- Inexpensive (but not cheap-feeling)
- Spacious interior, marvelous seat folding
- Class-leading safety equipment
- Engine noise
- Front-seat comfort
- Interior borders on busy
The 2015 Honda Fit might not up the ante in sportiness, but it offers up exactly what urban small-car shoppers want in safety and convenience features—and it's still as good as some utility vehicles or vans with its wondrous, unmatched Magic Seat setup.
The 2015 Honda Fit improves on what the model already did so well: making a lot of useful space out of a small footprint. Yet now it's a little more appealing as a whole, with crisper, more aerodynamic lines, as well as a new, more fuel-efficient powertrain.
One of the keys to the Fit's simply unparalleled interior flexibility is its so-called "Magic Seat" rear-seat setup. And it's housed in a quieter and more comfortable vehicle that is likely to offer tough competition for other subcompacts on the market.
As one of Honda's most attractive yet most pragmatic vehicles by design, the Fit looks less like a scaled-down minivan than either of the two previous generations. It's always had a wedge shape, but the 2015 Honda Fit has a slightly more aggressive stance, with a pronounced side crease underscoring the rising beltline. With a steeply raked windshield at virtually the same angle as the short, stubby hood, the crease adds motion and a horizontal appearance to a tall, almost "one-box" shape riding on fairly small wheels and tires. The new shape tapers both in height and width past the rear doors, ending in larger rear taillight units that continue up the sides of the rear hatch in rear styling that's quite Volvo-like—if only it weren't for the big chrome bar across the tail.
While the exterior is nicely restrained, designers were perhaps a little too ambitious inside, where the instrument panel has a little too much happening with shapes, pieces, trims, bezels, and surfaces. It's a nice cockpit-like layout, though, and doesn't feel at all cheap.
The 2015 Honda Fit is the first Honda model for the U.S. to be assembled in Mexico. Then later in the year it will spawn a small crossover; and there's still the possibility of a four-door sedan, even though Americans are finally finding out that hatchbacks aren't so bad.
In that vein, the Fit has in previous model years been a great cheerleader for how small, affordable hatchbacks can be fun to drive, and the latest model continues that tradition—mostly. The latest Fit is powered by a direct-injected 1.5-liter engine that produces 130 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. That's a boost of 13 hp over the previous model. 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—which vaults Honda to the head of a class that includes the Chevrolet Sonic, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa, and Toyota Yaris. In a separate Sport mode, you can slick through seven 'gears' with paddle-shifters, if you'd like.
Honda's done a better job of making the CVT tolerable than Nissan does, although we still find Subaru's CVTs the best among small cars. At speeds well above any U.S. speed limit, the Fit manages to suppress most exterior noise fairly well. It's hardly the hush of a luxury car, but among small and affordable hatchbacks, the new Fit is noticeably more refined than its predecessor was. If only Honda had paid a little more attention to engine noise, it would have been even better, as this Fit, with its new direct injection and composite intake, can sound a little raspy and uncouth. 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.
The Honda Fit has long been a model that does some incredible things with interior space; and the new 2015 Fit is no exception. The Fit's packaging is still what truly makes this model a standout in its class. Honda's so-called Magic Seat arrangement is just as much of a game changer as it's been all along, and we're surprised other automakers haven't moved to try to mimic it.
The setup brings a split folding rear seat that can not only flip forward but flip back and upward, allowing four different modes that cater to specific kinds of large cargo—including a unique Tall mode and a futon-like Refresh mode. Back seats are happy places for tall, lanky folks, too—more so than in many swoopy-roofline cars a size or two larger. In front, the Fit is more ordinary for its class. Seat cushioning and support covers only the basics—even relative to other models in this segment—and some will wish for more rearward seat travel and adjustability.
Honda's 2015 Fit has earned very good safety scores from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA gives it five stars overall, and the Fit achieved Good ratings in all IIHS categories except the tough new small-overlap front crash tests, where it was rated Acceptable. That rating only applies to cars built June 6,2014, or later, so Honda will replace the front bumper beam on about 12,000 Fits built earlier than that date (owners can call their dealers to find out if their car qualifies for the strengthened bumper).
Its new body structure is 57 pounds lighter than that of the last Fit, but it uses more high-strength steel for greater rigidity. In fact, Honda says the new Fit should also earn the IIHS top rating of Good in all tests, including the tough new small-overlap barrier test, which would allow it to be designated an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2015.
The 2015 Honda Fit now essentially includes four models and primary builds: a base Fit LX, a mid-range EX, a premium EX-L, and a top-of-the-line EX-L with navigation. Keyless entry, cruise control, a rearview camera, and air conditioning are among many items now included even on the base LX, while mid-level EX models get push-button start, upgraded infotainment, and Honda's impressive LaneWatch wide-angle lane-change aid from the Accord. EX-L models heap on leather and more luxury, while a Navi model at the top finally gets a navigation system worth the premium, with a high-contrast display and live traffic.