NEWS

2009 Honda Fit: Second Look

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While senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder got the first look at the new Honda Fit for his full review last month, the rest of the editors at Cars.com recently landed some extended seat time in the 2009 Fit to see how the popular hatchback improves on the past generation. They take on the car’s utility, family-friendliness and, oh yeah, the driving experience. 

Mike Hanley: One question kept coming up when driving Honda’s redesigned Fit: Why would someone choose this four-door hatchback over the more substantial — and similarly priced — Civic? The first reason is rather obvious: If you’re a hatchback fan and want the extra utility this body style provides, you’re going to go with the Fit, as the Civic is only offered in coupe or sedan form. Another reason, interestingly, is performance: The Fit Sport I tested is more lively and engaging than the Civic thanks to a surprisingly peppy four-cylinder engine, slick manual transmission and nimble handling. Would anyone else out there like to see a Fit Si? Because I sure would.

Like my colleague Kelsey Mays, I wish the Fit were offered with a height-adjustable driver’s seat; the car has lots of headroom, but you can’t really take advantage of it. Even though the front seats are plain-looking and have basic manual adjustments, I thought they were comfortable enough.

Kelsey Mays: The new Fit doesn’t feel quite as rambunctious as the short-lived (at least on these shores) original. But it’s still uncommonly fun, especially compared to its hatchback alternatives.

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The cabin sports Civic-quality gauges and the weightier, higher-rent dials I’ve come to expect in most any Honda. They’re a step up from the Fit’s immediate competitors. I found the front seats comfortably padded, but Honda still needs to add a height adjustment for the driver’s chair. At least the steering wheel telescopes, something many competitors don’t offer. Then again, most of them cost substantially less. The Fit’s higher price tag moves it into uncharted waters, as Mike says, especially when the competition is a few thousand less. At this price, that makes a big difference. 

David Thomas: I was surprised twice by the new Fit. First, it doesn’t feel like it’s going faster than it can handle, like the old model did. Everything from acceleration to handling just feels more stable to me in the ‘09. It’s also a really good-looking little hatch with a sharp grille that isn’t as offensive as other Honda products of late.

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The other, bigger surprise was how easy it was to get a child safety seat in the back. There are Latch connectors, of course — though I used the middle seat’s seat belt instead — and the seat itself did touch the back of the front seats. But there was plenty of headroom, so taking my 7-month-old in and out was easy — meaning I didn’t bump his head on the roof. Also, because the Fit is so narrow, I can easily reach into the back and lift him out without having to get into the backseat myself.

I wasn’t nearly as comfortable in the driver’s seat, though, which felt too firm, and my right knee was too close to the dash and shifter for my taste. But Mike is much taller than I and seemed to fit just fine.

Photo of David Thomas
Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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