Fans of Honda's innovative and spacious Fit hatchback will love what the car becomes for 2015 — quieter inside, more powerful and yet more fuel efficient, more refined in its ride, roomier and better equipped.
In fact, for the first time, the Fit can be fitted with premium amenities like heated and leather-covered seats, push-button start, moonroof and a 7-inch information display screen in the dashboard with navigation system and voice controls.
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Meantime, a rearview camera and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity come standard.
This new-generation, restyled, five-door Fit also provides the most passenger room for the best gas mileage of any gasoline-only-powered hatchback sold in the United States. The federal government's top fuel economy rating for a base, 2015 Fit LX with continuously variable transmission (CVT) is 33 miles per gallon in city driving and 41 mpg on the highway for a combined 36 mpg city/highway rating.
The five-seat, 2015 Fit with 130-horsepower four cylinder comes with a whopping 95.7 cubic feet of space for passengers. This is more than the passenger volume in a 2015 Honda Civic sedan, and the Civic sedan is 19.4 inches longer than the Fit.
In comparison, while the 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback has the top combined gasoline hatchback mileage rating of 40 mpg from its 74-horsepower, three-cylinder engine, the Mirage offers only 86.1 cubic feet of passenger volume. Likewise, the 2014 Scion iQ with 94-horsepower four cylinder is rated at a combined 37 mpg city/highway, but has even less passenger room — 73.8 cubic feet.
Another factor in the Fit's favor: Consumer Reports predicts reliability for the new Fit will be better than average.
Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, for the 2015 Fit is up to $16,315. This is for an LX with newly revised six-speed manual transmission.
The lowest starting retail price for a 2015 Fit with a CVT that a driver operates like an automatic is $17,115.
But it's worth noting that even a 2015 Fit with CVT and all the new, premium amenities, which was the test car, tops out at less than $21,600.
Competitors are many, including the shorter-length Mirage, which has a starting retail price, including destination charge, of $13,805 with five-speed manual transmission. Another hatchback competitor is the 2015 Nissan Versa Note, which is 3 inches longer than the Fit and carries a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $14,990 for a base model with 109-horsepower four cylinder and five-speed manual.
With new styling, the 2015 Fit looks more grown up than its predecessor, even as its length shrunk by just over an inch.
The Fit, like its major competitors, is a tall car, with a roof that's a full 5 feet from the pavement. This helps account for the spacious feeling inside, where passengers have a somewhat upright seat position that allows for a surprising 41.4 inches of front-seat legroom and another 39.3 inches of legroom in the back seat. Even a Toyota Camry sedan doesn't have that much back-seat legroom.
Three adults sit closely across the Fit's back seat, however, and it's much more comfortable for just two people back there.
The Fit's innovative "Magic Seat" remains. When rear seats aren't used for people, the rear seat cushions, which are divided into one-third and two-thirds segments, can be easily pulled up flat against the rear seatbacks and lock into place there.
This leaves a tall, roomy, floor-to-ceiling area behind the front seats for carrying big items, like sizable plants or flat screen TVs, that can't or shouldn't be laid flat in a trunk.
Plus, even after this area is filled, the 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the Fit's rear seatbacks remain available for even more stuff. And there's no sizable rear bumper to fuss over to get things inside the back.
The new Fit is a better ride than its predecessor. The car's platform is lighter and stiffer, and the ride, which had previously been rather firm, is a bit more compliant feeling now. In the test car, passengers still felt road bumps and vibrations, but suspension damping felt softer.
The interior of the test car also had a more upscale feel with nicer materials, notably the black leather seats, and a new, covered center armrest. Fit and finish on the test car was super.
The 1.5-liter, double overhead cam, direct injection four cylinder develops a healthy 130 horsepower now, up from 117. Torque is increased, too, to 114 foot-pounds at 4,600 rpm from 106 foot-pounds coming on at 4,800 rpm.
This doesn't make the Fit a sporty car as it still takes time to accelerate, and the CVT in the test car revved rather loudly when pressed hard.
But there's no complaint with the 32.8 mpg in city driving that was easily reached with the Fit in "eco" mode.
The subtle, changing blue and green lights at the sides of the speedometer that coached a driver into more economic driving were intriguing, too.
Highway travel pushed the average fuel economy up to near 35 mpg, so the test Fit turned out to be most economical at the gas station.
The test Fit's 10.6-gallon fuel tank could provide some 365 miles of travel on a single tank that cost less than $35 to fill up at today's prices.
Some 6,292 Fit vehicles from the 2015 model year were recalled in July because they could have had an incorrect covering installed over a window pillar area where the side curtain air bags deploy. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records, the cover might interfere with proper functioning of the air bags.