When the 2007 Honda Fit arrived on American shores, gasoline had just topped an unheard of $3 per gallon. Needless to say this perfect timing made the highly fuel efficient Fit an instant success. Well, now less than three years later, gas has broken the four buck barrier and Honda is back with a new generation of their thrifty hatchback. But as with the first Fit, the new one is about a lot more than just saving gas.

When MotorWeek tested the 2007 Honda Fit, we declared it to be an economy car for drivers who want to get where they’re going without wasting fuel, but refuse to leave driving enjoyment behind.

The all-new 2009 Honda Fit not only expands on the original’s most popular features and character, but expands itself. All exterior dimensions except height have grown with overall length up 4.2 inches to 161.6-inches. Wheelbase grows 1.9 inches to 98.4. This growth improves interior room as well as crash safety.

Indeed, Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure resides under a still tall but more aerodynamic shape that pushes the A-pillar forward. This allows for more glass for improved visibility. Our Fit Sport test car adds a high mounted rear spoiler to the mix, as well as a deeper front fascia with integrated fog lamps, polished exhaust tips, and 16-inch aluminum wheels.

The added size and extra glass not only deliver a slightly larger cabin, but an airy feel.  The interior and dash also look more upscale with bigger 3D gauges and a display for current and average fuel mileage.

Front seats have thicker padding and more support, short comings of the original car. Audio systems start with a 160-watt CD-unit with an aux input jack and Windows Media capability. It can be integrated into the optional Satellite Linked Navigation system.  The Fit Sport adds a USB interface for an iPod.  It’s housed in one of the twin glove boxes which are part of a dozen different storage nooks.

But the biggest storage story is the Fit’s improved second-row split Magic Seat. Beyond more head and leg room for occupants, the folding mechanism is simpler. One handle motion folds seats flat for big cargo; upright for slim items; and mates with the front seat to provide a lounger. With the Magic Seat in its fold flat Utility mode cargo space is in a word, big at 57.3 cubic-feet. All accessible through a lower tailgate opening, plus a folding front passenger seat allows items up to 7 feet 9 inches long.

Moving the new Fit is a more powerful 1.5-liter single-cam 4-cylinder engine. An eight horsepower boost gives it 117, and the 106 torque rating is a boost of one pound-foot. As with the previous Fit, the transmissions, both manual and automatic, are both 5-speeds. The Fit Sport automatic gets steering wheel paddle shifters.

Even with more power, Government fuel economy ratings remain almost the same, 27 city/33 highway with the manual and 28 city/35 highway with the automatic, all on regular gas. We estimated a low Energy Impact Score of 11 barrels of oil consumed per year, and an equally impressive Carbon Footprint of only 6.0 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

As with the first Fit, fuel efficiency means there’s not a ton of get up and go, but it is an improvement. Not so the buzzier engine reaction and rather raspy exhaust note. Transmissions are well matched with a paddle shift Sport automatic delivering clean, sharp gear changes.

Chassis stiffness is much improved, while ride quality is slightly better thanks to the longer wheelbase and retuned strut front and torsion beam rear suspension.

The new high capacity electric power steering responds quickly with very direct feel. The Fit still pushes and rolls when driven hard, but does so in a very predictable manner. ABS brakes remain standard. So, while still no high mileage sports machine, the Fit has a very nimble and entertaining character that does egg you on.

The 2009 Honda Fit is still a very affordable egg too. Base is $15,220 for the manual transmission and $16,020 with an automatic. Sport trim adds about $1,500 more. Yes, there are cheaper subcompacts, but none that are more enjoyable and versatile.  Indeed, despite a dose of growth hormones, the 2009 Honda Fit is just as frugal, practical, and fun to drive as the original Fit. And that will make the new Fit a guaranteed hit again.


  • Engine: 1.5-Liter Single-cam 4-Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 117
  • Torque: 106 Lb Feet
  • EPA: Automatic 28 MPG City/ 35 MPG Hwy
  • Energy Impact: 11.0 Barrels Oil/Yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 6.0 Tons/Yr