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2013 Honda Fit EV Overview
New for 2013, the Honda Fit EV joins such gas-free competitors as the Nissan Leaf, the Chevrolet Volt, the Ford Focus Electric and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. However, the Fit EV holds a number of class distinctions. Recently, it was rated by the EPA as the most efficient electric production vehicle currently available. The Fit EV has a top speed of 90 mph, a quick-charging Lithium-ion battery and a longer cruising range than any of its EV competitors, due to its efficient design and aerodynamic styling. In addition, the Fit EV is currently available only via lease, initially in California and Oregon, though availability on the East Coast is expected sometime in 2013. Unfortunately, for the first year or two, Honda will produce the Fit EV in very limited numbers.
After testing the Fit EV, the EPA determined that it has an average MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) of 118, which puts it ahead of other electric vehicles such as the i-MiEV (112 MPGe), the Focus Electric (105), the Leaf (99) and the Volt (94). The full fuel economy numbers for the Fit EV are an impressive 132/105/118 city/highway/combined MPGe. Due to its high MPGe, the Fit EV also has a longer cruising range than any of its competitors. On a single charge, the Fit EV can travel up to 82 miles, which compares to 76 miles for the Focus, 73 miles for the Leaf and 62 miles for the i-MiEV.
The Fit EV achieves these milestones because its 20kWh lithium-ion battery consumes just 29kWh per 100 miles. In addition, thanks to its small, more-efficient design, the Fit EV's Li-ion unit charges in a shorter period of time than batteries in competitive vehicles, usually in less than 3 hours when connected to a 240-volt circuit. Honda includes a charging cord and plug with the Fit EV's equipment list, which drivers can use at public charging stations or at a home charging station installed by Leviton, which the automaker has tapped as its Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment vendor. Drivers can manage the charging process using the key fob or a smart-phone app.
The Li-ion battery provides power for a 90kW coaxial electric motor, which produces the equivalent of 123 hp and 188 lb-ft of torque. By comparison, the gas-powered Fit develops 106 lb-ft of torque, making the Fit EV the quicker of the two. Honda pairs the EV's electric motor with a 3-mode electric drive system, borrowed from the Honda CR-Z Sport Hybrid. The gear selector, mounted on the center console, has only four positions, for Park, Reverse and Drive, as well as a "B" position for aggressive regenerative braking, which recharges the battery. In addition, using buttons mounted on the dash, drivers can choose from Normal and Sport driving modes, as well as an ECON mode, which adjusts mechanical settings to maximize the cruising range.
Like its gas-powered siblings, the Fit EV delivers nimble handling, thanks to its low center of gravity and fully independent suspension. In addition, despite its subcompact size, the Fit EV offers a fairly spacious cabin with room for 5 passengers, although space can be tight in the second-row seat for 3 grown adults. Due to the wide, flat battery, which resides under the front and rear seats, the Fit EV sits on a slightly raised suspension, when compared to gas-powered Fits. Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes are standard.
The Fit EV comes in a single base trim, although it's well-equipped with a number of upscale standard features. Topping the list is a satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition and a rear-view camera. Among other services, the navigation system makes it easy for drivers to find the nearest 240-volt charging station. The EV-centered instrument gauges include a charge indicator rather than a fuel gauge, as well as details on the car's various systems. Other standard features for the Fit EV include automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with illuminated controls, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, and a 6-speaker, 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with speed-sensitive volume control, an audio input jack and MP3 capability.
The Fit EV also comes equipped with eco-friendly bio-fabric seats, made from a sugarcane-based material. The front seats are heated and the second-row seat splits 60/40 and folds down, though not flat, due to the battery. The battery also cuts into the Fit EV's cargo space, which checks in at just 12 cubic feet with the rear seatback up. This compares to 20.6 cubic feet for gas-powered Fits. With the rear seats folded down, cargo space in the Fit EV expands to 49.2 cubic feet, which compares to 57.3 cubic feet for gas-powered Fits.
Outside, the 5-door hatchback Fit EV displays an aerodynamic shape with a steeply raked windshield, ascending sidelines and a rear roof spoiler. Other exterior features include projector beam halogen headlights, folding power side mirrors, side underbody spoilers, LED taillights and 15-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires. Honda offers the Fit EV only with a unique Reflection Blue Pearl exterior color.
Safety features for the 2013 Honda Fit EV include the automaker's Vehicle Stability Assist system with traction control and antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist. Dual-stage front, front side and side-curtain airbags come standard. Daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitoring system are also included.
Early testers report that the Fit EV handles well and delivers speedy acceleration, due to its 188 lb-ft of torque. The electrically assisted steering, which Honda specifically tuned for the EV, feels precise and provides good feedback. The Fit EV holds corners fairly well, although its low-resistance tires can sometimes lose grip when pushed too hard.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.