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2015 Honda Fit Test Drive Review
The redesigned 2015 Honda Fit is still quirky and remarkably fun to drive, but in other respects it's better than ever. You could say the Fit has grown up, matured, and become more sophisticated, but without losing any of its appealingly offbeat character.
Honda does lots of things really well, especially in the area of creating fun, affordable, and practical little cars. The redesigned 2015 Fit is yet another hit from Honda, the rare subcompact that feels more like a reward than a penalty box to own and drive.
Look and Feel
Out of 10
During our honeymoon, my husband and I drove the winding roads of Italy’s Amalfi Coast. While a glamorous vintage convertible certainly would have enhanced this experience, we were happy as larks whipping around the route’s cliff-side corners in a rented Fiat Grande Punto, a tiny little hatchback with a noisy diesel engine, stopping along the way to admire the ocean, check out limoncello stands, poke around little towns, and shoot many, many pictures of the brilliant, serpentine path.
Small cars make sense in a country like Italy, where cities and towns are littered with crowded, ancient, and narrow streets. At one point, Chris even had to reverse the Fiat about 30 yards down a wrong-turn alleyway with about 2 inches of clearance on each side of the car’s side mirrors (successfully completed with nary a scratch, thank you very much).
In America, though, subcompacts hold little sway. Wide streets dominate our landscapes, and we like carrying large loads from big-box retailers. Plus, tiny hatchbacks have long been ostracized as simple, cheap vehicles that people buy because they need one, not because they want one.
That is, until recently.
Just as geeks are now cooler than jocks, societal shifts are making small cars smart buys rather than last resorts. Recovery from a major recession, combined with the growing number of single-person households, appears to have more Americans thinking with their heads instead of their hearts.
Timed in concert with legions of people getting back on their financial feet, the redesigned 2015 Honda Fit is still quirky and remarkably fun to drive, but in other respects it's better than ever. You could say the Fit has grown up, matured, and become more sophisticated, but without losing any of its appealingly offbeat character.
My test vehicle for the week was a 2015 Honda Fit EX with a manual transmission, wearing a window sticker of $18,380 and a bold, bright color called Mystic Yellow Pearl. Maybe Honda figures that if your car is going to be small, it might as well stand out, and the Fit certainly does just that thanks to its hilariously unapologetic stance and look-at-me strakes marking its flanks.
While the Fit might not qualify as beautiful on the outside, there is no doubt that the cabin represents an upgrade. Plainly styled compared to the previous Fit, the new version’s interior is composed of decent quality materials and is isolated just enough from noise, vibration, and harshness that it will not constantly remind you that you’re driving what was once derisively known as an econobox.
Out of 10
If you ever need to define the word pep, pop into a Honda Fit and rev the heck out of the engine. Although you’ll get just 130 raucous horsepower from the 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, it never rebukes you for urging the car for more speed. While it is true that the Fit is far from a fast car, it certainly is spirited and beckons you for a sprint, especially when equipped with the 6-speed manual gearbox that was installed in my test car.
No matter how much you thrash it, the Fit is forgiving at the fuel pumps. Despite my overenthusiastic right foot, my test vehicle averaged 34.7 mpg over the course of a week, beating the EPA-estimated average of 32 mpg in combined driving. Seriously, that rarely happens. If you’re wondering, the Fit’s other official fuel economy estimates are 29 mpg city/37 highway.
When the Fit first debuted back in 2007, Honda’s commercials for the car referred to its cat-like reflexes. This third-generation model retains its feline handling prowess, clinging to the road with vigor and shifting directions on a dime. The suspension does an admirable job of managing weight transfer when taking corners with gusto, and then joyfully asks for more.
The steering is a willing accomplice in the quest for fun, too, light in terms of effort but incredibly precise, and the brakes worked well and without fade. Buy a Honda Fit and you’ll enjoy driving this playful little car, tossing it through your favorite corners with the same glee you did a wiffle ball on bright summer days as a child.
Your journey will not be an entirely peaceful one, though. While the Fit is more refined than ever, road imperfections tend to jolt the cabin, and noise from the engine, tires, and wind is a constant companion. These are, however, common traits amongst all small, lightweight vehicles. Unless you go German for twice the cost, you’ll have to make compromises.
Form and Function
Out of 10
Thanks to its unique Magic Seat design, the Honda Fit boasts Swiss-Army-Knife levels of flexibility and functionality when it comes to carrying people and belongings.
Behind the rear seats, the Fit supplies 16.6 cubic feet of space, which is just as much cargo room as you’ll find in a typical midsize sedan. Fold the seats down to reveal 52.7 cubic feet of space. Where Magic Seat trickery further expands the Fit’s utility is with regard to the rear-seat cushion design, which can flip up to carry taller items such as potted houseplants. The front passenger’s seatback also folds flat so Fit owners can transport longer items measuring almost 8 feet.
When it comes to carrying people, the Fit is surprisingly roomy… for the people in the back seat. Mind you, it is not a wide space, so 3 adults will not be happy for long. Transport just 2 people, and it’s not even close to mimicking the torture chamber that you’d assume it to be.
Up front, I found the driver’s seat perfectly comfortable, but my husband, who is 6 feet tall, voiced numerous complaints about how the seat was mounted too low and offered little in the way of thigh support. He also felt it didn’t travel far enough back in its adjustment tracks. Therefore, I can only conclude that other tall Fit drivers may discover similar issues.
Out of 10
Honda assumes most Fit owners will possess a smartphone with a generous data plan, so the infotainment system in the EX and EX-L models is designed to leverage this assumption.
A 7-inch touchscreen display is designed to work like a smartphone or tablet computer screen, allowing the driver to tap, pinch, and swipe her way through the various menus and choices. Of course, to the greatest extent possible, you’ll want to get everything set up the way you want it before you depart on your journey. For some reason, states outlaw the use of a smartphone while driving, but operating the equivalent embedded into the dashboard appears to be okey-dokey.
To use the next-generation version of HondaLink connectivity and services, physically connect an iPhone 5 or 6 to the system via the Honda iOS cable kit and the USB port. Now you’ll have access to supported mobile apps, including Pandora Internet radio, Aha global radio and infotainment services, and an extra-cost navigation app that’s available for about 60 bucks, all operated right from the touchscreen display.
Once you get acclimated to the Fit’s infotainment system, it’s easy enough to use, especially the pinch and swipe gestures that you’re already accustomed to using on smartphones. However, familiar knobs and buttons would better serve certain adjustments that are constantly called into service, such as modifying stereo volume or changing a radio station. Then again, I suppose that’s what the buttons on the steering wheel are for.
Aside from minor usability gripes, there is no denying that Honda’s latest touchscreen infotainment system should appeal to tech-savvy younger buyers, especially because it is designed to support applications that save costs over a traditional navigation system and subscription services such as satellite radio. Like so many other things about the Honda Fit, this is smart.
Out of 10
My Fit EX test car came standard with LaneWatch, a feature I complain about with every Honda I test drive. While I consider a traditional blind-spot monitoring system to be an essential safety feature, Honda’s incomplete approach with LaneWatch is neither easy to use nor intuitive, and I just as quickly tend to ignore it.
LaneWatch uses a camera on the right side of the vehicle, and when manually activated or when using a turn signal to indicate a right turn or a lane change, the camera view is displayed on the infotainment screen. This is a unique, even innovative, approach.
However, when I’m changing lanes, I’m not looking at the dashboard. I’m looking in the side mirror. Plus, LaneWatch works on only the right side of the Fit. What about the left side? Is Honda assuming nobody in their right mind would attempt to pass slower traffic in a Fit?
Please, Honda, ditch LaneWatch for a regular ‘ol blind-spot warning system with visual and audible warnings that work for both sides of the car.
Like every Honda, a rear-view camera is standard equipment for the 2015 Fit, and it delivers a 180-degree view of what’s behind the car, no less. Also, models with HondaLink benefit from an automatic collision-notification system that alerts authorities should the Fit get hit hard enough to deploy the airbags.
You can’t ignore the laws of physics when it comes to collisions, though, and a Honda Fit weighs 33 pounds more than a Mazda MX-5 Miata. If a heavier vehicle, like your neighbor’s 3-row crossover SUV, hits a lighter car, like the Fit, the occupants of the lighter car are more likely to sustain injuries.
That said, the 2015 Honda Fit is one of the better small cars to be riding in if a collision does occur. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) deems it a Top Safety Pick, albeit with a less-impressive Acceptable rather than Good rating in the small overlap front crash test. The NHTSA also gives the Fit high marks; it earns a top 5-Star protection rating.
Just remember that these scores are valid mainly when comparing the Fit to other vehicles of the same size and weight.
Out of 10
Last year, Americans spent, on average, around $32,000 for a new set of wheels. Add every single factory option to a Honda Fit, including a continuously variable transmission, leather seats, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, keyless passive entry with push-button engine start, a power sunroof, HondaLink, and a hard-drive navigation system with HD Radio and satellite radio, and you’re not even spending $22,000.
Now, consider that list of equipment and a Fit EX-L’s loaded price tag against the sheer level of practicality and utility this car offers. According to ALG, a Fit does a great job of holding its value over time, too, and both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power think this car is going to prove nearly bulletproof in terms of reliability.
Also, don’t forget how effortlessly my test car returned almost 35 mpg in combined driving. Plus, Honda has added three years and 36,000 miles of free roadside assistance coverage for the 2015 model year, which is terrific if you need help to change a flat tire or you weren’t quite successful at reaching the next gas station before the tank ran dry.
No wonder this car is expected to be very inexpensive to own and operate over time.
Liz Kim has worked within the world of cars for 15 years, at various points reviewing and writing about, or analyzing and marketing, everything automotive. It’s no wonder that she married a fellow automotive journalist. Liz can be found examining and assessing the latest vehicles when she’s not busy keeping the peace between, and the schedule for, her two young daughters.
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