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Honda Fit vs. Scion xA vs. Toyota Matrix



  • sclairesclaire Posts: 3
    i test drove a 5spd yaris sedan the other day... i have to say i went in with a negative attitude, but after driving it i've (somewhat) changed my mind. it drove beautifully in the city, great over the bumps, shifted smoothly. my only complaint about the drive quality would be that it is a much smaller car than what i am used to driving, therefore the highway driving was a bit shaky. but it still had no trouble getting up to 80 and staying put.
    although the drive was great, i am not buying a yaris because i still maintain the interior looks cheap and DULL. i suppose that was toyota's choice to make an inexpensive economy car, but i would like a little more pizazz.
    that's just my take on it :)
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I've got a guard rail to show you... I got run off my lane last summer; I stood on the brakes (it's instinct - you need to stop, you stand on the brakes, even though I already knew better). I ended up skidding, losing control, and giving myself some back problems and $2,200 in bodywork to my 1996 non-ABS Accord LX. I'd push for ABS if it was me.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    A recent test of $15,000 cars said basically the same thing you just did. (Car and Driver) reported that highway stability was awful, but the shifter was nice and smooth.
  • re:

    Cargo volume w/ seats folded

    Fit - 41.9
    XB - 43.4
    Matrix - 53.2

    I took some rough, quick measurements at the car show that are at least close, and actual usable cargo space does not jibe with those figures.

    If we're talking about the area defined by the surface that is created when the rear seats are folded down, here's how it works out (listed from biggest to smallest in each category):

    Length of cargo area:

    Matrix: near 58", of which near 49" is at full height (height slopes down toward the rear)
    Fit: 56", of which 51" is mostly at full height before the rear slope
    xB: 43", of which there is varying height, because the seats don't fold flat

    You can also make use of "overhang" space if you're carrying things that don't need support at the end; and that space can be quite substantial if you are travelling alone and can move the passenger seat all the way up. You can grab an extra 9" on the Fit, and an extra 20" on the xB. (But note that you need to grab at least 13" there just to match the supported space on the Fit which also gets there without sacrificing space for a front passenger.)

    On the Matrix, you can fold the passenger seat down flat and regain supported area well beyond these figures. On the Fit, you also have the option of folding that seat to get maximum length, but there is a trade-off, as then the main cargo area is no longer totally flat, and neither is the long area this configuration creates. On the xB, that seat doesn't fold. (On the driver's side, you'll always have overhang space on the xB and Matrix, you may not on the Fit if you're a tall driver and need to move the seat all the way back.)

    Height of cargo area:

    Fit: Mostly 40"
    Matrix: mostly 35"
    xB: varies, 36" at the rear, to 32" at the front (because seats don't fold flat)

    Width of cargo area:

    Fit: over 40" at the wheel wells, with a large 50" area in front of the wheel wells

    xB: 38" at the wheel wells, near 49" in front of the wheel wells

    Matrix: near 41" at the wheel wells, but only a small portion ever gets much larger

    Overall, without taking into account overhang or the ability to fold the front passenger seat, these numbers indicate that the Fit easily has the most cargo space... its length is almost identical to Matrix, its height and width noticeably greater; and it beats the xB in all dimensions. (If you can make good use of overhang space and the ability to fold the front passenger seat, I think the Matrix may come out on top, I didn't calculate that.)

    The xB comes out last, and it is also the only one whose surface is not flat, and the only one where you can't fold the front passenger seat down to expand the storage area. However, you can claim some extra space in the deep trough behind the front seats, an amount that will vary depending on the position of the front seats, but it is a more usable space on the xB than on the others.

    If anyone here with an xB or a Matrix wants to fine tune those figures, chime in! But I think they're very close and fairly represent the differences.

    (I posted some more about this in the main Honda Fit forum, message #2946.)
  • chrisducatichrisducati Posts: 394
    As an owner of a 2006 Matrix I have to say it is higher priced than any of the others you have talked about. We like the Matrix but I would look at the Fit. We would have bought either an Xb or Xa had we not had such a terrible time with the Scion dealers in our area. We could not get the equipment we wanted even though it was listed as available. Your best bet is just to take your daughter and let her pick from the models you have talked about. Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, Scion Xb /Xa should all come in under 15G. The Yaris hatch will only be a 3door here in the states. Good luck finding one like you want it.
  • lablover2lablover2 Posts: 106
    does anyone know if the honda fit has height adjustable front seats? i know the xa does and it is nicer being higher up to see traffic but i didn't like where the speedometer was. i like the matrix but it is more than i want to pay, what bout the dodge caliber?
  • Update: I posted some more dimension information in the main Honda Fit forum, message # 3245.
  • The FIt does not have adjustable seat height. I'm surprised the xA does, because (at least according to the dealer I asked), the xB does not.
  • bagaheybagahey Posts: 1
    I test drove the 5 speed Fit Sport on 4/27/06 in dry conditions on the highway, it was
    a noisy bumpy ride,I can't imagine snowy mountain driving in this car would be any fun.
    I was disappointed in the amount of engine and road noise above 50 mph that the Fit
    made. Test drove 06 XR Matrix after Fit test drive-will purchase Matrix if I can get price
    down a little bit more.
  • ramoramo Posts: 66
    The Matrix is pretty solid. We were so sure for 3 yrs. that it would be our next car. Luckily, we live in a mild climate so our needs are minimal, but the deal breaker, certainly on a new Matrix, was the take it, or leave it attitude of the Toyota salespeople. Access pricing, really means that Toyota won't budge on their prices, so you had better be able to get good trade in value. I'd be interested in knowing how you do. I don't know that the Matrix is really comparable to the Fit given a big price difference.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    In my limited experience (limited because I have only bought one Toyota, an Echo, and one Scion, an xA, both from the same dealer), Toyota dealers are a bit of a pill compared to Honda - and Honda is not as nice as Chevy and Dodge. However, they have advertised specials on Camry's periodically that are really low priced.
  • bdog3bdog3 Posts: 2
    We're also looking at the Fit and XB(not the XA) - both seem pretty adequate for our needs EXCEPT we have been unable to determine how well the XB or the FIT (both with automatic) would do in the mountains (5500 feet or so up and down little to no snow conditions). Would appreciate any comments as to mountain driving experiences.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,484
    At 5,500 feet, you will lose about 22% of your car's figure it will be like running on 3 cylinders at zero altitude--something like having 88HP instead of 109. You'll get by, but with the automatic you'd be better off shifting the transmission manually, and staying in the lower gears longer between each upwards shift.

    In my xA, I could not quite pull the left lane at 65 mph in 5th gear, (stick shift) up to Lake Tahoe at something like 4,400 feet. In my old Mercedes diesel, with 90 HP, high altitude performance was really pathetic, since that would put me down to about 70HP in a 3,600 lb car.

    Hope this helps---I think you'll be fine but you'll have to adjust your driving habits, especially a) starting from rest and b) moving to the right or middle lane when mountain climbing on longgggg stretches.

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  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    My experience was different from our host's. On the same drive to Tahoe (presumably from the Bay Area) my xA (exact same engine as the xB you are thinking about) with manual was fine - no appreciable drop off in acceleration or passing power. Keep in mind that the xA (or your xB) is not a rocket to begin with, so passing cars while going uphill requires more downshifting and higher rpm. (I drove to the South Shore where there is more one lane driving than the North Shore).

    Driving at high altitude has almost no perceptible impact on modern cars driven within "normal" throttle ranges, unless you are used to driving a lot at WOT (wide open throttle, otherwise known as "pedal to the metal").

    The reason being, that in modern cars with fuel injection the air mass sensor automatically adjusts the fuel delivery to keep the fuel/air ratio optimal regardless of altitude. In the old days, with carbuereted cars, high altitude driving was terrible because the carbueretor had no way to adjust the fuel jets to the higher altitude, so your air/fuel mixture was leaning out and starving the engine regardless of your actual throttle position, speed, etc.

    Of course, there is ultimately less air at higher altitudes, so you may be using an additional part of your accelerator pedal to keep the air flow the same, but the difference is hardly noticeable - it doesn't feel, for example, like you are pressing down another 1/4 of the way to the floor as you climb up the mountain. In terms of horsepower delivery, then, you don't actually experience the effects of the lost "top end" horsepower until you hit WOT - in which case the air density at the higher altitude is the limiting factor on your power, and not the position your your accelerator pedal. And yes, in a passing situation you probably WILL use WOT in any of these cars, and your passing power will be slightly less.

    Shiftright was absolutely right that the maximum available power (103 on the Scion, whether xB or xA) drops off significantly at higher altitude. But this is only part of the picture. That horsepower is really only coming into play at very high rpm - mabye at 6,000 rpm on the Scions. At 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 rpm, if you look at typical dyno curves, you may only be running with 20, 40, 04 60 hp anyway!

    So it's not as bad as Shiftright makes out. At least not on a relative level. In absolute terms, Sion xA and xB owners almost always wish for more horsepower. These simply aren't "pocket rockets" like Ford Focii and Chevy Cobalts; even the Corolla is faster.

    In terms of 0-60 tests, it appears the Fit may have a 1-2 second edge on the xA/xB - probably due to gearing, but possibly due to breathing better at higher rpm.

    Therefore the odds are the Fit would perform slightly better in the situation you describe. On the other hand, it might be better to give priority to the form factor you need (xB = Big Box, Fit = microwagon). Or wait until this fall when a rumored xB replacement, slightly larger, comes out with 2.4 liter Camry engine, if the rumors are true. (I find the engine size rumor hard to believe, it would make more sense to me if Toyota dropped the Corolla 1.8 into the xB - the new xB, from the pictures floating around on the web, doesn't look to be going all Honda Element on us in terms of size - just a larger rear trunk area.)

    Hope that helps.

    (I used to think the xA was slow, until I got a minivan with a 4 cylinder.)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,484
    well I did say I couldn't accelerate in 5th gear, which means of course I had to downshift, so really you and I are on the same page here.

    I guess my point was that if you are at high altitude and you are climbing something, don't expect to pass anybody safely.

    I can't imagine a Fit would be appreciably faster 0-60 than a stickshift xA....I can do about 0-60 in 9.7 sec. The slowest of all combinations on a Scion would be an automatic xB.

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  • mankomanko Posts: 9
    Fit is quicker than an xA/xB @ ~8.7 secs. I replaced my xB with a Fit Sport and it's a noticeable difference, particularly in the mid-high end of the rpm range. Definitely more peppy and responsive overall than the xB I had.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    You said, in part,

    well I did say I couldn't accelerate in 5th gear, which means of course I had to downshift, so really you and I are on the same page here.

    I see what you mean. You were saying there's no power in the mountains to pass in 5th gear. But I was used to downshifting to 3rd for the passing, with an upshift to 4th as I hit redline.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    Manko, who actually has significant driving time on both cars, said:

    Fit is quicker than an xA/xB ~8.7 secs. I replaced my xB with a Fit Sport and it's a noticeable difference, particularly in the mid-high end of the rpm range. Definitely more peppy and responsive overall than the xB I had.

    I was almost tempted to note in my own post that most testers clock the xA/xB at 10-11 seconds 0-60, while the Fit (per Car and Driver) clocked at 8.5 or 8.7 (don't have the article in front of me), much better. I DIDN'T make that comment because 0-60 tests can often be misleading - dropped clutch, spinning wheels, redline first and hope to hit 60 before you redline 2d.... I had two VW Golfs with their ancient 2.0 engine, and although they didn't "clock" well in 0-60 runs, they actually had good passing power and good freeway scoot (stick shifts, low gearing, pulled well to redline).

    But you have the actual experience, and it sounds like the Fit definitely has better breathing, or something, as you approach redline. My little xA would pull to redline, but didn't seem happy about it. I'm glad the Fit has more "real world" power and doesn't run out of steam.

    BTW I am a real believer in "cheap" and so wish to point out that the suspension and engine in the regular Fit are the same as in the Fit Sport, so drivers on a budget won't lose any of the punch of the Fit in either trim level. (Tires are bigger and wider, though, on the Fit Sport.)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,484
    I did a "fast break-in" on my car and some of you might find it interesting, especially as these little cars we are talking about could use every ounce of HP you can squeeze out of them.

    I should emphasize though, that this method is somewhat controversial. I did it to my new car and was quite pleased with the resulting peppiness of the engine. I can pull away smartly from my friend's xB. YRMV.

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  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    Wouldn't this break-in have to take place at the factory. Aren't all engines run for a while at the factory?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,484
    No I don't think most engines are run at the factory....a few luxury makes do that. It would be quite time consuming to do so and really unnecessary unless it's a Ferrari or something that plans to go 200 mph and where HP is more or less guaranteed.

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  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    I just read your "fast break-in" piece, and I must say it rang a bell. It is the exact way I used to break in my three restored mid-1960 BMW motorcycles. Failure to break them in right could have resulted in re-ringing and re-honing, but the method I was told to use worked in every case. And it was the same as your street method.

    When it came time to break in my new manual transmission xB last month, I did the same thing as for my old BMW bikes. Constant acceleration and deceleration, on country roads with no one behind me to annoy. Used hard throttle all the time, but never exceeded 3000 rpm in any gear, and did not hold 3000 rpm in 5th for longer than a minute at a time before backing off. As wasteful as I thought this practice would be, the xB always got 33 mpg. After break-in I was able to get 40 mpg on one tank with lots of concentration, while regular driving around Louisville produces 35 mpg on every tank.
  • pensy77pensy77 Posts: 1
    Either car and driver or motor trend tested an xa manual against a rio and I believe an aveo. The xa did 0-60 in 8.8 seconds, and the quarter in 16.3 or 7 at 83mph. As far as the competition the editors concluded the other two cars were not even in the same class as an xa. So the xa and fit would be a very close match in a race.
  • barsonbarson Posts: 34
    I'm about to inherit some money, the final sign that it's time to give up my Subaru wagon with 300,000 miles on it. I test drove the xA last year and liked it, haven't driven a Fit yet. Anyone who has driven both, I'd like to hear your opinion.

    My situation: 12 minute commute to work, no kids, high fuel efficiency is a big plus. Does the Fit really have that much more usable cargo room than the xA? Which is more comfy on long trips? I did drive a Civic last year with electric power steering, and loved it, but it's not a requirement.
  • barsonbarson Posts: 34
    p.s. -- I'll be getting a manual transmission.
  • petro33petro33 Posts: 192
    FAST BREAK IN The method you described seems 100% opposit of what Honda recommends. How does it work and is it any better?
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    That site shows and explains why it's the correct way.

    Auto manufacturers are lazy and since they can't make sure people follow a simmilar break-in method, they hedge their bets and also insure that the car will require more repairs in the future. That makes the lawyers and the dealers happy. Win-win for them, and you gain nothing in return.

    They should instead, run the engines on every car and break them in like this before they reach the showroom. This would also mean every engine gets an oil change at 50 miles, then is switched to the semi-synthetic.

    What we should see:
    "Every vehicle is delivered with the engine already broken-in. The first 40-50 miles you see on the odometer is a result of this process. This ensures that the engine delivers proper power and fuel economy over the lifetime of the vehicle."

    What we get if you read between the lines:
    "There is no break-in on this engine - we've put synthetic lubricants in the engine to ensure that it never happens correctly."

    I know which I would rather see.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,484
    I did the fast break-in, strictly by the rules of the article, and I can only relate the anecdotal evidence. My xA is very peppy, and with proper attention to shifting speeds and rpm, I find the car has no disadvantage in left lane power or passing on California freeways. I can easily mix it up with the big boys up to 85mph and easily pull away from my friend's xB, which has the same engine. On a wild guess, I'd say fast break-in was worth 10-15HP, but that's just speculation.

    I decided to do the fast break because the article was geared to motorcycles, which are, after all, small high revving engines.

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  • Sorry Plekto. I'll go with what the Manufacturer says vice what someone in an internet forum says.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    You're flat-out wrong on this one. Don't believe the mantra that they spew.

    It's like the DMV tests and what driving instructors tell you. Answer these two DMV test questions:
    1:What are the proper positions for your hands on the steering wheel?
    2:What is the proper position for your side view mirror(s)?

    Now, what immediately came to mind as their wrote reply. And why is it wrong? The answer is decades of regurgitating the same mantra that they learned wrong and that our current generation takes as fact by now.

    The same happens with engine break-in.
    Read the following from that site:
    Break-in periods can vary depending on the type of engine and the intended application. The more "stock" the engine is, the longer the break-in period. For example, a new-stock engine for a Mazda project vehicle was broken in for 16 hours, per their requirements. We usually break-in a stock engine about 4 hours, race engines between 3-4 hours.

    Mazda's OWN recommendations to professionals who break-in engines for a living is 16 hours! They do in in 4. The same engines that are in the cars that they recommend taking months to do the same thing with. Something smells fishy right off.

    These guys base their lives and careeers on racing and winning - and helping others accomplish it as well. I believe them more than I believe a manufacturer's legal department.

    Do a search - you'll find numerous examples of professionals and racers using stock engines or ones that are based upon stock engine blocks all using a proper break-in procedure in direct opposition to what we are told.
    This is the site we are talking about.

    Note - three things have to be followed religiously.
    1:Allow for proper cool-down between runs.
    2:Use non-syntetic oil in the 10-30 or 10-40 range. If this means changing out the original oil, it has to be done. You need the oil to be sticky and more viscious and not be the least bit synthetic.
    3:Change the oil immediately after the dyno runs/break in. This means at 30-50 miles. Replace it with the manufacturer's recommended oil of course. The oil you break-in with is meant to have a 50-100 mile lifespan but do what it should - seat the rings properly and flush out metal grit and debris.

    The older addage for break-in was:
    Get the engine warmed up. Run it from 50% throttle to near maximum and then let it wind itself down. Repeat ten times. Do this again. Change the oil.

    This I read online from an old magazing from the 30s. It's amazingly close to what the guy at the site above recommends.
    Here's one from a very well respected flying club. It's a bit wordy, but it's pretty simmilar - run it gentle, get ot warmed up, then progressively rev it up until it's going full-blast. - nts/operation/engineBreakIn.html
    They state it pretty clearly:
    A good break-in requires that the piston rings expand sufficiently to seat with the cylinder walls during the engine break-in period. This seating of the ring with the cylinder wall will only occur when pressures inside the cylinder are great enough to cause expansion of the piston rings. Pressures in the cylinder only become great enough for a good break-in when power settings above 65% are used.

    Unless you stress the metal enough to get hot and expand, it's doing nothing at all. Yet it's still wearing awaty at the outer walls the same. And after a few hours, there's nothing for the rings to really grind and seat against - the machining and finishing marks are mostly gone. Of course, heat oil viscosity is a prime consideration. After the dyno runs, the oil will be mostly shot, full of junk, and be slightly acidic as well. Thankfully, oil changes are cheap. :)

    P.S. Later in that page, they state:
    For those who still think that running the engine hard during break-in falls into the category of cruel and unusual punishment, there is one more argument for high power settings during engine break-in. The use of low power settings does not expand the piston rings enough, and a film of oil is left on the cylinder walls. The high temperatures in the combustion chamber will oxidize this oil film so that it creates a condition commonly known as glazing of the cylinder walls. When this happens, the ring break-in process stops, and excessive oil consumption frequently occurs. The bad news is that extensive glazing can only be corrected by removing the cylinders and rehoning the walls. This is expensive, and it is an expense that can be avoided by proper break in procedures.

    And this is why modern engines burn oil. Straight from an engine manufacturer. You "break-in" the engine slowly and you glaze the walls heavily. This gives you the effect of seating the rings, but the rings aren't seated - the walls of the cylinder have buildup on them in the shape of the rings.

    Definately a loose-loose situation. You burn oil as it ages and you get massive blow-by, with all of the ills and shortened lifespan and gasket failures and so on.
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