Thoughts on the Fit

2007 Honda Fit Sport photographed in USA.
Image via Wikipedia

As the proud owner of a Honda Fit, I have had 7 months to evaluate it in lots of different scenarios.  I have a pretty active lifestyle.  I do triathlons, go fishing with my 2 kids, have family over 400 miles away that I visit occasionally, and lots of other work-a-day chores I do as well as the basic commuting and grocery getting.  I have to say that the Honda Fit has handled admirably in just about every situation I have put it up against.

When I first got it, I was worried because it felt a bit squirrely in the handling and braking.  It also seemed to get knocked around a bit at highway speeds by big trucks and high winds.  I have to say now that this was probably my driving skills needing to be adjusted due to being in a 4500 pound, 4 wheel drive truck for 3 years.  More than anything, I just needed to lighten up my input in steering and braking because the Fit is so much more responsive.  Since it is also lighter, it feels like it is floating a bit through tighter corners or emergency handling.  But even though it “feels” like it is going to lose traction, it doesn’t.  Also, it turns so much quicker I really had to adjust my braking and entry points to corners (I know this sounds like a race car, but it’s not.  It’s something we all do, we just don’t think about it) because if you turn the wheel, it goes!  I still think the rear brakes could be a bit better, but for everyday driving, they are fine.

The car is, as advertised, cavernous.  I have used it now to haul 2 triathlon bikes and all our other equipment at the same time on a nearly 500 mile (one way) trip.  It did a fine job.  I have also used it to haul 8 foot 2 X 4s, wood trim, bags of sand and cement and lots of other cargo and it does fine.  I do wish the carpet/flooring in the cargo area was a bit tougher or more sturdy.  My triathlon bike fork wore a hole in it just rocking back and forth as I drove.  I fixed this by putting a pad under the fork, but still, it should be tougher.

As for long trips, it does much better than one would think.  Don’t get me wrong, the Honda Fit is a VERY small car.  But it is comfortable, fairly well thought out and bigger on the inside than it’s diminutive profile belies.  Besides the long trip to the triathlon, I have also taken the family on a two hour trip (one way) in it and, while the kids are in much easier irritation range to each other than in the mini van, we were all comfortable.  This past weekend I had to go on a long emergency trip to see a family member and was fine in it.  It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.  Actually, it’s kind of impressive.

What I like:

Interior layout- I like the controls.  They are simple and work like they are supposed to.  The there are plenty of cupholders.  The setup of the rear cargo area is awesome.  The seats are comfortable and the armrest is nice (although it gets in the way if you get the standard transmission and shift a lot).

Cargo space-  WAY more than you think.  Much more versatile than other, bigger cars.

Economy- 35 city, 42 highway… love it.

Handling- Although it took me a while to get used to it, I like the responsiveness and ability to corner.  Not what I expected in a tiny car like this.

Engine- Yes, there is road noise/engine noise.   But for as tiny as this engine is, it does a nice job of accelerating.  Is it V-8 power?  Absolutely not.  But I don’t want that.

What I would change: (These are nitpicks, really.  But I had to say SOMEthing…)

Cupholders- The number of cupholders is great.  But the locations bug me.  There is one cupholder in the dashboard to the left of the driver (and one on the right side for the passenger).  GREAT idea.  But then they put the vent right behind it.  So when you have a drink that is bigger than a tall mocha… it blocks the airflow.  This also heats up or cools down the drink.  There are two cupholders just forward of the shifter in the console but they are tucked back so far under the dashboard that you can’t get bigger drinks in them or you have to tilt/spill them to get them out.  The other two cupholders are beside/behind the driver in the console.  Makes them hard to reach and I “think” they were actually designed for the REAR passengers.

Climate control- I think the fresh air vent plumbing runs right through the heart of the engine, because if it is even slightly warm outside, turning on the vent blasts hot air into the cabin and it NEVER cools down.  The A/C is WEAK and takes a while to cool the interior down.  To the point that in the owner’s manual they even make the suggestion to turn the airflow on recirculate at first so that you are not cooling down outside air but re-cooling the inside air to get it cooler faster.  This works fine unless it is humid or raining, at which time turning on recirculate just turns the interior into a rainforest and fogs up the windows.  More A/C umph, please, Mr. Honda

Tinted windows- This should at least be an option.  I would have paid the extra $$ for it in a heartbeat.  With your interior choices limited to any color you want as long as it is black, tinted windows would go a long way to helping the weak A/C.

Back brakes- Disk.  No question.

Stronger materials- Whether to save on weight or cost, Honda chose some pretty flimsy materials in certain spots (like the cargo bed).  Don’t give me a versatile little car and then expect me not to use it.  Toughen the hide a little.

Compass/outside temp guage- I think this feature is even standard now on Vespa Scooters.  Why don’t we get one?  I know, yes, if I had gotten the navigation system, I would have.  I don’t need the navigation system.

Gearing- First gear is narrow (you either have to wind up the RPM or shift before you get across the intersection…) and fifth gear is geared too high.  At 70 mph on the highway the car runs at nearly 3500 rpm.  Drop that to 3000 rpm and you would have a much quieter ride and less vibration.  I don’t care if I have to shift more.

In all, this is still a great car and I made the right decision.  I would be picky about any car and even had little gripes about my beloved truck (besides the 12-14mpg…!).  Honda got this car right and most of the negative stuff I have read about it is by people who just bought the wrong car for their needs.  I’m lovin’ mine and the best part is pulling up at the pump at the same time as just about any other car and being done with my fill up and back on the road before they even finish pumping.  But still being able to go as far as they do between fill ups.

The only thing that remains to be seen is how my dinky little car handles in cold and snow.  I’ll let you know next spring!

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