Fit For America… Honda Fit, That Is
New Entry Car Joins Honda’s Lineup
If you’re in the market for an economy car, this might be one of the better model years to buy. Not only does the Honda Fit arrive in dealers in April 2006, Toyota’s Yaris and Chevrolet’s updated Aveo will arrive shortly afterward. And don’t forget the Nissan Versa coming later in the year. Honda chose the North American International Auto Show to unveil their new Fit while Toyota launched the Yaris at the Los Angeles Auto Show , with Vehicle Voice and AutoPacific correspondents on hand. Elsewhere in the segment, Kia’s Rio and Hyundai’s Accent were all-new for the 2006MY. The oldest product in the segment is actually the Scion xA, and that model launched nationally for the 2004MY.
What are the keys to this segment? As much interior room as can be carved out of such a small footprint, some type of sporty-look model to offer the ability to not look as though you’re driving the least expensive car in the lineup, and the ability for buyers to customize or accessorize their car. Toyota is writing the book on this with Scion, and Honda is learning a few tricks.
Final pricing has not been determined for the Honda Fit, but a $12,000 price point is reasonable. Though pricing for either Fit or the new Toyota Yaris has not been announced, the Fit offers more standard features and is likely to carry a slightly higher base price as a result. Honda does have concerns about the new entry cannibalizing some Civic sales, but Honda is not creating a sub-brand for this segment, as Toyota has done for its Scion products. The Fit is built in Japan and imported, though if the small car found strong enough demand, Honda could add U.S. production.
Fit and Fit Sport. The Fit launches with two trim levels, though they share the same drivetrain. That drivetrain is a 109HP 1.5L SOHC 16 I4 mated to either a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. Though the size and power are pretty typical for the segment, the five-speed automatic is a first at this price point. The Sport model adds steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for the five-speed automatic and an upgraded stereo system. Other goodies that come along with the Sport model are an underbody kit, rear roof spoiler, fog lights, remote keyless entry, cruise control, and fifteen-inch wheels.
Fit buyers also have access to dealer-installed accessories for customizing their car. Among them are a system enabling the Apple iPod to fully interact with the standard radio, making all iPod features available as well as charging the unit. Others are ambient lighting, colored trim panel accents, steering wheel covers, and shift knobs. A Honda Factory Performance option can also be ordered that bumps wheels up to sixteen-inch units and adds a Sport package underbody kit, sport exhaust, chrome exhaust tip, rear bumper accents, and a mesh grille.
The Fit’s rear seats fold in a 60/40 split, and Honda promises four configurations in addition to the normal five-passenger setup. These are possible because the seatbacks can fold down or the seat bottoms flip up. As Honda has done with entries of late, the fuel tank is located in such a way that the vehicle offers a low and relatively flat floor.
Along with a drive-by-wire throttle system, the Fit gets standard electronic power steering. Standard airbags include front (dual stage and duel threshold), dual front side airbags, and side-curtain airbags. Honda also offers ABS with electronic brake force distribution as standard. Convenience features that make the standard equipment list include air conditioning, AM/FM/CD audio, a two-tone interior, and power windows, doors, and locks.