2010 Honda Fit Review

The Honda Fit subcompact hit the U.S. market in 2007, but it's been sold in numerous countries since 2001, so a redesign is already coming in September for the 2009 model year. The first generation was no slouch; it joined a subcompact class that was already growing, with the Chevrolet Aveo and Scion xB and xA joining the likes of the Hyundai Accent and Suzuki Esteem (the latter since discontinued). Though the Fit's 2007 launch coincided with those of the Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris, the Fit snatched the top spot, in our opinion, thanks to its overall quality, despite strong competition from the larger, more affordable Versa.

I spent a few hours with the 2009 Fit and Fit Sport in both manual and automatic forms, and people who purchased the earlier Fit will be pleased to hear that the new one doesn't blow the old one away, but new buyers will enjoy incremental improvements in many areas, including roominess, visibility and engine power, as well as a gas-mileage bump. Among the things that haven't improved is the Fit's advertising slogan, "The Fit is go!" Maybe I'm a pedantic editorial type, but it seems to me that a word is missing. "The Fit is a go" would have worked in 2007, but it seems a foregone conclusion now. The Fit goes? Yes, it does. I was also pleased to find as early as 2007 that when you step on the brake pedal, the Fit is stop. I fired up Google's language translator hoping I could figure out if something got lost in translation, but when I punched in "The Fit is go," the Japanese came back as "???????" — my reaction exactly, and possibly a better slogan than the one Honda chose.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy is 28/35 mpg for the base model with a five-speed automatic transmission, and 27/33 mpg for versions with the five-speed manual transmission as well as for the automatic Fit Sport. You read it right: The manual is less efficient than one automatic version, whose highway figure has increased from 34 mpg to 35 mpg in the new generation. With the starting price of a 2008 Civic Hybrid at $22,600 and a 2008 Prius at $21,500 (if you can find one at that price), hybrids aren't the most accessible cars — or necessarily the most cost-effective ones in the long run, despite mpg estimates of 40/45 and 48/45 mpg, respectively.

That's not to say the Fit is cheap in its class. The starting sticker price in 2008, $13,950, has increased to $14,550. Also, because demand for small cars has risen with gas prices, their transaction prices are often higher than the sticker. Our most recent Smart Target Price estimate for the 2008 was $14,620, and because they've ceased production, the first generation is long gone in some regions. All that said, the price hasn't proved to be a deterrent.

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