Review: 2015 Honda Fit

May 13, 2015 03:30 PM EDT | Benjamin Preston

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The Honda Fit is a big little car. It, well, fits.

Honda's engineers have clearly done their homework on this one, and seem to have squeezed every last square inch they could out of the car's interior. If you were to drive one, then step out of the car and regard it from 30 feet away – especially if it were parked next to other, larger vehicles – you might marvel at how something so tiny could have yielded so much room inside.

I might mention that I'm not a large person, and that someone over six feet tall might have to duck a little bit to clear the car's steeply raked A-pilar. And not everyone is a huge fan of the Fit's styling—it sort of looks like an escape pod from Spaceball 1. But once you're inside, a different world opens up. It's roomy, comfortable and fun to drive.

As a city car, the Fit is as good an option as anyone can ask for. The front seats and driving position feel good and the console, dash and doors have handy little nooks for keeping phones and drinks and things like that. The Fit is also really easy to park in small spaces and squeeze between illegally parked trucks on street sweeping day.

Perhaps best of all, though, is the way the Fit's rear seats are set up. In normal seat mode, they're comfortable and offer plenty of legroom for all but the tallest passengers. But they also fold completely flat, a feature that, for whatever reason, automakers don't usually design into forward-folding rear seat backs. The rear seat bottoms fold up, too, creating a taller floor cargo space behind the front seats (the rear seat backs stay in the up position in this configuration).

The most appealing feature of these transformer seats—Honda calls them Magic Seats—is that they give you plenty of options with respect to your schlepping capabilities. With one back seat folded down, the Fit swallowed a 7-foot-long surfboard and enough luggage to sustain my wife in Peru for a week. And there was still comfortable, seat-belted seating for three.

Another marvel those clever Honda engineers figured out was how to create a car that steers and handles like a little go kart around town, but is relatively stable on the highway. Equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission, it almost feels—dare I say it?—sporty. Honda also has a knack for building responsive, fuel-efficient small-displacement engines, and its 130-horsepower 1.5-liter 4-cylinder is no exception. The sum total of all these parts is a zippy little car that won't be winning any drag races, but has enough power to get out of its own way and an agile suspension to match.

The Fit is a bit on the tall side for its width, but its electronic stability control system and other nanny controls quickly squelch any squirreliness when the car bounces on high-speed curves. Traveling 70 mph on the highway, the close proximity of the driver's position to the front of the car was a little unnerving. But I reminded myself that the 2015 Fit got top marks in almost all of the crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It received a slightly lower score in the small overlap front crash test, where the front corner of the vehicle strikes a stationary object, but it was still rated "acceptable" in that category.

With a sticker price of $18,225, the Fit EX we tested came with an impressive list of features. Among them were a full envelope of airbags – front, side, side curtain – child safety seat anchors, an infotainment system with a 7-inch screen, easy-to-use Bluetooth pairing and a sunroof that made the car's interior feel even larger on a sunny day.

The infotainment controls aren't the most straightforward, and lack the one- or two-knob layout that can make reaching menus easier. People who buy this car will either learn it and get used to it, or give up on it and do without its full functionality. After trying to leaf through page after page of menu options, I was thinking I'd tend toward the latter group.

Minor quips aside, everything else seems to fit.

By the numbers: 2015 Honda Fit EX

MSRP: $18,225 (includes $790 destination charge)

Power and drive wheels: 1.5-liter, 130-hp 4-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive

Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission or continously variable automatic transmission

EPA fuel economy: 29/37 city/highway mpg

Safety: IIHS Top Safety Pick

In showrooms: Now

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