After two untimely engine disasters—a bunk electrical system that allows my right rear turn signal to work only when my headlights are on and my foot’s off the brake; a rear hatch that opens not with key or by latch but with wire cutters—and a temperamental A/C system that blows cold according to its own schedule, my ’89 Civic Wagon and I have amicably parted ways. Its replacement: a 2011 Fit Sport. But why the Fit? After all, a perfectly good NSX rests comfortably inside of my garage collecting cobwebs that, as far as my wife is concerned, would make for a fine commuter. Perhaps it would, were it not for its mediocre fuel consumption, its missing rear seats, and a trunk that leaves room for little more than a sack lunch. After racking more than 9,000 miles onto the Fit’s odometer, I’ve drawn several conclusions about the car—some good, some bad.
Deciding to actually buy a Fit requires little brainpower. It is quintessential Honda: thoughtfully and well put together; reasonably frugal in terms of purchase price, upkeep, and fuel demands; and no bore to drive.
Thank you, Honda, but if it’s all the same to you, I won’t be needing all 10 of those cupholders. I’d much prefer just two very functional cupholders placed at arm’s length. And who’s the jackalope who decided that cupholders seven and eight—despite their square-pegged shape—even count?
I need more power. Thirteen horsepower to be exact. That would elevate the Fit to the same power-to-weight ratio as the ’90–’91 CRX Si, which was enough for me to not embarrass myself, not get a speeding ticket, and not die while merging onto the freeway.
Long gone are the days when Honda jack-points were located somewhere within the vicinity of the radiator’s underside. You can find the Fit’s just behind the engine—a good 24 inches aft the usual spot. This will bother me much more once I lower the Fit to a respectable ride height.
The Fit’s generous accoutrements, like its standard iPod/USB hookup and optional navigation system, come at a price. First of all, I can’t reach them without having to lift my lazy bum from my seat. Second, the volume/selection knob is nothing short of dated. Scrolling through any reasonably sized playlist is a chore. And don’t think for one minute that you can select songs and artists all willy-nilly in nonalphabetic order.
Forget the hybrid. The Fit nets an advertised 20 mpg worse than the Prius (real-world testing reveals a much smaller mpg gap between the two, however) yet costs about $8,500 less. You can get the Prius, though. At four bucks a gallon you’ll start saving money in approximately nine years.
Another leading publication recently named the 2011 Fit the nation’s best new-car value based on price, reliability, and overall ownership costs. You can’t argue with them. At just over $18,000, the Fit Sport includes all sorts of niceties that you wouldn’t normally expect from an $18K-ish compact, like keyless entry, foglights, and a paddle-shifted transmission (automatic only).
Keep your truck. With the passenger and rear seats tucked and folded indiscriminately out of my way, I’ve managed to shove six 2x4s into the cabin along with a 47-inch flat-screen TV and a five-gallon bucket of paint. The Fit’s unique fuel tank placement, flat floor, and fold-up seats make this all too easy.
Honda advertises the Fit’s payload at 850 pounds. I’m willing to bet that 700 pounds is more like it…if you’re into such luxuries as accelerating and being able to traverse up hills in a forward direction. Ask me how I know.
The Fit is unusually loud inside, but at well under $20,000, I’m really not going to nitpick. The truth is for everything that’s wrong with the Fit, there are at least three things right with it. No other car in its class offers this sort of visibility, cargo space, or fun per dollar.