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Base price range $16,315-$20,480
It’s all-new for model-year 2015 and another master class in packaging efficiency. The original Fit earned a cult following for its small-outside-big-inside appeal. This budget-coddling second generation is just as versatile and brings needed improvements. It’s quieter and rides better, so long highway trips aren’t so fatiguing. With horsepower up by 11, to a still-modest 128, it’s no speedster. But torque is up, too, so merging onto a freeway is less stressful. It gets even better fuel economy, rating 32 mpg city/highway combined with the six-speed manual transmission and a very impressive 36 combined with the optional continuously variable automatic. Oh, and more aggressive styling means this four-door hatchback no longer looks quite so toylike. Already among the smallest cars on the road, overall length actually decreases while the wheelbase increases 1.2 inches. Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear axles and the stretch brings even more rear legroom. Combined with the tall roofline, this five-seater accommodates four adults with room precious few subcompacts match. Back for a repeat performance is the “Magic Seat,” the rear bench that folds nearly flat with the already low load floor to create a vanlike cargo hold of 52.7 cubic feet. The cushion also flips to open a car-wide channel large enough to swallow a large-screen TV box or a mountain bike with its front wheel removed. All but the base model have a 7-inch dashboard screen to display the standard Lane Watch camera that reveals what’s in your blind spot when you trigger the right turn signal. On the EX-L with navigation model it hosts GPS mapping. With or without nav, the EX-L is also the first Fit with leather upholstery. Unlike most subcompacts, Fit is genuinely fun to drive, though the continuously variable transmission’s slurred power delivery takes getting used to. Still, this is a car that celebrates the possibilities of small size and smart design.