Finding Magic in Honda's 2015 Fit

By Sue Mead, April 19th, 2014

Honda wants you to think of the redesign and upgrades to its all-new 2015 Honda Fit as "magic." In fact, it's even got an updated fold-flat rear seat that Honda calls the "Magic Seat."

The Japanese automaker known for quality, dependability, and value has waved its wand to bring innovations to the subcompact space, packaging, power, versatility, and comfort into this sporty little hatchback.

Honda's Fit has been a success since it came to the market in 2001 due to its hatchback versatility. Now, Honda imbues the fourth-generation model with a long list of improvements, including even better fuel economy and "class above" features that include an updated direct-injection powertrain.

Honda's core values for all of its autos are "safe, clean and fun." So, it's no surprise that new safety features, improved fuel economy, and fun-to-drive performance are among the upgrades to the 2015 Honda Fit, as well as a roomier cabin with increased versatility. The four-door, five-passenger, front-wheel-drive car has been redesigned with a more aggressive, bullet shape with a somewhat wind-swept and airy top to the car and a substantial lower body and high beltline that grounds it.

It has a new grille and headlamp design, LED taillights, and bigger 16-inch wheels, with a body that is slightly shorter but with a wider and longer wheelbase. The biggest change comes to the interior; it benefits from the longer wheelbase and revised cabin ergonomics that allow flexibility for up to five passengers, with more leg room in the rear, and -- with Honda's fold-flat "Magic Seat" and cushions that hinge and can be folded out of the way. It has the ability to carry more cargo than earlier generation models, including items as long as a mountain bike and a surf board.

The 2015 Honda Fit comes in LX, EX, EX-L, along with a long list of available accessories; it is priced starting at $15,525 for the base model with a manual transmission and at $16,325 for the base with a CVT. Fuel economy has improved from 31 mpg on the previous-generation version to 36 combined city/highway mpg on the new 2015 model.

The Fit is powered by a new 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine promising increased horsepower and torque; it is rated at 130 horsepower and 114 lb.-ft. of torque and is matched to a new six-speed manual transmission or a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

We drove two different versions of the new Fit on a recent 200-mile-long ride and drive from the city streets and busy freeways of San Diego, Calif., to the winding two-lanes of the Sierra foothills. We like the new, more edgy look to the exterior, with its new wide-angle mirrors and more aerodynamic profile, and found the interior notably larger with good visibility. The cockpit is well-designed with clean, uncluttered placement of controls and technology; a new blue-themed gauge design improves their reflectivity.

Interior features include seatback pockets, cupholders in the front and rear doors, and a center console with armrest that can hold an iPad. While we were impressed by Honda's demonstration of the Fit's cargo room with the rear seat folded as compared to the Fiesta, and the rear passenger ergonomics that provide 4.8 inches more legroom, the Fit loses a bit of load-carrying volume (up to 5 cubic feet) with the rear seat up.

Honda explains that a number of changes improve the Fit's driving dynamics, including improved structural stiffness, revised suspension components (front strut, rear trailing arm, and new rear dampers), and a new electronic power steering system for better handling and maneuverability. We agree and found the Fit is lighter on its feet, although it's actually a tick heavier due to increased safety and technology, comfort, and convenience features. We liked the CVT with its new gear ratio and found the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters sporty and responsive, with true "kick-down" characteristics, when braking and slowing.

Although the updated manual transmission gets another gear, has new gear ratios and a shortened shift stroke, and is engineered with plenty of torque on tap from first through sixth gears, we found it noisy and preferred the CVT. And, although Honda says the Fit has class-leading quietness as a result of new soundproofing materials when compared to the Accent, Rio, and Fiesta, we heard more noise intrusion than expected, particularly on the freeways. This could be the result of low-rolling resistance tires that tend to increase noise, but improve fuel economy. However, we recognize that a high level of quietness is not expected in a vehicle of this size and at this price-point in the marketplace.

Specifications

Base price $15,525 (as tested: $16,315)
Curb weight 2,513 lbs.
Displacement 1.5-liter
Epa mileage rating 29 mpg city, 37 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 10.6 gal.
Horsepower (net) 130 at 6600 rpm
Motor type 16-valve 4-cyl. w/DI
Overall length 160.0 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 114 at 4600 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD subcompact hatchback
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