Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa Comparison – The New Big 3's Little 3.

Expert Reviews Feature Articles Honda Nissan Toyota

WINNER: 2009 Honda Fit

Honda is widely recognized as the first Japanese automaker to really hit on the economy aspect of car ownership. Honda’s 1972 introduction of the highly fuel-efficient, low-emission and even lower horsepower CVCC engine may have been greeted by riotous laughter in Detroit, but today the laughter has quelled to a low, rolling sob. With the exception of Americanized abberations like the Pilot and Ridgeline, Honda has remained true to its original intent of making fuel-efficient, low-emissions cars that are fun to drive and practical to live with.

2009 Honda Fit Sport 2009 Honda Fit Sport

And there is no other car in the history of Honda that more perfectly embodies those original attributes than the Fit. Yes, that’s some high praise, especially considering how many great cars Honda has made over the years. Think of the Fit as a CRX station wagon – a concept which fits the needs of many car buyers. Consider all these highlights, and you’ll quickly see why the Fit is such an appropriate name for this machine.

Fit’s fuel efficient – 28 mpg around town and 35 mpg on the highway.

Fit’s well-built – Quiet road manners, top-shelf interior materials and design.

Fit’s well-appointed – Base model comes with power everything and options like voice-controlled navigation only found on more expensive models.

Fit’s practical – Best-in-class 57.3 cu. ft. of cargo room with one lever pull to fold-flat rear seats.

Fit’s innovative – Rear Magic Seat allows the seat bottoms to be folded up for additional cargo capacity.

And most importantly, at least for this author, Fit’s fun to drive – Granted the 117 horsepower 1.5 liter VTEC four banger won’t get you anywhere in a hurry, but it’s handling characteristics are endearing and never fail to put a smile on the driver’s face.

Although this car is a remarkable achievement of practicality, fuel-efficiency, value and fun, there are a few areas where the Fit could be fitter. Although the four-cylinder VTEC motor does just fine with an empty galley, as soon as you pile in your cronies and load up the back with cronie crap, the Fit’s acceleration goes from adequate to anemic. And although the Fit’s navigation system is one of the most technologically advanced and easy-to-use units on the market, the Fit curiously has no satellite radio option.

2009 Honda Fit Sport interior 2009 Honda Fit Sport magic rear folding seats

The Fit also suffers from some visibility limitations due to it’s exterior profile that looks like it went through one too many sessions with Igor on a medieval stretching machine. The A-pillar window reaches so far forward that it almost touches the grossly oversized headlights, which significantly blocks visibility in corners. And the front doors have more glass than sheetmetal, not a bad thing for visibility, but evokes quite a curious appearance. But design is personal. Some will love the Fit’s appearance, some will hate it, but neither can deny that the Fit is an exceptional value, and both will probably end up buying it.

A $16K base price is definitely a bit high for an entry-level, sub-compact, especially considering it’s $2,000 gap over the next most expensive car in this comparison (Yaris), but as the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”. Anyone who drives the Fit will agree that it’s worth the extra coin. The only question is, do you have the extra coin?

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  • Eric says:

    first off, great article, love to see some input on my favorite segment of cars. my wife and I just purchased a 2010 Yaris off the lot last sept. and absolutely love it. its the 3 door liftback model with the sluggish automatic. I’m used to driving a Jeep Wrangler on 37′s so the Yaris does please me quite well on the acceleration. Throttle response is a bit sensitive upon launch but that may be the torque converter kicking in. We’ve both gotten used to glancing over at the oddly placed center dash gauges but it actually opens up the viewing area to pay more attention to the road and your surroundings. I love how simple the setup is and how easy it is to work on. I’ve already swaped heat units, added cruise control which IS supported native in the ECM. Air filter & Cabin filter are easy swap outs and oil changes are a breeze to do. There is nothing complicated to go wrong like a clunky power steering system or automatic belt tensioners. there is enough space in the engine compartment to easily replace any item in the future should something go wrong, keeping labor hours down or making it easier for the DIY mechanic. we were lucky enough to find a certified pre-owned on lot with fully automatic locks, windows, and keyless entry added, HUGH bonus over the piece of junk focus we got rid of.
    I can see this car easily lasting to be our unborn childs first car.

  • Carlos says:

    Thanks, Kurt. Your comparison of these 3 little ones have been very helpful to make an informed decision. I read your articles before and I found them clear and unbiased. Thanks, again.

  • mike says:

    right on Kurt. tell it like it is.

  • Slim,

    Nissan and Honda combined are about equal to Ford, and Honda alone has twice the production of Chrysler, so it’s a wash. And I’m not ‘promoting’ foreign cars. Have you read my reviews on the Flex and Malibu? I think they’re both among the best cars of 2008. Additionally, when a Toyota is built entirely within the United States, I consider it a domestic car, supporting American workers, helping the American economy.

    I love this country (most of the time) and always make sure I’m buying USA made AS LONG AS the products are of utmost quality and value. But I refuse to compromise and buy inferior, crapcan products just to support an inferior, crapcan company – American or otherwise. I think the Old Big 3 are realizing this, as evidenced by some of their terrific new models (Chrysler excluded).

    Thanks for reading, and for your honest feedback.

    Kurt G.

  • my name is slim says:

    nissan and honda together is not nearly as big as ford alone let alone GM, and Toyota only out sold GM in these tough times when many people wanting cars could not get credit and they outsold them by a very small margin. You live in America why would you promote foreign cars so much? For the past five years the imports have had more recalls than American made cars………………..

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