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2009 Honda Fit, First Drive

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We've asked our many-layered friend John Krewson to take a spin in the new 2009 Honda Fit. He'll have the full first drive for us tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a taste. — Ed.
It's always been hard for me to find someone who doesn't like the Honda Fit. And what's not to like? It's earned a reputation for being nimble, thrifty, capable, and perhaps most importantly, charismatic. It might not be all that muscular, and it might be just the slightest bit IKEAesque inside, but for about fifteen grand it's hard to think of another subcompact that's quite as, well, friendly to live with. If the Fit were a transformer, it would fold out into a cheerful, helpful little brother with freckles and a turned-up nose.
Sadly, we're entering a time when tighter budgets and higher fuel costs are going to make people start hating their cars again. And they've gone and redesigned the Fit for 2009, making it a bit larger (4.2 inches longer), a tad heavier (2489 lb. with a manual vs. 2432 lb. for the old one), a dash more powerful (117 HP and 106 ft-lb of torque vs. 109 HP and 105 ft-lb) and a dollop less chunky in the midsection (less than an inch wider). So is the Fit still worthy of affection? Or is it starting to outgrow us as it grows up? Happily, yes and no. Rest assured the 2009 Fit would never desert you, and be sure and read the full review of your new best buddy tomorrow afternoon — when the 2009 Corvette ZR1 doesn't get in the way. For now, have fun with the press release.

All-new 2009 Honda Fit Big on Style and Refinement, Small on Price and Fuel Consumption Pricing starts at $14,550 with A/C, AM/FM CD player and power windows; EPA fuel economy(1) up to 35 mpg highway TORRANCE, Calif., Aug 19, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — The completely-redesigned 2009 Honda Fit is set to go on sale August 26 with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price(2) (MSRP) starting at $14,550, plus a destination and handling charge of $670, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today. The Fit Sport, equipped with additional premium features, is also set to debut with a starting MSRP(2) of $16,060, plus destination and handling. The Fit is designed to lead the subcompact segment with a quality feel and a multi-functional interior. The Fit has become more refined for 2009 with a sportier demeanor through improved suspension, steering and body rigidity enhancements; an improved rear Magic Seat(R); and a high level of standard safety equipment, including the addition of the Advanced Compatibility Engineering(TM) (ACE(TM)) body structure and front seat active head restraints. A new, more powerful 117-horsepower, 1.5-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine further improves the Fit's high-revving, fun-to-drive character. "With the all-new Fit, Honda is offering premium features and advanced technology within a high-function, small vehicle package," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda. "Customers who choose the Fit are choosing superior refinement and premium quality, along with value and economy." Dimensionally compact on the outside with an overall length of 161.6 inches, the interior provides a surprisingly spacious passenger volume of 90.8 cubic feet and a rear cargo volume of 20.6 cubic feet. The seats offer multiple seating and cargo-carrying configurations — tall object mode, long object mode and utility mode — in addition to the standard five-passenger mode. An improved rear Magic Seat provides one-motion dive-down functionality without having to remove the rear seat head restraints to folds flat into the floor, creating a rear cargo volume of 57.3 cubic feet. Dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags, dual front-side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) and side-curtain airbags are standard equipment on all models. The engine produces 117 horsepower at 6600 rpm and 106 lb-ft. of torque at 4800 rpm. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard and a 5-speed automatic transmission is available. Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters allow for manual gear selection on the Fit Sport equipped with the available automatic transmission. The Fit equipped with the available automatic transmission achieves an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) city/highway fuel economy rating(1) of 28/35 miles per gallon. The Fit with a manual transmission and Fit Sport with either a manual or the available automatic transmission achieve an EPA city/highway fuel economy rating(1) of 27/33 miles per gallon. The Fit comes with standard amenities such as air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD audio system with four speakers, MP3/WMA playback capability, Radio Data System (RDS), auxiliary audio input jack, power windows, power mirrors and power door locks. The Fit Sport adds alloy wheels, an underbody aero kit, rear roofline spoiler, fog lights, security system with keyless remote entry and cruise control. The Fit Sport audio system provides six speakers, a five-mode equalizer and a USB Audio Interface(3). For the first time, the Fit is available with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System(4) with Voice Recognition on the Fit Sport, featuring a 6.5-inch screen and more than 7 million points of interest. Models equipped with the navigation system also include Vehicle Stability Assist(TM) (VSA(R)), also known as electronic stability control. The front MacPherson strut suspension and torsion beam rear suspension settings are tuned to provide a sporty, solid and dynamic driving experience. Upgraded by 1-inch on each model, larger 15- and 16-inch wheels (Fit and Fit Sport respectively) are shod with 175/65 R15 84S (Fit) and 185/55 R16 83H (Fit Sport) tires. The standard anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake distribution (EBD) uses 10.3-inch ventilated discs in the front and 7.9-inch drums in the rear. 2009 Honda Fit Pricing Fit Transmission MSRP(2) City/Hwy./Combined(1) 5-Speed Manual $14,550 27/33/29 5-Speed Automatic $15,350 28/35/31 Fit Sport Transmission MSRP(2) City/Hwy./Combined(1) 5-Speed Manual $16,060 27/33/29 5-Speed Automatic $16,910 27/33/30 Fit Sport with Transmission MSRP(2) City/Hwy./Combined(1) Navigation 5-Speed Manual $17,910 27/33/29 5-Speed Automatic $18,760 27/33/30 Additional media information and high-resolution photography is available at (1) Based on 2009 EPA mileage estimates, reflecting new EPA fuel economy methods beginning with 2008 models. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle. (2) MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, $670.00 destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary. (3) The USB Audio Interface is used for direct connection to and control of some current digital audio players and other USB devices that contain MP3, WMA or AAC music files. Some USB devices with security software and digital rights-protected files may not work. Please see your dealer for details on compatibility. (4) Certain functions that rely on a satellite signal will not work correctly in Hawaii and Alaska. These functions include but are not limited to automatic clock updates and time zone adjustments. SOURCE American Honda

Photo Credit: Dean Chandler