My New Honda Fit!

I’ve been driving 4×4 trucks for over 30 years. The trade-off for the weight and truckiness being that I could pick up firewood, haul lumber, sacks of concrete. and go anywhere, any time. I spent 12 years 4-wheeling in Baja. Many trips to the American Southwest (always in spring). 3 long trips to British Columbia, shooting pics for Builders of the Pacific Coast. 4-wheeling it across the river to my friend Louie’s house in Mendocino county. I’ve been a truck guy forever. The latest, for my last 10 years: a 2003 Toyota 4-cylinder, 5-speed Tacoma 4×4 with metal camper shell, pull-out canopy, all-time classic tough, dependable vehicle. 140,000 miles, good for another 140. Desert Roamer. (I may sell it, and get a beater truck for local hauls.)

But there came the time, several months ago, when I realized I was through with the long truck hauls, the 3,000-mile trips, and hauling the truck over the windy roads homewards from my weekly trips into San Francisco was a chore.

I embarked on a study of cars, and ended up settling on a Honda Fit. Other contenders (in this field of scaled-down, aerodynamic SUVs) were the Toyota Yaris Liftback, Mazda 2, Scion XD, Prius C model, VW Golf diesel. The Cube too cartoony, the Scion xB too boxy. I didn’t do extensive reviews, but in the end settled on the Fit largely because of its ingenious cargo space in the rear — 4 by 5 feet with rear seats folded down. 20 cubic feet of space vs. 15 for the other cars. 4 doors and a hatchback so you can get into the rear from all sides. Like a small truck bed. (I could get into my truck bed camper shell on all 3 sides.)

I wanted to see how the Fit did on curves, since a winding mountain road is about half of my driving. I talked salesman Murray Cherkas of San Francisco Honda into letting me take a Fit across the city and then down the winding block of Lombard Street, “crookedest street in the world.” I took the 8 hairpin turns fast, and the car behaved beautifully. Sold.

I picked up a Honda Fit Base model yesterday. OMG!! It made me think of driving a Beemer 2002 in the ’70s. The 2002 was different! Like a rabbit. And I guess things have come a long way, because this v. efficient little car reminds me of that B. Going from a truck to this car is like going from logging boots to running shoes. Like a 250 pound guy losing 60 pounds.

360 visibility, automatic windows, a USB connector (country boy with vacuum cleaner here). There are a dozen things that delight me about this car. Biggie is it isn’t as tiring as truck driving. With the beamer, I could drive all day and arrive rested — er, well — not wasted.

With taxes, fees, everything, it was just under $18K. 3 years, or 36,000 miles, they’ll fix anything that goes wrong. 5 years, they’ll fix a lot of things.

I’m in auto heaven. Can’t help it. California kid. Driving since age 14. As evil as it is, I like rollin down the road. Good music. Thoughts rolling in. Cruising country roads looking for barns, indigenous, tuned-in buildings of all types to photograph. Arriving rested when I drive somewhere on assignment. Easy parking. Twice as good mileage as truck.

Poppa’s got a brand new rig.

Music del día: Right now, “Nobody’s Business,” BB King and Ruth Brown duo that just cooks — they’re having a good time up there. Earlier, “Bama Lama, Bama Loo” by Little Richard, little known, but maybe my fave LR song (yes, I’m sure I’ve said this before). Last, but not least, “Leave My Little Girl Alone” by Travis Tritt. Whoo!

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

21 Responses to My New Honda Fit!

  1. Hi Lloyd, We had been looking for a small car, new or used, for several months with the Fit at the top of the list. Last week we finally found an '07 (the 1st year) with 52,000 mi. and love it. This may be the car that takes over from the old VW bug and then the Tercel wagon. Congratulations.

  2. The cargo configurability of those things is really just lovely. I can't bring myself to buy something that new until I marry into big money or get that Nobel in Literature I've been aiming for, and I'm trying to stick to my trip-scaled shoes-bicycle-motorcycle-truck multimodalism, but I've talked a number of my friends into buying Fits with a spirited demo of all the crazy things you can do with the seats. Between those and a good roof rack, you're set. It's really the perfect vehicle for someone with the history of documenting amazing things that you have.

    I just sort of wish John Muir and Peter Aschwanden were still around to write a manual for the car.

  3. very nice looking vehicle..
    one thing i wonder about, Lloyd, is how much you will miss that box on the back of your truck? bet there was lots you'd chuck in it, that you'd just as soon not have "inside"..

    suggestion, if is still available. few years back at one of these shops that sells car roof carriers, etc.. there was a fairly small sort of box (small back end version of a roof top carrier) which would clip into the trailer hitch.

    was thinking of your road kill finds, might be nice to have them out back, in something you can wash out with the hose.

  4. I have one for 3 years now. 125.000 km (78.000 miles) no worries. I will get a new one next year. I love it.

    I´m from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
    Jorge Langenheim

  5. Wow, lots of comments!
    Congratulations – I'll be curious to see how you like it over time. I have a 2005 Vibe that I'm really happy with but have my eye on the Fit (and the Yaris) for the future.

  6. Hey Lloyd,

    We got a Fit, 2008. Only new car I've ever bought. (couldn't find any decent used Toyota Corolla wagons.)
    In the advertiser brochuer they picture the Fit with an alpaca in it, and if I had one, I'm certain that I could put one in it. It is an amazing car. We took it on a two-week RoadTrip! from Mpls out and around Utah/Colordo/mts. Camping. All that camping crap, (and we don't travel light) everything fit. It holds more than our Subaru Forester. And we drove it where it definitely shouldn't be driven. But it went. And it drives like a little Go Kart. Put a roof rack on it, and drive it back to Baja. I'm sure you could figure out a way to live in it.


  7. You can't go wrong with Honda. The Fit will last you forever if you just do the basics. With the price of gas these days, the mileage will give you ear-to-ear smiles. If you need extra cargo space, there are even after-market units available to install on your roof. If you need a bit more pop, zip or zoom zoom, there is a billion dollar after-market industry specifically for Hondas. You can even put the seats down and curl up into a fetal position for naps at festivals.

    Smart choice Lloyd. The next big question is, what tunes work best on the PCH?

  8. Over here its a Honda Jazz.
    We have an 2002 model and it has been hammered and is still going strong. An amazing little versatile car. We live at the far end of a dirt track and this car has coped for years. My Merc has only done a few months and the rear suspension has ripped out.
    Good choice

  9. I am so happy to hear that you got a Fit! We bought our 2007 new, right off the truck, and it has been nothing but an absolute joy to own. We named it Zippy, because it it so fun and nimble to drive. We have hauled SO much in Zippy that would never have fit in any other small car. We plan to drive it until the wheels fall off, or until an electric version is available. After years of debate and research, we bought a 2013 Prius V last month. We like it a lot, but our hearts belong to our Fit. Even with a beautiful new car in the driveway, we still argue over who gets to drive the Fit. Love.

  10. To answer anonymous #1: Tradesman metal (and insulated) camper shell. Made in Winters, Calif. You can specify where and what type windows. I prefer metal shells to plastic or fiberglass.

  11. Hey Lloyd, it looked like you took on driving a smaller car fairly easy. For some reason, the analogy that comes to my mind with the shift from driving trucks to something smaller is when one shifts from driving manual to automatic. It could be that genuine love for driving that you have that made it very easy. It also doesn’t hurt that you got a good deal for it. Congratulations!

  12. Lloyd, if it didn't actually fit, I suspected someone who was handy like yourself, could look it over, and make a custom one for your FIT. Myself am not (handy), but it seems fairly simple, minimal "folds" etc.. Thought it could be made to fit/fold available space.

  13. I've been following Llyod's ramblings about cars and trucks since Stewart Brand wore short pants. Typically I would listen to Lloyd rave about some obscure model car, ignore his ravings, and then a few years after that car developed huge popularity and an almost cult following, I would beat myself up for not taking his advice. This happened several times.

    So when I came upon this blog about the Honda Fit, I wasted no time. I immediately went to a Honda dealer and plunked down a deposit on a new 2015 Honda fit—sight unseen. Now I'm a big fellow and I had no idea whether or not I'd even fit in the thing. It's been almost two years since the Fit was delivered and I've enjoyed driving it more than any car or truck I've ever owned. I've hauled a gas refrigerator in it, lots of 2 x 4's, and several small trees. It's little on the outside and huge inside. It's easy to maintain and cheap to run. It's fast too!

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