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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2009 HONDA FIT SPORT REVIEW


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MORE: Honda Specs, Comparisons, Prices - Honda Buyers Guide
MORE: To A More Perfect Honda Fit

HEELS ON WHEELS: 2009 HONDA FIT SPORT REVIEW

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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE 2009 HONDA FIT VEHICLE
When micro or economy cars first came out, they were likened to clown cars – a bit silly, but surprising able to cram a bunch of bodies inside. Now the new rage due to fluctuating gas prices (and a fluctuating economy), mini-mobiles likes the Honda Fit are in and more retro than ever before. It's hip to be small.

I drove a 2009 Honda Fit Sport with a 5-speed automatic 117-horsepower 1.5-liter engine. Seating five with five doors (including the rear hatchback), it came with paddle shifters, a voice-recognizing navigation system, 6-speaker audio system, MP3 or USB playback capability, programmable auto locks, rear window defroster, rear spoiler, and fog lights. At no extras, total price came to $19,630.

The selling point for economy cars needs to be an attractive retro look, and while the Fit isn't as cool as a Mini Cooper or possess the brand status of a VW Rabbit; the spoiler, bright cherry-red color and generally attractive shape gave the Fit a passable amount of sleekness.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Call me weird, but I really love the steering wheel – it's aerodynamic, it's ergonomically correct, and has quality covering material. The Fit has a very high-performing air system and defrosts fast. There is no power seating, but the lumbar support in the seating is amble and I was comfortable for my weeklong drive. The second row is squishy for passengers, but folds down easily with enough room to fit a table saw (I know because I fit one). I would have liked a sunroof. The rear spoiler adds zip. In general, it feels larger inside than you'd think.

Reliability & Safety Factor : The Fit remains to be a highly reliable vehicle in Consumer Report's reporting. The fit comes with front and driver airbags; electronic brake distribution (EBD); anit-locking brakes (ABS); vehicle stability assist (VSA); and LATCH system for children. It scored excellent in front and side crash and very good in rear side crash and rollover. (Just don't go getting in collision with anything bigger than a Smart Car).

Cost Issues: There are many competitors (and many are first-year new), but the only other economy hatchback that comes to my mind in terms of equal or better reliability, features and cost is the Subaru Impreza Outback Sport for $21,640. If you want a better deal than $19,630, you'll have to rely on dealer rebates because the Fit's cannot be further broken down – there are no extras on this price; navigation is included.

Activity & Performance Ability: It's surprising a little tough to see over the hood. The 117-horsepower 1.5-liter 4-cylinder is somewhat loud, but it's confident – the acceleration onto the highway was bold for its engine size. A rear Torison suspension beam does it's best to absorb bumps in the road, but you'll feel them. Responsive brakes – Hondas stop on a dime. There are a lot of new economy hatchbacks on the market that do not yet have a scoring history.

The Green Concern: Hands-down great gas consumption at 27-mpg city and 33-mpg highway for an average of 29-mpg. That beats the Impreza's 2.5-liter that garners 23-mpg. The Fit has a Global Warming score of 8 (10 is the cleanest).

FINAL PARTING WORDS
For under $20k, it's a more affordable economy hatchback than many competitors, like the Toyota Prius, VW Rabbit or Mini Cooper Clubman. You might feel is has less retro charm – but know you'll get over it because you favor a history of high reliability verse looks.

MORE: Honda Specs, Comparisons, Prices - Honda Buyers Guide
MORE: To A More Perfect Honda Fit

©2008 Katrina Ramser