2009 Honda Fit Vehicle OverviewIntroduction
On a weekly basis, we auto writer types in the office get weekly reports about what cars are most popular in terms of searches on our site. And for much of 2008, we were amused by reports for "Inside Line," our dedicated car enthusiast site. One phrase kept coming in as number one. It wasn't one of the expected ones like, "Nissan GT-R," "Bitchin' Camaro" or even "Danica Patrick." It was, believe it or not, "2009 Honda Fit."
Sure, we can understand why "normal" car shoppers would be interested in the Fit. This entry-level model, introduced just a couple years ago, quickly became a hit thanks to its high fuel mileage, innovative interior and nimble handling. But car junkies? Either the Fit has suddenly become cooler than a GT-R, or real-world, $4-dollar-a-gallon gas and everyday practicality have trumped supercar daydreams.
Either way, there's a lot of hype for the fully redesigned, second-generation 2009 Fit. Honda's plan for the car was to keep the original model's spunky spirit intact while making a few key improvements. The new car is 4.2 inches longer than the previous model. This might seem like cause for concern, but curb weight, at about 2,500 pounds, has pretty much stayed the same. Enhanced body rigidity and suspension updates provide better handling, and Honda says the new body structure benefits from the company's latest crash safety engineering efforts.
Inside, the extra length provides more room for rear passengers to stretch out. It also allows owners to fold down the rear seat without having to first remove the rear headrests. As before, you can do a lot of trick things with that rear seat, including flipping the cushions up (like in a crew-cab pickup) to create a tall cargo area. In terms of features, a telescoping steering wheel is a welcome addition. You can even get a factory navigation system and stability control for the first time.
Under the hood of this four-door hatchback, you'll find a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the same as last year. It's been revised with a number of changes, including an improved version of i-VTEC variable valve timing. Some might be disappointed that this hasn't led to dramatically higher horsepower or better EPA fuel economy estimates (they're both about the same as last year). But the overall drivability of the new Fit is noticeably better thanks to a wider spread of power.
Overall, we're very impressed with the redesigned 2009 Honda Fit. Considering that we liked last year's version more than competitors like the Chevrolet Aveo, Nissan Versa and Scion xD, it would seem that the Fit has extended its superiority even further. The only hold-up will likely be price. Given the interest in this car, actual sales transaction pricing will no doubt stay close to MSRP, and that MSRP is already higher than some of its competitors'. But for the small hatchback shopper, or even car enthusiast daydreamers who need something to get to work, Honda's Fit is the best pick out there.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Honda Fit is a subcompact four-door hatchback available in two trim levels: base and Sport. Base Fits come standard with 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories and a four-speaker sound system with CD/MP3 player and auxiliary audio input.
Opting for the Fit Sport gets you 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, lower body extensions, a rear spoiler, cruise control, map lights, a driver armrest and an upgraded audio system with six speakers and a USB port. The Sport is also eligible for a navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive Honda Fit comes with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 117 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. On Fit Sports, the automatic comes with manual shift control via steering-wheel-mounted paddles.
EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined for a Fit with the manual transmission. The numbers are almost identical for the Fit Sport equipped with the automatic. More conservative shift programming on base models fitted with the automatic raise the numbers to 28/35/31 mpg.
Standard safety equipment for the 2009 Honda Fit includes antilock disc brakes, front seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Fit Sports can be equipped with a stability control system, but curiously, it comes packaged with the navigation system.
Interior Design and Special Features
On the new Fit, passenger volume is only fractionally larger compared to the previous model. Even so, taller drivers will be more comfortable sitting in this new Fit, as its standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel has made the driving position far more agreeable.
An extra inch of rear legroom makes it pretty hospitable in back, too.
The rear "Magic Seat" can be configured in a variety of ways, and it's a key part of the Fit's appeal. The rear seatbacks fold completely flat with just the pull of a lever. You can also flip up the rear seat cushions to create a tall load area right behind the front seats. This should be particularly welcome for dog owners, since Rover can more safely ride along in the passenger compartment. The front passenger seat folds down, allowing the transporting of items up to 7 feet, 9 inches long.
Honda says that if the rear seat is folded completely flat, the Fit can provide 57.3 cubic feet of cargo space. Note that this figure is considerably more than last year's 41.9 cubic feet. Given that the total interior capacity is about the same as it was before, we suspect Honda has started to factor in the space available if the front passenger seat is lowered.
The 2009 Honda Fit drives a lot like the previous model, only better. Like all subcompacts, it's highly maneuverable and a great urban runabout. Where the Fit rises above the rest is in the way it actually drives. Because of its approximately 2,500-pound curb weight and wonderfully direct steering, the Fit feels light and nimble while cornering. Going with the manual transmission takes full advantage of the Fit's engaging personality, though the Fit Sport's available automatic with shift paddles is a viable alternative.