Having had awful experience with a Civic, which was the most unreliable new car I've ever dealt with, I was hesitant to test drive a FIT, but did anyway. I found it abysmally slow, very poor handling and ugly as sin. Of course the Yaris and Versa DO make it seem like a Ferrari (any Toyota would).
I've owned Ford, GM and Chrysler compacts and subcompacts, and any one of them would literally chew up and spit out the FIT.
As for reliability, my Ford lasted 3 times as long as our Honda, the Chrysler went 2.5 times as far as the Honda, and our current GM has long passed the point where we started having MAJOR issues with our Civic and shows no of hint of ANY problems.
A fully loaded Focus with every available option costs thousands less than the FIT, has almost twice the power, will run rings around it and outhandle it hands down.
Yes, it gets 3 mpg less mileage, but for the thousands you save in purchase price and repairs (after Honda's puny warranty expires) you can buy gas for the next 5 years.
To 9th Jun 2008:
I'm sorry you had a poor experience with a Honda. Your anecdote illustrates that there are exceptions to every rule. If it's any consolation, you may have gotten lucky with your Chrysler--I had an '87 Chrysler LeBaron that was a hot stinking piece of garbage. It had no redeeming qualities.
Did the Civic leave a poor impression in the test drive too, or was reliability the only problem? If not, why did you buy it, and why did you consider another Honda after your bad experience? And what exactly went wrong with your car?
I do hope you will not confuse your individual experience with the norm--Hondas are, by and large, exceedingly reliable and durable cars. That's why they sell so many of them, and that's also why I could sell my Fit today for the same amount I paid new.
I love my Fit. I have almost the opposite opinion of the car as you (though it isn't exactly fast.)
I made comment 20:34, and to answer commenter 23:56, when new the Civic was great. Very fast for it's class, very good handling for a subcompact. It was bright red and looked very sporty.
Early on there were small rattles, but we didn't really bother with that or worry about it. Most all cars have some odd noises, especially less expensive compacts.
At around 40,000 miles the CV joints starting clattering very badly.
The brakes were totally worn out at about 35,000 miles (ALL my domestics have gone at least 70,000 miles before needing brake jobs except for one Chevy).
The Civic used some oil from day one, and at around 45,000 miles it was burning a quart every 500-700 miles.
We had problems with the ignition system, the steering, the electrical system and the hood release mechanism (which broke and made opening the hood impossible).
The spark plugs tended to require replacement far more often than they should have, most likely due to oil fouling.
At about 98,000 miles the head gasket blew and the car was sold for scrap. By then the paint was badly faded and it was not worth fixing.
I DO NOT think ALL Civics are that bad. I know many people who have had really great luck with them. I was willing to give the FIT a test because I am a believer in helping our planet by driving more fuel efficient cars. Also, I had heard some very GOOD comments about the FIT, and Honda reliability has actually seemed to go UP as Toyota and Nissan have gone down. I just found the FIT overpriced (GREATLY SO, in my opinion) and not as fast or good handling as the Focus.
I don't like to judge ALL of a particular car makers cars by own bad apple, but ALL THREE of our imports were less reliable than any of our domestics. That sort of makes me wary of imports.
I bought a Honda fit 5spd few months ago and feels like it's a good practical car. (Im sorry I don't fall in love with cars) but keep in mind that the first few hundred mile of a cars' life is critical. If you buy a new car with 75 miles on it, there is a possibility that it might have already been abused during a test drive.I've seen people do that. my previous car was 04 Alero which had 105 miles on it when bought and was a money dump since day one.
Don't expect the fit to be a sports car or looker. Its just a smartly designed simple car that has a good track record. (outside US) though I must admit, I really don't feel the 109 horses working in this thing. older civics with same power felt quicker.
I'm a mechanic and I test drive every new car the same way, regardless of WHAT it is. I take off flat out, rev it to redline, put it through very fast corners and practice some very rapid lane changes and very hard braking. I do this because I want to know what the car will do. I would never, EVER buy a car without pushing it to the limit BEFORE buying it. This is NOT "abuse".
In the 40's and 50's cars required "break-in" periods because of less-than-perfect tolerances. That has not been the case for a very, very long time. No modern car is going to be damaged in any way by being driven hard from day one.
One of my old friends was a racing mechanic and he told me to always "break-in" a car just the way I always wanted it to run. I always have and my cars have been some of the fastest and most reliable of their kind. Never be afraid to wring a car out during a test drive. Modern car's have such perfect tolerances it makes absolutely no difference.
Your whole post makes you seem like you have a strong bias against imported cars.
Now, I don't have information from mid-2008, but right now the Fit and Focus are priced comparably. A base model Focus sedan (no hatchback available) with a 4 speed Automatic transmission and no other options retails for $17,500. A Honda Fit Sport with a 5 speed Tiptronic transmission retails for $17,260. The Focus does comes pretty well equipped even at the base trim, but so does the Fit, and the Fit offers a telescoping steering column on the base model, something that isn't available on the Focus at all. A fully loaded (every option) Focus SES retails for a little over $22k. These numbers are direct from manufacturer websites. The 2010 Focus comes with a 2.0L engine with 140 hp. The Fit has a 1.5L engine with 117 hp. The Focus doesn't have "almost twice the power" as you claim it does. And the consensus seems to be that the Fit handles better than pretty much any car in its class or price range.
I just want to set the record straight about those things.
If you watch some reviews about this car online, you'll find that many people refer to the handling as being sports car like.