2008 Honda Fit Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 12, 2008

The 2008 Honda Fit is one of the smallest cars on the road, but it’s fun to drive, huge inside, and a tremendous value.

Expert reviewers at TheCarConnection.com consulted what the most authoritative auto critics have written about the new Honda Fit to produce this conclusive review of the new Honda Fit. TheCarConnection.com editors also drove the Fit to be able to interweave our expert opinion to help you make the right decision on a new car.

The 2008 Honda Fit is the lowest-priced Honda, a subcompact five-door hatchback sedan that slots in below the Civic. The base model comes standard with air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and door locks, as well as an AM/FM stereo with a single-disc CD player. A Sport model can be ordered with 15-inch wheels, steering-wheel paddle shifters (with automatic), appearance upgrades, cruise control, and an improved 200-watt audio system.

Designed to be small on the outside, but big on the inside, the Honda Fit has a roomy, five-passenger-capable interior with signature Magic Seat layout that allows astonishing passenger comfort or cargo capability; it’s possible to carry objects as large and unwieldy as a standard-sized bicycle.

The Honda Fit comes with a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder VTEC engine developing 109 horsepower, which proves to be plenty for peppy performance with the standard five-speed manual or adequate giddyap with the available five-speed automatic transmission, driving the front wheels. High fuel-efficiency is another plus; the 2008 Honda Fit is capable of returning 34 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in city driving. The seating position is high, the beltline is low, so visibility is stellar, and the quick-ratio steering allows great maneuverability—all aspects that make it a natural for the big-city commute or places with lots of compact-only spaces. Even tall drivers will have plenty of headroom and decent comfort, and the Magic Seats allow enough space for adults in back, or a very low, flat cargo floor.

Review continues below

The Fit is up near the top of its class in safety and is much better equipped with safety features than much of the competition in the sub-$15,000 class, the 2008 Honda Fit comes with standard side curtain airbags, front-seat side-impact bags, and anti-lock brakes. The Honda Fit gets top five-star scores in the federal government’s frontal and side tests, except three stars for rear-seat occupants, and in insurance industry tests the Fit has top ‘Good’ scores in frontal offset and side protection but ‘Poor’ results in rear crash protection.

5

2008 Honda Fit

Styling

If practicality and frugality are utmost on your mind, the 2008 Honda Fit may be a "good fit" for you--but don't buy this vehicle for its looks.

The 2008 Honda Fit will probably not win any beauty contests...but then, looks aren't really the point with this vehicle.

One of the most perceptive comments found by the experts at TheCarConnection.com was mentioned on Cars.com, where the reviewer points out--quite sensibly--that the "simplest, quickest and most affordable way to improve your fuel economy substantially is to buy a smaller vehicle." The Honda Fit was designed for economy, not looks, a fact also noted by Kelley Blue Book in its comment about function over form.

That said, the Honda Fit does manage to avoid some pitfalls in the design department. Despite its attempts to look like the larger offspring of a station wagon and a minivan, it has managed to avoid a "frumpy," soccer-mom vehicle appearance. Motor Trend actually praised the design, calling the vehicle's "lines and attitude...edgy enough to steal sales" from serious competitors. Road & Track adds that the 2008 Honda Fit is showing American drivers that it's "sexy to be small."

Another issue to keep in mind here is that the designers of the 2008 Honda Fit were more concerned with interior space and comfort than outward appearance. While comfort levels are generally considered adequate (see below), the interior, according to ConsumerGuide Automotive, left a great deal to be desired with its cheap, ill-fitting materials. Nonetheless, Road & Track approved of the interior layout, calling it "fantastically well thought-out...top notch."


7

2008 Honda Fit

Performance

It's a sprightly little car, but the 2008 Honda Fit is better for fuel economy than it is for performance.

You're not going to win any street rallies in a small, four-cylinder economy car like the Honda Fit. However, for what it is, this 2008 Honda actually scores better than average in the driving pleasure department.

Road & Track reports that it's "the most fun to drive" of the three subcompacts they tested, with "sharp handling, an excellent gearbox, [and] proper heel-and-toe pedal placement." Car and Driver concurs: The 109-hp four-banger will "fling you into corners at a clip sufficient to experience a chassis so well tuned that it is one of the quickest cars ever " to go through the C/D lane-change test.

Handling and response is generally excellent for this particular 2008 Honda. Motor Trend reports that the Fit completed the slalom test at over 64 mph, an "agile go-kart handler."

Understand, however, that highway maneuvers that require sudden bursts of acceleration--passing, merging on to freeways, and so on--will require a good amount of judgment and planning on the part of the driver, because the Honda Fit is competing with the big boys out there on the automotive playground. Fortunately, the transmission compensates for this somewhat. Nonetheless, it's not a V-8, and owners should drive accordingly.

Where the Honda Fit excels is in the area for which it was designed: fuel economy. At 33 mpg city and 38 mpg highway when equipped with the five-speed manual transmission, the Fill will definitely have you gloating at the gas pump. However, the Honda Fit's fuel tank capacity is only slightly over 10 gallons, so you'll still be visiting that pump regularly.


9

2008 Honda Fit

Comfort & Quality

Keeping in mind that it is a small, subcompact economy car, you'll find that the 2008 Honda Fit does surprisingly well when it comes to a comfortable ride.

Once again, the Honda Fit's outward appearance belies its inward capabilities.

Calling it "surprisingly big inside for a small car," Kelley Blue Book reports that the 2008 Honda Fit has "room for six-footers in both rows--something that can't be said about many subcompacts" (or many mid- to full-size cars either).

Popular Mechanics agrees, stating that "the Fit can haul much more than you think you have room for"--something that Hondas have long been known and loved for. Nonetheless, TheCarConnection.com notes that the testers would have preferred a "softer freeway ride." Both Cars.com and Motor Trend had similar things to say in this regard. For what it is, though, the Honda Fit does an admirable job of carrying four full-grown adults in reasonable comfort.

Much of the ride is due to the Fit’s suspension design. Cars.com reports that MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar are used for the 2008 Honda Fit's independent front suspension, although the rear is limited to the use of a semi-independent torsion beam--a limit imposed by economics and size. The reviewer describes the ride quality as "safe and controlled," but different from that of a larger vehicle--although "technically superior to some of its competitors," such as the Toyota Yaris or the Nissan Versa.


8

2008 Honda Fit

Safety

The 2008 Honda Fit’s safety package is good, but its size and design don’t make for great passenger-side impact ratings.

Honda spares little when it comes to advanced safety features for the 2008 Honda Fit, making these available as standard offerings on the base vehicle rather than pricey options.

The Auto Channel reports that anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are also standard on the 2008 Honda Fit, as well as a tire pressure monitoring system.

TheCarConnection.com notes that the Honda Fit received consistently high marks from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The 2008 Honda Fit received five-star ratings from the NHTSA in all areas except for passenger side impacts and rollover ratings; the Fit got three and four stars respectively in these areas.


8

2008 Honda Fit

Features

The standard safety features alone are worth the extra cost of a stock 2008 Honda Fit. If you must have all the bells and whistles, however, upgrade to the Sport edition.

Valuable safety features and power locks and windows notwithstanding, Honda Fit drivers will notice the absence of small details that are taken for granted on other vehicles.

With neither lights nor locks for the glove box, front wipers with only a single "intermittent" setting, and no adjustments for the seat height and the steering wheel, the 2008 Honda Fit does lack some of the finer things in life. However, Cars.com mentions that because of all the standard features (many of which are options on similar vehicles) and its many other virtues, it's "easy to forget that you're in an econocar."

To be sure, the Honda Fit comes at a slightly higher price than its competitors, but when you consider all the safety features included at no additional charge, plus the air conditioning and power assists for the mirrors as well as doors, windows, and locks, the experts at TheCarConnection.com agree that the extra cost is worth it.

Kelley Blue Book reports that prospective owners of the Honda Fit can also choose from more than 30 different dealer-installed options that include upgrades for both the interior and the exterior. Cabin options that are included with the Sport version include a major stereo upgrade to a 200-watt, six-speaker system with playback capability for both MP3 and Windows Media files. Additional upgrades include cruise control, keyless remote entry, and padded automatic shift controls accessible from the steering wheel.


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July 6, 2015
2008 Honda Fit 5-Door HB Automatic Sport

The biggest complaint I have is that the road noise is loud and distracting.

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I have enjoyed my Fit for the easy in parking and the quick steering. The way the seats can be positioned make it possible to carry much more cargo than you would expect. I have had zero mechanical problems... + More »
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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 5.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 9.0
Safety 8.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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