Apart from the Fit's driving dynamics (which we'll address on the next page), one of its strongest assets is its amazing interior. While there are a few reminders that you are driving Honda's lowest priced model, it's difficult to find fault with the interior. With few exceptions, materials are of a very high quality, the ergonomics are superb, and tactile feedback is top notch. Seat comfort also ranks very high, whether you're perched in the front seats, or on the 60/40 split rear Magic SeatŪ.
The Fit casts a relatively tiny shadow - it's within millimeters of cars like the Scion xA and Chevy Aveo, yet its interior seems impossibly cavernous. With a passenger volume of 90.1 cu. ft., the Fit rivals that of the roomy 2006 Civic Sedan (90.9 cu. ft.). With the rear seats up, cargo volume remains an astounding 21.3 cu. ft, more than doubling that of many of its competitors: Scion xA (11.7 cu. ft.), Chevy Aveo (7.1-11.6 cu. ft.), Toyota Yaris (9.32-13.7 cu. ft.), and Nissan Versa (13.8-16.9* cu. ft) and comparable to the cargo volume of a Honda Element.
How does Honda achieve this? First of all, you can't help but notice that at 60.0 inches tall and 66.2 inches in width, the Fit is a tall, narrow box. At an overall length of only 157.4 inches, the 96.5 inch wheelbase pushes the wheels out to the corners, freeing up volume inside the car for passenger and cargo space. Another trick that Honda used is the midship location of the 10.8 gallon fuel tank - you'll find it under the front seats rather than at the rear of the vehicle. This (along with the compact torsion beam rear suspension) allowed Honda to implement the amazing Magic SeatŪ. The Magic SeatŪ is one of the key features that sets the Fit apart from its competitors and apart from a standard 60/40 bench configuration, it offers four unique modes to maximize utility: Utility Mode, Tall Mode, Refresh Mode, and Long Mode. The video at the bottom of the page explains each of these modes, but in brief, the utility mode is the standard mode where both seatbacks are flipped forward, leaving a flat cargo floor from the rear of the Fit all the way to the front seatbacks. In tall mode, after being folded forward, the rear seats are flipped back along with the lower rear seat cushion, leaving a tall (90cm) vertical space between the folded rear seat and the front seatbacks. In refresh mode, either of the front seat backs can be folded backwards, flush with the leading edge of the lower rear seat cushion, providing a leg rest if you wish to pull off the road and recline in the rear of the vehicle. The final mode permits long objects (up to 7' 10") to be hauled in the Fit by folding down the rear seat and the front passenger seat.
The Magic SeatŪ may be the Fit's ace in the hole, but another huge selling point is the Fit's inviting interior. The design of the dashboard and gauge cluster is ergonomically sound and pleasing to the eye. The center stack is particularly elegant in its execution. Grabbing your attention first is the impressive looking 200-watt (Sport model) stereo head unit. A prominent volume knob is within close reach of the steering wheel and is encircled by the source buttons. To the right of the volume knob is the CD slot and a roomy blue LCD display. On Sport models, in addition to the 40 extra watts and 2 additional speakers, the stereo offers an auxiliary input jack for your MP3 player as well as MP3/WMA playback from CD-R on the CD player. Below the stereo are the controls for the HVAC - 3 rotary dials, two buttons and a slide switch keep things simple. One of the few reminders of the Fit's modest status is that the HVAC uses mechanical linkages for the temperature controls, mode dial, and the recirculate feature, but they operate smoothly enough that you may not even notice.
Of course the best seating position in the 2007 Fit is behind the wheel. The driver's seat is comfy and supportive and the tilt adjustable three-spoke leather wrapped (Sport model only) steering wheel looks and feels great. The right spoke of the steering wheel contains controls for the Sport model's cruise control, but unfortunately redundant stereo controls are not part of the package. On Sport models equipped with the new 5AT transmission, you will find "paddle" shifter buttons located on the backside of the left and right steering wheel spokes. I would like to see a seat height adjustment, but few cars in this class seem to offer them. The remaining switchgear is typical Honda fare - a bump and twist stalk for the front and rear wipers on the right of the steering column, and the headlights and foglamp switches (on Sport models) are located on the turn signal stalk. Powered exterior mirrors are standard on all Fit models, and the controls for these are found to the left of the steering wheel on the lower part of the dashboard.
A Lone Misstep
If there are any complaints to be registered about the interior, they may stem from the layout of the pedals, particularly the clutch pedal. For some reason during my time with the car I wasn't able to find a seating position that would make the pedals feel right. All of them seemed to have a strange stroke - it felt like they operated on an upward arc. The biggest offender for me was the clutch pedal - the throttle and brake pedals were manageable but operating the clutch just didn't feel quite right. Perhaps the pedal arrangement is a consequence of the stubby nose of the car, but this was one of the few things that cost the 5MT Fit points in terms of driving enjoyment. Fortunately the 5AT is actually quite a good alternative, but hopefully Honda engineers are working on improving the pedal placement for the next generation Fit.
Throughout the vehicle, materials are generally of a very high quality. The upholstery on the cloth seats is soft and pleasing to the hand and eye, yet at the same time looks and feels sturdy. The plastics used on the dash and door trim are molded with a pleasing texture and react satisfyingly to the touch. The only area where cost cutting is obvious is the floor carpet. In some areas it's so thin it almost has a threadbare look, but fortunately this seems to be one of the rare reminders that you are riding in a car that's on a competitive plane with a Kia Rio.
The white on black (with red needles and blue accents) 3-gauge meter cluster is stylish, legible, and looks as if it could have been lifted from an Acura. While this design seems a little out of place in a $50,000 RL, it definitely adds an upscale feel to the $14,000 Fit. A simplified maintenance minder system is included, reminding you to check or replace your oil, transmission fluid, coolant, timing belt, air filter, plugs, and other items.
There's not a lot to say about the exterior, as the US model Fit looks much like the Jazz and Fit that's been selling overseas for the past 5 years. For the US market, the bumpers have been revised slightly, and the Sport model features relatively wide 195/55 R15 tires on 15" alloy rims (175/65R14 on steel 14" rims for the base model) plus a body-colored rear roofline spoiler and underbody kit. At the press introduction, Honda had a Scion xA and Chevy Aveo on-hand for comparison. I was amazed to see the silhouette of the Fit next to the Scion xA and how closely these cars are dimensionally. They are quite distinctive in appearance, but they seem to have nearly identical hard points. What's more amazing is when you open the hatch of each of these cars and see the astonishing advantage that the Fit holds in terms of cargo volume. The xA barely has any room at all behind the rear seats.