Honda’s 2015 Fit EX hatchback is economical, versatile and inexpensive

As a hatchback, Fit allows tall items to be carried in a spacious cargo area

Now in its third generation after being on leave for 2014, Honda’s 2015 compact Fit hatchback is back with better fuel economy, a more spacious interior and on the EX model, a 7-inch display that can be likened to an iPad. It offers a unique cargo configuration with rear seatbacks that fold down to increase cargo room, or, the bottoms fold up against the backs for increased interior storage space, identical to Honda’s former Ridgeline pickup truck’s rear seats.

Fit’s wedge shape is distinctive and gives the impression it’s traveling 55 mph standing still. A new grille, headlights and LED taillights bring it up to date with other more expensive cars on the market. Fit’s wheelbase was stretched a bit to expand rear seat legroom, which is the most impressive for cars in this class. And is available in LX, EX (tested), EX-L and EX-L with Navigation system with voice recognition.

Fit comes standard with an improved 1.5-liter four cylinder that puts out 130-hp and 114 lb/ft of torque. Coupled to a standard 6-speed manual transmission, Fit received EPA mileage ratings of 29 city, 37-highway mpg. With the manual trans, which had a notchy shifter, the clutch engaged at the end of travel instead of a more compliant off-the-floor engagement. Because of this, the CVT transmission would be preferred. Power wise, the little 1.5L transversely mounted engine isn’t the peppiest and takes a while to spool up to speed. And at idle the engine is a somewhat noise but dissipates when underway.

A CVT is optional on LX and EX versions while it’s standard on EX-L models. For comparison purposes, the CVT gets EPA ratings of 33/41 for the LX model. On EX and EX-L models, they come standard with Honda’s unique and novel LaneWatch blind-spot system that displays a wide-view of the passenger side blind spot on the 7-inch display when the right turn signal is activated. It helps prevent collisions with cars sneaking up on the cars’ right side during a right turn.

Fits’ interior offers a modern eclectic look with its black cloth seats ornamented with a line design. The buckets are comfy for short hauls but could use more padding for longer hauls. Same for the back seats. While spacious with generous legroom, there’s marginal headroom for tall folks. But Honda must be complimented for using push-down rear headrests that allow good rear visibility that is aided by a rearview camera.

With its 7-inch iPad type display adorning the dash, the display operates similarly with its swipe-and-pinch capability in addition to Pandora, iPod, HDMI and Bluetooth functions. But using the system does take the eyes off the road, as it is somewhat tricky to use. But HVAC controls are easy to use rotary dials and there’s a cup holder conveniently placed on the driver’s side of the dash. That should make commuters happy as it’s within line-of-sight placement.

The ride on 16-inch wheel is decent for a compact car. Bumps, tar strips and ruts can readily be felt but only unimproved railroad crossings will jolt the innards. Steering effort is light with its electric power-assisted steering, which makes parking a breeze even in tight spots. And with this comes a relatively tight turning radius for good maneuverability and nimbleness. This in turn provides lively handling with good adhesion on sharp turns taken at too high a speed.

The versatile cargo area is rated at 52.7 cubic feet with the 60/40 seatbacks folded. More meaningful, the area measures 25 inches deep, 40 wide and 35 high. Flip the seatbacks and depth extends to 58 inches. There’s also a bin beneath the cargo floor to stow small items out of view.

Fit is priced attractively and in line with others in this class. With a starting price of $17,435, only a delivery charge of $790 brought the bottom-line to $18,435. There were no extra cost options although the standard feature list is long. It includes a host of airbags and safety items such as brake assist, Electronic Brake Distribution, Vehicle Stability Assist, ABS, tire pressure monitoring and more. In fact it adds programmable door locks, auto on/of headlights, fog lights Smart Entry Security system to name a few.

Topping this off, the Institute for Highway Safety gave Fit a “Good” rating for moderate overall frontal-offset impacts, while government safety crash tests gave it a full five-star rating for total frontal impact protection and five for total side protection. As such, Fit fits perfectly for those looking for a second car, commuter car or college student runabout. It’s economical to drive and own.

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