NEWS CARS

2007 Honda Fit Sport

Over the years, we’ve been reluctant to put small, inexpensive cars into long-term service, for one simple reason: It usually takes forever to rack up the 40,000 test miles we need. It’s not that we have a hard time getting the troops to drive these cars. it’s that we have difficulty getting troops to take them on long journeys.

By its nature (limited size, limited space, limited power), a subcompact becomes tedious when the journey goes much further than commuting. historically, that has been the case, but the perception is eroding. The basic transport car has become something not so basic, less a confined penalty box, more an all-season, all-distance ride.

Reading: 2007 honda fit review car and driver

The Honda Fit, now in its second year on our Top 10 Cars list, is a compelling example. we received a fit sport in june 2006, and the fit’s odo passed the 40,000 mile mark in july 2007. more than 12,000 of his miles were accumulated during trips of more than 500 miles, from ann arbor to destinations as diverse as cherry valley, new york; bone fell, florida; and Winnipeg, Manitoba; as well as some 4500 miles as a staff vehicle from a tour of america and a five month 7800 mile stay with our man bedard in arizona. Twenty different states and two Canadian provinces appear on the Trim Fuel Registry.

Don’t get us wrong: we can’t say that the responses to the attack during these heroic journeys were pure joy. for example, there were some who found the fit not quite a fit. 6-foot-5 Dave Vanderwerp found “front-end headroom is tight,” about 10 percent below comfort for someone with his personal specifications, and others noted that the absence of a column Telescopic steering (a feature Honda will be adding to the 2009 Fit) made it difficult to achieve an optimal driving position.

but overall comfort wasn’t an issue, and the fit garnered plenty of positive reviews for its performance on the road. Vanderwerp said, “It works well on the highway, no problem keeping up with 80 and 90 mph traffic.” Like most, he was also impressed by the agility of the fit: “It feels light on its feet, playful,” an impression that was cemented when he took it to an autocross on a frozen lake near Saginaw, Michigan, and finished second in class. . the only negative comment concerned the car’s sensitivity to crosswinds, a function of its light weight (2,448 lbs.) and high profile.

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One area where reviews of the fit received consistently awed praise was the ability to swallow amounts of cargo and/or people that seemed almost magical, given the small exterior dimensions. Occasional contributor Mary Seelhörst referred to it as “Harry Potter’s tent: it looks small on the outside, big on the inside.” another chronicler said his “first impression of the interior was, ‘what kind of crazy witchcraft is this?'” even vanderwerp was happy: “with the front seats pushed all the way back, i can still sit comfortably in the second row, and there’s It’s still a big cargo area with all the seats in place.”

As with other Hondas we’ve tested over time, the trim’s powertrain operational grade was a plus. the routine service stops, six over the course of her stay, were just that: routine. a simple oil change for some, oil and filter changes, and a tire rotation for others. There were also two unscheduled, non-powertrain related service calls: one for a heater issue and the other for a factory recall to reprogram an airbag controller.

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performance of the fit’s 109-hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine was much the same at the end of the test as it was at the beginning: 0-60 mph in 9.0 seconds, the quarter mile in 16.8 in 81 mph: It’s not an exciting ride, but it’s adequate, and enhanced by the five-speed manual’s crisp gears and the car’s eager responses.

More importantly, the fit lived up to its economic billing. EPA fuel economy ratings on our test car’s window sticker were 33 mpg city and 38 highway. The EPA has since tweaked their ratings, and a 2008 eligible sports car with a manual gearbox is 28/34. Our average for 40,000 miles was 33 mpg. This is our best long-term fuel economy since a 48-mpg Honda Insight hybrid, and the trim offers much more utility, as well as a higher fun-to-drive rating.

Though solid in its fundamentals, the adjustment was not without its annoying quirks and glitches. For example, even though this was the sport deluxe model and came with a 200-watt am/fm radio, air conditioning, power windows and locks, and 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, floor mats weren’t part of the deal. . We operate in a four-season climate, and nasty stuff gets dragged into our test cars, so we decided to buy the factory floor mats ($99). They came with four pages and two instruction templates, and installing them was a lot more complicated than just fitting them into the footwells. very little deep

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There were complaints about the shrill screeching of the windshield wipers on the upstroke and the rumbling of the roof during heavy rain, “like being in a can,” said Patrick Bedard. At about 10,000 miles an irritating dash rattle materialized, though it largely dematerialized as time went on. In the early winter of 2006-7 it became clear that the heater was not getting very hot, but it turned out to be a simple matter of adjusting the control linkage, done free of charge under warranty. A bigger problem, and one that we never really solved, was the air conditioning. In really hot and humid weather, with the air conditioner running at full speed, ice would form on the line from the condenser to the evaporator, reducing the already marginal production to almost nothing. The system seems to be inadequate in a car with so much glass, although the Fischer Honda service guys at Ypsilanti have not found this problem on other trims.

mitigating this is the adjustment’s exceptionally low operating costs. Our fuel bill came to $3418 and scheduled maintenance came to $358. Brake wear was negligible. Replacement cost for original tires (P195/55-15 Dunlop SP 31 All Season) would be $388 including mounting and balancing. Ours only had 19,000 miles on it, because we used a set of great Nokia Hakkapeliitta snow tires ($544) during the winter months. Based on our measurements and calculations, the original tires would have worn out at 40,000 miles, so we included the replacement cost of the tires in the general bill, which was (including maintenance, normal wear and fuel) $4,164. and that results in an operating cost per mile of about 10 cents. it’s hard to think of another car that offers so much utility and fun for so little money.

dave vanderwerpacura-grade gauge cluster, expensive-feeling radio and climate control buttons, and light-effort shifter feel out of place in a car this cheap .

patrick bedardbig static when i get out of this car, lightning strikes my fingertips. poor choice of seat fabric I would say.

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Paul WrightI’m six feet tall and the headroom is amazing. a real estate agent would indicate that the setting has a cathedral ceiling.

mark gilliesapart from it being such a nice car to drive what impresses me is that after 40,000 miles in our loving hands it feels as tight as a walnut and the materials have held up so well.

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mary seelhÃrstcan’t get comfortable in the driver’s seat for long-distance driving. When I push the seat back as far as I’d like to allow leg room, I struggle to reach the steering wheel, which doesn’t adjust in and out, only up and down.

mike austindrove the fit to winnipeg and back for a holiday weekend. two 18-hour days and the seat was still comfortable.

jared gallstill can’t believe how much space there is within the fit, what a perfect name. everything fits inside, and the car fits anywhere.

Car Accident Kit: All too often, people involved in car accidents find themselves trying to record pertinent information (the other person’s insurance company, address, phone number, etc.). license, etc.) on the back of a business card that is later lost. the document kit is designed to alleviate this post-mishap problem. There are no splints or tourniquets here (although there will be five Band-Aids in the 2008 kits; our sample was a 2007 one), but the neat package (7.5 by 4.5 by 2.0 inches) includes an accident report form, a camera with a reusable flash Loaded with 400 ASA color film, a mini flashlight and battery, a pen, a 77-inch tape measure, and even a whistle. Several insurers, as well as AAA, provide the kit to their customers. if yours doesn’t have it, it’s available for $14.99 through www.docudentusa.com (888-221-1340).

Portable vacuum: Battery-powered mini vacuums aren’t new, but the bagless dyson root 6 is, and we can report that this one really sucks. Dyson claims twice the power of other handhelds, with no dips in performance as the job progresses, since there’s no filter to start clogging the moment you start vacuuming. A couple of attachments—one with a brush for loosening things like ground potato chips, another for reaching into tight nooks and crannies—add to the vacuum’s usefulness, and a hatch on the bottom of the clear collection container makes it easy to dispose of dirt. a 21.6-volt lithium-ion battery provides longer use between charges and recharges faster than batteries in other portable devices, according to the manufacturer.

At $149.99, the root 6 isn’t cheap, but it offers an exceptional combination of power and wireless freedom. Anything that can extract a quarter pound of cookie crumbs from Quiroga’s keyboard and 19 dead hornets from Swan’s old Ford pickup is worth it. Available from major retailers or direct from Dyson (www.dyson.com).

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