By KBB.com Editors
Honda made a name for itself by building small, frugal and reliable hatchbacks. Yet, as the company grew, so did its cars. Larger models, with trunks, soon came to symbolize the Honda brand, leaving many to predict the death of the Honda hatchback. Not willing to concede the youth market to Scion and MINI, Honda returned to its humble beginnings by creating the five-door Honda Fit. Although this entry-level hatchback is priced slightly higher than most of its competition, the Fit nevertheless offers an ample supply of features, versatility and, above all, that unbeatable Honda resale value. Given a major makeover for 2009, the Fit continues to see strong sales across all demographics, proving Americans will buy hatchbacks so long as they offer the right blend of style, fun and efficiency.You'll Like This Car If...
Those looking for a small car with good fuel economy, excellent reliability ratings and a spacious rear seat will find much to like in the 35-mpg Honda Fit.
If the bottom line is your top priority, you'll find roughly comparable and economical substitutes for much less. The Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Aveo and Kia Rio5 all offer similar fuel economy yet are priced thousands of dollars below the Fit.What's New for 2009
The all-new 2009 Honda Fit has a smoother aerodynamic look, a more powerful engine and a new interior design. The base and Sport trims return but come standard with larger wheels and are available in new colors. The Sport trim is now offered with satellite navigation and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA).Driving It Driving Impressions
Superb handling is what really stands out with the 2009 Honda Fit. It's no sports car, but we found the Fit rather agile, thanks in part to the added body rigidity and, on the Sport trim, the rear stabilizer bar. Despite the horsepower increase from the previous generation, it seems the Fit still struggles on moderate inclines, but proves eager when it comes to accelerating on the freeway or darting across intersections. The paddle shifters in the automatic Sport trim make downshifting for passing a snap, but the short-throw shifter of the manual adds to the driving fun. Compared to many of its competitors, the Fit's driving dynamics feel more refined and confident. In-cabin noise is fairly quiet for a sub-compact and, overall, we found the Fit to be comfortable, with adequately bolstered seating and easy-to-reach climate and audio controls.
The available touch-screen navigation system is easy to use and makes the Fit an even more versatile commuter-car package.
Standard in the Sport trim, the Fit can now accommodate portable audio players and USB storage devices which can be controlled via the car's audio system.
In typical Honda fashion the Fit's interior blends visual appeal with real-world practicality. Caffeine fanatics will love the ten beverage holders, and a multitude of storage spaces provides places to stash small items such as cell phones, breath mints and empty coffee cups. Overall interior space is impressive for this class, with ample headroom and legroom both front and rear. Honda's "Magic Seat" may take some liberties in its name, but we must admit it's a pretty neat trick for the rear seat to fold flush without having to remove the headrest. With the rear seat folded down, the Fit offers up a respectable 57.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity, more than either the Nissan Versa or Kia Rio5, for example. The front passenger seat also folds flat, which gives enough space for items up to seven feet, nine inches long.
It may have the same basic shape as the first-generation model, but look closer and you'll find the 2009 Honda Fit is actually a bit bolder and rounder than its predecessor. This new look is more aggressive, with sharper-angled headlights and a super cab-forward design. Its tall roof line and large windows give the driver greater all-around visibility as well as a vast amount of headroom for all passengers. Also, with a wider track and longer wheelbase than before, the Fit provides even more room for five passengers and their belongings.Notable Standard Equipment
The base 2009 Honda Fit includes a five-speed manual transmission, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power door locks and windows, 15-inch wheels with full covers, 60/40-split second-row Magic Seat with under-seat storage, 160-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system with four speakers and an auxiliary input jack. Safety features include dual front airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD).Notable Optional Equipment
One trim up is the Sport, which includes a security system with remote entry, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a six-speaker sound system with USB audio interface and, with the automatic transmission, paddle shifters. Exterior upgrades include an underbody kit, a roofline spoiler, fog lights, rear stabilizer bar and 16-inch alloy wheels. The Sport trim can also be ordered with Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and navigation. An automatic transmission is available for both trims.
The 2009 Honda Fit has a 1.5-liter engine, which Honda revised by incorporating a more advanced i-VTEC system. The i-VTEC varies the intake and exhaust valve events, which in turn enhances performance while still achieving good fuel economy and low emissions. The Fit comes in two different flavors: Manual and automatic. The automatic version uses a three-mode system: A normal drive mode; a sport mode, which holds off shifting gears for maximum performance; and a manual mode, which allows the driver to shift gears with the paddle shifters.
1.5-liter in-line four
117 horsepower @ 6600 rpm
106 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/33 (manual, sport automatic), 28/35 (automatic)
The 2009 Honda Fit has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $15,000 with the five-speed manual. Models equipped with the automatic transmission add about $800 to the base price. The MSRP for the Sport trim starts closer to $17,000 and a fully loaded model with Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and navigation tops out around $19,000. To get the best deal, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price price to see what consumers in your area are currently paying for the Fit. As for residual values, we expect the Fit to be on par with the Toyota Yaris and Scion xD, but better over time than the Chevrolet Aveo5, Nissan Versa and Kia Rio5.