Safety

The new Fit hasn't been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the first generation scored well in all but the rear-impact test. That might improve with the addition of active head restraints to the front seats in 2009. Though we won't know until the 2009 is tested, Honda's crash-test track record has been excellent. The Fit incorporates the Advanced Compatibility Engineering structure that's designed to make Honda's small cars more compatible in crashes with higher-riding vehicles (and vice-versa). Standard safety equipment includes six airbags, with frontal, side-impact torso bags for the front seats and side curtains for the front and rear. The passenger's torso bag is designed to deactivate if the occupant is out of position — leaning too close to the side where it deploys.

The good news is that the Fit Sport offers an optional electronic stability system. The bad news is that the base model isn't eligible for the stability feature, and it comes bundled in an option package with a navigation system for the Sport. I hate seeing safety options tied to non-safety features — especially one this important with one presumably this expensive (prices not yet announced).

The Fit also goes farther than any other small car in pedestrian-protection provisions, with impact-absorbing hood, fenders, bumper and other parts. I don't know how important this is to the buyer, but it would be pretty important to the pedestrian — or to any driver who ends up responsible for his medical bills.

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