Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
2007 Honda Fit LX automatic. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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With the recent introductions of the 2007 Nissan Versa, Suzuki SX4, and redesigned Hyundai Accent, the small hatchback class is getting very busy in Canada. This class also includes the popular Toyota Yaris, Chevy Aveo, Pontiac Wave and Kia Rio5, but of all the subcompacts introduced in the last year, the Honda Fit seems to be attracting the most attention. The main reason, as I see it, is its innovative interior design and unique seating/cargo options, but the Fit is also a surprisingly sporty car to drive while offering terrific fuel economy. And for a small car, its standard safety features are impressive: six standard airbags (2 front, 2 side, 2 curtain), standard ABS, and a five-star crash test rating in NHTSA’s 35-mph frontal crash tests. And it’s the only subcompact to offer an optional five-speed automatic transmission.

Our test car this week is a mid-level LX model with automatic transmission and standard 14-inch tires and steel wheels. The LX has a base price of $17,180 with the five-speed manual transmission, and $18,380 with the five-speed automatic transmission. Our test car had no options except the autobox, and including $1,225 for destination and PDI charges, the as-tested price came to $19,605 (plus taxes of course).

Pricing and standard equipment

Before we get to our driving impressions, let’s review what you get for the money: 2007 Honda Fits are available in three trim levels: DX ($14,980), LX ($17,180), and Sport ($20,780).

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
2007 Honda Fit LX automatic. Click image to enlarge

Standard equipment on the base DX model includes the aforementioned six airbags, 109-hp 1.5-litre SOHC four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission, P175/65R14-inch tires, rack and pinion steering with electric power assist, front disc/rear drum brakes with ABS and EBD (electronic brake distribution), tachometer, intermittent front wipers, rear wiper/washer and defroster, ‘Magic’ seats, AM/FM/CD stereo, auxiliary input jack for iPods, power windows with driver’s one-touch down feature, five cupholders, 12-volt power outlet, and tilt steering wheel.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
2007 Honda Fit LX automatic. Click image to enlarge

The LX adds air conditioning, two more speakers, power door locks and power mirrors.

The Sport adds P195/55R15-inch tires and alloy wheels, a 200-watt stereo with MP3/WMA compatibility and six speakers, front fog lights, rear spoiler, side and rear skirts, keyless remote, leather wrapped steering wheel, and anti-theft alarm. In the Sport only, the optional five-speed automatic transmission includes paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
2007 Honda Fit LX automatic, with rear seats in “utility” mode. Click image to enlarge


Interior impressions

As mentioned, one of the most appealing features of the Honda Fit is the versatility of its seats and cargo area. The Fit’s seats will fold in four different ways for different purposes.

The ‘Utility’ mode allows the 60/40 split rear seatbacks to be folded down flat without removing the rear head restraints. To do this, you first have to slide the front seats forwards – that’s not as awkward as it seems because there is a lever on the top of the front seats that can be reached from the rear. After the front seat has been slid forwards, another lever on top of the rear seatback allows you to fold it down flat and level with the cargo area. The front seat can then be pulled back (from the rear) covering the lowered rear head restraint in the process. In this configuration there is 1186 litres (41.9 cu. ft.) of cargo space behind the front seats and the loading length is 168 cm (66 in.). The Fit has a very low cargo floor, due in part to the position of the fuel tank under the front seats rather than under the rear floor, and a compact torsion beam rear suspension.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
2007 Honda Fit LX automatic; rear seats in “long object mode” (top), “refresh mode” (middle) and “tall object mode,” (bottom). Click image to enlarge

The ‘Long Object’ mode allows long objects up to 240 cm (95 in.) long to be stored inside the car with the rear hatch closed. To do this, the right rear seatback is folded flat, then the right front passenger seatback is folded backward 90 degrees to lie flat on top of the lowered rear seatback. This is great for things like carpet rolls, lumber, closet doors..even skis. However, long objects that are wet or dirty will stain the seats. A temporary plastic cover might be a solution.

The ‘Refresh’ mode allows the right rear passenger to ‘put their feet up’. After removing the right front head restraint, the front passenger seatback is folded back 90 degrees, allowing the rear passenger to put their feet up and relax. This could be useful at a rest stop during a long trip.

Finally, the ‘Tall Object’ mode allows cargo up to 128 cm (50 in.) tall, such as a bicycle, to be stored behind the front seats. The rear seat cushions flip up against the rear seatbacks with a simple pull. Once again, this tall space is made possible by the extremely low floor and tall roof.

The Fit’s interior volume is roomier than all but the new Nissan Versa, and for a small car it feels surprisingly spacious inside. All four doors are big and make entry and exit easy. The seats are raised, providing upright seating positions that might take some getting used to if you’ve been driving a regular sedan. There’s plenty of headroom, and the large windows add to the ‘open’ feeling.

The quality of the interior materials is above average. The two-tone front seats have durable cloth fabric seat inserts and soft velour seating material with excellent side and thigh support. Though it’s not height adjustable, the driver’s seat is tall enough that it shouldn’t pose any visibility problems for shorter drivers. I liked the Fit’s small, thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel, attractive round gauges with blue and white backlighting, and simple radio and heater controls.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
2007 Honda Fit LX automatic. Click image to enlarge

I didn’t like the single intermittent wiper setting – variable would be much better, and I had an issue with the shift lever: it goes from ‘D’ to ‘D3′ without pressing a release button. This is good if you want to manually downshift while driving, but it’s easy to shift into D3 by mistake when starting off, and realizing later that you’ve been running in third gear for some time. Another quibble: while there are lots of little open storage cubbies, there is no centre armrest and storage bin. And while I’m quibbling, I’ll mention the bump on the floor near the right front passenger seat that’s presumably there because of the fuel tank.

The Fit’s rear seat is only wide enough for two adults, but there is plenty of headroom and legroom, and it’s easy to get in and out. There are three rear seatbelts and three rear head restraints, so you can legally transport three people back there.

To access the cargo area, the rear hatch lifts up easily and provides a large opening. The cargo area behind the rear seats is 603 litres (21.3 cu. ft.), bigger than most of its competitors.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
2007 Honda Fit LX automatic. Click image to enlarge

The cargo floor and seatbacks are lined with a fabric liner, however the cargo walls are hard plastic which can be scratched. One glaring omission: a cargo cover is not standard equipment, and an optional cover is $242.

A note about safety: while the NHTSA gave the Fit five stars for the driver and front passenger in frontal crash test, in side crash tests, the front seat passenger received five stars but the rear seat passenger got only three stars, even with all those airbags. Still, overall that’s impressive for a subcompact vehicle.


Driving impressions

The Fit’s step-in height is low, but the driver sits tall in the saddle with great visibility in all directions. I liked the little triangular side windows – they really do help when making tight turns in a parking lot. The rear window is large and unlike most sedans with a high trunk and poor rear visibility, the Fit has excellent rear visibility for parking or reversing.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
2007 Honda Fit LX automatic. Click image to enlarge

The centre rear head restraint is positioned lower so as not to obstruct the driver’s rear-view vision. As well, there’s a rear wiper and washer for keeping it clean. The rear window is right at the rear of the car, so judging the distance to the next car is easy. My only complaint is that the rear wiper doesn’t have an intermittent setting.

Even with the standard 14-inch tires, the Fit is a sporty car to drive. The electric steering is very responsive, and the car really goes where you point it. Despite being a tall vehicle, it doesn’t lean very much, and handling is nimble. The ride is firm without being harsh, and the front disc/rear drum brakes are powerful, a function at least in part of the Fit’s low 1143 kg (2520 lb.) curb weight (with automatic transmission).

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
2007 Honda Fit LX automatic. Click image to enlarge

It would be great to add the optional 16-inch tires and alloy wheels, but that costs an additional $1,384 for the wheels plus the cost of 16-inch tires. Apparently, the 15-inch tires found on the Fit Sport aren’t available on the Fit LX.

The five-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly, and is generally superior to the four-speed automatics I’ve experienced in its competitors (I also like it better than the CVT in the Nissan Versa). Despite the 109-hp 1.5-litre engine’s small size, the Fit’s performance is snappy – due in part to Honda’s VTEC variable valve timing, four-valve per cylinder layout, high-revving nature, and the car’s lightweight curb weight. According to test data provided by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), the 2007 Fit with a five-speed manual transmission accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.4 seconds, and from 80 to 120 km/h in 7.2 seconds – you can expect the automatic model to be a little slower. And if you have a full load of passengers and cargo on board, I would expect the Fit to strain a bit heading up hills. Still the Fit’s performance is comparable or better than its major competitors. AJAC braking tests revealed a stopping distance of 43.5 metres (143 ft.) from 100 km/h to 0 km/h, about average in its class.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit LX Automatic car test drives honda
2007 Honda Fit LX automatic. Click image to enlarge

Fuel economy is very impressive, with a rating of 7.8 L/100 km (36 mpg Imp.) City and 5.6 L/100 km (50 mpg Imp.) Highway with the automatic transmission. With the manual transmission, it’s 7.3 City/5.8 Hwy.

Though I was impressed with the Fit, I found some of the options pricey: cargo privacy cover $242; cargo net $92; floor mats $168; engine block heater $158; keyless entry $233; 16-inch alloy wheels $1384 (not including tires); and front fog lights $545. The total price can add up quickly if you want a few extras.


Verdict

A small car with a lot of interior room, versatile seating and cargo arrangements and above-average safety equipment, the 2007 Honda Fit is both sporty and economical, but can get pricey if you want a few extras.


Pricing


Specifications

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