2011 Honda Fit First Look

Versatile and Surprisingly Large Subcompact

2011 Honda Fit Sport Side

Honda's Fit five-door subcompact hatchback is apty named: you'll be surprised at just how much stuff you can fit into the car when the rear seats are folded down. Then again, drivers new to the Fit might not expect a subcompact car to drive as well as this Honda. Automakers have renewed their interest in the compact and subcompact segments, suggesting that Honda will soon have to increase the competitiveness of the Fit. For 2011, though, the Honda Fit is for the most part ready to challenge the Nissan Versa and Ford Fiesta as well as incoming entries like the Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent.

The 2011 Fit is more fun to drive than other subcompacts and is also larger inside than most of the vehicles in its class. Pricing for this rewarding driving experience is on the high side for the subcompact class. Currently, a 2011 Fit carries an MSRP of $15,850 including the destination fee, or less than $1000 under the base price of the new 2012 Civic DX sedan.

The 2011 Fit -- called the Jazz in some markets -- only offers one engine and bodystyle for the U.S. market. The five-door hatchback is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 117 horsepower at 6600 rpm and 106 pound-feet of torque at 4800 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the base Fit and Fit Sport trims, while the five-speed automatic is the only available transmission on the Fit Sport when equipped with the navigation system. Yes, that's right, a navigation system on a compact car, and Honda isn't the only player to offer this high-profit option.

The base Fit gets more standard features for the 2011 model year. Importantly, Vehicle Stability Assist becomes standard on all Fits for 2011. Cruise control, remote entry, and a USB audio interface are also new to the base Fit model in the 2011 model year. The 2011 Fit Sport new receives carpeted floor mats as standard and there are four new colors: Alabaster Silver Metallic, Polished Metal Metallic, Celestial Blue Metallic, and Vortex Blue Pearl.

Official fuel economy numbers for the Fit lag behind others in the segment. The base Fit with an automatic transmission is rated 28/35 mpg city/highway while all other Fits get a 27/33 mpg rating. You might find higher EPA fuel economy numbers on other subcompact cars, but the Honda excels in real-world driving. In a recent Motor Trend comparison test, editors observed the real-world fuel economy at 35.4 mpg, far above the Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris in the test, cars with higher EPA numbers. As the saying goes -- your mileage may vary.

That comparison test also featured a new 2011 Ford Fiesta. In the end, it was the Honda Fit that won first place. The Fit was among the noisier cars in the test, and was the worst riding, as well. With the five-speed automatic transmission, the Fit Sport accelerated from 0-60 mph in 10.2 seconds, on par with the Toyota Yaris but behind the Nissan Versa and Ford Fiesta.

So what earned the Fit first place? The story starts with the handling that editors say was "kart-like enough to make it the offering here voted most constantly entertaining." Excellent outward visibility all around was another plus, and the Fit Sport with an automatic transmission includes paddle shifters. The Fit's turning circle is just 34.4 feet.

The "gee whiz" feature of the 2011 Honda Fit is no doubt the so-called "magic seat." Honda moved the small fuel tank from beneath the rear seat to under the front seats. With the fuel tank out of the way, Honda's Fit has a nearly flat cargo floor and a cabin that is better than most at accommodating tall objects. Behind the rear seats, there is 20.6 cubic feet of space and a cavernous for the segment 57.3 cubic feet behind the front two seats.

Many consumers aren't comfortable with smaller cars, thinking they aren't safe. In crash tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2010 Fit received five stars (out of five) in the front driver, front passenger, and side driver tests. Four stars were given for the side passenger and rollover categories. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Fit a "good" rating on the front and side impact tests, and "acceptable" for the roof strength test.

When you want basic transportation in a subcompact car, consider a Nissan Versa. If, on the other hand, you wouldn't mind a bit of driving fun in a versatile subcompact, the Honda Fit is a solid choice.

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