2013 Honda Fit EV
2013 Honda Fit EV Review:
If the 2013 Honda Fit EV were a fictional character, it could be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or the Hulk and Bruce Banner. Either way, it would way more fun than frightening.
Credit that to the Fit EV’s three drive modes. The EV is the new electric car from Honda, which also has been poking around in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles. In fact, the Fit EV’s motor comes from the company’s FCX Clarity, a limited-production electric car powered by fuel cells.
The Fit EV works like your battery-powered electric razor. Simply plug it in and keep it charged, jump in and drive it—for as many as an advertised 82 miles or more, depending on how heavy-footed you are.Mostly you won’t get that many miles before needing a charge because of the Sport setting. It is one of three driving modes. The boring one is Econ, the Bruce Banner or Dr. Jekyll setting, which gives you the longest range but is pokey and feels like you’re pushing against a heavy spring under the accelerator pedal.
At the other extreme is Sport, the Hulk and Edward Hyde character, which unleashes all the power and makes the Fit EV leap like a jackrabbit off the line. It will have you whooping and grinning as you scoot through city traffic or snake your way around unsuspecting flat-tired cruisers on the freeway.
In between, there’s a so-called Normal drive setting, which is nearly as entertaining as the Sport mode but delivers a longer driving range because it doesn’t drain as much power from the lithium ion battery pack.
There’s also a “B” slot for the shift lever in addition to the usual “D” for drive. It stands for “brake” and delivers increased regenerative motor braking, which helps recharge the batteries. Stepping on the brake pedal also contributes.
It works surprisingly well. Starting on a 30-mile test trip, the Fit EV’s Econ gauge indicated a range of 95 miles. It was driven hard in urban, suburban and freeway conditions, mostly in the Sport and Normal modes with the shift lever in “B.”
At the end of the trip, the digital readout showed 69 miles of driving remaining in the Econ mode, meaning that the trip had, in effect, used 26 miles of range for the 30 miles of spirited driving—which evoked fantasies of a perpetual motion machine.
Of course, the remaining range was way less in the other modes: 62 in Normal and 54 in Sport. Moreover, steady highway cruising without regenerative coasting and braking depletes the batteries more rapidly.Nevertheless, the Fit EV is plenty economical, the best among current electric car offerings. The government reckons its miles per gallon equivalent at 132 in the city, 105 on the highway and 118 in combined city/highway driving.
Fully charging the Fit EV from its designed low of a 15% charge takes about three hours with a 240-volt outlet and up to 15 hours on a standard household 110-volt outlet.
What the numbers don’t reveal, however, is what a sweetheart of a small car this is. It’s a Honda Fit, so it starts out with basic goodness of handling, ride and overall solidity. It’s no sports car, but it tracks cleanly on the highway and manages curving roads without fuss.
The surprise is the Sport mode, which makes the Fit EV feel quick off the line and in rapid freeway maneuvers. Punch the pedal and it reacts right now. Honda doesn’t publish acceleration figures, but this car won’t disappoint drivers of four-cylinder and even V6 gasoline engines.
Of course, in addition to range anxiety—this is no car for long trips unless you plan to stop often for long charging periods—you give up a few other things. For example, the Fit EV’s battery pack hides underneath and raises the floor about three inches. So the designers moved the rear seat back about three inches, which gives the EV legroom similar to that of the mid-size Honda Accord.
However, that cuts the luggage area under the hatchback from more than 20 cubic feet to just 12 cubic feet. And although the rear seatbacks fold down to expand the luggage area, they do not have the clever flip and fold options of the standard Fit.
The center-rear position, despite a nearly flat floor and ample space, has a hard, unyielding and uncomfortable seat cushion. Another shortcoming: the sun visors do not slide on their support rods and do not effectively block sunlight from the sides.Unfortunately for electric enthusiasts around the country, the Fit EV was initially available only in California and parts of Oregon, followed by introduction to six East Coast markets in early 2013.
Right now, you can’t buy one. Honda only is offering the Fit EV with a three-year, $389 a month lease, which the company says is equivalent to a suggested retail price of $37,415, including the destination charge. The Fit also is eligible for government tax rebates.
The price is similar to those of other electrics, including the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi iMiev and the range-extending Chevrolet Volt.