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REVIEW: 2012 Honda Fit is "Fit" for the City

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Ever since the Honda Fit was introduced to the U.S. in 2006 the Fit has set the standard for subcompact cars. This year it was named to Car and Driver's 10-best list, for the sixth consecutive year. For the 2012 model year the Fit gets even better with the Sport models getting a slight exterior refresh and all models getting more standard equipment.

On the outside the 2012 Honda Fit Sport gets a new front grille and bumper, black headlight bezels and a dark "machined surface" finish alloy wheels. The non-Sport model makes due with the addition of body color mirrors and restyled wheel covers. On the inside the Fit is now quieter thanks to additional sound insulation and thicker front corner-window glass. New beverage holders and ambient lighting are also part of the updates to the 2012 Fit. The Fit Sport also gets steering wheel mounted audio controls and standard Bluetooth on the navigation equipped model.

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Overall the changes to the Fit were minimal, but honestly Honda didn't need to change that much to keep the Fit at the top of the segment. The Fit is still powered by the same 117 horsepower 1.5L four-cylinder that can be mated to either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The most fuel-efficient model is the base Fit equipped with the automatic, which gets 28 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The Fit's combined rating of 31 mpg is a little less than the 33 mpg combined rating that the all-new 2012 Toyota Yaris has, but I'd much rather take the slightly extra horsepower than the 10-year old engine in the Yaris that dates back to the Echo.

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Although the Fit may start at just over $15k, it doesn't feel like you're driving one of the economy cars from the 80s and 90s. It's five-speed manual shifter does exactly what it's supposed to do and it's steering is quick with body control kept to a minimum. Driving it around the streets of San Francisco was easy, but my only gripe was that I wished the manual had some sort of hill-start assist system (note: the 2012 Chevy Sonic has it). Of course a little more power would have been great, but the Fit works with what it's got and thanks to the great shifter it wasn't totally a chore to keep the Fit moving along.

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The interior is where the Fit shines! On the outside the Fit is 16 inches shorter than the Honda Civic sedan, but its interior legroom is less than an inch shorter in front and just under two inches shorter in the rear. Its overall interior volume is only 4 cubic feet less than Civic as well. It's interior also has convenient features like the Magic Seat system that allows the rear seats to not only fold flat, but the bottom cushions can be lifted up to transport bigger items. You can even fit a mountain bike in the Fit thanks to the 57 cubic feet of cargo space that's available when the rear seats are folded down.

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The Honda Fit is one of the best all around cars for a city lifestyle or a small family with its small exterior, versatile interior and performance that sets it apart from its peers. I only wish that Honda would make a high-performance version of the Fit. 20-30 more horsepower, a sport-tuned suspension and wider wheels would make this car even more fun to drive!

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