The Honda Fit is a subcompact that has garnered respect in the United States since its introduction here as a 2007 model. In addition to consistently winning awards for its power train, the Fit has been revered for its practicality. It’s a much bigger car than outward appearances would suggest.
Two of the major knocks against the previous generation model were its relative lack of refinement on the highway and an engine that could at times feel underpowered. Honda has addressed those concerns in a complete redesign of the 2015 Honda Fit.
This is a car that should continue its seven-year streak on the Car and Driver 10 Best List because, frankly, there is little wrong with this subcompact hatchback. You’re simply not going to find a more versatile car for its price.
Honda put a lot of focus into noise, vibration, and harshness for the 2015 Honda Fit and it mostly improved things. Thanks to extensive use of soundproofing material throughout the body, including in the ceiling, doors, fenders, and floor, and in the dash, instrument panel, and center console, the Fit is now the quietest sub-compact on the market.
But getting to highway speed isn’t a Zen-like moment. The 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine now produces 130 horsepower (an 11 percent improvement over the prior model) and generates a fair amount of noise back to the passenger cabin. Yet once at highway speed, the cabin becomes noticeably quiet and it’s possible to start drifting north of 70 mph without realizing it.
The Fit is relatively quick. Acceleration is appropriate to its class and engine size. You’ll never squeal the tires but you won’t have trouble merging onto the highway.
The Fit comes with a choice of two transmissions: a six-speed manual that enhances the driving experience and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that is just average. Nissan and Subaru do much better jobs with CVTs.
However, both the manual and CVT in the Fit are vast improvements over those in the outgoing models. It’s a substantive leap in quality and driver satisfaction. The CVT is the better choice for fuel savings at 33 mpg city and 41 mpg highway compared to 29 mpg city and 37 mpg highway for the manual.
Safety shouldn’t be a concern with the Fit. Honda expects to achieve a top safety pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as well as a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The Fit comes standard with front, side, and curtain airbags with rollover detection.
Where the Fit continues to excel is its use of interior space. Thanks to a center-mounted fuel tank, the Fit achieves best-in-class space numbers with class-leading cargo capacity. It has more front shoulder room, passenger volume, and rear legroom than its closest competitors: the Nissan Versa Note, Hyundai Accent, and Ford Fiesta.
But it’s not just the quantity of space that makes such a difference—it’s the quality. The Fit continues to have what it calls magic seats that flip and fold various ways to achieve maximum cargo flexibility. This is a little car that can swallow up eight beanbag chairs or a mountain bike with its wheels still on. It’s the kind of car an urban couple would find useful for moving small furniture.
Honda said it didn’t want to just “settle” with the new Fit. It desired to make it a car worthy of competing with the next class up, which in this case is the Honda Civic. New standard features on all Fit models include auto on-off headlights, LED brake lights, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, and a center storage console with armrest. Items such as smart entry push-button start, a one-touch operated moon roof, seven-inch touchscreen display audio with next-generation HondaLink, and heated leather seats are among the upgrades available for the first time in Fit.
Honda has also achieved a lot with interior and exterior styling. This is not a car that looks or feels like an entry-level sub-compact. Exterior styling offers distinct features like the LED brake lights and the integrated rear spoiler with just a hint of the Volvo C30. Upfront, the Fit has a strong but not overwhelming grille that mimics the rest of the Honda lineup without being a carbon copy. Integrated turn signals in the sideview mirrors add an upscale touch.
Honda has adapted a fairly simple strategy for selling the Fit. It’s available in only three trim levels: the base LX, mid-trim EX, and the EX-L. The LX starts at $15,525 with the continuously variable transmission costing an additional $800; the EX starts at $17,435 with the $800 bump for CVT; and the EX-L starts at $19,800 and is not available with the six-speed manual. Consumers can also spend an additional $1,000 for the EX-L with the seven-inch navigation screen.
2015 Honda Fit
Price, base (with destination): $20,800 top of the line Honda Fit EX-L with CVT and navigation. Fuel economy: 29 city/37 highway with six-speed manual; 33 city/41 highway with CVT. Drivetrain: 1.5-liter, four-cylinder. Body: Four-door sub-compact hatchback.
Horsepower: 130 @ 6,600 rpm. Torque: 114 lb. ft. @ 4,600 rpm. Overall length: 160 in. Wheelbase: 99.6 in. Height: 60 in. Width: 67 in. Curb weight: 2,513 lbs. manual transmission/2,544 lbs. CVT.
Strong fuel economy numbers, cargo flexibility, and compact size make the Fit a winner for young couples who want their car to do a lot.
The CVT, while better than the outgoing four-speed automatic, still needs refinement and the Fit continues to be noisy while climbing to highway speed (yet quiet after).
THE BOTTOM LINE
The 2015 Honda Fit sets the mark in the sub-compact class with its flexibility and fuel efficiency combined in a small package that delivers much more room than it should for its size.Keith Griffin is past president of the New England Motor Press Association and a correspondent for TorqueNews.com and About.com.