Honda Fit, compact, responsive, efficient

2011 Honda Fit 2011 Honda Fit Photo Credit: Honda

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The 2010 Honda Fit lives up to its name because it fits just about anywhere you can legally park it and all of my family's gear fit inside it, as well. The Fit was a good fit for my family of four.

My test car was the upper trim level, the Sport. It accelerated quickly, turned smoothly and stopped abruptly. My only beef with this lil' darling was its standard five-speed manual transmission. It really needed a 6th gear for highway driving. At 70 mph, it sounded like the engine was all revved up and yearning for relief. The air conditioning could've used an extra boost, too. In the steamy summer heat, it seemed like it was on some cruel energy-saving rotation, blowing out cool air for a few seconds and then not-so-cool air. The Midwest's humidity may have just been too much for the Fit.

This five-seater is a good fit for those watching their pennies. The base model starts at $14,900 and the Sport trim starts at $16,410. My test car had a sticker price of $19,010.

Exterior

With its tiny wheels, the Fit looks anything but tough. The Sport trim gets 16-inch wheels, while the base model has smaller 15-inchers. The Sport trim's standard fog lights and rear roof spoiler added a certain sportiness to my Milano Red-colored five-door test car. However, these efforts to toughen up the Fit's look reminded me of the times my kids attempted to be bigger than life.

It turns out the Fit was just the right size for my kids. They were able to easily open and close the doors, step into their booster seats and buckle themselves in. What a relief to not have to walk around the car opening and closing doors for everyone.

The boys also were thrilled that their scooters and gear fit easily into the Fit's cargo area, and all my groceries snuggled into the same cargo space. I didn't even have to toss any items into the front seat. A bulky stroller won't fit as easily in the cargo area, however, and may require dropping the second-row seatbacks. This won't work if you're traveling with two kids. If you only have one kid, the backseat is split 60/40 and depending on the stroller, the expanded cargo area could work to hold your kid's gear.

If you need to carry something tall in the Fit, the second row's seat cushions lift up to create a large space that could hold a kid's bike. Of course you can't do this and haul your kids at the same time.

Fuel economy is predictably fantastic with the Fit. It gets an EPA-estimated 27/33 mpg city/highway, but as I drove about town, I easily averaged 37 mpgs easily. With the optional five-speed automatic transmission, the Fit gets 28/35 mpg. Regular gasoline will satisfy the hunger cries coming from Fit's 117-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine.


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Sense and style

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times

Interior

With a starting price of nearly $15,000, the Fit's interior isn't what anyone would call luxurious, but it mostly worked. There was a lot of hard plastic and cheap fabric used throughout the cabin, but I can't say I was surprised to see it.

From the driver's seat, I liked the simple layout of the center stack with the climate-control dials stacked almost vertically near the driver. However, I didn't like that I needed to press a button a hundred times to tune the radio; dial controls, which the Fit didn't have, are so much easier to use.

While the seat upholstery was too downscale for my tastes, the driver's seat was comfortable with firm cushioning. However, both the driver and front passenger seats weren't very adjustable. The Fit doesn't have a center console, but thankfully there is a fold-down armrest for the driver.

In the front passenger seat, my hubby had plenty of legroom and headroom. He found the seating to be comfortable and appreciated the in-dash cupholder. There's also one on the driver's side. There are two more cupholders behind the gearshift and another two behind the parking brake, closer to the second row. There are also bottleholders in each door, which means a total of 10 drink holders. That's about all the Fit has for storage. Honda did manage to carve out some storage slits on either side of the parking brake between the front seats, and there's the glove box, of course. There's also a hidden cargo area on the underside of the backseat's seat cushion, but its inconvenient location guarantees that it won't be used too often.

The Fit can seat five people, with room for three in the backseat. However, I wouldn't put an adult in the second row's middle seat unless I really didn't like that person.

It's the little things that count

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

Safety

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The 2010 Fit received the top score of Good in front, side and rear crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It received the second-best score of Acceptable in the rollover crash test.

The Fit has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the backseat's outer seating positions. The anchors sit under slits in the seat fabric and are easy to get to. Two tether anchors sit on the middle of the seatback in the outer seating positions. A third is in the ceiling, which is not a great location. When in use, the tether strap will block the driver's rear view or it could lead to problems if the cargo area is fully loaded.

My boys' booster seats fit well in the Fit. While the seat belt buckles are floppy, my boys didn't complain about them when buckling up. A forward-facing convertible also fit well in this car because the rear seats recline. However, to get a rear-facing convertible or infant-safety seat to fit in the second row, the front passenger seat needs to be moved forward significantly, enough so that a 5-foot-8-inch passenger's knees were touching the glove box.

The Fit comes with standard antilock brakes, front-wheel drive, active front head restraints and six airbags, including side-impact airbags for the front row and side curtains for both rows. An electronic stability system with traction control is a $1,850 option.

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