Capsule Review: 2015 Honda Fit, Grandma Edition

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

(N.B. This review was penned by my grandmother, Yvette Lerner, posted under my account)

When my husband, daughter (Derek’s Mum) and I left England in 1961, we left behind a beautiful MG Magnette. Upon arriving in Canada, my husband went out and bought the first car he could find with a V8 engine. We had left behind the damp flats, the rationing (which still went on when we got married in 1953) and the grey weather for a new life, and my husband felt that the transformation wasn’t complete unless we had a big, 8-cylinder American car to go with it. We wouldn’t drive anything smaller than a V8 until 1973.

In 1965, I got a Mustang 2 door with a V8 and a stick shift. From then on, it was all Chrysler products, culminating in my husband’s pride and joy, a 1970 New Yorker with a 440 V8 as big as our kitchen table. My husband was a clergyman, and we never had much money, but we did love cars. My husband had variously lusted after both a Mercedes-Benz and later on, an Audi owned by my cousin, but he felt that it would be inappropriate as a Rabbi to own a German car when so many of his parishioners had survived Nazi concentration camps just a few decades earlier.

American cars were the default choice. We didn’t even know about Japanese cars, until one day in 1973, when a man in our congregation asked us if we wanted to come and look at a new car he was selling. It was called a “Honda Civic”. It had a tiny 4-cylinder engine and drove the front wheels. When I first saw it, I thought it looked like the little car that Fred Flintstone drove. But with gas prices going nowhere but up, we took a chance on the little Honda.

Our neighbors laughed at us. I even affixed a bumper sticker that said “Stop honking, I’m pedaling as fast as I can”. But we were happy. It was great on gas, and sure enough, when winter came, we were the only ones who didn’t get stuck. In 1991, my husband replaced a 1979 Chevrolet Caprice (with a 350 and aftermarket sway bars) with a 1991 Honda Accord that was briefly owned by Derek’s father, as a Honda company car. My husband drove the Accord until he died in 1998. I ended up trading that car in on a 2000 Honda Civic

If it were not for old age, I’d have kept the Civic. It has enough room for all my groceries and it doesn’t cost me very much to maintain. I keep the car tuned up according to Honda’s schedule, and it’s zippy enough to get me around town. But at 81, I have broken my hip and my pelvis, and I find it hard to get in and out of such a low car. The Civic also has crank windows, and reaching over to wind down the passenger window (something I do often – I love to pull over and chat with friends and neighbors) gets tiresome.

The last few years have been kind to my retirement accounts, and left me feeling comfortable with buying a new car. When Derek was a young boy, my husband and I always had to take him to different dealerships so that he could look at all the new cars – I decided to call in a favor and have him help me look at a new car.

I have to admit that I’ve always liked the Fit since I first saw it, but Derek urged me to look at some others. I did not like the Kia Soul that some of you suggested. It’s too weird for me. The Hyundai Accent looked nice, but I found the driving position to be a bit tough (I’m only 5’2″ and seeing over the instrument cluster and hood caused me to crane my neck far too much). The Kia Rio was the same, and the Mazda3 had the sort of long, blunt hood that I don’t like.

The Fit ended up being, pardon the word choice, a good Fit for me. It sits just a bit higher up than the other cars, which is a lot easier for someone like me to get into. I like that the hood seems to drop down, so I get a nice, clear view of the road. Derek thought that the touch screen would be a bit challenging for me, but I have my own iPod and Android Tablet, and have figured out how to use both on my own! The best part for me is the Magic Seat. Instead of having to put everything in the trunk, I can fold the rear seat cushions upwards, and put things like walkers (don’t laugh), house plants and other parcels on the footwell.

The CVT transmission took some getting used to. I also wasn’t happy with the way the accelerator feels, but Derek told me that all cars feel this way (something about a computer, but my car uses a cable). I don’t find it as responsive as my Civic, but there is a lot more power. I wish I had a sunroof, but the Fit has power windows, locks, a much better stereo (I love music) and is a lot safer. It’s amazing to think that 15 years ago, I paid about $16,000 for my Civic. I didn’t pay too much more than that for my Fit, but I get so much more car, even when you think about inflation (and as a pensioner, I do).

Derek told me that a lot of his colleagues seem to think that the Fit isn’t as fun or as nice as it used to be. I don’t get to drive a new car every week, but I do like to go fast (I told the salesman to make sure the “ECON” button never comes on) and I know that the Fit drives a lot better than my Civic, or any of the cars I’ve rented recently (a Mitsubishi Lancer, a Nissan Sentra and a 2013 Honda Civic). Thank you all for helping me pick a new car!

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • BartBandy BartBandy on Nov 01, 2014

    I loved this! Kinda reminds me of two BBC Top Gear episodes - one where the mothers of Clarkson/May/Hammond test drive three subcompacts and ultimately choose the Honda Jazz (Fit), and the other where they build the ultimate car for elderly people, with soft-sponge bumpers painted hearing-aid beige! As Syke points out, mobility for the aged is just the tip of the iceberg right now. Today I saw an elderly man using an electric moped on the sidewalk to get around. A variety of options that allows elderly people to maintain their independence and safely get around is required. Fortunately Grandma Kreindler has the spirit and ability to motor around with a cool new car like the Fit! Best wishes to her.

  • Tedward Tedward on Nov 10, 2014

    I'm happy that you were able to find a car that suited your needs so well. I loved my Fit for what it's worth, even if it never quite had enough front leg room for us. I would like all the CVT defenders out there to take note that it was noticeable to the non-brown-stick-wagon-diesel advocate and really the only complaint this driver had about the car. Actually I would like the manufacturers to note this. The marketplace is too competitive for this kind of sloppy compromise. Other makes have seen this weakness, and even among the brands who offer CVT's there is a growing body of quotes indicating that they do know they under-perform. Counting on customers not realizing something is wrong (or that others do better transmissions) is not a good strategy.

  • Lou_BC "respondents between 18 and 80 years old" Basically anyone deemed an adult who might be allowed to drive.
  • Lou_BC They will do fine if they come up with some cool sedans ;)
  • Mister They've got their work cut out for them. I live in a large metropolitan city of 1.2+ million people, the is a single Mitsubishi dealer. It's really more like a used-car dealer that sells Mitsubishi on the side. With the remarkably cheesy name of "Johnny Legends".
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh WHAT !?
  • Jeff Matt--I think this is a good move for Mitsubishi to expand their presence with satellite dealers. I had a 85 MItsubishi Mighty Max and my sister had a 83 MItsubishi Starion. MItsubishi needs to add a compact pickup to compete with the Maverick and the Santa Cruz but offer it for less. A smaller more affordable truck will sell. I believe MItsubishi should still offer an inexpensive subcompact like the Mirage it will sell in a slowing car market with high msrps. Yes I know the Mirage is probably going to be canceled but I believe in these times it is a mistake and they should reconsider cancelling the Mirage. Toyota is having problems selling the new redesigned Tacomas and Tundras with the turbo 4s and 6s. Most Tacomas have MSRPs of well over 40k. There is room for MItsubishi to grow their market share with more affordable vehicles. I am not saying Mitsubishi is going to overtake Toyota, Honda, or Nissan but they should take advantage of the more affordable market segment that these companies for the most part have abandoned. MItsubishi doesn't have to be the biggest just increase sales and become more profitable.
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