Honda Fit:

Reflections from the Detroit and Chicago Auto Shows

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Has the 2014 Auto Show Season been a bust so far? Well, with the exception of the all new Ford F-150, there has not been much to justify all the fabricated hoopla at either the North American International Auto Show in Detroit or the Chicago Auto Show. You can almost count the significant new news on one hand. In order of importance to the United States market and their manufacturers here are the most significant: Ford F-150, Chrysler 200, Honda Fit, Hyundai Genesis, Mercedes C-Class in Detroit and the Subaru Legacy in Chicago. OK, that is six significant entries. Others that might have made the list are the GMC Canyon mid-size pickup and the Lexus RC-F coupe. The Detroit Show ended up focusing on performance models or concepts like the production-ready Subaru WRX STI, Toyota FT-1 super car, Chevrolet Corvette ZO6 variant, BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe, Cadillac ATS coupe. The only other vehicles of note at the Chicago Show were the 2015 Lincoln Navigator with new front and rear styling and the Mercedes GLA compact crossover SUV.


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Honda Fit – Most Ideal Economy Car in AutoPacific Research

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

Fit Edges Scion xD for IVA Win: The 2012 Honda Fit comes closest to the ideal of any Economy Car.  The Fit edges out the second place Scion xD by 32 rating points to win in this class that is getting more and more competitive.   Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding.  Achieving a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive.  Ninety-percent or more of Fit owners rate its exterior size ideal.  Eighty-percent or more of Fit owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  driver’s seat visibility, passenger roominess, cargo space, exterior styling, tires and wheels, driver’s seat comfort, ride and handling and ease of getting in and out.

A Few Shortfalls – But None Critical. Being an Economy Car, Fit is not expected to be as fully-featured as cars in higher, more expensive classes.  About 33% of Fit owners want better interior lighting than they have now.  About 22% want better interior storage than now.  About 18% want better infotainment technology.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/consumer-s-ideal-cars-revealed-in-2012-iva-awards-112116/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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2009 Honda Fit: Motorist Choice Award Winner

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Hon_09_Fit_Sport_6 copy.jpg“The Honda Fit’s image and reputation helped it earn a 2009 Motorist Choice Award, as well as AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award. This Economy Car’s owners applaud the Fit’s versatility, as it is easy to live with. The Fit also benefits from its Honda badge, as owners cite Brand Reputation as a contributing factor.” — AutoPacific
“The Fit was a 2009 BOVY winner and has above average retained value and fuel costs. In addition, the Fit has the lowest maintenance costs within the segment.” — IntelliChoice
Owner Satisfaction Highlights
* Image
* Vehicle Reputation
* Brand Reputation
* Reliability / Dependability
* Overall Quality
* Durability / Long Lasting
Cost-of-Ownership Strengths
* 2009 BOVY Winner
* Strong Retained Value
* Low Fuel Costs
* Lowest Maintenance Costs


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2009 Honda Fit Wins AutoPacific 2009 Ideal Vehicle Award

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2009_HondaFitSportIVA.jpg“Honda Fit wins AutoPacific’s 2009 Ideal Vehicle Award for Economy Cars with an extraordinary eight category-leading ratings by their owners. Adding the IVA to its win of AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award and being the top car in owner recommendations in its class is an impressive achievement – an absolute homerun,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, Inc. Some of the class-leading attributes that make the Fit ideal include:
* Exterior size
* Cargo space
* Interior storage
* Visibility
* Level of fechnology
* Handling
* Safety features
* Ingress/egress


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2009 Honda Fit Wins AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Economy Car

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2009_HondaFitSport2.jpgWithin the Economy Car segment, the Honda Fit blew the competition into the weeds. There is simply not much owners don’t like about the Fit. From overall satisfaction to anticipated resale value, the Fit dominated the Economy Car segment, scoring highest in no fewer than 34 of 48 attributes. A few of those class-leading attributes include:
• Overall quality with top scores for reliability, dependability, durability and longevity
• Ease of getting in and out with flexible changeable seating – a clever interior with interior storage/ compartments
• Ease of loading/unloading cargo
• Brand and vehicle reputation along with image
• Fun to drive with best in segment ride and handling
• Controls have quality feel/operation
• Perhaps most important, value for the money including operating costs, fuel economy and anticipated resale value
• Top marks for seat visibility and instrument layout
• Innovative technology and safety features received top marks and helped owners feeling safe while driving


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Honda Fit Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Economy Car

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Honda Fit Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Economy Car:
“The Economy Car category has added several new entries over the past year. The owners of the all-new Honda Fit are pleased with the Size (exterior and interior) of this small car. They like the Performance, Ride and Handling. Perhaps the sportiest of the Economy Car class, owners rate the Fit strongly as Fun-to-Drive. They believe their car will have a good Resale Value, and consider the Fit to be a Good Value”.


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MotorWeek's 2007 Driver's Choice Awards

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MotorWeek Awards Honda Fit 2007 Drivers’ Choice “Best of the Year”
Honda captures top Drivers’ Choice Award at Chicago Auto Show for second consecutive year
GM receives four awards, Entire Toyota Motor Corporation wins “Best Eco-Friendly,” first-time for a company

MotorWeek announced on February 8, 2007 that it had honored the Honda Fit with the 2007 MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Award for “Best of the Year.” The compact and versatile Honda Fit rose above the 13 individual category winners to take home the best overall award. This marks the second consecutive year Honda has won awards for “Best of the Year” and “Best Small Car.”
“At a time when fuel efficiency and versatility are top-of-mind for drivers, Honda has, once again, proven to be a trendsetter in people-driven technology,” said John Davis, MotorWeek host and executive producer. “Last year with the sterling Civic lineup, and this year with the clever Fit, Honda advances the standards for intelligent, driver-friendly design that deserves our ‘Best of the Year’ title. The Honda Fit is a standout vehicle for its forward-thinking flexibility, frugality at the pump, interior creature comforts, stylish design, and, high on MotorWeek’s list, its entertaining drive.”
Reflecting a comeback for domestic automakers, GM captured four Drivers’ Choice Awards, a rare event in the awards’ 25-year history. The Saturn Aura won “Best Family Sedan,” Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon won “Best Large Utility,” GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook won “Best Crossover Utility,” and Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra won “Best Pickup Truck.” Calling it an impressive but not surprising sweep, Davis noted that “GM has the market covered for utility vehicles to fit every size, interiors to knock your socks off, loads of standard safety features, and competitive fuel-economy.”
In a first-time move, MotorWeek named Toyota Motor Corporation as “Best Eco-Friendly” instead of singling out the single greenest vehicle on the market. “Toyota has made a remarkable company-wide commitment to gas-saving hybrid technology that drivers can use right now, not 10 years from now,” said Davis. “At MotorWeek, we believe Toyota’s commitment to reducing fuel consumption across their broad product line is not only a pioneering step, but is helping to persuade both the public and the automotive industry that we can significantly reduce fuel consumption without giving up the freedom of personal transportation.”
The details of the Driver’s Choice Awards are shown below the fold:


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Economy Compacts Fare Poorly in Crash Tests

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just released their first crash ratings for Economy Compact Cars. They call them “minicars”. The IIHS often releases results like this to pressure car makers to achieve higher safety results than are required by the Federal Government (NHTSA). Being part of the insurance industry, the IIHS charter is to provide information that consumers can use to select a safer car or light truck – and hence a car that might generate lower personal injury claims in an accident.
Force Still Equals Mass X Acceleration… F=MA
The first thing you learn in Physics 101 is F=MA. Basically, this equation means that something bigger is going to win if it hits something smaller. People have historically bought Lincoln Town Cars partly because they were so big that they were guaranteed a “win” in an accident. The same thinking goes with Large Sport Utility Vehicles like the Chevrolet Suburban.
A very small car is going to lose in an accident with a much larger vehicle. There will be much more physical damage to the small car than to the big one. And all things being equal, people riding in the small car are more at risk. The IIHS and Federal Government have noted that as fuel economy goes up (through vehicles getting lighter and smaller), damage and injuries also go up. In this case, bigger and heavier is better. But with skyrocketing gas prices folks rightly want more fuel efficient cars and trucks.

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With that in mind, Economy Compacts have been introduced… Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa are the three that were launched in 2006 as 2007 model year cars. Only the larger Versa aced the crash tests… Versa includes side curtain air bags as standard equipment. Yaris, where side curtain air bags are optional, fails if it is not equipped with these safety enhancements.
The IIHS press release is included below the fold if you want to read the whole thing. But just remember, when it comes to safety, and all other things are equal, the bigger vehicle will win. F will always equal MA.


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Blowing Off the Lot – the Hot Sellers

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Since we have identified the vehicles that have the longest days supply, we have been asked to show which vehicles have the shortest days supply. Which vehicles are so hot they just blow off the dealer’s lot? As with the slower moving vehicles where we arbitrarily cut off the days supply at 150 days, here we are using 50 days as the cut off point. The details are shown “below the fold”


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Nissan Versa – an Engaging Small Entry

Nissan Versa will be the third of the new B-Segment subcompact cars introduced in the USA by major Japanese manufacturers for the 2007 model year. The first was the Toyota Yaris, followed by the Honda Fit and the Versa hatchback in summer and sedan in fall 2006.

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Intrepid Journalists get download on Versa from Nissan’s Senior Manager Orth Hedrick

AutoPacific had the chance to drive the Versa near Nissan’s new Nashville, Tennessee, headquarters. As many manufacturers have done, the drive route took us from downtown Nashville to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg. Nice drive. Great roads. Since Lynchburg is a dry county, there were no samples and everyone had to drive back stone cold sober. But that did not dampen the reaction to the car.
Nissan Versa F34 blog.jpg

Versa is powered by a 122HP four-cylinder engine from Nissan’s new MR family. The sample we were driving was teamed with a CVT – continuously variable transmission rather than the six-speed manual found on the base vehicle (a four-speed automatic also will be temporarily available until CVT capacity catches up with demand. Then CVT will be the only “automatic” choice.)
The Versa is big for a B-Class car. Nissan describes it as a “B-Plus.” It has a spacious interior with 60/40 fold down rear seat. Unfortunately, the Versa does not have a passenger side folding seat back that would improve the function of its otherwise well-thought-out interior.
Driving impressions were positive. The Versa rides very well over the smooth roads outside Nashville but crashes around a bit when encoutering the inevitable potholes surrounding new construction. Ride control is good through the twisties. Cruising, the Versa is superb, but seems to be let down by underachieving tires when pushed hard through a corner.
We’d Like More Punch, but for what Versa is Supposed to be, Versa is Stellar
On the “Small Car Scale” – whatever that is – the new Versa likely is a seven or eight out of ten. We’d like more power and that should come in the future possibly with an SE-R model. We’d like more aggressive tires. Probably on an SE-R. But for an around-town runabout used for commuting and errands, Versa is stellar.
Versa’s price has not yet been set, but the range should be between $12,000 and $16,000.
The question inside Nissan is going to be, “How much volume will Versa take from the more expensive only slightly larger Sentra?”
Counterpoint: 6MT Driven
For the most part, I agree with my fearless leader’s comments, though I drove a Versa equipped with the manual transmission. While wind noise was at a minimum, there seemed to be quite a bit of tire noise. And though Versa offers lots of headroom, legroom, and cargo space, it is a bit on the narrow side. The driver and front passenger seats basically touch the doors, requiring Nissan to put the manual seat adjustment pulls on the inside edge of the seat. The seats, revised from those found in Maxima, were very comfortable and the design in the cloth seats is attractive. There are lots of soft-touch materials where drivers and passengers will notice, though padding on the door armrest feels squishy. Couldn’t it be more firm and still be covered in a material pleasant to touch? The center console armrest is soft-touch as well, but not as squishy as the door armrest.
I was not impressed by the six-speed manual, which was the only drivetrain I got stick time in today. There is a satisfying feel when it settles into gear, but shifting was a bit vague and getting to the desired gear, particularly on downshift, was not as instinctive as some. On the other hand, the manual does offer short throws and avoids the rubberband feeling one could count on from entry-level cars not too long ago. The new small entry should fare well in today’s automotive landscape at the prices they are targeting.—S. Brinley


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