At the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, most of the attention went to the flashy performance models and concepts. This is not to say that the debut of the all-new 2015 Honda Fit subcompact went unnoticed. Indeed, for those in the market for a fun, fuel-efficient and good-looking small vehicle, the Fit’s arrival in dealerships this spring should be a welcome event.

As for the third-generation Fit’s design, in the view of many in the automotive press, it’s an “eye-grabbing” exterior. There is a lot to like, including the bolder grille, headlight design, and the creased character lines. The new Fit also rides on a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase, has a more rigid body and new sport-tuned suspensions front and rear, and 16-inch alloy wheels are available.

Unique Features, Extraordinary Cargo Capacity

Honda took the unique Magic Seat feature from the previous model Fit and made it even better this time around. The new design adds an extra 4.8 inches of coveted rear-seat legroom. Families will especially appreciate the extra room, as it allows for easier use of rear-facing car seats, for kids with bulky, heavy backpacks and gear, and even adults who may choose (or be forced to) sit back there.

There’s more. The 60/40-split seats fold absolutely flat. This creates a massive flat, low loading cargo area. Even the seat bottoms flip up, making space to store items of a taller nature, such as an upright bicycle, to haul supplies from the home-improvement store or nursery, that hard-to-resist find at the mall, flea market or antique shop.

At 52.7 cubic feet, this cavernous cargo space helps the 2015 Honda Fit stand out from the subcompact competition, namely the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent and Chevrolet Sonic.

Standard features include Bluetooth, a multi-angle rearview camera, and expanded-view driver’s mirror. Options include heated side mirrors, a moonroof, smart entry with push-button start, blind spot detection, a seven-inch display, heated front seats and leather-trimmed seating available for the first time.

More Power

Packing more power into the engine bay means drivers will get more enjoyment and fuel efficiency from the Fit. There’s a redesigned Earth Dreams powertrain, a direct-injected 1.5-liter engine under the hood that produces 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. This marks a 13-horsepower and 8-pound-feet improvement over the outgoing engine.

The engine is matched with a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT) with available paddle shifters.  As for fuel efficiency, this should be attractive for potential Fit buyers. Honda says it anticipates class-leading EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 33 mpg city, 41 mpg highway and 36 mpg combined.

Safety

Honda says the new Fit benefits from the most extensive use of ultra-high strength steel in the model’s history. This provides increased body stiffness while also decreasing weight by 57 pounds (compared to the outgoing Fit). The Japanese automaker anticipates that the Fit will earn top safety scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), hoping to achieve a NHTSA 5-Star overall score and a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS.

Pricing for the 2015 Honda Fit will be announced closer to the on-sale date.

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