2015 Honda Fit EX-LPosted on January 5th, 2015
Subcompact hatchback targets active urbanites
By Nina Russin
On paper the Honda Fit should be the perfect car for buyers with active lifestyles: small and fuel efficient, with a surprisingly spacious and versatile cargo area thanks to its folding magic seats and center-mounted fuel tank. The first-generation Fit seemed to hit the nail on the head, with its appealing aero exterior and peppy engine. This year, Honda introduces its successor, a slightly larger car that builds on the original formula with powertrain and connectivity enhancements.
The test car is the upscale EX-L with navigation, priced from $20,800. Standard convenience features include leather heated front seats, leather steering wheel, HondaLink with smart phone applications, navigation, Bluetooth, satellite radio, SMS text messaging, Pandora radio, LaneWatch, air conditioning and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Final MSRP including the $790 destination charge is $21,590.
Test drive in Arizona
This week I drove the new Honda Fit on a 100-mile loop through Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley and the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. I wanted to see how well the car would handle elevation gain, since most area athletes spend at least part of the summer in Flagstaff at an elevation of about 7,200 feet.
While the new Fit delivers on all of the fronts it promises including a larger cargo bay and enhanced fuel economy, the powertrain was a bit of a disappointment. The 1.5-liter 130-horsepower engine with the continuously variable automatic transmission is rather anemic, most noticeable during hard acceleration when it is also extremely noisy.
I found myself needing to bury the throttle merging onto the freeway and again trying to pass a slower vehicle on the two-lane Bush Highway in the foothills of the Superstitions. Paddle shifters enable the driver to keep the revs up by shifting later, but my personal preference would be to opt for the six-speed manual gearbox.
There is a lot of road noise on the freeway: perhaps due to the low rolling resistance tires. While I don’t see this as a deal breaker, being the owner of a Jeep Wrangler that pretty much sets the bar for road noise, but it definitely isn’t a benefit.
On the flip side, I was impressed with the visibility around the perimeter and can’t say enough good things about LaneWatch: a camera mounted to the passenger side mirror that projects an image of the right hand lane whenever the driver signals to shift there. I wish that more car companies would follow Honda’s lead. It could save a lot of serious injuries among cyclists and runners who share the roads with vehicles.
Steering feedback from the electric power assist rack-and-pinion system is good. The Fit’s small wheelbase and 35-foot turning circle makes it super maneuverable in traffic and easy to park on the street.
The MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension is fine in areas such as Phoenix where most of the roads are smooth. I don’t know how I would like living with the solid rear axle in parts of the upper Midwest where potholes are the norm. I suppose it’s the price one pays for the spacious cargo bay, since an independent setup would take up more room.
Sixteen-inch alloy wheels on the test car give the Fit a stable footprint for high-speed driving. Honda is well known for making small cars that are fun to toss around in the corners and the Fit is no exception. A stabilizer bar on the front axle keeps the chassis flat in the corners.
Disc front brakes and rear drums are standard. Although drum brakes don’t stop as well in wet weather as discs, the standard ABS system on the Fit should take care of any issues with directional control. On a small front-wheel drive car, the lion’s share of braking takes place at the front axle.
Its interior is what separates the Fit from competitors in the subcompact segment. Since the second-row seat folds into the floor, the Fit can hold things other subcompact hatchbacks cannot, including bicycles, skis, snowboards and camping equipment.
It can also hold furniture: something that comes in handy in lieu of finding someone with a truck every time the owner goes shopping for the home. The Fit’s low lift-over height makes it much easier to load items inside than some high-profile crossover vehicles.
The test car is evidence that Honda gives buyers a lot for their money, with its abundance of convenience features including keyless entry and start, high definition radio and real-time weather and traffic updates. With its leather interior trim the top-of-the-line Fit looks like a more expensive car than it actually is. It would be nice to see an optional anti-microbial fabric interior as well: more practical for those of us who get dirty running and cycling on trails.
New connectivity features such as the smart phone apps and text messaging make it easier and safer for the driver to stay in touch with friends and colleagues behind the wheel. Honda makes some of the best navigation systems in the business with easy-to-follow graphics and quick rerouting.
The Honda Fit comes with LED headlamps and fog lamps, antilock brakes, stability control, front, side and side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring and daytime running lamps.
Whether the Honda Fit is a good fit for you depends on where you live. If you live in a city where you need to guard your parking spot with living room furniture, it’s a great choice. On the other hand, if you live at altitude or plan to spend time there, the Fit’s lack of engine power could be a problem.
Honda builds the Fit at its Celaya, Mexico assembly plant.
Like: Excellent fuel economy and maneuverability, spacious cargo area
Dislike: Engine feels anemic during hard acceleration and at altitude, noisy interior
Model: Fit EX-L
Base price: $20,800
As tested: $21,590
Horsepower: 130 Hp @ 6600 rpm
Torque: 114 lbs.-ft. @ 4600 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 33/41 mpg city/highway2015, Urban 2015, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Honda, performance, pricing, standard safety
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