My 07 Maxima has more luxury and power, but in this new gas environment, the difference in costs between the Maxima and the Honda Fit is quite staggering. As my friend has compiled for me:
So, if the FIT gets 30mpg for your driving, then 10K/year would cost $1,670 (@ $5/gal). If the Maxima's getting 15mpg, the gas will cost twice that, or $3,340. If the Maxima gets 20mpg, then the gas would cost $2,500. So, assuming your sales tax on a $16K vehicle would be about $1,300, you'd start saving money after about a year's ownership. I assume the maintenance costs would be comparable between the two cars, but don't know if that's supported by the research sites.
Sounds like a pretty good move if you're sure you'll be as happy driving the FIT as you would the Maxima.
Here's a side by side YahooAuto-based cost of ownership for 5 years between a '08 Maxima and '08 FIT. Looks like you'd be likely to save money on both maint/repairs and insurance with the FIT.
Cost per Mile $0.69 $0.45
Depreciation $15,475 $9,029
Fees and Taxes $1,934 $1,185
Financing $4,285 $2,461
Fuel Cost $12,799 $8,964
Insurance $9,614 $6,920
Maintenance $2,835 $1,677
Repairs $770 $680
Opportunity Cost $4,374 $2,852
Total Cost to Own† $52,087 $33,769