Tom Crosby: 2015 Honda Fit improvements generate sale record
In launching the third generation of the popular Honda Fit for 2015, the Japanese automaker did everything right. Sales of the redesigned subcompact hatchback soared 66.5 percent in September over last year.
Fans will find a roomier vehicle, still price friendly with a better performing engine and transmission, more standard features, improved body rigidity and a more attractive profile, with strong character lines and sloped hood and windshield. The five-passenger Fit competes vigorously with the Nissan Versa Note, Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2.
Fit’s strong points include spacious seating, versatile cargo space and newly added standard features that include Bluetooth, HandsFreeLink, automatic on-off headlights and a center storage console with a much needed armrest. Our test drive was the top of the three Fit models, the Fit EX-L with navigation and no add-on options.
Voice communication with the navigation system was excellent, with the 7-inch dashboard touchscreen indicating which of multiple lanes to take after timely voice prompts allowed for safe driver decision-making. The tweaked 1.5-liter engine adds 13 horsepower and 8 ft.-lbs. of torque using direct injection and valve timing, the first time Honda has used this engine technology in one of its subcompacts.
Engine manipulation comes via a newly developed continuous variable automatic transmission that can be nicely goosed with steering wheel mounted manual paddles for quicker highway merges, but be ready for excessive engine noise. The more rigid body for the Fit sits atop an all-new chassis using 16-inch wheels, with a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase and improved front and rear suspension for a comfortable ride.
Handling remains average with light steering and lean in tight turns.
It doesn’t look it from the outside, but passenger space inside grew 4.9 cubic feet and leg room in the rear grew 4.8-inches, letting taller back seat riders stretch out.
The Fit’s fuel tank is under the front seats, creating industry leading cabin volume. Folding flat rear seats and reclining front seats can be manipulated for various cargo sizes, with a low trunk lift-over that still allows underneath room for a spare tire. Inside materials don’t feel cheap. First-ever EX-L leather seats are heated, and the telematics menu is easily understood and used.
A camera views the right side of the road when making a right turn, which can lure a driver’s eyes off the road to watch the dashboard screen instead of the road. Real world driving will determine its safety efficacy.
Likes: Price, spaciousness, mpg, versatility, ride
Bottom line: The new Fit ups the ante amid tough subcompact competition.
Base price w/destination fee $21,590 (price as tested)
Curb weight 2,642 lbs.
Wheelbase 99.6 inches
Length 160 inches
Width 67 inches
Engine specs 1.5-liter, inline 4-cyclinder, DOHC
Horsepower 130 hp at 6,600 rpm
Torque 114 ft.-lbs. at 4,600 rpm
Transmission Continuous variable automatic w/paddle shifters
EPA Rating 32 mpg city, 38 mpg highway
Range 10.6 gallons, regular
Performance 0-60 in just over 8 seconds
Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years. View more reviews at http://www.nvdaily.com/columns/tom-crosby/