Friday, May 13, 2011

Honda sedan is a good Fit for some buyers

Sacramento, California – I’ve always ranked the Honda Fit near the top of a blizzard of compact sedans introduced in recent years, and the 2011 Fit gives me no reason to change that thinking.

The nicest surprise: They don’t call it the Fit for nothing. Despite its small-car look from the outside, the interior can be configured to hold a serious amount of cargo – nearly 15 percent more than a Nissan Versa, for example.

The hard numbers are 90.8 cubic feet for five passengers and nearly 21 cubic feet in the rear cargo area. Fold down the back seats, and cargo space jumps to nearly 60 cubic feet. That’s pretty impressive for a car this size, although three backseat passengers might feel a bit pinched on a long drive.

My Fit tester was the top-level Sport model with navigation system, starting at $19,240. Drop down four trim levels to the base model with a five-speed manual, and the manufacturer’s suggested retail price drops down to $15,000 and change.

Fuel mileage on the tested Fit was a feel-good 27 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, yet the 1.5-liter, in-line 4 engine with 117 horsepower handles most chores admirably. That would not include steep uphill climbs, however, where you really have to sink your foot into the accelerator to get the job done.

And when you’re doing those deep accelerator exercises, the engine sounds like it wants to come back through the firewall. That’s not entirely surprising for a bargain-priced, small-engine gas-sipper.

What I did like were super-long lists of safety and interior features, including some perks you don’t expect to see in this class. Sexy, 16-inch alloy wheels added some spice on the outside, and Honda seems to have gone to great lengths to offer Fit exterior color options bright enough to turn heads from a block away.

Color names are right out of the Vegas Strip Hotel Lobby Handbook: Alabaster Silver Metallic, Polished Metal Metallic, Celestial Blue Metallic and Vortex Blue Pearl. Nothing boring there.

The interior comfort was mighty fine, and the Fit’s steering had a just-right firmness to it, making me feel totally control of the relatively small car even as I was dicing with the big boys in freeway traffic.

Looking for an affordable, first new car or a starter car for your young family?

This Honda might be the perfect Fit.

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