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2015 Honda Fit EX: Fit for whatever

June 30, 2014
2015 Honda Fit

2015 Honda Fit improves on its predecessor

Bellingham, Washington has this, uh, reputation. People here are into outdoor activities in a big way, which to many means ‘Hamsters all drive Subaru Outbacks, usually with a kayak or a pair of mountain bikes strapped to the roof.

Not quite. Yes, there are a lot of Outbacks running around, but you’ll also see a lot of Honda Fits.

That should come as no surprise. Fits are fuel-efficient, take up little space on the outside and have a bunch of room for people and stuff on the inside. They’re also reasonably priced and hold their resale value well, as Hondas do.

Redesigned for 2015, this new Fit is built in a brand spanking-new factory in Celaya, Mexico. Why? The strength of the Japanese yen had a serious negative impact on the profitability of the previous version; Honda was forced to limit sales to about 50,000/year to keep from taking a financial bath.

OTOH, Mexican production means Honda can crank out as many Fits as the market can handle. It also makes derivatives like the upcoming HR-V small crossover possible.

If you’ve been out of the new-car market for a while, the Fit may come as a bit of a surprise, size-wise — tiny, as were Honda Civics of the 1970s and 80s, it is not. This new Fit continues its predecessors’ most stellar feature, an interior the British would call Tardis-like (google “Doctor Who” if you don’t know what I’m talking about) with four seats that fold, tumble and slide in whatever way best accommodates your cargo. (If that cargo is a scooter, consider a trailer if it’s bigger than a Smallframe or Buddy.)

While you can get those seats upholstered in leather, the example I drove (supplied by Northwest Honda in Bellingham) featured cloth upholstery that felt tough and able to withstand almost any onslaught of mud, water or abrasion. The front chairs are nicely-shaped, bringing to mind a hand cupped around you. A perfect, uh, fit (sorry) for me, and a good place to spend a long road trip.

Fit touchscreen

Of course, in EX trim the Fit rocks all the latest electronic/infotainment wizardry: Bluetooth, USB and HDMI connectivity, Pandora and SMS compatibility (yes, you can text your Fit… and I imagine it can text you back) and so much more, all controlled by a 7-inch touchscreen (above). The instrument cluster includes a pod that, along with the fuel gauge, includes a digital readout that shows you how economically you’re driving, and another that lets you know when it’s time to change the oil.

You can choose between a 6-speed manual or Continuously Variable transmission. The one I drove had the latter, which comes with steering-wheel mounted shifting paddles. Say what?

Honda has chosen to make the Fit’s CVT behave like a conventional automatic transmission. For lack of a better term, it “shifts.” The engine changes pitch as you accelerate from a stop; you have the option to use the paddles to change “gears” up or down, though I found it easier to let the transmission decide what gear (step, actually) it needed to be in.

Unless you really have to have a manual transmission, the CVT is what to get if maximum fuel economy is what you want. The EPA sez a Fit with the CVT returns 33/41/36 city/highway/combined MPG, vs. 29/37/32 with the stick. This is true for most new cars… automatic transmissions have come a long way from the slushboxes of yore.

On the road, the ’15 Fit feels much peppier than its predecessors, and it’s also quieter. Attaining freeway speed is not a problem, and in the twisties you’ll appreciate the Fit’s much-improved electric power steering and flat cornering.

Though the beltline is higher, visibility is mostly better than the previous Fit, aided automatically in right turns (or whenever you wish) by a right-turn camera. This is in addition to the rearview camera standard on all trim levels (the EX includes Dynamic Guidelines, which curve as you turn the steering wheel). Like pretty much all new cars, you’ll need the camera because visibility to the rear is poor.

American Honda Motor Company

American Honda Motor Company

I think you’ll be seeing lots of 2015 Fits with kayaks and mountain bikes strapped to their roofs. This is Bellingham, after all. Favicon

Plus: Small outside, huge inside, infinitely variable cargo and passenger accommodation.

Minus: Why can’t the CVT be a CVT?

The details

Base MSRP: $19,025 (includes $790 destination and handling charge)
Built in: Mexico
Construction: Pressed steel unit body with front subframe
Curb weight: 2630 lbs (1193 kg) (A/T)
Length: 160 in (4064 mm)
Width: 67 in (1702 mm)
Wheelbase: 99.6 in (2530 mm)
Front susp: MacPherson struts w/coil springs, tubular shocks and anti-roll bar
Rear susp: Torsion beam w/coil springs and tubular shocks
Front brakes: Power-assisted 10.3-in (262 mm) hydraulic discs with ABS
Rear brakes: Power-assisted 7.9-in (201 mm) hydraulic drums with ABS
Front tires: 185/55 R16 83H (EX)
Rear tires: 185/55 R16 83H (EX)
Engine: Liquid-cooled 1498cc DOHC 16-valve w/i-VTEC 4-cyl with direct fuel injection
Transmission:  Continuously variable w/paddle shifters (EX)
Power/torque: 130 hp (101.4 kW) @ 6600 rpm/114 lb-ft (173.5 Nm) @ 4600 rpm
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