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Honda Fit, 2009: The Weekly Driver Car Review

Honda Fit, 2009: The Weekly Driver Car Review 1Now in its third year in the United States and ninth worldwide, the Honda Fit keeps getting better. For 2009, the Fit has undergone its first interior and exterior redesign. It’s all good. There’s a new four-way backseat configuration, 10 cupholders (really?), vision-improving triangular front side windows,  increases in length and width and a nifty van-like windshield position.

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Add it all up, and once again Honda has taken a good car that would have fared well without upgrades and innovation and made it more attractive. It was and remains arguably the finest entry level car in the United States.

It’s hard, though, to classify the Fit as entry level. It’s Honda’s smallest vehicle. Yet, with a price range from $13,950 to approaching $20,000 (with all options), it’s an entry level car on par with other brands priced well into the $20,000 range.

The Fit is still fit, for sure. But it’s now a more well-rounded “athlete.”

It’s hard to notice at first glance, but consider: The Fit’s wheelbase has been increased 2 inches to 98.4 inches; the overall length has been increased 2.2 inches to 153.5 inches and it’s 0.8 inches wider. And there’s more: Rear-seat legroom has gained 1.6 inches and by jettisoning the spare tire, the cargo capacity has increased by 1.5 cubic feet to 14.2 cubic.Honda Fit, 2009: The Weekly Driver Car Review 2

Again, is this the Fit or a Honda Civic? Yes, the improvements come with increased costs. I drove the five-door Sport model for a week and its price was $17,580. That’s about $2,000 more than the 2008 sport model I tested. Nevertheless, it’s still not too far off from about half of the average price of a new car in the United States.

And for the money, fit purchasers benefit from one of the most economical, efficiently constructed and versatile vehicles available.

The Fit’s sport model features a 1.5-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine with 117-horsepower (another increase) and a five-speed automatic transmission. The sport model also now includes 16-inch alloy wheels (It had 15-inch wheels in 2008.)

The Fit’s interior is efficiency defined, and it’s also been updated with a softer look and better-illuminated gauges. The five-speed manual shifter is nicely positioned and there are small, manual-shift steering wheel paddles. The controls and dials are handsome, if simple, logically configured and offer nice ease-of-use characteristics.

The best part of the Fit is its surprisingly nice drive. With its 117-horsepower engine, the car isn’t about to establish any speed records. And there’s a noticeable decrease in acceleration when the air conditioning is engaged. Yet, since it’s lightweight and efficiently constructed, the 2009 Fit moves around pretty swiftly, with 0-60 mph in about nine seconds. Cornering and maneuvering is confident at all speeds, although the Fit can’t boast of a quiet disposition.

Several manufacturers, including Honda, have new colors for 2009. Some of the choices are bold, like the “Revolution Orange” (rust?) exterior of my test Fit. The color wouldn’t normally seem appealing, but I liked it as just something different — kind of like having 10 cupholders in a not-so-small entry level car.

Safety Features — Dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, antilock brakes, tire-pressure monitor.

Fuel Mileage (estimates) — 27 mpg (city), 33 mpg (highway).

Warranty — Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/60,000 miles, Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles.

Base Price — $16,910.00

Price as driven — $17,580.00

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