It's only been a couple of years since Honda introduced the Fit to the U.S., but the company already has a significant update ready for the 2009 model year. No, Honda hasn't dramatically shortened its design cycles, rather, the 2007 Fit was an import of a model called the Honda Jazz in other countries. We just got a hold of it midcycle. The 2009 Honda Fit features some new body work, a little more horsepower, and some essential cabin tech. And we still think the U.S. got the best deal on the car's name.
There is a lot to like about this Fit, not least of all the immense cargo area, surprising in such a small car. We like the design touches in the front grille, which gets some angles reminiscent of the Transformers. Honda also makes a navigation system available, which we didn't have in our test car, but in a big oversight, Bluetooth isn't an option. Besides the cabin tech, what interested us most about this little car was the fuel economy.
Test the tech: Zero to 40 mpg
When we tested the 2008 Honda Fit, we put it to timed 60-mph runs because it was the Sport version. At more than 11 seconds for its best time, we decided acceleration wasn't the car's forte. Our 2009 Honda Fit was also the Sport version, but with this one, we set out to maximize its fuel economy.
We took the car on a drive from San Francisco southbound ending up at the coastal city of Seaside, then back home. For most of the trip, we were on fast freeways, with speed limits of 65 mph. While starting off on this trip, we decided our challenge was to keep the economy meter above the 40 mpg mark as much as possible, without dropping much below the posted speed limits. The first section, along a hilly freeway, was difficult--we could coast on the descents, but had to hit the gas for the ascents. Even with this terrain, the average economy climbed, edging up past the 30 mpg mark.
A run over some flat land boosted our economy even further, but then a particularly mountainous section made us lose precious tenths. We practiced hyper-miling techniques, stabbing the gas pedal for a quick burst, then coasting, all the while trying to keep the economy meter over 40 mpg and our speed up with traffic. Along the coast, a good stretch of flatland, and a smaller stretch of 45 mph traffic, helped us boost the Fit's economy up past the 36 mpg mark. We were well past the EPA highway rating and started thinking we could achieve 40 mpg as our average.
At our turnaround point, the Fit broke 37 mpg, but its upward progress had slowed. Had it hit its plateau? We faced the same economy-killing mountain pass on the way back, but took advantage of as much coasting on the downhill side as we could. We opted for a flatter route back into San Francisco, but still had to maintain freeway speeds. We fought for every tenth past 39 mpg, feathering the gas peddle to urge the Fit past its wind resistance. At 39.8 mpg we thought it wouldn't go any higher, but then traffic slowed down a bit. We took advantage of 60 mph speeds, and watched our average fuel economy tick over 40 mpg, still 20 miles short of San Francisco. During the rest of the trip, we urged it even higher, getting it up to 40.3 mpg.
In the cabin
Honda did some nice work on the cabin for the 2009 Fit, giving it an impression of quality, if not luxury. The seats get a soft fabric and the cabin switchgear generally feels solid. Some parts hint at 1980s hard plastic, but they are mercifully few. One thing the Fit excels at is cargo space. With room for four in the cabin, there is still space in back for seven grocery bags. Put the back seats down, which they do very easily, and you've got so much cargo space you'll be looking at the outside of the car to see if it's gotten bigger.
Although our test car didn't have the navigation option, it is available, a nice tech feature for an economy car. Having used Honda's navigation systems in many other models from the company, we have little doubt that it would work equally well in the Fit. What Honda hasn't added is a Bluetooth phone system, a common feature in its Acura cars.