2015 Honda Fit First Drive

Has the 2015 Honda Fit revived the subcompact segment?

What It Is
A versatile subcompact that suits more than just college kids
Best Thing
Cavernous interior allows all passengers to sit comfortably
Worst Thing
Not as fun to drive as other competitors
Snap Judgment
The Fit is practical, but maybe too much so


Not too long ago, the case to be made for buying a subcompact car was pretty weak. Upgrade one level to the compact segment, and you could get more power, reasonable interior accommodations, and often better fuel economy –all for a good price. But now a flurry of new competitors has revived the segment by bringing in the latest technology, impressive handling, and top-of-the-line efficiency. The all-new Honda Fit is one of the better examples of explaining the merits of this often-snubbed segment. Among its desirable qualities are its high quality infotainment system and capability of achieving 41 mpg on the highway. But that doesn't mean the Fit is without flaws.

Honda has expanded the available trim levels on this year's Fit. The base model, starting at $15,525, is the LX trim level. The mid-range EX starts at $17,435. Go for the continuously variable transmission on these trims and add $800. Meanwhile, the top notch EX-L begins at $19,800, but opting for the EX-L w/ Navi brings the price to $20,800.

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Walkaround

In its third generation, the Fit has transformed from nerdy to athletic. The 2015 Fit casts off its signature egg-shaped look for a more aggressive exterior. An angular grille chisels away at the car's previously round front-end, and stronger character lines run through the body for an athletic look. A rear roofline spoiler is an unexpected touch. While not quite Veloster-crazy, the Fit definitely adopts a stronger presence on the road.

But its overall size can be remarkably deceptive. While cars nowadays seem to get infinitely bigger, the new Fit is actually shorter than its previous iteration by 1.6 inches. The wheelbase has been extended by 1.2 inches for more interior room.

Sitting Down

Hands down, the best part of the new Fit is the interior. Consumers who like touchscreens will enjoy the layout of the center stack, which has virtually no buttons and just three knobs for air controls. All the action happens in Honda's new responsive seven-inch touchscreen with smartphone-like swiping. The next-generation HondaLink infotainment system improves greatly upon the automaker's old system, with easy menus and helpful new apps. For those who don't want to buy an expensive navigation package, for example, there is a $60 app that provides all the benefits. The navigation app allows consumers to download Honda's navigation system on a phone and transfer this to the display screen on the car.

Unlike a host of other subcompacts, the Fit is actually comfortable to live with. Although the standard cloth isn't the nicest or softest material, the seats are decently wide to accommodate all passengers. And something almost unheard of? The rear seats can fit even tall passengers in relative comfort.

The new Fit offers more cargo volume as well. To maximize space, the seats fold completely flat onto the floor and in multiple configurations, allowing drivers to fit things such as surfboards up to 7 feet 9 inches long. Overall, the car definitely feels a lot roomier than the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, and other competitors.

Features for the base model are pretty bare. Bluetooth, cruise control, air conditioning, auto headlights, and one-touch turn signals are the top goodies. More advanced features on the EX and EX-L include push button start, Siri Eyes Free, and SMS text messaging.

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Driving

To be blunt, those looking for sprightly performance may not find this in the new Fit. While the car features a solid chassis, good handling, and an overall composed ride, the drive experience doesn't live up to other top competitors in the segment.

Driving at any reasonable speed reveals a noisy engine that isn't ideal for listening to music or talking quietly with other passengers. And the powertrain lacks the energy we expect from this car given its growly engine and aggressive look. This four-cylinder car, producing 130 horsepower, comes in both a CVT and a six-speed manual, and we got to drive both versions. Unfortunately, neither is as spirited as we hoped.

This segment definitely comes with some give and take. During our journey, we had the chance to drive the Chevy Sonic alongside the Fit. While the Sonic was quieter, it also featured a much bumpier ride than the Fit. We also recently drove the Ford Fiesta, which we think is a bit more engaging to drive than Honda's small car.

Summary

The 2015 Honda Fit is definitely a strong competitor in its segment. Its good fuel economy and incredible use of space are the major selling points for this car. And for many, these are the most important things a subcompact can offer. Most buyers opting for the Fit will want to go for the mid EX or top-of-the-line EX-L trim, as the base model provides few standard features. Those who are looking for more energetic performance behind the wheel may want to look elsewhere.

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Basic Specs

1.5-liter direct injected four-cylinder engine, continuously variable transmission or six-speed manual transmission, 130-hp, $15,525 base price

33 mpg city/41 mpg hwy (CVT LX) 32 mpg city/38 mpg hwy (CVT EX, EX-L) 29 mpg city/37 mpg hwy (manual)

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