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Upgraded 2015 Honda Fit gets best crash score in class

Our test car doesn’t make the cut – yet

Published: August 21, 2014 10:00 AM

After undergoing updates to improve its performance, the new 2015 Honda Fit has earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That’s a big improvement over the previous Fit, but it didn’t come easily.

After starting production early this year, Honda stopped deliveries to dealerships a few weeks later after the IIHS crash tested the new model and found its performance lacking. (Honda spokesman Chris Naughton says there were other “fit and finish issues” with early Fits, and that none were shipped to dealers that didn’t meet Honda standards.) The brand new 2015 model earned only a Marginal rating in the IIHS’s tough new small-overlap crash test. With a Poor rating for the old model, Honda wanted to do better. So it slowed deliveries of the new car to its dealers while it engineered a fix.

According to Honda and IIHS, welds on the far end of the bumper failed in this initial test, causing more of the force of the crash to be concentrated on the drivers’ side of the car. Honda strengthened the bumper welds on new Fits and then restarted shipping the cars to its dealers for sale.

Check our guide to car safety for information on the latest technology and driving tips.

Now the IIHS has retested updated the Fit with the strengthened bumper and found it delivered an Acceptable performance in the difficult small-overlap test. This is the second highest rating from the IIHS, behind Good. Still, the performance for the new Fit is the highest of any Minicar (in a tie with the Chevrolet Spark) that the Institute has evaluated thus far.

The small-overlap test measures the car’s body integrity and injuries to a dummy in the driver’s seat in a 40 mph crash into a rigid barrier. Unlike the other IIHS front crash test, the small-overlap crash only hits the left quarter of the front end, representing a crash into a pole or a tree, or narrowly clipping an oncoming car.

Only Fits built since June get the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick designation. In late September, Honda will notify owners of about 12,000 2015 Fits built before June 6 that they can bring their cars into a Honda dealership to have a voluntary “product update” performed to install the updated bumper beam on their cars. Honda is not calling this update a recall, because it is not related to any government testing or legal requirements.

Consumer Reports typically buys new cars to test as soon as they’re available, and we took delivery of a 2015 Fit last month. But checking when our car was built, we found it is (as usual) a very early production car, built in March 2014. That means our Fit does not yet have the upgrade, and we’ll take it back for the work just like other owners to make sure it’s as safe as it can be.

—Eric Evarts

   

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