- 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.
2009 Honda Fit
The 2009 Honda Fit's new clothes don't fit quite right, but the Fit does show that true beauty is on the inside.
Subcompact cars in the United States are still a bit eye-catching due to their relative rarity, but other than that, there's little to keep bystanders staring at the 2009 Honda Fit.
Honda's redesigned 2009 Honda Fit is "a subcompact four-door hatchback available in two trim levels: base and Sport," according to reviewers at Edmunds. Compared to the 2008 Honda Fit, Motor Trend finds that the latest model is "longer by 2.2 in., wider by 1.4 in.," and "longer in wheelbase by 2.0 in.," though it is still among the smaller cars on the road today. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that most are less than impressed with the new styling on the 2009 Honda Fit. Jalopnik describes the new 2009 Honda Fit as "more bulbous, less of a bullpup and more of a breadvan." Reviewers at Motor Trend highlight some of the major changes for 2009, which "include larger front quarter windows, larger, shapelier headlights, and sportier body-kit-like moldings." Despite those sporty cues, the 2009 Honda Fit doesn't come across as a speed machine.
The interior of the Honda Fit is also redesigned for 2009, and this side of the Honda Fit fares somewhat better with reviewers. Jalopnik reviewers first notice the "abundant blue LEDs at important marks" on the instrument dials, yet they lament the "poorly integrated but functional" navigation system. ConsumerGuide reviewers are impressed with the "high mounted, handy, and clearly marked" audio controls, as well as "rotary climate controls [that] are stacked to the right of the steering wheel and are easy to reach and use." Car and Driver also mentions that the interior seems much improved over the 2008 Honda Fit, reporting that "Honda went for refinement...from a dynamic, interior, and styling standpoint."
2009 Honda Fit
The 2009 Honda Fit still offers a comfortable ride and can be fun with the five-speed manual transmission.
The last generation of Honda Fit wins abundant praise from reviewers for its surprising performance and high fun-to-drive factor. Despite having a more powerful engine for 2009, the second-generation Honda Fit doesn't quite match its predecessor in the performance department.
All models in the 2009 Honda Fit lineup are powered by 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that Car and Driver says gets a "modest power bump to 117 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque," compared to the 2008 Honda Fit's 109 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. Honda's little four-cylinder is capable, but it has to move a bit more Honda Fit than before, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that it doesn't offer quite as exciting a driving experience. ConsumerGuide notes the Honda Fit is "adequate around town," but "highway passing takes patience." Jalopnik reviewers feel that the "adequetastic 1.5 liter" is "sufficient for its class." Motor Trend observes that the new engine offers "higher peak power and a much flatter torque curve," but Cars.com still findsit offers just "modest acceleration."
The 2009 Honda Fit comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission but, notes Edmunds, "a five-speed automatic is optional." Edmunds adds that "on Fit Sports the automatic comes with manual shift control via steering-wheel-mounted paddles." Reviewers find little to fault with the manual and paddle-shift automatic, but most indicate that the standard automatic is unremarkable. Cars.com notes that the standard automatic "isn't apt to kick down unless you give the pedal a good jab—even when in Sport mode," which leads Jalopnik to deem the transmission "merely decent." The manual gets much more love, however, as ConsumerGuide claims the "Fit feels livelier with the manual," and Cars.com adds it "is well-matched to the new engine's power band." The paddle-shifting automatic is the real standout, though, and ConsumerGuide says it "keeps the transmission in a lower gear than in normal mode for faster throttle response."
The small 2008 Honda Fit, with its low-displacement engine, offers impressive around-town fuel economy, but experts at TheCarConnection.com expect better performance on the highway. The EPA estimates that manual-transmission Honda Fits and Honda Fit Sports with the automatic will get 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The base Honda Fit with the five-speed automatic fares slightly better, with EPA estimates of 28 mpg city and 35 mpg on the highway.
Reviewers are still impressed with the way the 2009 Honda Fit handles, though some feel that it has lost a step. Edmunds calls the Honda Fit "highly maneuverable and a great urban runabout," but one Car and Driver reviewer "[notices himself] struggling to find that special something [he] used to love in flooring it, steering it, and halting it." On the positive side, Car and Driver does praise the brakes, which "have lots of feel and never seem overwhelmed," and Cars.com mentions that "the electric power steering has decent feel."
2009 Honda Fit
Comfort & Quality
Despite its size, the 2009 Honda Fit can haul everything and the kitchen sink—in surprising comfort.
The 2009 Honda Fit is designed to make the most of its tidy exterior dimensions, and it offers impressive passenger and cargo room.
The interior of the 2009 Honda Fit is spacious enough to seat five passengers comfortably. Cars.com reports that the Honda Fit's "interior size belies its exterior dimensions," since "at 6 feet tall," reviewers there "had substantial headroom surplus, and legroom was good enough that [they] had to inch the driver's seat forward a bit to get full extension on the clutch pedal." Edmunds also notes that "taller drivers will be more comfortable," thanks to a "standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel [that] has made the driving position far more agreeable." ConsumerGuide finds the front "seats themselves are comfortable," and is even more surprised by "how much rear seat room there is in such a small vehicle." ConsumerGuide claims that rear seat "headroom and legroom are more than adequate for adults, even with the front seats fully rearward." Edmunds agrees, remarking that "an extra inch of rear legroom makes it pretty hospitable in back, too."
Cargo space is one area where the 2009 Honda Fit truly shines. The versatile Honda Fit earns high praise in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com for its overall functionality, which, ConsumerGuide declares, "is Fit's forte." Edmunds elaborates that "if the rear seat is folded completely flat, the Fit can provide 57.3 cubic feet of cargo space," which is "considerably more than last year's 41.9 cubic feet." ConsumerGuide says "the rear seatbacks easily fold flat to provide a large, cubic storage area," while "the front seatback can be folded flat to accommodate long, narrow items" as well. One feature that generates a lot of buzz among reviewers is the so-called Magic Seat, which Edmunds reports "can be configured in a variety of ways" and allows for "the rear seatbacks [to] fold completely flat with just the pull of a lever." The cabin of the Honda Fit is brimming with space as well, and Jalopnik claims the "nook-and-cranny factor has been expanded, with lots of little compartmentlets and even a small top-secret hidden stashbox under the rear seats." In addition, Jalopnik proclaims the Honda Fit "will hold the hell out of your cups, with ten receptacles provided for that purpose alone."
Another area where the 2009 Honda Fit excels in relation to its competitors is fit and finish. ConsumerGuide says "nothing comes off as being cheap" inside the Honda Fit, and "the overall look is par for the subcompact course." Cars.com also praises the "generally high-quality interior" and "pretty upscale" look, especially on the Honda Fit Sport. Motor Trend reviewers aren't particularly surprised by the nice finishing touches on the Honda Fit, since "if there's a company that sweats the details, it's Honda."
The 2009 Honda Fit also offers a moderately well-insulated cabin. However, Cars.com reviewers note there is "significant engine noise when accelerating moderately to heavily." On the positive side, ConsumerGuide does mention that "bump noise is well suppressed." Furthermore, several reviewers praise the ride, including ConsumerGuide, which assesses the new Honda Fit as "commendably solid and reasonably compliant over bumps."
2009 Honda Fit
All the early signs point to the 2009 Honda Fit remaining the safest car of its size.
Safety is a paramount concern on all vehicles, but with subcompacts like the 2009 Honda Fit, it seems even more crucial that a host of safety features is included. For the 2009 model year, the Honda Fit includes quite a few standard features, as well as one very significant option.
The 2009 Honda Fit has not yet been crash tested by either NHTSA or the IIHS, but most experts agree that the 2009 Honda Fit should perform well in crash tests once those tests are conducted. Cars.com says the Honda Fit "employs Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering," which they say is "designed to engage the crumple zones of taller vehicles optimally in a collision."
In addition to a resilient body structure, the 2009 Honda Fit offers a list of safety features that rivals any other car in its class. Edmunds reviewers say "standard safety equipment for the 2009 Honda Fit includes antilock disc brakes, front seat side airbags," and "full-length side-curtain airbags." ConsumerGuide adds that "front-seat active head restraints" and a "tire-pressure monitor" also come standard on all Honda Fit models. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that an electronic stability control system is also available. However, most reviewers, like those at Jalopnik, are disappointed to find that "the only way to get stability control" is to spring for "an optional navigation system."
Driver visibility is one of those important safety features that, for some reason, often gets overlooked by automotive reviewers. The 2009 Honda Fit is a different story, though, as virtually all of the reviews read by TheCarConnection.com praise the Honda Fit's improved visibility. Jalopnik claims "the Fit's outward visibility is amazing, obstructed laterally by only the narrowest of pillars." ConsumerGuide agrees and reports that "it's better straight back than it used to be thanks to rear headrests that retract flush with the tops of the seatbacks."
2009 Honda Fit
The 2009 Honda Fit is aimed more at those who don't like dealing with the hassle of optional features than those who prefer customizing their vehicles.
The 2009 Honda Fit has a higher starting price than most of its competitors, but it also comes nearly fully loaded.
Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that automotive experts are impressed by what Edmunds calls the "generous standard features list" on the 2009 Honda Fit. The base model of the Honda Fit includes just about all the features found on the Honda Fit Sport, including "air conditioning...tilt/telescopic steering wheel," power accessories, and an "AM/FM/CD/MP3 player," according to ConsumerGuide. ConsumerGuide goes on to report that the Honda Fit Sport adds a "leather-wrapped steering wheel w/radio controls, cruise control," and "remote keyless entry" as standard features.
Optional features are not one of the 2009 Honda Fit's strengths. In fact, Cars.com notes that "Honda's touch-screen navigation system and a USB port for accessing iPods and simple flash drives through the stereo" are the only available options on the Honda Fit. This dearth of options disappoints some reviewers, especially those at Car and Driver, who report that they are "surprised about the Fit's lack of available satellite radio and Bluetooth."