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2007 Honda Fit Review

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2007 Honda Fit

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Honda

Model:  Honda Fit Sport
Engine:  1.5-liter inline 4
Horsepower/Torque: 109 hp @ 5800 rpm/105 lb.-ft. @ 4800 rpm 
Transmission:  5-speed automatic with manual mode
Wheelbase:  96.5 in.
Length x Width x Height:  157.4 x 66.2 x 60.0 in.
Tires: 195/55HR15
Cargo volume:  21.3/41.9 cu. ft.
Economy: 33 mpg city/38 mpg highway/32.7 mpg test
Price:  $15,720 (includes $550 destination charge)
Assets Useful for its size, huge cargo carrying capacity.
Debits Small, small engine

You can’t help notice the compact size of the Honda fit. And that may be the reason behind its unique name; you have to be fit to get into the fit. I’ve driven smaller, but the fit definitely rubs up against anything else in the subcompact range.

First, it’s the smallest vehicle Honda sells. It rides on a wheelbase that’s almost 10 inches shorter than the Civic’s, and is 19 inches shorter than the Civic in overall length. So you know you’re in teensy tiny range.

But the utility of the Fit far surpasses the Civic. For example, the Civic sedan’s cargo capacity is 12.0 cubic feet. That’s decent for a compact sedan. The Fit measures in at a maximum of 41.9 cubic feet (we’ll explain later how to get all that stuff in the car), while it tops out at 21.3 cubic feet with all the seats up. The latter number is spectacular, but the dimensions still make it tough to put a golf bag inside.

Honda brags about “five distinct seating and cargo carrying configurations” to the seats. The versatility lies in Honda’s Magic Seat, a 60/40 split rear seat that allows the seat backs to fold down or the bottoms to fold up. They can also be removed. And with the fuel tank located near the center of the vehicle (which is also good from a safety and handling standpoint), the rear cargo floor can be lower.

So naturally, the week I had the Fit called for NO visits to children and grandchildren, an activity that normally requires enormous luggage volume to carry all the goodies back and forth. I’ll have to speak to my wife about working her schedule around the car schedule.

Okay, the Fit’s practical, but how does it drive. I thought the ride quality was surprisingly decent for a car with a short wheelbase, light weight, and short overall length. No, Virginia, this isn’t a Rolls-Royce, or even an Accord, but when you consider the size of the Fit, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the ride quality.

I was also impressed by the engine. At 1.5 liters and 109 hp, it’s verging on the underpowered. The engine drives the front wheels through a 5-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode. On the Sport, there are paddle shifters to use when you shift into manual. Needless to say, I was in manual mode most of the time and shifted away so much my fingers were tired. I surprised my wife by the relatively seamless shifts, because I’m noted for having a jerky clutch foot.

I had driven a subcompact the previous week from another manufacturer and was unimpressed by the relatively buzzy four-cylinder engine. Twenty seconds in the Fit showed me that the engine is pure Honda; it isn’t as quiet as a six, but Honda has done all it could to make the engine noise (as opposed to exhaust noise) as benign as possible.

We tried the Fit on the hill-climb portion of our road test circuit. The manual and paddle shifters were perfect for this test. On the way back we kept the transmission in full automatic, with far less pleasant results. Sure, your grey-haired grandmother would probably be satisfied, but with shifting you have more fun.

Our Fit Sport was fully equipped with all the goodies, such as air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD audio system, and full power accessories. Like the Scion, against which it will naturally compete, Honda is offering a full complement of performance equipment, like 16-inch alloy wheels, an underbody kit, sport exhaust and other look-good and ride-good accessories. Like any vehicle hoping to attract a young audience, the Fit can be fitted with an iPod link as well, so you can bring your music with you.

2006 The Auto Page Syndicate