Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Business

The Daily Drivers: 2015 Honda Fit EX-L is better all around

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For 2015, Honda has completely redesigned the Fit, which already is one of the most versatile subcompacts on the market. Big changes often can spell trouble of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" variety, but Honda has managed to give the Fit more style and more cabin space all while upgrading the car's powertrain and chassis.

Appearance: This new Fit, the third generation, still carries the car's familiar wedge shape, which has been refined to make it look more like a grownup car and less like a quirky subcompact. Bold lines now crease the body to give it more character. It's enhanced by a more modern chrome-trimmed black grille and sleek headlights. From the rear, the Fit now sports Volvo-like vertical taillights that are integrated with the rear hatch. The effect is sharp and sporty. Our top-of-the-line EX-L with Navi came with five-spoke, 16-inch alloy wheels that also added a sophisticated touch, as did the Midnight Plum Pearl, which we found to be a refreshing change from the primary colors common in so many small cars.

Performance: This new model is shorter than its predecessor by 1.6 inches, yet the wheelbase is longer by 1.2. It's also incrementally wider. To us, the end result is a car that feels more stable on the road. The Fit comes with Honda's new "Earth Dreams" 1.5-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder, which puts out 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. The car never feels underpowered, even in interstate driving, and returns an estimated 32 mpg in the city and 38 highway. There are two new transmission options: manual which now has a sixth gear, and a CVT (boo!). Like many CVTs mated to small engines, things can get noisy on high revs. The Fit has three driving modes: Eco, Sport or Normal, which adjust the throttle settings. (We both found Eco to be a bit too tame.) The electronic steering is light and responsive, and the ride surprisingly compliant even on rough surfaces. Overall, the Fit is fun to drive, especially when maneuvering in crowded parking lots or congested city streets.

Interior: The passenger volume has increased by 4.9 cubic feet, which is most noticeable in the rear where head- and legroom are comfortable even for adults. (The tradeoff: The cargo space has decreased slightly.) The Fit now has available features such as leather-trimmed and heated seats and a sunroof. There's a lot of plastic but none of it feels cheap. We're fans of old-school buttons and rotary controls, which can be used without looking away from the road. That's why we don't like touch-sensitive controls — like the slider for the volume control — on the 7-inch screen. It's better to use the steering wheel controls. Lyra found that the voice commands take patience — the system can be slow and seems repetitive. The strength of the Fit's interior remains the Magic Seat, which allows to you to fold up the rear seat bottoms or put the seat backs down. This gives you lots of cargo options.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Features: New standard features in all Fit models include auto on-off headlights, Bluetooth and backup camera.

Color: Midnight Plum Pearl gives the car a sophisticated look.

Magic Seat: A great use: Fold one side down and stack your kids' backpacks.

Lyra Solochek

Not startling: There's a gentle chirp (a la Acura) instead of a loud honk when setting the alarm.

Visibility: Good view all around. Front triangle openings help.

Cargo space: Low cargo deck, Magic Seat for ample storage space.

The bottom line: Fully loaded at less that $22K, great gas mileage and lots of cargo and passenger space. In short, it's a better Fit, and it's due out in dealerships any day now.









     
             
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