Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda
Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Discuss this story in the forum at CarTalkCanada

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Despite the fact that the new Honda Fit was designed in 2001 and has been on sale in other countries for the past four years, its clever interior design is clearly more innovative than newer competitors like the Toyota Yaris, Chevy Aveo/Pontiac Wave, and Kia Rio5. The subcompact Honda Fit four-door hatchback has more passenger and cargo space than its major competitors, and its unique seats offer clever ways of carrying passengers and cargo.

Of course, there’s more to the new Honda Fit than its clever interior, but as it’s an important differentiator, let’s begin with it.

The Fit’s combination of a tall hatchback bodystyle (five-feet high) and a low cargo floor – made possible by a compact rear torsion beam suspension and a fuel tank moved forward under the front seats instead of under the cargo floor – creates a surprisingly roomy cargo area and cabin.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda
Click image to enlarge

The Fit’s passenger volume of 2550 litres compares to the Toyota Yaris hatchback’s 2382 litres, and behind the rear seats, the Fit’s cargo area of 600 litres is more than double that of the Yaris hatchback.

The Fit’s seats, called “Magic Seats”, are really quite ingenious. They can be folded in four different ways to meet different cargo and passenger requirements.

In the ‘Utility Mode’, the 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks can be folded down flat to create a loading floor up to 168 cm long. There are a few steps involved in folding down the seatbacks: the front seats must first be pushed forwards using special levers located on the top of the front seatbacks. Then, the rear seat cushions are pulled up and a support bar underneath folds flat against the underside of the seat cushion. Next, by pulling on a lever located on top of the rear seatbacks, you can fold the seatbacks down flat. Lastly, pull the front seat back to their original position. The rear head restraints don’t have to be removed because they fit underneath the front seats. It sounds complicated, but it’s easy to do after a couple of tries.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda
Click image to enlarge

In the ‘Tall Object mode’, objects up to 128 cm tall, such as bicycles or plants, can be stored vertically behind the front seats. To create this space, you flip up the rear seat cushions and fold up the support bar against the seat cushion to lock them in place.

In the ‘Long Object mode’, the right front seat can be folded flat. Combined with the right rear seatback folded flat, the Fit offers a load length of 240 cm on one side of the interior. On the other side, the driver and two rear passengers can also be transported.

Lastly, in the ‘Refresh mode’, both front seatbacks can recline almost flat creating a kind of bed. It’s not really intended for camping, but if you want to pull over by the side of the road and have a nap, it’s quite handy.


Interior impressions

For an “economy” car, the Fit’s interior is quite sporty. My Sport model had the leather-wrapped steering wheel with ‘metal’ accents and cruise control buttons on the wheel spokes; metal trimmed round gauges with blue backlighting, and metal trimmed radio and centre console also with attractive blue lighting.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda
Click image to enlarge

The Sport model has grippy, contoured front buckets upholstered in an interesting combination of dimpled fabric inserts and black soft velour. While the seats are attractive, comfortable and supportive, I noticed the black velour collected lint and dust very quickly and would need cleaning on a regular basis.

In the centre console, the high-mounted radio is easy to reach and adjust. Its stylish volume button is surrounded in a circular design by buttons for other radio functions such as radio or CD selection, AM/FM, Sound, Display and Auxiliary functions. Pressing ‘Sound’ allows you to adjust the equalizer for EQ Normal, Bass, Treble, Fader, Balance, and SPC Low, Mid or High. There are also large buttons for Scan, Tune, and CD Skip and FF, RW. It’s all very user-friendly, but frankly, I wasn’t overly impressed with the sound quality of the 200-watt stereo.

The Fit’s simple three-dial arrangement for the heating/air conditioning system is also very easy to use, and heats up the interior very quickly. I also noticed the fan was very quiet. As well, all the dials have a very nice feel when turned or pushed – it’s typical of a Honda to feel more expensive than it is.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda
Click image to enlarge

One complaint about the controls: the wiper has a fixed intermittent wiping time, rather than a variable time, and during light rain, I found myself turning the wipers off and on rather than leaving it in the intermittent mode.

The lower centre console has some handy storage compartments – a rectangular box with a 12-volt outlet and i-Pod auxiliary input, a slot beside the centre handbrake, and a small box behind the handbrake. There are also two cupholders with mug grips in the centre, a cupholder at the rear of the centre console, and bottle holders in the doors. On the dashboard to the left of the driver is an open storage bin for coins or garage door openers, and in front of the passenger is a slot for pens or coins. The glovebox is unusually large, and there are also door pockets front and rear.

A rear wiper with a washer is standard equipment on the Fit, and it’s very useful for removing road grime and dew that accumulates on the almost-vertical rear window. However, the rear wiper does not have an intermittent wipe setting, so unless it’s raining heavily, you can’t leave it on for too long or it starts rubbing on the dry glass.

A couple of complaints about the interior: on the front passenger side, there is a bulge in the floor under the right front passenger seat where the fuel tank is. This can interfere with the passenger’s feet. As well, a privacy cover for the cargo area is optional all trim levels.

Standard safety equipment is class-leading though: two front ‘dual-threshold’ airbags, two seat-mounted side airbags (with front passenger seat occupant detector), and two curtain airbags to protect the heads of front and rear passengers in side impacts. Government crash test scores aren’t available yet, but Honda R&D predicts the Fit will get five stars for the driver and passenger in NHTSA frontal crash tests, and four stars in side impact tests. Honda also predicts ‘Good’ ratings in the IIHS offset frontal and side impact crash tests. During the vehicle’s introduction, Honda showed a Fit that had collided with a much heavier Honda Ridgeline pickup truck in a controlled frontal offset crash test similar to the ones done by the IIHS. The Fit’s passenger compartment was mostly intact.


Driving impressions

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda
Click image to enlarge

Though a short car, the Fit is tall, and all four doors are quite large making it easy to get in and out. The seats are raised and the driver sits up tall almost like in a kitchen chair. I wasn’t perfectly comfortable in the driver’s seat because I had to pull the seat closer to the steering wheel in order to reach the pedals because my legs were pointing down instead of ahead. This is a common problem with raised seats.

The Fit has abundant headroom for front and rear passengers, and a surprising amount of legroom for rear passengers. But it’s a narrow vehicle, so the rear seat is best for two adults even though it has three seatbelts and three head restraints.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda
Click image to enlarge

I was impressed with the Fit’s outward visibility. The driver sits up high, the cabin is tall and the windows are large. There are small triangular windows in the front A-pillars which really help when making 90-degree turns in underground parking lots. In addition, the centre rear head restraint is smaller and lower than the other two head restraints allowing unobstructed rear visibility, and a third side window on the passenger side helps when lane-changing.

The Fit’s engine is surprisingly quiet and smooth for a 1.5-litre four cylinder. With 109 horsepower available at 5800 rpm, it revs freely while going through the gears, and even while cruising at 3000 rpm at 100 km/h in fifth gear, the engine is still very smooth and quiet. What’s even more surprising to me about this engine is how much torque it has. 105 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm is nothing to write home about, but its VTEC variable valve timing provides it with more low-end torque than I expected. There’s sufficient pull in fifth or fourth gears when climbing grades to maintain speed, and around town, the manual shifter can be left in third gear much of the time.

The manual shift knob has a round knob with soft rubber that’s easy to grip, and a retro rubber boot cover surrounded by bright metal trim. I found the shifter easy to shift, but the shift lengths are a bit long. Clutch pedal effort is light.

The Fit’s fuel consumption is excellent: City: 7.3 L/100 km (39 mpg Imp.), Hwy: 5.8 L/100 km (49 mpg), not quite as good as a Yaris, but close. Regular gas is recommended, but the Fit doesn’t have a locking gas cap or locking filler door.

A five-speed automatic with little paddle shifters behind the wheel is optional on the Sport model. Using the paddles means quick and easy shifts, but it’s sometimes difficult to pull on the paddles when the steering wheel is cranked over. The five-speed automatic does a good job of shifting automatically, but the paddles get boring after a while. I would recommend buying the manual transmission if you want to shift manually. By the way, the Fit is the only subcompact with a five-speed automatic transmission, and the only one with paddle shifters.

For a small car, the Fit has a comfortable highway ride: the suspension (front MacPherson struts/rear torsion beam) is firm but not jarring over potholes, and handling is nimble without too much lean. However, on windy days I noticed that the Fit’s tall body was buffeted by side winds.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda
Click image to enlarge

The Fit Sport’s standard 195/55R-15 inch Bridgestone Turanza all-season tires offered good all around performance in dry and wet conditions. I found its electric power steering light and accurate, and the brakes (front disc/rear drum with standard ABS and EBD) are well up to the task of hauling down this lightweight hatchback. On dry pavement, the Fit stops in 44 metres from 100 km/h, according to Honda.

The flat blade wipers look odd. On the driver’s side, the blade is twice as long as the passenger’s wiper, but both do a good job of clearing the windshield for the driver except for a small unwiped patch in the upper right corner of the windshield.

In the Fit Sport, be careful when parking where there are concrete curbs. The Sport model’s low front air dam can easily be damaged on those concrete barriers you find in most outdoor and indoor mall and grocery store parking lots.


Pricing details

The base 2007 Honda Fit DX starts at $14,980, and for that you get some unexpected standard equipment such as side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes (front discs/rear drums), power windows with driver’s automatic down feature, 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks with unusual versatility, front seatbacks that fold flat for resting, tilt steering column, tachometer, rear wiper/washer, an auxiliary audio jack, and a 160 watt AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers.

The base DX also includes a standard 109-hp 1.5-litre 4-cylinder SOHC 16 valve engine with VTEC, a 5-speed manual transmission, dual-threshold front airbags, five head restraints, electric power steering, and 175/65R14-inch tires with steel wheels. A five-speed automatic transmission adds $1,200 to the price.

The mid-level Fit LX, likely to be the most popular model, starts at $17,180 and includes all of the above standard features plus air conditioning, power door locks, power mirrors and 2 more speakers.

Test Drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport car test drives honda
Click image to enlarge

My test car was a top-of-the-line Fit Sport model with a base price of $19,480. To the LX, it adds 195/55R15-inch tires and alloy wheels, fog lights, front spoiler, side sills, rear sill, rear roof spoiler, 200 watt AM/FM/CD MP3/WMA-capable stereo with equalizer and tweeters, cruise control, keyless entry, and immobilizer security system. Sport models are available with an optional 5-speed automatic transmission with unique steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters for an extra $1,300.

There are some optional accessories I’d recommend too: a cargo cover for $235 (this should be standard), floor mats $162, block heater $158, locking wheel nuts $87, and touch-up paint $6.

An option package on the Sport model with the manual transmission is “The Car Buff” package which includes 16-inch tires and alloy wheels, special grille, sport muffler, sporty shift knob, silver dash trim and door panels for an extra $2,496. The Fit Sport with the automatic transmission offers a similar option package without the sport muffler for $1,927. The Car Buff package brings the Fit’s as-tested price to between $22,000 and $23,000 plus Freight, PDI and taxes, totalling around $25,000 when all is said and done. Personally, I think the Car Buff package is unnecessary: the regular Fit Sport is sporty enough.


Verdict

The 2007 Honda Fit Sport adds a little style to what is probably the most practical small hatchback on the market. Honda Fit highlights are a roomy interior and cargo area and a fuel-efficient and quiet engine. Dislikes include no variable intermittent wipers, no intermittent setting for the rear wiper; no locking gas cap, and no standard privacy cover.


2007 Honda Fit Sport

Click on these Autos links to see more information about the Honda Fit and its competitors:


Technical Data: 2007 Honda Fit

Base price DX $14,980
Base price LX $17,180
Base price Sport $19,480
Freight $1,225
Type 4-door, 5-passenger subcompact hatchback
Layout transverse front engine/front-wheel drive
Engine 1.5-litre 4-cylinder, SOHC, 16 valves, VTEC
Horsepower 109 @ 5800 rpm
Torque 105 @ 4800 rpm
Transmission 5-speed manual (5-speed auto DX, LX; paddle shifters Sport)
Tires 195/55R-15
Curb weight 1124 kg (2478 lb.)
Wheelbase 2450 mm (96.5 in.)
Length 3999 mm (157.4 in.)
Width 1682 mm (66.2 in.)
Height 1524 mm (60.0 in.)
Passenger volume 2550 litres (100.4 cu. ft.)
Cargo volume 603 litres (21.3 cu. ft.) (rear seats up)
  1186 litres (41.9 cu. ft.) (rear seats down)
Fuel consumption City: 7.3 L/100 km (39 mpg Imp.)
  Hwy: 5.8 L/100 km (49 mpg Imp.)
Fuel type Regular unleaded
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km
Powertrain Warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km
Assembly location Suzuka, Japan

Connect with Autos.ca