By Bill Howard  |  Posted 2006-05-29 Print this article Print

"Why dont we review more affordable cars?" asked my editor-in-chief. "Because they dont have as much technology as, say, the $100,000 Mercedes S-Class," I rejoined. It was a Mexican standoff, and I blinked. Besides, Jim had a good point.

The Honda Fit is a good vehicle for proving both our points. Cheap cars dont have a boatload of shock-and-awe technology. But the just-out Fit, around $15,000, has quickly become the best cheap car you can buy. I arrived at a rating of 4 (out of 5) by way of simple math: technology wizardry, 3; traditional automotive bang-for-the-buck excellence, 5; average, 4.

Having said all that, the Fit is an excellent platform for adding your own technology. Id say the same about the Ford Fusion, except that the Fusion is an okay car platform with a neat hybrid engine, and the Fit is leading edge. The Fit Sport, $15,720 with the manual gearbox, is so much fun to drive that it reminds me of the Mini Cooper, but with a real back seat and a real cargo bay. And, alas, with less horsepower.

Good Audio Technology
The Fit (called the Jazz elsewhere in the world) has a reasonable audio system, with huge buttons and dials. It plays audio, MP3, and WMA CDs. And on the Fit Sport, theres six-disc changer, a line-in jack, and six speakers to reproduce the 200 watts of audio power.

The faceplate displays MP3 and WMA folder, album, artist, and track information, but only one type of information at a time even though there appears to be room enough on the multi-line display for all of it. You can add an iPod adapter for $199 at the dealership; you cannot add satellite radio through Honda, though theres room aplenty for a $50 XM or Sirius add-on module through the line-in jack.

As with the Honda Civic Hybrid, which we liked enough to name as one of the top ten Digital Drive cars, the Fits sound was most impressive with the tone controls set to flat. When you turn up the treble too much, it gets tinny.

Read the full story on TechnoRide: Honda Fit

Bill Howard

Bill Howard is the editor of TechnoRide.com, the car site for tech fans, and writes a column on car technology for PC Magazine each issue. He is also a contributing editor of PC Magazine.

Bill's articles on PCs, notebooks, and printers have been cited five times in the annual Computer Press Association Awards. He was named as one of the industry's ten most influential journalists from 1997 to 2000 by Marketing Computers and is a frequent commentator on TV news and business shows as well as at industry conventions. He also wrote the PC Magazine Guide to Notebook & Laptop Computers. He was an executive editor and senior editor of PC Magazine from 1985-2001 and wrote PC Magazine's On Technology column through 2005

Previously, Howard spent a decade as a newspaper editor and writer with the Newhouse and Gannett newspapers in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Rochester, New York. He also writes a monthly column for Roundel, a car magazine for BMW enthusiasts.


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