Does the Fit fit?
August 8, 2007 1:00 PM   Subscribe

I am thinking of buying a Honda Fit, and I'm afraid I'm making a mistake.

I am thinking about buying a new car. Currently, I own a 1999 Ford Escort with 125,000 miles on it that runs fine. My wife has a 2003 Ford Windstar that has about 92,000 (but only 50K on the transmission because it had to be replaced). We also have an elementary-aged child, and may adopt another in the future.

The Fit seems perfect. It is small and relatively inexpensive for a Honda. It has all that cool flippy seat stuff for creating room, and it has a hatchback, which I love.

The best out-the-door price (sans trade-in) I have been able to negotiate (online) is around $17,200. There are no incentives. Everyone (at least in central VA) is selling them at or slightly over MSRP because they can.

Here is the crux of my question:

1. I really hate the idea of buying a new car. I usually buy used, but of course, the last time, I got a lemon with a bad transmission (the one time I don't get the extended warranty).

2. I'm 6 feet tall. The Fit has much more room than the Escort, but its still a subcompact. I'm in my car a lot (alone) at work (I'm a pastor). Yet we need a car that the whole family can be comfy in, so we don't put all the miles on her car. I have driven the Fit, and for one person, it feels fine. I am just not sure about 3 or 4 in it at once.

3. At $17,000, I most likely can't afford an extended warranty, so I would really be trusting that Honda reliability.

What do you think? Am I getting to little car for that money? Fits sound so great, and get fantastic reviews, fly of dealers lots, and they start under $14,000, but they sure don't end there.

I hate buying cars, so any advice is appreciated.
posted by 4ster to Shopping (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you considered buying a Toyota Matrix, new or used?
posted by amtho at 1:18 PM on August 8, 2007

This thread discusses the Fit, as well as other cars in that category (Scion xB, Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe - which are the exact same car!, etc). The asker is a bigger guy and ends up with a Fit.

Does it need to be purchased now? Perhaps if you wait for the new model year to come in, or for the end of the month when dealers are trying to meet quotas, you might get a better deal.

Were I in your shoes, I'd be looking at a used Pontiac Vibe (here's one on the NoVa craigslist for $14k), or a Scion xB (insanely low mileage on this one for $14,500).
posted by mdonley at 1:18 PM on August 8, 2007

A friend of mine has had one for over a year, driven it a number of times from Ontario to the east coast and loves it. One of the drivers is 6'3" and the other is 5'4" and they are both very comfortable in it.

"It holds everything. We haven't had a bit of trouble with it, nor with the Civic we had for 12 years before it."
posted by Zinger at 1:18 PM on August 8, 2007

My thrifty side won't let me buy a new car, ever, and I _love_ cars. I want a Porsche so badly, but I'll never get one. Or maybe some day I'll buy an old one. But the fact remains that any new car loses a huge amount of its value in its first year of ownership. It's just not a good deal in any financial way.

Now, if there are design elements of the Fit that you really like, that aren't present in the older Civics, that's an argument to get one anyway. And at $17k, it's not a bad price for a brand new rig. But I would urge you to consider a 2001+ Civic hatchback instead. You should be able to find one for under $10k in nice condition, and maybe minus the magic flippy seat stuff (not exactly sure how that's different from a back seat that folds down), I think that would be functionally similar, if not identical, to the Fit.

Since I've never bought a new car, or even a car from a dealer (I've owned three Hondas in a row and expect to continue buying them), warranties of any kind have never been an option for me. If you buy one that was well taken care of, and take good care of it yourself, it will need minimal repair over the life of the vehicle.
posted by autojack at 1:20 PM on August 8, 2007

And an anecdote: I've been in the back seat of the Scion xB, and it felt huge to me and the two larger guys I was back there with. I don't know what it was - maybe the angle of the roof or the seats or something, but yeah, plenty comfy.
posted by mdonley at 1:21 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm in the same exact scenario as you and shopped around for my compacts. When you mentioned the $17,00 price, is that the base price or does it include options + destination fee? Are you getting the sport/normal trim and an auto/stick? A stick base trim gets you down to 13,850 MSRP. Where I live, the quote I got wasn't a penny above the MSRP. Edmunds link for what you should not pay more than.

After test-driving the 07' Fit, I ended up with a 2008 Scion xD. The manual starts for $15170 (includes destination), and I think the auto is $800 more. The biggest differnece was the xD come with ~20 more horsepower. I don't know how you drive, but the extra HP made a huge difference in how the car drove. On a car that size and with limited HP to start with, the Fit just felt cheap compared to the Scion after test driving.
The 2008 Scion appears to have crappy gas mileage, but this is also due to stricter and much more accurate MPG calculation. Plus, the Scion is a Toyota company so you still get the foreign-car reliability.
I'm not saying the Fit sucks or not to buy one, but just offering options.
There's also the Toyota Yaris which is in the same vain as the Fit, though I never test drove it.
posted by jmd82 at 1:23 PM on August 8, 2007

But the fact remains that any new car loses a huge amount of its value in its first year of ownership. It's just not a good deal in any financial way.

This is only true if you ever intend to trade it in or sell it. If you intend to take care of your new car, and keep it for 10+ years, it doesn't matter at all how much it depreciates in the first year vs. the tenth year.

If you do plan to make your car last, the only thing you should worry about in terms of price is whether or not you think you are getting a fair deal.
posted by grateful at 1:29 PM on August 8, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the great replies. Please keep them coming.

I have thought about the Matrix, but have not yet driven one. I have always worried a little that the fact that Pontiac has had something to do with it may have spoiled some of that Toyota reliability. Otherwise, it seems like a good competitor for the Fit.

I love the 2008 Scion xB. I thought long and hard about the 2007, but I really would like a safer car. The 2008 has all the air-baggy goodness. but out-the-door would probably be over $18,000. It also has a problem (for me) of having the console arranged in such a way that it presses against my knee no matter how I seem to sit in it.

And to answer mdonley's question is that I really don't need to get one know, which is really a blessing, but makes the decision making a bit harder.
posted by 4ster at 1:33 PM on August 8, 2007

Response by poster: I should have said earlier, that quote I got on the fit is for a 2007 Sport with automatic transmission and no other accessories, and it is an out-the-door price. In fact, this particular dealership will actually deliver it to my house and save me a 45 minute round trip, and they have the free loaner for scheduled service thing.
posted by 4ster at 1:36 PM on August 8, 2007

I've had a Matrix for two years. It's the best car I've ever owned. I have had no significant trouble with it.

I am almost exactly your size and it fits me fine. Road trips with four adults are quite comfortable in it, with room for a bag for each.

I recommend it without reservation.
posted by bonehead at 1:46 PM on August 8, 2007

Since someone mentioned it up thread, I'll throw in another thumbs up for the Yaris. It is a TINY car, but SO roomy on the inside! The one we have driven is 4 doors with foldy down seats in the back. It has a lot of torque too (for a car like that).
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:58 PM on August 8, 2007

My neighbors just bought a Fit. It replaced their SUV and they love it. Once I saw it with the rear seats flipped down I understood why. It's a tiny truck disguised as a car. If you think you'll need to carry bulk supplies for the kids or a drum kit or an upright base, get one.

Also, wait till November/December. I understand car sales slow then and dealers are more desperate to make commissions to pay for holiday gifts. You'll need to budget in advance since you too will need to pay for holiday gifts at that time.
posted by chairface at 1:58 PM on August 8, 2007

Nthing the recommendation to take a look at a Matrix/Vibe. We bought a used Vibe 18 months ago, and (other than some disappointment with the paint job) it's worked out very well for us. High reliability ratings from the sources I checked pre-purchase. We bought a 2005 model with 31k on it for $11,200, but that was an unusually good price, I think. I'm 6', too. (And a pastor! How can you go wrong?)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:59 PM on August 8, 2007

But the fact remains that any new car loses a huge amount of its value in its first year of ownership.

This varies from model to model and seems to be primarily a feature of big American iron.

When we were shopping a couple of years ago, a year-old CR-V with ~10K miles on it had an asking price of ~$1K--1500 less than a brand-new one that had a whole damn bunch more airbags. So we bought a new one.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:06 PM on August 8, 2007

I also checked out the Fit, and decided on a Nissan Versa. The deciding factor was definitely the size; while the movable seats in the Fit were a cool feature, it's such a small car. The seats fold down, and I've been able to fit furniture and other items in the back. It's still compact, but much more roomy than the Fit; I'm very happy with the choice.
posted by lemonwheel at 2:14 PM on August 8, 2007

I debated the Fit and 4-door Yaris for a long time and ended up going with the Yaris. One of the main factors was that the Yaris was $2K less than the Fit.
posted by mattbucher at 3:17 PM on August 8, 2007

We just bought a Fit (~850 miles ago) and so far, we love it. It handles well, is amazingly spacious, and feels pretty solid. We paid sticker plus some silly things we didn't want (wheel locks? really?) for an Automatic Sport; for a year or two, that's going to be the only way to get one because they won't sell it to you under MSRP when someone else will buy it over MSRP.

I'm short (5'8"), but there's a TON of extra headroom, and it seems like it would be pretty ok for someone 6' or taller. The backseat is surprisingly sit-able, and you can get a lot into it.

We considered the Yaris, but the interior felt cheesy, and the price wasn't much less once you added the side-curtain airbags, ABS, etc. (With such a small car, we wanted all the safety features we could get). The Fit also felt a lot roomier. We looked at the Scion xB (the new 2008 version is redesigned) and it was nice inside, but we couldn't get past the appearance. The Matrix is a nice car, but even used, they were running as much (or more) than the Fit without the extra safety features.

Did I mention that it's surprisingly fun to drive? Plus, other Fit drivers tend to smile at you....
posted by JMOZ at 3:42 PM on August 8, 2007

Oh, and we priced the extended warranty on the Fit, and it was fairly inexpensive (roughly $1000 for 7 years, if I recall?) Apparently, extended warranty price is a pretty good indicator of the long-term reliability of a car....
posted by JMOZ at 3:43 PM on August 8, 2007

#1: you wait long enough, and you can either buy a Fit used, or the price will be MSRP or lower. They're still new and hard-to-get (and all signs point to excellent, as well);

#2: have you looked at the Mazda5? The gas mileage is mediocre (as it's much larger) but it's smaller than any minivan you'll ever find (yet still has sliding side doors), has good reliability, is priced similarly to a heavily-marked-up Fit (after incentives on the Mazda5) and has plenty of room for the likes of you.
posted by davejay at 4:18 PM on August 8, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the input! I really appreciate it.

Can anyone who has gotten the base model (not the Sport) tell me what you think?

Also, davejay, we thought about the Mazda5 (love the 3 rows of seats), but felt we couldn't afford it, and we are on this anti-all things Ford kick.

The 3 rows of seats thing made us consider the Kia Rondo, though.
posted by 4ster at 4:52 PM on August 8, 2007

Our family had the Fit in Europe (where it's known as the Jazz) for a couple of years, and here's my impression.

It's an awesome car. I'm 6', and had no trouble. The back isn't massively roomy, but as your child is young there'll be plenty of space. You can fit tons of stuff in there. Seriously. You know how you visit IKEA and buy tons of stuff? It'll all go in. One of the best things we bought for it was a plastic load carrier (as I believe they're called) for the trunk. It means you can throw anything in the back and not worry about dirt or damage. When it needs cleaning, just take it out and hose it down.

Further small details. The seats in the European model weren't massivey comfortable over long (above four hours) journeys, being a bit firm, but the US model may be different. I'm not sure what the radio options are nowadays, but if you get the CD changer in the glove compartment, there'll be pretty much no space left. I think they've moved to a different system though, so YMMV.

We had the manual 1.6, and it was pretty punchy. Great acceleration, and good handling.

Can't really remember any negatives, to be honest. We'll probably be getting either a Fit or Element for our next car, which is probably as good a recommendation for it and Honda as you're likely to get. They also hold their value quite well, from what I remember, and seemed to be pretty popular cars.

Unfortunately I can't remember whether it was the base model or the sport, but whatever it was, it was great.

Good luck with whatever you decide to buy!
posted by djgh at 5:12 PM on August 8, 2007

The following answer comes from a guy who just spent a long while considering buying a Fit, and then came to his senses (and also realized that there was no way he'd be comfortable driving the thing due to his tallness and the position of the pedals).

Do not get a Fit. It is a horrible waste of your money. The only thing the Fit is offering for the price is a unique look (and one that you'll find in other similar cars like the Yaris and Versa, though I think the Fit is the best-looking of those).

If you buy a Fit now, or any time this year (and maybe next year), you will be paying a lot of money. If you're lucky, you'll be paying MSRP ($16565 for the sport auto), but more likely, you'll be paying $500-1000 on top of MSRP. You'll also have trouble getting the color you want.

Between now and the end of August, you can get a new '07 Civic for about $16000 plus tax (LX auto... cheaper if you want manual transmission). This is several thousand dollars under MSRP, and cheaper than a Fit. The Civic is less unique-looking, but it has a telescoping steering wheel and driver's seat height adjustment, two invaluable features for the taller driver. The Civic has a similar EPA gas mileage rating, but according to reports on the Edmunds forums, it appears to get better real-world mileage than the Fit. This is despite the fact that the Civic has a more powerful engine and is a considerably heavier car. The Civic also has a better rear-seat crash safety rating.

Aside from the "cool yuppie factor" and the fold-down front passenger seat, the Fit doesn't have much to offer for the money. I'm glad I realized that before I dropped the $17000+.

About the new car losing value when you drive it off the lot: buying a new model-year-end Honda is probably the best you can do in terms of immediate depreciation: you get a good deal on a new car, and since Hondas tend to be in high demand as "reliable" cars, you'll have no trouble finding someone who wants to buy one.

N.B. you can get an 8-year, no-deductible HondaCare warranty from this website and save like $1000 compared to what the dealer sells it for. It's the exact same warranty, good at any Honda dealership's service center.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:51 PM on August 8, 2007

Ditto the Scion xB. Great gas mileage, easy to park, and comfy to drive. It also has an optional iPod controller on the steering wheel!
My 6'2" husband has no problem with head or leg room (he used to bap his head on our old SUV). We call it "Tardis" because it seems like it's bigger on the inside than the outside... yeah, I know, geeks.
posted by media_itoku at 7:14 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had a Fit for 3 years, and I absolutely loved it. We packed so much into that car with the folding seats feature, it was amazing. My boyfriend and I are Ikea nuts, and the number of times we came away from that place cackling with glee over saving money on delivery costs was more than ten. With the seats folded down, we got multiple flatpacked 2 metre high book cases in there, a bed frame flatpacked, 2 bicycles... you name it, we've done it.

I've driven a Yaris, and the handling on the Fit was far superior, the interior was much nicer/less cheap looking, and the boot space was better in the Fit too. In fact once 4 people fit in the Fit on an 8 hour roadtrip with all their luggage for the weekend (3 girls. there was some luggage going on! Also, a 6ft guy who said it was perfectly comfy). A lot of hatches have compromised bootspace when they have 4 people in it, but with the Fit it's not a problem at all.

It went great on gas, I loved the ease of parking it, and I chose it over a Civic because here in Australia, Civics are considerably more expensive. I'm not sure what different models you guys have, but i had the midrange model with the tiptronic gear paddles on the steering wheel that made me feel like an F1 driver. My friend in Singapore drives the fully sporty edition and the leather seats are fantastic.

It's a great great car, and you will fit everything you ever need to in there just FINE.

I probably wouldn't go for a brand new one (I bought mine brand new but wouldn't do it again) - I'd get one that was 1 or 2 years old.
posted by miz brown at 9:05 PM on August 8, 2007

I am looking for a similar car and I am considering a Ford Focus. They stopped making the wagon, which is a shame, but they have a four door hatchback that is pretty nice. Ford is offering some nice incentives and Consumer Reports has given the Focus high marks. It doesn't do as well in MPG as the Fit but it supposedly has a roomier interior. It is about the same price range new and you are more likely to get a nice one used. Consumer Reports did say the 2006 wagon was a year/make to avoid.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:21 PM on August 8, 2007

I'm the member of a carshare and regularly drive both a Matrix and a Fit. I looooove the Matrix. If I ever had to buy a car (which will probably never happen), this would be the car for me. It's roomy, fits tons of stuff in the back with the seats down, and is easy to drive. I like the Fit too, but it sure seems small (bigger than the Scion xA, though - that's too small for you). Go test-drive a Matrix before you make a decision!
posted by jrichards at 7:15 AM on August 9, 2007

I was recently in the market for a used civic, corolla or mazda 3. I considered the fit, but it just wasnt quite my style.
I wound up with a new 2007 Mazda 3 because it cost less than the civic (even a used 2006 model with over 30k miles), and because it has 16 more hp than the corolla.
Why new? Because an 06 '3' with 41k miles was only $1500 cheaper - there's brisk demand. And i made the mistake of purchasing a car that had above-average miles last time and the repair costs were higher.

How does this apply to you? The fit is available with an automatic transmission that lets you shift through the gears manually - if you want to. My '3' has that as well, and it makes driving much more fun.
posted by itheearl at 10:00 AM on August 9, 2007

I got a Yaris last year after looking at both the Fit and Yaris. The major reason I chose the Yaris is that it was slightly cheaper and had waaaaay more pep. They have the same size engine but the Fit weighs a good bit more.

As to fitting in it, my boyfriend is 6' and drives and rides in the Yaris with no issue. In fact I recently went on a road trip with a friend of mine who's 6'3" and 300lbs and he was comfortable the whole way.

I'd never bought a new car until this one and it was hard for me to justify, but really...Hondas and Toyotas have a rep for running forever. If you plan on driving this car until it falls apart, go for it. Also, I was lucky enough that a dealership in my town was offering the Yaris as a rental. I went in, explained to them that I really wanted one but needed to drive it for a good bit before I could make the decision. After driving it for three days (hell after three minutes) I was in love.
posted by teleri025 at 12:14 PM on August 9, 2007

Response by poster: Hi everyone.

We decided today to go with the 08 Scion xB. We loved the 2006-07 (they made the 06 for two years), but we did not like the poor safety ratings.

The 08 is great. It has a ton of room and a Corolla engine. The only thing I don't like is that is has only one reverse light, which seems a bit dangerous to me, but I love everything else.

As always, thanks hivemind!
posted by 4ster at 5:32 PM on August 11, 2007

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