why not just get the next size up and suffer only a minor fuel economy penalty?
mheikka hit the nail on the head when he commented on my Insight post that the Fit has the look of a "first car". Yes, and quite nice for a first car or college kid vehicle, unless your last name is Hilton.
And as for the Fit being fun to drive? There's an old saying: "Life is what you make it."
How cute! Ok, not really.
That little guy is tasked with only having to clear about one-third of the windshield; the third directly in front of the passenger. You see, the other wiper blade is so huge that its sweep takes care of the rest of the Fit's sizable windshield. I wouldn't have given it a second thought but for not having to look through the 'seam' created where the passenger side wiper usually stops in the center of the windshield. It's a minor distraction to be sure, but over time, that 'seam' tends to get etched into the glass and becomes visible rain or shine.
Hit the jump (I've always wanted to type that) for a special bonus question.
1230 points and the undying respect of no one in this office for the first person to tell me the name of the body of water in the background.
By some aligning of the stars, Kurt and I both happened to fixate on the wipers in our 2009 Honda Fit Sport. And I agree with him, our Fit does have puny front windshield wipers and you can't manually vary the intermittent interval, either.
And so I was caught off-guard when I noticed this neat-o convenience during a weekend of steady rain. When you shift to reverse while the front wipers are on, the rear wiper automatically activates, even if the switch for it is in the off position. Very useful for parking. (Toyota bag was used to haul veggies, not promote the brand, at least not directly.)
Over the weekend, I drove our 2009 Honda Fit to a toystore to buy a 20-inch bicycle for a 10-year-old. I purchased the bike unassembled and needed to load the box into the car.
Because the bike's manufacturer, Huffy, admonishes against laying the box flat, I had to find a way to keep it upright — no easy task with the way I drive the subcompacts. Folding the "60" side of the rear seat flat accomplished this task beautifully. We wedged the box in, and it didn't budge an inch during 300 miles of driving over the next three days.
On beautiful days like today, you really appreciate the Fit's relatively big greenhouse. The car has a really airy cabin — those portholes may look kinda dorky, but all that glass makes it easy to enjoy the view. Views of pretty blue skies. And *sigh* surrounding traffic.
Generally speaking, I'm a Fit fan. And one of the main reasons I like this car is the way it steers.
Granted, I know what Engineering Editor Jay Kavanagh is talking about when he describes the dead zone just off center in both the Fit and Insight. But when you give the Fit a bigger steering input as you're about to enter a corner or unusually technical freeway entrance ramp, the little car turns in smartly. It's not so quick that you imagine yourself in a sport compact, but at that moment, you don't feel quite so dorky driving around in an orange hatchback. For me, it's addictive. I take every opportunity to pitch the car into corners at speed. It was the same way with the original Fit.
Obviously, there's more to the Fit's (borderline) sprightly turn-in response than the published 12.7:1 steering ratio, as the suspension setup and even the skinny P185/55R16 83H Bridgestone tires have plenty to do with how it feels. Right, it's the total package that makes the car pretty good, and I'll reiterate for the umpteenth time that I like it.
Also likeable is the 2009 Fit's 34.4-foot turning radius. I made very few multi-point turns last weekend, because you can pretty much steer your way out of a hallway in this hatch.
This seems to be a new development in our 2009 Honda Fit Sport but sometimes when shifting into Reverse, the gearshift doesn't snick into place all the way so no go. I've taken to putting it in Neutral and letting the car roll a bit until I can push the gear all the way into place. Another editor suggested putting the car in 1st gear then in Reverse.
I know this has happened in other cars but just figured it's worth mentioning considering our previous Fit had an issue with Reverse.
I like the way our 2009 Honda Fit accelerates, shifts, steers, handles and reconfigures its rear seats. And most of the time, I am fine with the fact that this is a terminally cute car.
With those big eyes, and that bulging nose, I find myself wanting to give its quarter panels a pinch. Orange is probably the cutest Fit color, save for Tidewater Blue, and it's definitely not a good choice if you want the car to look anything but adorable.
A couple months ago, though, I spotted this black 2009 Honda Fit. I don't like all the modifications on this car, and who knows how it rides now... but the lowered stance and aftermarket wheels go some distance in toughening up the Fit.
Which car doesn't, uh, Fit?
Just back from a trip to the Bay Area over the weekend. Great time to drive after all the recent rain. Bright sun and lots of snow on the mountains that circle the basin.
In fact, there was so much snow that I went up U.S. 101 to avoid any potential slowdowns on snowy Interstate 5 up on top of the mountains through the Grapevine. Of course even when I cut over from U.S. 101 at Santa Barbara to the old stagecoach road across San Marcos Pass, the mountains on the other side of the Santa Ynez Valley even had a dusting of snow.
It was a great weekend to drive the old El Camino Real. Hardly anybody on the road, for California, anyway. Took the Honda Fit. For which am widely thought to be insane.
For all our enthusiasm for driving, we've let ourselves stereotype small cars like the Honda Fit as little more than runabouts, too slow and crude to be trusted farther than the grocery store. But the truth is, you've got a perfectly comfortable package here and 117 hp with which to use it. You just to have to be smart about it.
This just isn't the right car for pounding down your typical Interstate of cement slabs, for example. It doesn't matter whether you're on the way to San Francisco or just commuting to work, this car hates cement. It car rides on its springs while damping control is not exactly sophisticated, so it pitches back and forth like a small boat. And like so many Hondas, there's lots of road roar through the front hubs. But should it be a surprise that this car is not a BMW 7 Series?
Out there on the asphalt you find on much of U.S. 101, road noise is not an issue. If the pavement ahead looks a little rough, steer around it. Want to go faster, use the gearbox — that's why it's got five speeds. You know, drive the car.
In fact, the thing that makes the Honda Fit entertaining for a 380-mile trip is the opportunity to drive. Gas, brake and steer. Somehow we've let ourselves be fooled into thinking that cross-country travel should only be done in limo-size cars with large, gas-sucking engines, as if we were all meant to drive a 1966 Ford LTD every time you stray across the county line. Small cars get you there, even if it's hundreds of miles away. The ventilation system works and so does the radio. You have to stop once for gas, but you're getting 38 mpg. Hey, it's got a navigatin system, so use it.
For me the whole drive was a nice exercise in lateral thinking, both in car selection and route choice. Here in California, U.S. 101 largely follows the old 1796 route between the Spanish missions. It's known as the El Camino Real (the royal highway), and it's marked by cast-iron bells set beside the road every mile or so. Anna Pritchard began a civic movement to celebrate the old road back in 1892, although the first marker in front of the Plaza Church in the Pueblo near Olvera street in Los Angles didn't go up until August 15, 1906. Mrs. A.S.C. Forbes believed in the project so much that she established a foundry in Los Angeles to cast the downsize replicas of mission bells that were used as markers. By 1915, some 115 bells had been placed along the route.
Over the years the bells disappeared as the route changed to become more of a traffic thoroughfare and less of a historic pathway. Despite replacement bells erected in 1949 and 1960, the number had dwindled to about 75 when the Caltrans (the state transportation department) revived the program under a federal grant in 2000. California Bell, the company founded by Mrs. Forbes, was revived in the San Francisco Bay Area by John Kolstadt and new bells were cast using the original molds. Some 555 examples were put in place by 2006 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the program. You can even buy an example from California Bell complete with pole stand for $2,395.
Every once in a while, it's nice to drive a road with a name. El Camino is just a fact of life in California, but I've also driven down the Lincoln Highway coast-to-coast, Route 66, and dozens of scenic routes. Sometimes it's good to get out of the Interstate mentality, not just in where you're driving but also what you're driving.
We missed the celebratory photo honoring our 2009 Honda Fit at the 20,000-mile mark, so please enjoy this image of 20,852 miles instead.
On long road trips, I nearly always use both A and B trip odometers. One to track mileage between fill-ups and the other to record the distance of the overall trip.
No A/B option for the Honda Fit. It has but one.
No, we didn't take our long-term 2009 Honda Fit Sport on the track, just to the track.
As nice a runabout as the Fit is around town, I wouldn't want to take it around the Andretti hairpin.
Our long-term 2009 Honda Fit recently turned 20,000 miles.
So, with 15% oil life remaining, it's asking for a B1 service. What that entails is detailed below.
As Al reported last Friday, our Fit was in need of a B1 service. So today we dropped it off at Honda of Santa Monica to get the full treatment. Three hours later, we had our Fit back after an oil change, various inspections and a tire rotation. Cost: $142.16.
What did you pay for your last similar service?
Car salesmen count on it and the Fit doesn't disappoint. I'm talking about the feel of the steering wheel in our Honda. As you can see, it's a pretty nice piece. A bit of an odd design maybe, but it's thicker than most wheels you'll see in cars of this class and there's a nice leather covering on it.
Also note the satellite controls. There are plenty of them, yet they don't get in the way. They're also easy to work with your thumbs, which I like.
More importantly, the actually steering feel of the car on the road is pretty solid. I always disliked the feel of our Civic Si as it always felt like it wanted to spring back to the center. The Fit is no Porsche, but it feels much more natural than that Civic Si ever did.
I've complimented our 2009 Honda Fit's driver-side cupholder before, but what I haven't mentioned is that it holds coffee so securely, you can drive around open-top.
I have a bit of a cafe latte habit. I don't like putting a sippy top on my beverage, because then I don't get to enjoy the crema before the foam dissolves. But in most cars, I then face the peril of having my latte splash onto surrounding upholstery and buttons that might get all sticky. The Fit is the only car I've driven in which I can leave the top off with a clear conscience.
Call me old fashioned, but I often find inexpensive cars refreshing for their familiarity and simplicity. Here's a perfect example of that ethos. To go with its basic HVAC controls, honest approach to utility and straightforward efficiency, the Fit has a real spare tire.
That's a real spare tire, a real jack and a real lug wrench. All good things when a real driver gets a real flat in a really isolated place.
As a compact car, it's only to be expected that the Honda Fit wouldn't compromise its space-saving interior to better accomodate my daily coffee-and-water combo.
At 7.5 inches, the Starbucks to-go cup makes the clearance, but at nearly 10 inches, my water bottle is feelin' a little tipsy.
Here's to hoping both top seals, uh, seal.
Got a 2009 Honda Fit, Sport or otherwise? Want to tow with it?
Here is what the 2009 Honda Fit owner's manual has to say about that: "Your vehicle is not designed to tow a trailer. Attempting to do so can void your warranties."
No surprise there. Not that you could ever find a hitch for one, although they probably do exist somewhere.
But the Fit turns out to be a champ at being towed, as in behind a motorhome. Dinghy towing, they call it. You know, the motorhome is the big yacht and your Fit is the launch you use to get to shore to buy groceries.
Flat towing a Fit is totally acceptable and will not void your warranty, provided you follow a few steps that Honda outlines in the owner's manual.
Don't exceed 65 mph. Severe transmission damage will occur otherwise.
Leave the ignition key in the accessory position so the steering wheel does not lock. You'll need to keep another key on your person so you can lock the car, of course.
Make sure the radio is off, the dome lights are off and unplug all accessories from the cigarette lighter (oops, power point) so you don't run the battery down while the key is in the accessory position.
Keep the shifter in neutral (duh)
Release the parking brake (double duh).
Here is where it gets a little tricky.
Make sure the transmission fluid level is topped off, but do not overfill it.
Start the engine.
Press the brake pedal and move the shift lever through all its positions. (Slowly, I suspect)
Shift to the D position and hold for 5 seconds, then shift to N. Let the engine run for three minutes, then turn it off. Do remember to put the key back into the accessory position.
Release the parking brake (there's that "duh" again).
They also warn that if you go from R to N instead of D to N, then all hope is lost and severe transmission damage will nevertheless occur. D to N, got it?
And if you tow for more than 8 hours in one day, you must repeat this procedure every 8 hours.
With the automatic, what they're trying to do is make sure oil gets to the right places before you shut the engine off. Priming the system, I suspect, so that the moving gears can then slosh it around once you get underway. Manual transmissions don't care about any of this, because they self lubricate just fine.
That the Fit automatic can be flat towed is rare. Not unheard of, but rare. Many cars simply can't self lubricate their autoboxes sufficiently when the engine is off.
Expect to see a lot of these latched on behind snowbird motorhomes in the coming months. A 2009 Honda Fit doesn't cost a lot, automatics can be towed with no aftermarket mods (other than the tow bar), they're light and easy to tow, they get excellent gas mileage, and they can haul a lot of stuff.
PS: For the record, nothing is hitched in these photos. It's all an illusion.
Honda pays the bills by offering the most amount of car for the least amount of money. This philosophy has evolved into progressively larger cars as Honda has adapted to life as an American company, but this process has threatened the company's role in the subcompact segment. As the Honda Accord grew in proportions, so, too, did the Honda Civic as it filled the void. And then the Civic's growing size and sophistication opened the door for a subcompact Honda, which wasn't available. But when rising fuel prices and shrinking pocketbooks made subcompacts suddenly popular, Honda finally brought in its international-size car, the Honda Fit.
American consumers accepted the 2007 Honda Fit, and it quickly took control of the subcompact market. But where the Fit excelled in international-size utility, it suffered in international-size ergonomics. A seating position meant for the slight of stature was matched with a thrifty but underpowered engine, and small tires limited the Fit's appeal to hard-core fuel misers.
Fortunately a second-generation Fit was in the pipeline and with the 2009 Honda Fit we have the new features we wanted without compromising those that we already appreciated.
Why We Got It
By the time we concluded our long-term test of the all-new 2007 Honda Fit Sport, we had accumulated over 25,000 miles. This new Honda brought an element of driving fun to an excruciatingly dull segment of subcompacts. We drove it everywhere and did so with only a few of the typical complaints that any econocar attracts. When we learned that the redesigned 2009 Honda Fit Sport addressed the handful of issues we'd had with the original, we were sold.
We never felt the 2007 Honda Fit was built with full-figured Americans in mind. But our full test of the 2009 Honda Fit presented a revised package that would coddle our American-size physiques with comfort and convenience.
To begin with, the wheels and tires were an inch larger in diameter, a measure that would simultaneously offer more sport and a somewhat more compliant ride. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel adjustment made the seating position more comfortable for taller drivers. An available navigation system was a treat in this sub-$20,000 car. Also new for 2009 was a more powerful 1.5-liter inline-4, generating 117 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque.
Subcompacts are often stereotyped as errand runners. And we were as guilty as the rest in this regard. But once we spent time with the 2009 Honda Fit, accepted its shortcomings and saw the car for what it was, we learned that the driving experience was pretty enjoyable.
Edmunds.com Senior Editor Erin Riches complimented its steering. "When you give the Fit a bigger steering input as you're about to enter a corner or unusually technical freeway entrance ramp, the little car turns in smartly. It's not so quick that you imagine yourself in a sport compact, but at that moment, you don't feel quite so dorky driving around in an orange hatchback. For me, it's addictive. I take every opportunity to pitch the car into corners at speed."
Riches continued, "And the engine. You're always going to hear it, so you'd better learn to love its scrappy demeanor. It's not that the Fit's gearing is so incredibly short. It's that there simply isn't a lot of sound-deadening material. That's a big reason why the Fit is lightweight. Lack of weight makes it feel as quick and nimble. So it has never once occurred to me that the Fit should be quieter. On the contrary, a quieter Fit would be a heavier, less direct-handling Fit, and I'll have none of that."
This fun-to-drive personality was evident in the first Fit, so we weren't surprised that the second-generation car measured up. But inside the cabin was where the 2009 model was supposed to be different.
Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds reflected, "One of the main reasons I disliked driving our 2007 Fit was that I didn't fit in it. It had no seat height adjustment and the non-telescopic steering wheel was too far away. My 6-foot-2 frame was utterly incompatible. But all of my complaints have been magically wiped away in the 2009 Fit. Being able to lower the seats and pull the new telescopic wheel back has several benefits. My knees have clearance behind the wheel, which means I can operate the clutch and other pedals without splaying my legs apart, mantis-style. I can also reach the wheel without reaching, maintaining a nice bend in my arm."
Meanwhile, Edmunds Senior Editor Bryn MacKinnon noted, "I was sitting in the back of the Fit and decided to rest my arm on the armrest on the door. It wouldn't let me. The slope of the rearmost part is extremely raked, and my arm sort of kept slipping off. That's an unrestful armrest."
Over time our 2009 Honda Fit showed some flaws. Squeaks and rattles from the dash were mentioned on more than one occasion. Our sole warranty repair claim began with a dead battery and led us to a door-ajar warning illuminated on the instrument cluster. We visited the dealer for this known issue and had it fixed by replacing the lock switch for the front door.
Honda of Santa Monica treated us fairly so we stuck with them for all service needs, including scheduled maintenance at 10,000 and 20,000 miles. A bubble in the sidewall of the Fit's right-front tire set us back over 160 bucks for a replacement Bridgestone Turanza. But even at that, the Fit never left us stranded.
Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 12 months): $227.57
Additional Maintenance Costs: $161.92 for replacement tire
Warranty Repairs: Front door lock switch replaced
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: 2; 1 waiting for door lock switch, 1 for a new tire
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Performance and Fuel Economy
We first tested the 2009 Honda Fit with 1,000 miles on the odometer. As is our routine, we tested it a final time at 20,000 miles. We were impressed with the Fit's durability over the span of our test.
During its entrance exam the 2,500-pound Fit accelerated to 60 mph from a stop in 8.9 seconds (8.6 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and covered the quarter-mile in 16.6 seconds at 81.6 mph. Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton drove for its final exam. "It's just as quick now as when it was new," he said. "The Fit requires some wheelspin to maximize what little power it has. But it was easier to pedal it with worn tires. Clutch and gears still feel healthy."
Dynamic tests told a similar story. An initial slalom speed of 65.8 mph was matched at test end by one of 66 mph. We did experience an anomaly during skid pad tests, though. The as-new Fit recorded lateral grip of 0.78g, while nearing retirement it pulled 0.82g on the skid pad. Surface variations in our test facilities were the culprit, as the 0.82g figure was confirmed at the 10,000-mile mark when this Fit was used for a comparison test against the Ford Fiesta. Following dynamic testing Walton proclaimed, "I had forgotten how fun the Fit Sport is in the slalom. Friction-free, responsive steering, a narrow track and an ability to rotate. Seems more neutral than the previous Fits, which I remember being a little squirrely. ESP-on prompted nearly as quick due to uncharacteristically lenient tuning that returns control to the driver quickly."
Best Fuel Economy: 39.0 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 24.9 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 31.4 mpg
We added a 2009 Honda Fit Sport with Navigation to our fleet just over one year ago. At that time it had an MSRP of $18,780. After a full term of service the Fit depreciated 23 percent based on a private-party sale through Edmunds' TMV® Calculator. This seems strong considering our long-term 2007 Nissan Versa depreciated 26 percent following its test.
True Market Value at service end: $14,538
Depreciation: $4,242 or 23% of original MSRP
Final Odometer Reading: 21,568
Honda reclaimed its influence on the subcompact segment with the introduction of the 2007 Fit to the U.S. market. But it wasn't a home run. Smaller proportions and awkward design elements didn't appeal to the full-bodied American public. And so, as if listening to our suggestions, Honda took the Fit and redesigned it.
Our long-term 2009 Fit received a warm reception. It still had to overcome the stigma of being a small car. But once we accepted the limitations inherent in its stature, it became a favorite. After 12 months and 21,000 miles, the Fit had survived a year of full-service American driving. We subjected it to an onslaught of stop-and-go traffic, thousand-mile vacation treks and rambunctious children. It took all we could give with no more than a faulty door lock switch.
The 2009 Honda Fit turned out to be more car than its predecessor, and in a good way. It was fun and utilitarian for its size. Improvements in ergonomics were immediately apparent and appreciated. When it came to our daily needs, the new Fit was a better fit.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.