Honda is filling its entry-level subcompact void with a car clearly intended for a young, urban crowd. The Fit is a versatile vehicle in a small size perfect for squeezing into tight spots — or tight budgets.
Like the Element, another Honda vehicle initially aimed at young buyers, the Fit sells itself on making the most of its interior space. To this end is a feature that Honda calls the "Magic Seat" — the seatback can fold down, or the bottom can flip up for multiple cargo configurations.
The Fit fills the hole created when the Civic moved into the compact category for the 2006 model year. The Fit now becomes Honda's smallest and least expensive car. Mileage as high as 33 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway (with a manual transmission) should keep ownership costs down as well.
The Fit bears a vague resemblance to an old-school Civic Si, but with hints of a modern-day, squared-off hatchback � la the Scion xA or Mazda Mazda3 wagon. A small, high-mounted rear spoiler helps give it a stylish look. The Fit has four doors, plus the hatch, and rides on 14-inch wheels, with 16-inch wheels available.
The Fit takes cues from its big brother Element, with seats that fold flat or flip up to maximize cargo space and accommodate odd-shaped objects. Honda claims 90.1 cubic feet of interior space, and 21.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats when the seatbacks are up. Honda says that's nearly as much as an Element behind the second seating row; at any rate, it's ample room for a couple of suitcases.
Up front, the Fit offers a dealer-installed adapter that will allow drivers to hook their Apple iPods into the four-speaker audio system (six in the uplevel Fit Sport). Also available on the Sport model are wheel-mounted paddle shifters for the automatic transmission — a feature not found elsewhere in the entry-level segment.
Under the Hood
The Fit will come with one engine: a 109-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder. It mates with a five-speed manual as standard equipment, and a five-speed automatic is available. The automatic is rated at 31 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway.
The Fit has six standard airbags: dual front airbags, front side airbags and side curtain-type airbags. It also has antilock brakes.