The word cheap seems to have a negative connotation. Rather the words affordable or inexpensive carry a stronger, more positive tone. Too many compact cars feel cheap rather than inexpensive. To keep the price down, corners are cut and often exterior and interior styling are ignored. And I ponder, why can’t there be a car that is both affordable and quality in all regards?

Enter my tester for the week – the 2015 Honda Fit. The previous generation Fit was not a car I was enamored with. It was a fine econo-car, but lacked any amount of exciting or overall appeal.

Needless to say, I was happy to hear that the 2015 Fit was getting a complete makeover. And this was a great makeover!

2015 Honda Fit

Exterior

This five-door hatchback has truly evolved. With a new grille, new headlights and rear LED tail lights and added modern flare the Fit looks as good as any hatchback on the market. And I certainly would not have made that statement for previous model years. 16-inch alloy wheels jazz it up further.

The 2015 Honda Fit has matured well and fits perfectly into the Honda family now.

2015 Honda Fit

Honda Fit Engine & Transmission

The engine has been significantly modified, and despite being the same size, actually has improved power numbers. With the introduction of fuel-injection technology, the 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine makes 130 horsepower (a slight improvement over last year’s power output). It isn’t fast off the line, but it succeeds as an excellent commuter car and gets out of its own way. You won’t feel too pokey behind the wheel.

The Fit comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. But my tester came with the optional continuously variable transmission. The CVT does an adequate job of throwing the shifts around, and like all CVTs it is noisy. I would assume that the manual transmission would be a more pleasant and enjoyable experience. A sport mode offered, along with paddle shifters, adds a morsel of excitement to the Fit’s driving experience.

Interior

The interior is where the 2015 Fit really impresses. Improvement touch points don’t go unnoticed. But the most drastic improvement is in the headroom and legroom. Even in the back seat, adults will be comfortable. The redesigned Fit yields the most interior cabin space ever offered in this car. According to Honda, the Fit’s back seat actually has more rear legroom than the Accord.

And cargo room is vast for the Fit. Fold the 60/40 rear seat flat and you have 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space, making the Fit great for transporting bikes or other outdoor items. Most compact cars can’t boast such usefulness.

Trims and Options

The Fit has four trim levels; from the basic LX, to the EX to the top-of-the-line EX-L with navigation. My tester was the EX. It did not have navigation, which is no big deal in today’s smart phone world. It did have a 7-inch touchscreen interface that powered a six-speaker audio system that had Pandora compatibility. My tester also had a sunroof and Honda’s LaneWatch system, which beamed a camera image (from the passenger side mirror) to indicate anyone in the blind spot. However, due to spectacular design, there are minimal blind spots and the LaneWatch system feels a little gimmicky, but I appreciate the modern use of technology.

Mileage and Pricing

With the tweaks in the styling, wheel placement and engine modifications, Honda’s engineers have managed to improve upon the Fit’s already great fuel-sipping reputation. The Fit with the standard manual transmission has an EPA rating of 27 cities and 37 highway. The CVT option makes up for its noisy way by taking the Fit to the top of the class in fuel economy with an EPA rating of 33 city and 41 highway. In a week’s worth of mostly urban driving (the way the Fit is best suited), I averaged 35 MPG.

Pricing for the Fit begins at $16,000 for the most basic trims, with few options. My tester had a base price of $18,235. It’s nice to see a car priced under $20,000 that doesn’t feel cheap.

The 2015 Honda Fit is one of the most improved cars of this model year. It was already a top-seller in the segment, but now it has raised the bar without cutting corners.

2015 Honda Fit Specs

PRICE/AS-TESTED PRICE………………………………………… $18,235/$18,235

MILEAGE…………………………………… 32 MPG (CITY); 38 MPG (HWY)

ENGINE……………………………………… 1.5-LITER 4 CYLINDER

HORSEPOWER/TORQUE…………………………… 130 HP/114 LB./FT.

TRANSMISSION…………………………… CONTINUOUSLY VARIABLE

DRIVE WHEELS……………. FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE

FINAL ASSEMBLY POINT……………. CELAYA, MEXICO

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Jimmy Dinsmore

For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - jimmydinsmore@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @driversside.

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