By on November 29, 2021

Our Buy/Drive/Burn today is yet another reader suggested trio, this time from SoCalMikester. Mike wants to take a look a three quite affordable compact hatchbacks from 2007. Honda, Nissan, and Scion are all on offer today, but which one’s worth your limited number of 2007 dollars?

Note: Though 2006 was the model year suggested, the Fit was first available in North America in 2007. We’ll also play the leftovers game with the xA.

Honda Fit

Honda introduced the “new” Fit to North America this year, though the first-generation model has been on sale since 2002 elsewhere, and is due for replacement. Available only as a hatchback, all North American Fits are also front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is available in the Japanese market.) Honda offers two trims this year: Base, and Sport. We’ll opt for a manual transmission Sport today, but the trim is also available as an automatic. One-hundred and nine horsepower are generated by the 1.5-liter inline-four, and travel through the front wheels via the five-speed. Fit asks $15,170.

Nissan Versa

The Versa is also new to North America for the 2007 model year, but has been on sale in Japan since 2004. Unlike the Fit, Versa is offered in hatchback or sedan guises. All-wheel-drive versions are offered outside North America, though Nissan brings only front-drivers here. Trims are limited to the base S or upmarket SL, with sedans and hatches at both levels, as well as manual and automatic transmissions. Our choice today is the SL hatchback with a five-speed manual, which is priced at $14,550. Interestingly, Nissan asks the same money whether a buyer chooses the hatch or sedan, and the CVT adds another $1,000. All cars are powered by the same 122-horse 1.8-liter inline-four.

Scion xA

Scion is in between small hatches in 2007: The xA was officially finished last year, and its replacement the xD is not available until model year 2008. xA was imported through December 2006, so we’ll be buying a leftover today. xA was offered from 2004, and the five-door hatch shared a platform with the unpopular Toyota Echo (2000-2005). In its final year, xA was available in one trim, an unnamed base version. All examples were powered by the same 1.5-liter inline-four from the Echo, which produced 103 horses. A five-speed manual or four-speed auto were available – we’ll go with the manual today. The bargain of our trio, xA asks just $12,780.

Three discount Japanese hatchbacks for the economy-minded buyer. Which one goes home with you?

If you have a B/D/B trio you’d like to see, leave it in the comments!

[Images: Honda, Nissan, Scion]

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46 Comments on “Buy/Drive/Burn: Compact Five-door Hatchbacks From 2007...”


  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Let’s see…two of these are a tough choice…

    Buy: Honda Fit. Great use of interior space, excellent stick shift, great mileage, nice engine, and it was affordable. And you still see them on the road today.

    Drive: Scion xA. The only reason why I didn’t put this in the buy category is that Scion no longer exists. Yes, parts are still available and I’m sure the Toyota shop down the street will still work on it, but the brand is still no more.

    Burn: Nissan Versa. Weak engine. CVT. Really cheap feeling and looking interior. Awkward styling. This wasn’t the best era with Nissan and it shows here. Great fuel economy and low starting price aren’t enough to save this from the bonfire.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Fit was a buzz box. With all the positive, it just did not drive too well. Mazda3 i-Sport was under $14K and would be waaaaay better car to drive.

      I would go with Scion, but Toyota clutches/gearboxes were horrible back then. It wouldn’t be fun to drive a manual Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        Very true. Wasn’t 70mph causing the Honda engine to scream around 3000rpm? Given Honda’s reluctance to employ more sound deadening, crank the stereo up.

        But for daily use and the short highway road trip, all of the space, excellent fuel economy, reliability, and smooth manual makes it very attractive.

        But you hit the nail on the head. When Mazda3, Sentra, and Corolla have models that would only add a few bucks to your monthly payment, then these become harder sells.

        (See smart for trying to sell half a car for full car prices!)

      • 0 avatar
        TheMrFreeze

        Wife has an ’09 Scion xD, 170K miles, still on the original clutch. Manual is no better or worse than any of the other manuals I’ve driven in my life.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      Why buy a CVT Versa when they offer a six speed standard? Then you won’t have to set it aflame.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Wasn’t the first generation Versa either a rebadged Renault model, or at least a Renault design slightly changed over to sell as a Nissan?

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Buy: The Honda Fit. Still a good resale market for these. It is the closest thing to what the Civic originally was.
    Drive: The Versa. But only as a rental or short term lease. The interior is remarkably roomy with a good greenhouse and headroom. However it is unfortunately styled.
    Burn: With a great deal of reluctance the Scion. I still see a number of Echos on the road. They are another example of Toyota making a car that absorbs punishment and keeps on running. However it is not as ‘good’ as car as the Fit and not as ‘roomy’ as the Versa. As an aside each day during my commute I see the same green Toyota Tercel and a grey 4th generation Pontiac Grand Prix. Remarkable ‘survivor’ cars, particularly in the GTA where it appears government officials get a bonus for dumping salt on the roads.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Bring them to the gun range. Set about 200 yards away. Fire!

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    For us older guys, these newfangled econoboxes are pretty small. I’m better versed in the E-boxes of 1963: the Ford Falcon, the Chevy Nova, and the Plymouth Valiant.

    I could even add the Studebaker Lark, and the Rambler American, but there are only three categories, not five. I’ve actually driven four of the five, and owned one.

    As for these three, I’ve driven only one, the Honda. I’ve driven other models by Honda, Toyota, and Nissan, but shouldn’t judge these three by other models, so I won’t. Instead, I’ll just say two of the five 1963 models were more fun to drive than the Honda above: the Rambler and the Valiant.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      You might be amazed at the space in the back seat of a Versa hatch. The Fit could carry immense volumes of cargo.

      Small cars today are not as small inside as the compacts of yore.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        My 1963 Dart wagon (same as the Valiant) with no center console, had more room for a 6 foot 2 driver than the Honda Fit I drove. The official measurements are similar, but the numbers, they lie. The Dart/Valiant was wider and taller.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          My father owned a 63 Plymouth Valiant 4 door in white with the 170-6 and three on the tree. He owned it from 68-73 and performed normal maintenance on it including a clutch. The only reason why he sold it at 175k, a high mileage car at the time for $75 was because the floors became rotten. Probably his favorite vehicle ever and led him to by other Valiants and Darts including a 72 Dart Swinger for my mom.

          Buy: Fit- It’s fun and the rear seats are very versatile. I know someone who moved an apartment in one.
          Drive: Scion- Cheap and cheerful but the center gauges are irritating.
          Burn: Versa- At the time the base sedan version with no ac and radio delete was the least expensive car in the US at $9995.
          Better than its replacement but Nissan meh. The manual is far better than the CVT.

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    The Fit was wayyyy better than both the other cars. Inside and out.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’ll go against the grain:

    Buy: Scion. This is a cheap car, and no one did cheap cars as well as Toyota did back then.
    Drive: Fit.
    Burn: Versa

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You have chosen… wisely.

      • 0 avatar

        I think I’ll agree here. Versas didn’t age well, and Toyota does small Corolla-like stuff well. Never have to worry about it breaking down. And it’s probably quieter inside than the Fit, which is almost universally considered too loud.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Based on my experience with the same generation xB, I’ll definitely go with the Scion as the buy option. Although it was as short legged as the Fit on long Interstate runs.

      Drive the Fit. Just don’t spend long days on the interstate.

      Burn the Versa. While I like the second generation model (the long term rental I had at one time was surprisingly good), the first generation had little going for it other than the price sticker.

      • 0 avatar
        eng_alvarado90

        Personally I think the 1st gen Versa was better than the 2nd gen other than the styling.
        The 1st gens had a more powerful powertrain (1.8 + 6 spd >> 1.6 + 5 spd) and if you stepped up to the SL you got better interior materials than any 2nd gen Versa. The door cards, armrest and dash have soft touch materials

        • 0 avatar
          PSX 5k Ultra Platinum Triple Black

          I agree with you eng_alvarado90. I had several of this generation Nissan Versa hatchbacks as rental cars, and it rode pretty decently, had a roomy interior that was put together well, with nice materials (for the class). It wasn’t a great looking car on the outside, but it was quite a bit nicer on the inside than I expected for the price. The next generation Versa seemed built to a price much, much more than the generation in today’s discussion.

          In 2009, I purchased a blue 2009 Honda Fit Sport with the 5-speed manual new, and that car was quite a bit less reliable than I was expecting for a new Honda to be. But it was quite roomy and relatively fun to drive. But that’s a story for another day, since it’s newer than the cars in this article.

  • avatar
    wolfwagen

    BUY: Honda
    DRIVE: SCION
    BURN: Nissan

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Only one of these I’ve driven is the Honda. My lord was it gutless, and I was coming from a ’93 Escort.

    Buy: The Fit. For great mpg and the brilliant interior layout.
    Drive: Versa. 17 extra ponies makes a big difference at this level, back seat is actually usable, and the 5-speed can’t be too terrible.
    Burn: Scion. Kudos for the low, low price, but you get what you pay for.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I’d probably buy a Scion if for no reason other than the fact that Toyota doesn’t make it anymore. Might be a fun conversation starter with those unfamiliar with the brand. I’d drive the Toyota since it’s an appliance made by a company known for building reliable appliances. I’d burn the Nissan primarily due to that hideous colour and a CVT transmission.

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    Buy the Honda Fit. It was one of the least offensive small cars in history. Not the best on a long journey but versatile, kind of fun, and willing to endure routine abuse. You might even be able to flip it for a tidy sum.

    While I have no love for the Versa, it is a handy little beater with the ability to swallow as much cargo as the Fit and is a tad more comfy on long drives. Use and abuse it.

    I guess that means burn the Scion. It’s probably going to outlive the Versa but the youth-oriented branding Toyota was pushing always seemed cringey. Just about every design choice rubbed me the wrong way and they aren’t more useful or fun to drive than the other two.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    I am actually in the market for something like this right now. I had a super cheap manual PT Cruiser for me and the large dog… and I’ve seen the light. I sold that for a profit, and am now looking for something similar I can buy with cash. However, despite how actually spacious both the Fit and the Versa are (no experience with the Scion) I prefer their taller siblings. so xB, Cube, Soul, 500L, etc. The market is tight for clean examples of those, and the FIATs are too new and expensive, even if they depreciate like nothing i’ve seen before. (I missed a 500L manual with a troubled past and a desperate owner, and I’m really bummed about it.)

    I am only looking at manuals, of course. the second gen xB would the best, except they had oil consumption issues, and the manual is weird. Toyota’s aggressive throttle tip-in, coupled with a high-engaging clutch, makes them unpleasant as far as manuals go. i’m hoping for a manual Cube in a crazy color, but they’re really thin on the ground. and Souls are keeping their value more than they should, in my humble opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Souls are keeping their value more than they should”

      That may just be the Fed’s inflation effect, its happening to everything.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Interesting, as the Fit is the tallest of the three.

      Buy: Fit.
      Drive: Scion.
      Burn: Versa.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I have an 08 xB and yeah, she does like her oil. Thought they sorted that out in later years, but maybe not. Mine has a slushbox, and it’s a bit slushier than I’d like. Still, that motor pulls a lot harder than the Cube’s or Soul’s, while getting about the same mpg. I do like the Cube for its weirdness.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I had an 05 xB 5M for 7 years – excellent car. It was mechanically identical to the xA and Echo, except for the body, of course. The only reason I didn’t get the xA was that my 6’6″ frame didn’t really fit inside.

    I don’t see any bad choice here. People love to hate on Nissan, but the Versa has always been one of Nissan’s best cars.

    It’s worth noting that the base Scion xA and xB were very stripped – manual-only and no cruise control, for example. I purchased and installed the normally-dealer-installed cruise control myself.

    All three cars are buzzboxes, but that’s the price of cheap.

    However, if this is a choice for a purchase to be made today, then here I go:

    Buy: Fit – best value.
    Drive: Versa – roomy.
    Burn: xA – extinct brand. Toyota should think of the Scion debacle as it doubles down on hydrogen. Not every decision they make is a good one.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      I had the same xB, chose it over a Fit because it handled my late wife’s wheelchair better, and the chair height seats made it easier for her to enter/exit. Such are the factors you look at when caring for a terminally ill invalid. The pleasant surprise is that it was a wonderful driving car (other than desperately needing a sixth gear), and I enjoyed it for a couple of more years after Patti was gone.

      Still consider it one of the four or five best cars I’ve owned in my lifetime.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Syke: Sorry for your loss.

        I nearly pulled the trigger on a 2nd generation xB. The first generation were I believe not generally sold in Canada. The centre instrument stack put me off. I was probably wrong but was under the impression that generation was ‘closer’ to the Matrix/Vibe than to the Echo/Yaris.

        One of my daughter’s being a Millenial and a science major/lab rat/ medical researcher, rented a Prius and detested it. She returned it for an xB and felt that it was a much better vehicle. Later she tried out a Soul for an extended period and still raves about it.

  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    Buy: Fit. It’s roomy, stylish, has good resale and best fuel economy. It may also end up being the most reliable of this trio.

    Drive: Versa. I had a 1st gen sedan S with the 6 spd manual and I can tell you it’ll outperform the other two on a straight line. The suspension and steering were too lightweight for my taste but it was still a fun ride. This one being an SL has an upgraded interior with more soft touch materials than the Fit.

    Burn: xA. I never liked this one, the xD was a much improved replacement in many ways. The ungainly (although reliable) Echo derived powertrain doesn’t do it any favors either. Unlike the contemporary xB, I don’t see any xA on the road anymore…

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Buy: Fit. There’s a small part of me that wants a manual first-gen Sport with mild ricing applied; I think it’s a neat-looking little box.

    Drive: Versa. With passengers. It’s by far the most comfortable of the three for anyone who has to ride in back.

    Burn: xA. I had forgotten these existed until you mentioned them, and then I remembered that you don’t even get classical Toyota reliability out of these when they’re equipped with the time-bomb manual transmission. (The ones with the auto will inherit the world from the cockroaches.)

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    I agree with the last 2 commenters: Buy the Fit, drive the Versa, burn the xA. Not that I have anything against the xA, but it just doesn’t compel me one way or the other. The Versa was a nicely packaged little cruiser with massive rear seat room and slick styling. It drove OK, though not very exciting. The Fit, well, I sampled the generation after and found it felt like a toy car on the highway. If the first generation felt like that, then I would much rather drive the Versa. At least the Fit would be pretty reliable (though who would know, as it sat in the garage going unused).

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’d pick the Fit with an automatic if I get to tweak the options a bit. It runs 1000rpm lower on the highway, and man, I don’t want to shift this thing myself. Yes, it is slower than the manual but it’s Subaru slow not diesel Chevette slow.

    With what you gave me:
    Buy Versa. I think it has the most interior volume.
    Drive the Fit. Hate the gearing.
    Burn the Scion. I have not thought about these in years until this article was posted.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    • Buy the Versa until you can afford a larger nicer car. Then notice that the Versa had more usable space inside than your newer larger vehicle – and scratch your head.

    • Drive the Scion far far away, where no one will have to look at it.

    • Burn the Fit.

    No one else agrees with my choices so far (and I doubt if anyone will). This is fine with me – because you are all wrong.

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    Too bad Mazda2 wouldn’t be coming for two more years.

    Buy: Scion xA – It’s what Toyota does best. A reliable, functional appliance that does what it’s supposed to do without a fuss. It was the generation after this where all their cars were supersized and cost cut to death.

    Drive: Honda Fit – A great city car that was hugely practical and decently fun around town. Buzzy on highways though and tossed around thanks to the huge slab side. And then there’s the matter of brake warping.

    Burn: Nissan Versa – It was the biggest. And I liked that they tried something different with the design in the early Ghosn days. Felt more Renault than Nissan. Unfortunately also came with everything bad with French cars.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    This goes against the grain, but:
    Buy: Versa. It has a huge interior. Big-boned friend had one, never had problems, and the car felt like a real car.
    Drive: Fit. Old school Honda fun to drive quotient.
    Burn: xA. I have a strong bias against cars with gauges in the center of the dash.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Buy the Fit; resale, ergonomics, shifter, steering feel and most importantly will remind me of the old days in the OG Civics.
    Drive the xA; it’s not bad, it’s just not good.
    Burn the Nissan; it was not a good time for Nissan. Unpleasant sounds from the whole car, but especially the engine, least reliable / lowest resale of the trio, I just didn’t like being in low end Nissans of this era.

  • avatar
    BSttac

    I loved this first generation of Honda Fit. Wish Honda made a fun, small hatchback still. Definetly would buy and drive that one

  • avatar
    theonlydt

    Easy.

    Buy – Honda Fit – drove well, reliable as anything, many still on the road today. Any built in Swindon or Japan were the best of the Fits, Japan especially.

    Drive – Scion, by process of elimination.

    Burn – The Versa. I test drove one of these. I thought it’d be a winner, lots of space, 1.8 looks good on paper, and drove it with the six speed manual because that’s what I wanted. It was utter shite. Coarse, the gearbox felt like the very worst of French gearboxes (very imprecise), handling is extremely poor. I’d hoped it’d be soft and comfortable, instead it was floaty and poorly resolved. It’s a shame as the car was roomy, and a fuel efficientish engine with a 6 speed as a hatchback it had potential. Instead it can burn merrily on the pyre and good riddance.

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