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October 4, 2014

2015 Honda Fit EX-L w/Nav

by Mark Savage

Honda Fit not a hit, just a basic entry-level car

Honda’s new 2015 Fit is larger inside than the previous model, but remains a basic entry-level car that delivers excellent gas mileage.Honda side

But it has its limitations, as all entry-level cars do.

Power is modest, the ride is rough and wind noise is fairly intrusive. This is not the tightly built, quiet muted engine of many previous Honda’s I’ve driven. I was a bit disappointed.

The 130-horse 1.5-liter direct-injection I4 with variable valve timing is a winner as far as gas consumption, but its acceleration is mild to lackluster. Press the ever-present green Eco button on the dash’s left side and torque drops further for less getaway power from a stop.

There is a bit of a solution. On the bright red tested EX-L model with a navigation system there also is a Sport setting for the floor-mounted Continuously Variable Transmission. That helped boost the oomph, but only mildly and turned the already groan prone engine into a big time groaner. The harder you accelerate, the noisier it gets.

With a 6-speed manual transmission it’s possible that the 130-horse I4 would be fairly peppy. But with this CVT it struggles to get out of following vehicles’ way. To be honest, this felt much like a hybrid in the acceleration department.

The upside, and it’s a big one, is gas mileage. Rated at 32 mpg city and 38 mpg highway I managed an impressive 41.6 mpg in about 60% highway driving, about half in the Eco mode and little in Sport.

Honda1Naturally many Fit buyers will be looking for economy, the base LX model starts at $16,315, so meets that need, and also has a 6-speed manual tranny. Move up to the automatic and you’re looking at $17,115, still quite a bargain in today’s market. The test car is near the top of the segment with navigation and heated front seats part of the EX-L package. Base price here is $20,800 and this added only delivery of $790 to hit $21,590.

Honda stretched the wheelbase a bit here so the Fit rides on a 99.6 incher, but that and a re-designed rear suspension are not enough to smooth the ride. This is bare bones basic for ride comfort, so delivers sharp jolts on Wisconsin’s crumbling expansion joints and potholes.

I also was surprised that traction on damp streets was poor, especially if you were in Sport mode and tried to get on the gas a little harder. I spun the wheels several times. Brakes here are fine though.

Handling though is decent. The wheel feel is moderate and the car turns into corners fairly quickly, but there is no sporty feel. This model and the EX both come with 16-inch tires vs. 15-inchers in the LX.

The EX-L also comes with a sunroof, which could be a plus for some buyers, but there is a fair amount of wind noise you get through that, even with it closed and the sliding interior cover closed. I checked several times because I thought I’d left the sunroof cracked open, the noise was that obvious.honda tail

Inside, the Fit is well laid out and attractive enough for a low-cost runabout, this one having black leather seats and matte silver trim. The gauges are easy to see and well-arranged and I like the blue-trimmed main gauges that are easy on the eyes at night. There’s a manual tilt-telescope steering wheel too.

Seats are manual with a height adjustment for the driver’s seat, but no lumbar support adjustment. Fit’s interior is roomy too, gaining more than four inches of rear leg room from the previous model. Four average sized adults could ride in the Fit without much trouble, but remember to fold up the rear headrests or they’ll poke the back seat folks in their shoulders.

The front seats are mildly contoured on the bottom with better back support while the rear seats are fairly flat. Getting in and out of the car is easy, although the doors open stiffly and sometimes take an extra shove to fully open. Likewise, you need to push the door shut solidly or it won’t latch on the first try.

Rear seats fold into the floor to create mucho storage room in the Fit.

Rear seats fold into the floor to create mucho storage room in the Fit.

Honda has done a nice job of engineering the rear seats so they fold flat into the floor, which creates more cargo room under the hatch. Honda says there’s a full 52.7 cubic feet of space back there, and it’s easy to believe. With the rear seats down this cargo area looks as big as most compact crossovers and sport-utility trucks.

Visibility is good in Fit too with a wide and deep windshield, plus small vent-like windows in the doors to create more A-pillar side visibility.

Another safety plus on the EX-L is what Honda calls Lane Watch, basically a camera that shows on the center touchscreen what is in the right lane next to the vehicle. That’s activated if you turn on the car’s right turn signal and can help you see if someone is creeping up on that side of you to help you avoid contact. The Fit also has a rearview camera.

There are power windows and door locks here, along with push-button start and a variety of radio and cruise controls on the steering wheel hub. The wheel itself and the shift knob are wrapped in leather and the seats in the EX-L are leather too.

Audiophiles and i-everything crazy users will be happy to see a USB port, 12-volt power outlet and HDMI cable outlet too, plus there’s a Pandora interface and satellite radio setup. Honda provides a 7-inch touchscreen mid dash, but as with most of these I found it difficult to use while driving. First, there’s no volume knob, that’s controlled on the steering wheel or on a very touchy bar on the radio’s face, not user friendly in my book.

Not a big fan of the radio adjustability here.

Not a big fan of the radio adjustability here.

Plus you can call up radio channels, but it has pre-programmed all the local channels into the system, so a fair amount of awkward scrolling is needed to move through the dial. Obvious buttons that can be programmed with your 3-4 favorite stations would be welcome.

And while I know this is a bare bones car, I’d like sun visors that slide to help block side sun. Yes, that’s a pet peeve of mine, no matter a car’s cost.

So while Fit gives you good interior room, super gas mileage and a more streamlined look for 2015, it could use some more power and refinement. If you’re looking for an entry-level car, also consider Ford’s Fiesta, Chevy’s Sonic (not its Spark), Hyundai’s Accent, Nissan’s Versa Note, Mazda2 or the Toyota Yaris. For the $21 grand this one runs, I’d also check out at a nicely equipped Kia Soul, which offers a ton of cargo room in back.

FAST Stats: 2015 Honda Fit EX-L w/Nav

Hits: Good visibility and mucho cargo room as rear seats fold into floor. Excellent gas mileage and roomy enough for four passengers. Heated seats and attractive blue trimmed gauges. Decent handling and right-turn video screen for safety.

Misses: Modest power with CVT and a lot of engine groan if you accelerate hard. Rough ride, poor traction on damp roads, fair amount of wind noise, irritating touchscreen radio with no volume knob, visors don’t slide.

Made in: Celaya, Mexico

Engine: 1.5-liter i-VTEC DI I4, 130 hpHonda nose

Transmission: CVT w/Sport mode

Weight: 2,642 lbs.

Wheelbase: 99.6 in.

Length: 160.0 in.

Cargo: 52.7 cu.ft. (rear seat down)

MPG: 32/38 (EPA)

MPG: 41.6 (tested)

Base Price: $20,800

Dealer’s Price: $21,021 (includes delivery)

Major Options: None

Delivery: $790

Test vehicle: $21,590

Sources: Honda, http://www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

 

 

 

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