The 2009 Honda Fit four-door hatchback replaces the original model that came to the U.S. in 2006. It's larger now, but is still classified as a subcompact. As such, it competes with the Chevrolet Aveo, Hyundai Elantra, Scion xD and Toyota Yaris. As of publication, prices aren't final, but Honda expects the car to sell for roughly the same price as the previous version, and to achieve similar gas mileage. That would mean prices around $14,000 to $15,000 and EPA-estimated 28/34 mpg city/highway with a manual transmission.
The 2009 Fit looks like the earlier one, but with a longer, gradually sloping nose. To account for the base of the windshield being several inches farther forward, Honda incorporated a large sail-shaped window into each A-pillar, which visually extends the side windows forward of the front doors. It's a peculiar look, but it has a purpose.
Formerly sized 14 inches in diameter, the standard steel wheels are now 15 inches on the base Fit. The Fit Sport still gets 16-inch aluminum rims.
The interior volume has increased in the new generation, adding backseat legroom and overall cargo capacity. The materials aren't markedly higher in quality than the previous generation's, but that car was already among the best-appointed in its class. New interior options include Honda's touch-screen navigation system and a USB port for accessing iPods and simple flash drives through the stereo.
The 60/40-split folding backseat has added a new trick: The backrests fold flat in one step without requiring the head restraints to be removed or guided under the front seat. As before, the backrests can be left up and the bottom cushion raised, providing ample floor-to-ceiling space.
Under the Hood
The engine is a new 1.5-liter four-cylinder similar to the previous generation's. (Specifications aren't available as of this writing.) As before, it drives the front wheels through a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. The automatic allows sequential manual shifting using paddles on the steering wheel.
Honda says the body is more rigid and the steering and suspension have been improved.
The new generation employs Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering, a body structure designed to engage the crumple zones of taller vehicles optimally in a collision. Standard safety features include antilock brakes, active front head restraints, front-seat side-impact airbags and curtain airbags that cover the side windows, front and rear. An electronic stability system will be optional, a rarity in this vehicle class.
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