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Is the Honda Fit's gas tank under the front seat, a cause for concern?

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Dear Tom and Ray:



My wife wants to buy a Honda Fit, but now she is worried about the gas tank. It is located under the front seat rather than under the trunk. Is this dangerous? -- Prentiss

RAY: You're not trying to knock her off, are you, Prentiss? If we tell you it's dangerous, you're not going to buy her the car, then take out a large life-insurance policy on her, are you?

TOM: It's not dangerous, as far as we can tell, Prentiss. We don't know definitively, because the Fit has only been out for a few years, and it's possible that a problem could come to light later. But from what we can tell, it's not an issue.

RAY: Most cars have their gas tank right behind the back seat -- conveniently enough, where the mother-in-law usually rides. You'll notice no one's ever written to us to complain about that!

TOM: Honda moved the gas tank in the Fit under the driver's seat to create more room in the back to fold the seats flat. And it IS a very nice, functional design, from the point of view of usable interior space.

RAY: When we looked underneath a Fit, we noticed that the tank doesn't extend right to the outside edge of the vehicle. It's at least somewhat protected behind a side structural member.

TOM: Here's what we do know. When the Fit was crash-tested, it got top ratings for both frontal crashes and driver's-side impacts. That's a good sign right there. In addition, if the crash-testing agencies (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) had seen anything that worried them during a crash test (like, for example, a gas tank that explodes and burns any surviving crash-test dummies beyond all recognition), they would have mentioned it in the optional "safety concerns" section of the results. There are no such comments about the Fit.

RAY: These days, gas tanks are made of plastic, and they're pretty hard to puncture. They're actually very resilient, in our experience.

TOM: If something entered the driver's side of the car with enough force to wipe out the gas tank, it probably would wipe out the entire front seat, too, if you catch my drift. So either way, your wife won't have to worry about it.

RAY: I'm sure my brother's making you feel a lot better, huh, Prentiss?

TOM: Actually, while we can't say for certain, we have no evidence that suggests it's a problem. If it gives you any additional confidence, the placement of the gas tank doesn't stop us from recommending the Fit, which we think is an excellent little car.

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