New & Used Honda Fit: In Depth
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The Honda Fit is a five-door subcompact hatchback that entered its third generation with an all-new 2015 model. The first generation was only a two-year car, sold in the U.S. in 2007 and 2008, and the second generation ran from 2009 through 2013. (There was no 2014 Honda Fit model.) The Fit competes with the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Nissan Versa Note, Hyundai Accent, Mazda 2, Nissan Versa Note, and Toyota Yaris.
The 2015 Honda Fit is the latest reworking of the model, and the first Honda for the U.S. to be assembled in Mexico. Still a hatchback, it's powered by a direct-injected 1.5-liter engine that produces 130 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is the standard transmission, but most Fits will arrive at dealerships with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) that maximizes fuel efficiency, up to EPA ratings of 33 mpg city, 41 highway.
The Fit rides with a little more maturity than it has in the past, and keeps its responsive steering and handling, but the cost is that the driving experience isn't quite as battened down to the driver's seat. And Honda's so-called Magic Seat arrangement remains as much of a game changer as it's been all along; we're shocked other automakers haven't moved to try to mimic it by now.
The new 2015 Fit earned the top IIHS safety rating of Good in all tests except the tough small-overlap front crash, in which it received an Acceptable rating. The NHTSA has not yet rated the new Fit for safety.
About 12,000 Fits built through June 5, 2014, however, lacked later reinforcements in the front bumper bar that enabled the Fit to achieve that IIHS rating--the earliest 2015 Fits would have been rated as Marginal, just one step above the lowest Poor rating. Honda will replace the front-bumper beam on those early Fits, starting in September 2014. Owners of Fits built in June 2014 and before can call their Honda dealer to learn whether their car is eligible for the free update.
Earlier Fit models
The first-generation Fit had been sold overseas as early as 2001, gaining notice for its excellent reliability, low running costs, and good resale value, before it landed on our shores for 2007. Both the first and second generations of Honda Fits were just more fun to drive than their competitors--though the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic in particular closed that gap.
The first Fit's 109-horsepower, 1.5-liter VTEC four-cylinder engine, paired with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive, gave the Fit good performance, along with steering and suspension that felt slightly more on the sporty side than its rivals at the time.
It's the so-called Magic Seat that has given all Fit hatchbacks their its astonishing and generous cargo space. The design allows the back seat to fold into several different positions, including both forward and backward. Owners can create a low, flat cargo floor or provide space for exceptionally tall cargo, like a potted plant or a mountain bike. The clever seat arrangement premiered on the original 2007-2008 Fit, and was carried over to the redesigned, second-generation 2009 Fit.
The 2009-2013 Fit offered a single engine: a 117-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder, which could be ordered with a five-speed automatic transmission, but came standard with a five-speed manual gearbox. The automatic came with paddle shifters for a sportier feeling, along with an optional touch-screen navigation system and better audio connectivity.
The model lineup for each model year has included Fit and Fit Sport models, with the Sport in recent years adding alloy wheels, fog lamps, and a rear stabilizer bar, plus cruise control, keyless entry, and steering-wheel controls.
Safety has been a strong point for the Fit all along, but 2009 models and those after were fitted with stability control. Standard safety features have included side and side-curtain bags and active head restraints. The Fit was one of the few small cars to get top scores from the IIHS for frontal and side impacts.
The Fit has had only minor upgrades to equipment and features since its launch. There were no significant changes for the 2013 model year; changes for 2012 included expanded steering-wheel controls and upgraded fabrics.
The 2013 Honda Fit EV all-electric model was offered only in very small numbers only to customers in California and Oregon. Honda expected to lease only 1,100 of them for a three-year term, in order to comply with California zero-emission vehicle requirements for the carmakers with the highest in-state sales. With its light, eager driving feel, powerful electric motor, and EPA-rated range of 82 miles might make it a bigger success, the Fit EV was a delight to drive. Honda hasn't announced whether it will return for the Fit's third generation.