What’s in a name? For the Honda Fit, everything. When it was introduced to the US in 2006, sales figures surprised even Honda and the 2009 redesign continues that winning streak. The Fit is the right size and stands out from the crowd with exceptionally flexible packaging and efficiency. The styling has grown from cute to modern and the powertrain has been tweaked to improve real world performance. The handling is spry and inviting and fuel economy is on par with competitors. Perhaps the most endearing quality of the Fit is that in this urban runabout class, it makes sense for everyone. It is truly one of those rare classless cars that simply fits.
Differentiating characteristics: flexible interior space, sharp handling, attractively modern styling
For those of you who have been pinching every penny in the desperate quest to own a BMW 3-series, a word of advice; save your money and get a Mazda 3 instead. The redesigned for 2010 Mazda 3 takes quality, performance, practicality and affordability to an entirely new level, making it the rennaisance car for the coming decade. There is simply no other car that we’ve tested which offers more luxurious features, driving performance and fuel-efficiency for under $26,000. And in a time when frugality has suddenly become vogue, the Mazda 3 is attracting would-be BMW buyers. The Mazda 3 remains the defending and undisputed value champion of automotive world.
Differentiating characteristics: Expressive exterior style, quality of interior, excellent performance, smooth and quiet engines, luxury features in an economy car
While not the market leaders they once were, minivans continue to sell in significant numbers. Weathering the crossover/SUV trend, they continue to trade on their flexibility and voluminous interior space. If you want to take the whole family and their stuff to a distant someplace, a minivan remains the smartest choice. The industry spin on the formula to keep the concept fresh is sensible luxury features for all occupants and no manufacturer has pinned down this formula the way Honda has with the Odyssey.
While there are no significant changes for the 2010 model year, not much needed changing. The Odyssey is incredibly roomy, agile without compromising ride and runs a smooth drivetrain with plenty of power. While it may not have some of the rear seating tricks of its competitors, it’s a Honda and that means that it’s well built and efficient. The price point is competitive and even though it in the sunset of its model cycle, the styling remains simple and fresh.
Differentiating characteristics: solid engineering and features, build quality, space
Now almost 20 years old, the Chrysler Town & Country continues to offer a huge helping of practicality, sprinkled with a nice dash of luxury. Although perhaps a bit behind the competition in terms of performance and handling, the Town & Country excels at what a minivan should do best: hauling a family and all their gear around in style. For 2009 the Town and Country features standard Swivel ‘n Go seating, which allows the 2nd row chairs to swivel 180 degrees to face the 3rd row, as well as numerous entertainment options, including a three-zone video system that allows each row to watch or listen to a different entertainment source.
Differentiating characteristics: flexible seating arrangements, innovative features, such as satellite TV, quiet ride, six-speed automatic with optional V-6 engines