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.
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.
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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