Test Drive: Honda Fit Sport

Honda Still Makes it Simple

With the speed of innovation in the auto industry, most new cars have a shelf life of only a year or two before the competitors have come out with something better.? The Honda Fit is one of the rare exceptions that has stayed at the top of its game and is still one of the best compacts on the market.

That?s actually pretty amazing considering some of the impressive new competitors like the Ford Fiesta, Mazda2 and Hyundai Elantra that debuted in the last year.

After comparing notes on the 2011 Honda Fit Sport we both agreed it might not be the latest and greatest, but it does everything so well, it?s a hard car to beat.

The Fit is a good example of the old Honda advertising slogan, ?We make it simple?. ?Choices are easy — base, Sport or Sport with Navigation.? Do you want the five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission?? Pick one of seven colors for the outside and you automatically get a gray interior.? That?s it.? What could be simpler?? No games or long lists of options, we think this is a smart way to do business.

Just because it?s simple doesn?t mean the Fit is hollow, on the contrary, each Fit includes all the available safety equipment including the six airbags, stability and traction control, several brake enhancements and Honda?s Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure.

Seating is more upright like sitting in a chair as opposed to sitting low like in a sports car with your feet out in front.? The rear seat has plenty of space for two full-size adults, but three should be very good friends.? The 40/60 split rear Magic Seat? rear seat backs fold easily to create a flat space increasing cargo capacity from 20.6 cubic feet to 57.3 cubic feet ? we?re talking crossover-like space here.

There is no skimping on those ?must have? features either like power windows, keyless entry, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt and telescoping steering wheel and a couple of dozen more.? The Sport model does have a few other goodies like paddle shifters for the automatic transmission, a better audio system, larger 16-inch tires on alloy wheels, a security system and some cosmetic enhancements that make it look a little nicer.

Of course, there is only one front-wheel drivetrain with the two transmissions.? The engine is pure Honda, a 1.5-liter SOHC four-cylinder with the i-VTEC? valve train that gives this small engine its high revving capabilities to a red line of 6800 rpms.?? Thanks in part to the car?s light 2,500-pound weight, the 117 horsepower engine feels more powerful than the numbers indicate.? Fit makes the traditional 0 to 60 mph run in a very respectable 8.3 seconds.? The EPA says our test car with the automatic transmission should get about 27 mpg in city driving and 33 mpg on the highway.? We actually averaged 31.2 mpg.? The manual transmission version has the same EPA rating.

The Fit has a distinctive European car feel thanks in part to its demure size, tight 34.4-foot turning radius and the high-revving engine.? The paddle shifters for the automatic transmission enhance the sporty feel.? We have driven the manual transmission Fit in previous tests and were impressed by the tight linkage and smooth clutch action.

Now comes the good part?the Honda Fit in base trim is only $15,100 plus a $750 destination charge.? The Sport is $1,760 more.? The automatic transmission adds $800.? If you want the Sport, with automatic and the navigation system, which is our favorite, the price is $19,990 including the destination charge.

We are not the only ones that like the Honda Fit, Car and Driver magazine has named it one of its ?10 Best Cars? for the last five years.

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