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Road Tripping, Part 1: San Diego

Road Trip: San Diego, San Francisco, BendI am not a car guy. My first car was a 1972 VW Bus that I bought used from my aunt and uncle. It had curtains in the window, an air-cooled engine and loved to cruise on flat highway roads. Hills were another matter entirely, and I ended swapping the engine twice in the six years I drove that lovely land yacht.

I am a hiker. You know this, because you’re reading it on SoCalHiker. Or you’re hopelessly lost on the interweb, in which case, let me point you to Google. But even hikers must get to the trailhead, and so most of us need a car to take us to the road’s end — where the wild trail begins. I suppose that with this in mind, the good folks at Honda reached out to me and a few other outdoor bloggers to participate in the media roll-out of the third generation Honda Fit. Which brings me to part one of my recent road trip: San Diego. 

Katie (The Morning Fresh), Casey (Modern Hiker) and Kam (Campfire Chic) were my outdoor blogging compadres. We were joined by a number of other lifestyle bloggers — I suppose hiking is a lifestyle — and introduced to the redesigned 2015 Honda Fit.

The Outdoor Blogging Contingent

Remember… I’m not a car guy. My 2005 Xterra gets me and my gear to the trailhead just fine. Yes, it needs a good washing, thanks to street parking in LA, but otherwise it does the job. But I was curious to check out this car, and excited by the prospect of getting together again with Casey and Kam, and meeting Katie for the first time. I was in.

First Impressions

The Honda Fit looks great. It’s a small car, but looks good. When you get in and sit down, it doesn’t feel small. It was actually roomier in terms of leg-room than my Xterra–my personal benchmark. The seats were comfortable and the controls were within easy reach. We were driving top-of-the-line models with leather interiors, so take that into account.

2015 Honda Fit

The Technology

While I’ll admit I don’t know much about cars, I do know a few things about technology. The Honda Fit had a few cool “shiny objects” that caught this geek’s eye. First, it integrated pretty nicely with my iPhone 5s. I was able to connect and even use Siri to activate commands. In the center of the dash there was a 7″ touch screen with navigation and menus for media and other controls.

Blind-spot Camera Display

Phone calls, music and other iPhone audio worked seamlessly as you would expect. One of my pet peeves about navigation systems is that they look like hell and are hard to use. My wife has a navigation system in her car, and yet 9 times out of 10 we use our iPhones because it’s just so much easier. Of course, the bigger peeve is the cost — usually navigation systems add over a grand to the cost of a new car.

In the case of the Fit, they have an alternative. Instead of the traditional built-in navigation you can purchase and install the HondaLink Navigation app from the iTunes store. At $60, it’s much cheaper than the typical navigation options, and it integrates with the 7″ display.

The tech features were great, especially the backup and blind-spot cameras. The user interface for the touch-screen system left a lot to be desired. I really wish auto manufacturers would simply let me dock my iPad in the dash, or at the very least, let me mirror my smartphone display rather than forcing me to learn and use their proprietary interface.

The Test Drive

On Friday morning we split into pairs and hit the road. Kam was my driving partner, and we took turns driving around San Diego, eventually heading to Mission Bay for lunch. While we didn’t get a lot of time to really put the car through it’s paces, we did get some freeway driving, city driving and even threw in a few hill climbs for good measure.

My driving partner, Kam

I liked the comfort. It feels like a much bigger car. It’s pretty quiet and smooth, too. It’s super thrifty at the pump, too. Casey and Katie were able to squeeze 44 MPGs out of it (this is not a hybrid). That’s pretty awesome.

The Fit works a bit harder on the hills. After driving more powerful cars for years, I really noticed the engine working hard as we climbed up to Torrey Pines. But for the gas mileage, it’s  a worthy trade-off.

Stowing gear in the Honda Fit

Another plus? The Fit can stow a hella lot of gear. The “magic seats” (their term, not mine… I swear!) fold up or down depending on the kind of gear you’re stowing, and we found it really spacious and flexible.

"Refresh Mode" is a thing

The Conclusion

Driving the Honda Fit was fun, and I enjoyed the car overall. If I was in the market for a small car to get me to the trailhead, I’d seriously consider it. It was comfortable and spacious, and got great gas mileage. 

Thanks to Honda for inviting me down to check out their new Fit. If you’re interested in learning more about the car, check out the Honda Fit web site.

Next stop on the road trip… San Francisco!

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