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How will Honda protect Fit’s place atop the 2016 subcompact class?

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What changes will make it different?

Nothing of consequence. This subcompact hatchback entered its third generation in model-year 2015, so an overhaul for ’16 isn’t in the cards. Nor does it need one. The most amazing thing about this five-passenger four-door is the inordinate amount of room inside that diminutive exterior, which has benefitted from improved materials and features.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

Only if you’re intrigued by the notion of what will essentially be an SUV version of the Fit. That would be the all-new Honda HR-V, a subcompact crossover that’ll use Fits basic chassis and powertrain but have a higher seating position, a larger body, and availability of both front- and all-wheel drive. It’s due sometime during 2015 and it’s interesting enough to delay a Fit purchase until you can check it out. If you’re OK with the ’15 Fit, though there really isn’t a good reason to wait. It’s likely to be a virtual rerun of the car you can buy right now. Like its predecessor, this latest Fit is a candidate for a cult following for its sporty and economical versatility. However,

Should I buy a 2015 model instead?

If you’re interested in a car that sets a class benchmark. The combination of a high roof, low floor and relatively long wheelbase makes a marvel of practicality. Honda’s “Magic Seat” rear bench flips to create a useful cargo channel behind the front buckets or folds open nearly 53 cubic feet of cargo volume. Outward visibility is terrific, in-town maneuverability and easy parking an advantage, and reliability ratings and resale value are strong.

Will the styling be different?

Highly unlikely, beyond perhaps a new color choice or two. Overall, the ’16 will carry over the more mature but still-playful look introduced with the model-year 2015 redesign. Expect a three-grade lineup to again ascend through the base LX, better-equipped EX, and top-line EX-L models. EX and EX-L would be visually distinguished by 16-inch alloy wheels instead of the LX’s 15-inchers with wheel covers. The EX-L should again have side mirrors with turn-signal lamps.

Any mechanical changes?

Very little chance. Expect the sole engine to remain a 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. It’ll be available with a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission, a CVT that plays the role of a conventional automatic but without stepped gear ratios. Acceleration should again be adequate to most any task short of racing. Handling with a sporty edge will remain a selling point. Honda offered a pure-electric version of the previous-generation Fit in selected U.S. markets and makes overseas versions available with a gas-electric hybrid powertrain as well as smaller gas engines. But don’t look for those alternatives here unless gas prices spike dramatically.

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Will fuel economy improve?

No change is probable; it’ll stay impressive and should again be near the top in the subcompact class. Indeed, you pretty much need to spring for a hybrid to beat Fit’s ratings of 29/37/32 mpg city/highway/combined with manual transmission and 33/41/36 with the CVT.

Will it have new features?

Honda could make a minor adjustment by, say, extending to the LX a few features now exclusive to the EX, such as remote keyless entry with pushbutton start. But that’s not likely without severe competitive pressure. That said, expect a well-reasoned selection of features; even the entry-level LX should again come with such goodies as cruise control, keyless entry, power windows and locks, a trip computer, air conditioning, a rearview camera, map lights, a USB port and a height-adjustable driver’s seat. All but the LX will likely again include 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 navigation, the EX-L should also remain the only Fit with leather upholstery.
How will 2016 prices be different? Honda delivered the all-new ’15 Fit without major price hikes, so we’re optimistic the ’16 will have roughly the same base-price range. Look for about $16,500-$20,600, including the manufacturer’s destination fee.

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When will it come out?

Most likely in the third-quarter of 2015.

Best competitors

Kia Soul, Nissan Versa Note, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris

What changes would make it better?

The redesign brought a more rigid structure and better sound insulation that combined with a slightly more isolated ride to finally make the Fit fit for longer highway trips. However, the engine still gets intrusive at high rpm, such as when you floor it to merge with fast-moving expressway traffic.

Quick hit

That Magic Seat is indeed pretty enchanting. Not only does it drop virtually flat with the already-low rear load floor and flip to create that transverse channel, its split backrest can aligned with a reclined right front passenger seatback to create a mini-bed. The Magic Seat, by the way, will also be standard on the upcoming HR-V crossover.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]