Monday was my first ever trip to a car dealer, and C's first trip in a long time. We had decided to try the Honda Fit first. The Fit has gotten a lot of good reviews, including being ranked first in the meta-rankings done by US News for affordable small cars and hatchbacks.

We went to a local Honda dealership, parking our car just outside the lot and walking in, and were almost immediately greeted by a friendly looking guy who introduced himself as Kevin.

We told him we were interested in the Honda Fit, and after looking at it for only a few moments, he offered us a test drive. While he disappeared to get the keys, we looked at the exterior and the dealer's price sticker. I did notice that the cars on the lot seemed to have been extended with various dealer add-ons (window tinting, paint protection, shiny wheels), so I did wonder just how hard they would push such options on their customers...

Getting out was a little more of a challenge because it was actually Kevin's first day at this dealership (he had been at another Honda dealer in the area) and he needed help to get the keys, and then the car had a dead battery and needed to be jumped, but soon enough we were on our way.

Kevin didn't seem to mind where I drove or how far, so I ended up taking the car on a journey of a little over 15 miles, taking us through broad urban arteries, some sleepier suburban streets, up into the local mountains, and then back down, onto the freeway for a quick dash, and back to the dealership. The ride had everything I'd want to test -- freeway driving, toiling up a hill, and so on.

It felt pretty good. The engine seemed zippy and responsive enough to be fun to drive. I didn't get a chance to really get to try out the paddle shifters, but I expect that they work. The car is a little tall and I think that its height and small size meant that it felt a little less stable than a sedan, but I also didn't really want to push a brand-new car to its handling limits to find out just where they were.

The dash had an MPG display so you could see how economically you were driving, which was neat. The model we had also had the navigation system, which seemed quite servicable, and had built-in iPod integration (which we couldn't test, as the cable in the glove box was just a USB socket).

Driving back, I tried to persuade C to take the wheel, but she was having none of that, which means that we may have to come back sometime just so that she can drive it. At the time C wasn't entirely happy with the seat, because the lumbar support pressed in all the wrong places, but in retrospect it may be that she just had the seat tipped too far back.

One of the nice things about Kevin was that he rode along in the back and was talkative and interested without being too pushy. He did try a little too hard to be agreeable—I think that if I'd claimed that the sky was green, he'd have been able to see it, too, and sometimes his knowledge of the car was a little sketchy, but he got huge points for being nice and attentive without being annoying.

Back at the dealership, we looked more at the interior. It's certainly very flexible as far as what you can put into it. It does feel a little cheap, with a lot of hard plastic, but I expect that that's something you can get used to.

Then we stepped inside, and talked a bit more. We talked a bit about the other cars we'd look at and mentioned the Prius, and Kevin said we really needed to try the Insight if we were considering the Prius. I had been turned off the Insight in part because I'd read some horrible reviews, such as Jeremy Clarkson's where he wrote:

So here goes. It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more.

But as usual, it turns out that Jeremy Clarkson is an idiot. He didn't get the car, as evidenced by his saying:

It doesn’t work. Put your foot down in a normal car and the revs climb in tandem with the speed. In a CVT car, the revs spool up quickly and then the speed rises to match them. It feels like the clutch is slipping. It feels horrid.

The key is that it feels a bit different, but it's actually quite drivable.

We didn't have long with the Insight because we had a dinner engagement, but Kevin did manage to get us to seriously consider it as a viable candidate.

All in all, a good first day of test driving.