2015 Honda Fit
Honda’s American heritage of selling small, roomy, fuel efficient cars, that last for almost forever, is well known. Right from the first civic forty years ago, Honda’s subcompact and compact cars have always provided more in less. But, today, it’s the Honda Fit that carries the banner of maximizing everything but its shadow. And, while the all-new 3rd generation has changed a lot, it’s more “fit” than ever.
We’ve always considered the Honda fit to be a small car that thought outside the traditional subcompact box. Its five-door shell surrounds an unusually airy interior that has proven to be as versatile as a small utility. Plus, driving the fit was not only economical but fun. An attribute most rivals lack.
Well, that formula is more than intact with the all-new third generation fit. In fact we’ll say the 2015 fit actually expands on itself.
That “moreness” starts with additional power. There’s still a 1.5-liter i4 in place, but it’s a new direct injected mill with 130 horsepower, 13 more than before. Torque is cranked up 8 to 114 lb-ft. It joins the Honda “earth dreams” lineup with updated transmissions. The standard manual is now a 6-speed and the automatic is now a CVT.
That dream is realized in better fuel economy at 33-city, 41-highway, and 36–combined for the CVT, tops for its interior size.
This hatchback’s exterior theme remains the same, but the shape has been hit heavily with a buffer. It’s smoother with more sculpting to the up-sweeping bodysides, giving an overall sleeker, more dynamic look.
As for its shadow, there’s more wheelbase and width, but overall length is actually less by an inch and a half. The rear now sports a thick, full width chrome strip connecting the led tail lights; with red reflectors up both sides of the back glass to a hatch-top spoiler. A very aggressive looking rear bumper lies below. Standard, are 15-inch wheels; ex riding on 16s.
While that’s unchanged, the fit’s “more fun-to-drive than it should be” quotient actually grows. The unibody adds rigidity, and while the basic front strut and rear trailing arm suspension design remains, it has been totally reworked with updated components and geometry. Along with more precise handling, ride comfort also takes a turn for the better.
Honda claims a big improvement in overall driving refinement. And, after our initial drive at Honda’s press launch in San Diego, California, we concur. Except for maybe the new CVT transmission. Unlike the CVT in the accord, which operates pretty quietly, in the fit is just makes for a lot “more” noise as you move up to speed.
On the other hand, we found the 6-speed manual a great improvement, with short throws and a sporty feel.
But, the biggest uptick in the new fit is the additional interior room. While you do get a sense of it up front, it’s really apparent in the rear. A 1.2-inch gain in wheelbase expands to over 4-inches more leg room, with additional headroom. You have to sit in it to believe it.
The fit’s signature, multi-folding magic seat remains. It has always been one of our favorite fit features, allowing for some unique storage and seating options.
But, something had to give. The added legroom does cut cargo space by 20% to 16.6 cubic feet when all seats are filled. Still, seats flat, fit’s max cargo room of 52.7 is hard to beat with anything that’s not a crossover.
A 3-dial gauge setup carries over, but the center speedometer is larger and all information is presented more clearly.
Though the interior presentation is still monochromatic and not overly inviting, there’s plenty more when it comes to standard features, with a multi-view back-up camera and bluetooth included. And definitely more luxury and safety options with lane watch, 7-inch display audio and push-button start all available. You can even get your new fit with leather!
Hondalink allows for even more smart-phone integration, and you do it more seamlessly. Iphone users can even talk to Siri. But we’ll need a little more time with it to see how much better it truly is. As before, analog controls are large, logically placed, and easy to use.
Much was publicized about the previous generation Fit’s “poor” IIHS score due to the new small overlap frontal crash test. Well, Honda took that as seriously as potential buyers and expects this fit’s new ace body structure with additional high strength steel to “ace” that test without a problem.
Honda has made significant investments in the new Fit, bringing assembly to North America at a brand new plant in Mexico. But, even with that expenditure they’ve contained base prices. It’s barely increased to $16,355 for a manual. The top-line EX-L Navi goes for $21,630.
The 2015 Honda Fit is indeed more “fit”, and will truly “fit” into many more lifestyles. It provides great versatility and practicality, along with a surprising splash of fun, and now even more so. And, aside from that loud CVT, the 2015 Honda Fit has the “fit”ting formula for even more success.
- Engine: 1.5-liter
- Horsepower: 130
- Torque: 114 lb-ft.
- EPA: 33 mpg city/ 41 mpg highway
2023 BMW X7
Should Keep The BMW Faithful Coming Back For More
While BMW got serious about their SUV game around the same time as most other luxury brands, it took them until just a few years ago to deliver a 3-row example. This year, that X7 is updated with new style and new tech. So, let’s see if that makes it the ultimate premium 3-row family machine.
When it comes to utility vehicles, bigger seems to be better for a lot of people. So, for BMW, there’s none bigger or better than the X7 3-row utility, which for 2023 gets a comprehensive update after just 4-years on the market. That includes a facelift to bring it more in line with the new 7-series carline, which is to say joins the more vertical, aggressive grille party. Also, the actual headlights have been moved lower in the front fascia, with squinty DRLs above for the first time on a BMW. In back, taillights take on a 3D posture, with a new chrome bar connecting them.
There are also multiple new M Sport packages to choose from to spice up the exterior, with larger air intakes up front, high-gloss black trim, upgraded exhaust, cascade grille lighting, and 22-inch wheels, as well as M Sport brakes…
…and the interior too, with aluminum trim and exclusive steering wheel. But, by far the biggest change inside for ‘23 is a new dashtop curved display that eliminates the typical BMW well-hooded gauge pod and blends 12-inch Live Cockpit Pro into the 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now features iDrive8. Both a Head-Up Display and a large panoramic sunroof are standard.
Whether set up for 2 or 3 passengers, 2nd row seat room remains plentiful, and though the X7 doesn’t look ungainly large like many of its competitors, access to the 3rd row is quite good. Cargo space is reached through a fairly unique, Range Rover-style, split tailgate, which is quite oddly satisfying to watch unfold. There’s room for 48.6 cubic-ft. of goods behind the 2nd row, with a max of 90.4 cu.-ft.
The base xDrive40i has always been the sensible choice, even more so now with a new inline-6 turbo getting a significant bump in horsepower from 335 to 375, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that results in a total of 398 lb-ft. of torque.
At our Mason Dixon test track, there was enough to blast this big beast to 60 in just 5.4-seconds. That’s only about half a second slower than the V8 did the deed back in 2019. Making that optional 523-horsepower V8 simply overkill at this point. Our best ¼-mile pass was 13.9-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. All X7s get a quick shifting sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, which adds a new Sprint Function that finds the lowest usable gear instantly and maxes electric boost with a hold of the left shift paddle. What fun!
New looks and updated tech are cool, but BMW has also addressed dynamics as well, with a retuning of all chassis systems, including the optional Dynamic Handling Package which adds adaptive suspension with roll stabilization and uses GPS and camera data to prepare for what’s coming. We’re not sure if our slalom course was anticipated, but the X7 sure felt well-equipped to handle it. All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s, along with comprehensive drive modes.
In our braking runs, the pads bit down hard quickly, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet with very little nosedive.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 6-cylinder are 21-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged just 21.0 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
There’s an average Energy Impact Score; 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.5-tons.
Pricing starts at $78,845, and it’s a significant step up from there to $104,095 if you want the V8. Even more reason to stick with the 6-cylinder as far as we’re concerned.
It took the ultimate driving machine folks quite a bit of time to enter the 3-row family crossover segment, but when they did, they were able to create their largest utility ever and keep it consistent with their values. For 2023, the BMW X7 gets even more dynamic, embraces new tech, and looks better too. All things that should keep the BMW faithful coming back for more.
- Engine: I-6
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 21.0 MPG
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 398 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.9-seconds at 100 mph
- EPA: 21 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined
2024 Mazda CX-90
A Force To Be Reckoned With
If you’ve been following Mazda lately, you’ll know they’ve been fielding some serious new designs; you could even say, they’re latest efforts are 10-times better than before. After all, the CX-3 became the CX-30, then CX-5 became the CX-50, and now it’s the CX-9’s turn. So, let’s find out if this all-new CX-90, their largest SUV yet, is a real multiplier or if it’s all just a numbers game.
Don’t think of this 2024 Mazda CX-90 so much as an updated version of the CX-9, as it’s more of a complete rethink of their 3-row crossover, the first built on an all-new, large vehicle platform for the brand. And this platform carries a host of surprises. Not only does it make the CX-90 bigger by every dimension, but it’s a rear-drive architecture, and features all-new powertrains, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, and even an inline-6 engine.
Why an inline-6 to replace the CX-9’s turbo-4? Well, in general terms, I6s are better balanced, run smoother, and can deliver more torque at lower RPM. Just ask the BMW faithful, or any of the truckers you see going down the road hauling more than 20-tons of cargo with their inline-6s.
There are 2-versions of the longitudinally mounted 6, both assisted by turbocharging and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Output for the base Turbo is 280-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque; this Turbo S cranks it up to 340-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. The PHEV, on the other hand, is based on a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4, working with a 100-kW electric motor to deliver 323-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. A 17.8-kWh battery delivers 26-miles of EV driving.
It’s not the prettiest SUV, but it does have very smooth body work; plus, the longer hood and 7½-inches of wheelbase stretch over the CX-9, give it more stately proportions. All CX-90s come with i-Activ all-wheel drive and the brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission; the longer wheelbase allows tow ratings to step up from 3,500-lbs. to 5,000.
At the test track, our Turbo S launched effortlessly with good grip on the way to a 6.4-second 0-60. The smooth vibes continued throughout the ¼-mile, with refined power delivery, seamless shifts, and a noticeably more solid and stable feel at speed than the CX-9. Our best time was 14.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, it still behaves like a Mazda, with very good steering feel and a solid presence in corners at low to moderate speeds. Some understeer and body roll will show up when pushed hard, but Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control uses subtle selective braking to help the vehicle rotate, and safety systems will step in well-before it gets out of sorts.
There’s a nice firm feel to the brake pedal, delivering good stopping results of 118-feet from 60 miles-per-hour. You can feel a lot of weight transfer, but nosedive was well contained.
Another unique element the CX-90 brings is seating arrangements for 6,7, or 8. It’s the 8-seater that’s standard with 3-across bench seating for 2nd and 3rd rows. 7-seaters get either captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, or more contoured seats for the 3rd; 6-seaters sport 2nd row captains and the contoured 3rd row. Cargo capacity varies with seating, but is at best 15.9 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 40.1 behind the 2nd, and 75.2 with all seats folded.
As far as what it’s like to actually live with, the CX-90’s cabin is a clear step up, including on some trims suede-like materials, intricate stitching, and real wood, all consistent with what we’ve seen from the brand lately. A 10-inch dashtop touchscreen is standard for infotainment, with upper trims getting a larger 12.3-incher. We applaud Mazda’s inclusion of plenty of old-school manual controls for radio and climate, which keeps menu diving limited to secondary functions. PHEVs get a few unique controls and readouts to monitor drive modes and battery level.
Overall, the CX-90 is highly functional, entertainingly sporty to drive, and will be more competitive in the ever growing 3-row family crossover segment; and its posh interior may even attract luxury buyers on a budget.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Turbo S are 23-City, 28-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a good 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing begins with the base Turbo at Select trim for $40,970, PHEVs are available in Preferred trim and above starting at $48,820, and the Turbo S starts at $53,125.
Force multiplier is a military term for when strategic elements come together to produce results greater than would have been possible without them. Well, no high-level math skills are necessary here to see that the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is clearly more than just a much better CX-9; it’s now a force to be reckoned with in the 3-row family crossover segment.
- Engine: 3.3-liter I-6
- Horsepower: 340
- 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.5 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 369 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined
- Starting Price: $40,970