- Excellent steering and maneuverability
- Upmarket interior
- Astonishing cargo and back-seat space
- Secure, substantial feel on the road
- Good crash safety relative to rivals
- Unimpressive highway fuel economy
- Tall, stubby design is still far from sexy
The all-new 2009 Honda Fit’s appearance might not be pulse-quickening, but with a peppy fun-to-drive character, an astonishing amount of interior space, and a high-quality feel throughout, it’s close to the perfect affordable small car.
The 2009 Honda Fit, a small five-door hatchback and Honda’s lowest-priced U.S. model, has been completely redesigned for 2009. The new Honda Fit is about the same length and width as the standard Honda Civic was when it was last offered in the U.S. as a three-door hatchback (the 2000 model year), yet the five-door Fit is significantly roomier inside due to its tall, upright body style.
The Fit’s proportions make it look more like a scaled-down minivan in some respects, but that’s an indication as to why the five-passenger hatchback has such a spacious interior. The new 2009 Honda Fit gets a more aerodynamic, better-detailed look than the outgoing model on the outside. The windshield has been angled forward, and the roofline flows more smoothly as a result; complementing that is a pair of character lines that run from the snout through the grille and hood. Small side windows ahead of the front doors aid visibility.
Inside, the rakish windshield yields a vast expanse ahead of the instrument panel that translates to an airy feel in front. The instrument panel itself in the 2009 Honda Fit is anything but basic in appearance, with a swoopy, offset two-tiered appearance. The sound system and climate controls are angled toward the driver, along with the navigation screen if so equipped, and the mix of textured and matte-metallic plastic surfaces, along with simple but sturdy upholstery and trim, gives the impression of higher quality than other cars priced in the same range.
“Big on the inside” is how Honda describes the interior. That’s an accurate assessment, as there’s plenty of headroom throughout and a very space-efficient seat design in back. The so called Magic Seat now folds flat by lifting a single lever and pushing the seatback forward, with no need to remove rear headrests in the process; back-seat space are surprisingly commodious, with enough headroom and legroom in back for adults, and the cargo floor is especially low for easy loading and an impressive 20.6 cubic feet of EPA cargo room. Attention to details helps make the 2009 Honda Fit feel all the more space-efficient; there are now two glove compartments (upper and lower), along with many useful storage compartments and cubbies in the center console, dash, and doors, and plenty of cupholders.
The front-wheel-drive Fit is powered by a 1.5-liter, i-VTEC four-cylinder engine that produces 117 horsepower. Performance is quite peppy with the standard five-speed manual and satisfactory with the optional five-speed automatic, which returns up to 29 mpg city, 35 highway. Though the 2009 Honda Fit is a little slower and noisier with the automatic, it actually gets better fuel economy as such; and Fit Sports with the automatic get paddle shifters alongside the steering wheel to aid control on curvy roads.
Steering and handling is a strong point for the 2009 Honda Fit; at low speeds Fit’s electric power steering and quick ratio lend a very responsive, tossable feel and parking ease, and the well-tuned suspension is firm yet absorbent. Despite the tall body and rather light weight, the Fit holds the road confidently at 80 mph, with surprisingly little engine and road noise.
The 2009 Honda Fit is offered in two primary specifications: Fit and Fit Sport. The base Fit comes with air conditioning, power windows, locks, and mirrors, and an MP3-compatible CD sound system, along with a telescopic steering wheel. The Fit Sport gets larger 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, keyless entry, a security system, and USB connectivity for the sound system, along with sporty cues throughout. A package adding the navigation system and electronic stability control is available on the Fit Sport.
The 2009 Honda Fit has not yet been crash tested, but it has an improved, more crashworthy ‘ACE’ body structure, according to Honda, and the outgoing Fit has been one of the best-performing small cars in tests from the federal government and IIHS. Side airbags and side-curtain bags are standard, along with anti-lock brakes. Electronic stability control, a feature that’s rare among inexpensive small cars, is now optional, though oddly only with the navigation system.