Today we test drove a 2009 Honda Fit Sport from Sunnyside Honda. We arrived shortly after the showroom opened and were handed the keys for a hot red model that was on display near the door. We were mostly pleased with the sub-compact hatchback but had a few reservations. Firstly, the car has enough power for us. Acceleration off the freeway ramp and into traffic was quite adequate with the engine responding immediately to pressure on the pedal. The engine whirred loudly and we had no difficulty merging and traveling along with (even passing) highway-speed traffic. That was very important to me as I consider it a safety issue — have enough power to easily merge into fast, heavy traffic or to catapult yourself out of a dangerous situation! The ride was stiff, that is we could feel the bumps and texture of the road and, believe me, Northeast Ohio roads have a lot of texture! Steering response was excellent and perhaps the best part of the drive. At speed, cabin noise was a little higher than we're used to with our Civics but not objectionable. Travel on city streets was tolerable but a little rough and the Fit had no trouble dealing with a rather steep hill that leads into our town.
The back seats fold down very flat leaving a very large cargo bay that can carry many things, including my astronomy gear, and still leaving the front passenger seat available for occupancy. The rear hatch opens wide allowing easy access to the hold.
On the "down" side we found the cabin to be noticably narrower than that of our 1997 Civic DX. Leaning slightly to my right I was able to touch the passenger-side door with my fingertips. She and I had (literally) very little elbow room. While a stiff ride can mean good contact with the road and responsive handling, it could make for a tiring experience during a long drive over less-than-perfect pavement. And twice I bumped my right knee on the lower dashboard as I exited the vehicle. Strange because I was able to easily enter (hardly any ducking at the door edge) and felt comfortable in the driver's seat. Promised gasoline mileage is no better than the car we are planning to replace so the Fit offers us no advantage there.
Overall we liked the Fit but found it just short enough of our wishes that we are continuing to look. As Honda's own advertising indicates, this little hatchback offers great versatility for running around town; we don't think it's the best choice for longer trips, however. Actually, we're hoping to get up close and personal with the all-new 2010 Honda Insight hybrid next week! It may have the right balance of fuel efficiency and practicality –at an affordable price– for it to be "the one." We're excited to try it out!