2013 Honda Fit EV Road Test Review
2013 Honda Fit EV boasts high efficiency...and low availability
Scores High: Well constructed, some spark to the driving experience, super efficient
Scores Low: Limited availability, lease only -- and a little pricey at that
Total Car Score Analysis
The 2013 Honda Fit EV brings a more sensible form of electric transportation because it doesn't ask green-mided car buyers to opt for a whole new vehicle, but to simply go for a known quantity instead. The gasoline-powered five-door Honda Fit subcompact already has a solid reputation for build quality, versatile cargo/passenger space and a sprightly driving demeanor. The Honda Fit EV maintains those traits, but it doesn't have a fuel tank.
A proper infrastructure to support electric vehicles is still some ways away, but because the Honda Fit EV will probably be a second car that potential inability to deal with last-minute changes of plan, or embark on a long road trip, is likely not a serious handicap. On the positive side, the Fit EV ekes out 82 miles from one charge and requires around three hours to replenish (if a 240-volt charger is used; 15 hours for a standard 110-volt outlet), which compares well with its rivals. The EPA also rates the 2013 Honda Fit EV at the equivalent of 118 mpg, making it the most fuel-efficient production car on the market.
Every 2013 Honda Fit EV comes in an appropriately electric shade of metallic blue. A Fit enthusiast (it could happen) will notice this vehicle's extra aerodynamic bodywork up front, along with a bespoke rear spoiler and valance. Those 15-inch alloy wheels have also been designed to move through the atmosphere with a minimum of drag.
Since there's no enginein the Fit EV, there's no need for a grille. In its place is a closed-in hood adorned by a chrome strip that goes up at either end, like a smile. For those who take pleasure in advertising their green driving credentials, these Honda electric-vehicle styling cues should do the trick.
Agile, precise and speedy – the 2013 Fit EV certainly doesn't exhibit any downside for those who enjoy taking their cars beyond the requirements of the everyday trudge. Fed by lithium-ion batteries, an electric motor develops 92 kilowatts (kW), which translates to approximately 123 horsepower and 189 pound-feet of torque driving the front wheels.
There are Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes to choose from via buttons on the dash. Eco is comparatively ponderous in terms of throttle response, but Normal and Sport each have a serving of alacrity. From the point-and-squirt of city driving to reaching highway speeds with relative ease, the Fit EV exudes confidence as well as a low whoosh during acceleration and braking. This is deliberate -- it's meant to alert those in the vicinity there's a battery-powered Fit on the move.
Electric drivetrains don't employ gears. But after P, R N and D, there's one more setting to learn in this vehicle. It's the brake regeneration mode, marked B, that would typically be selected on long downhill sections of road. But general around-town duty and stop-and-go traffic can also be tackled in B. This setup allows kinetic energy created from braking to be stored in the battery and can provide a few extra miles of range.
The Honda Fit EV’s best feature is a lack of weird pedal feel or numb steering response from the electrically assisted system. Aside from the lack of engine noise, there's nothing about the driving dynamics that require acclimation (unless you've been driving a lifeless car and need to get used to an engaging one).
Interior Design and Function (~250 words)
The 2013 Honda Fit EV uses some hard plastics in the dashboard area, and "hard" usually equates to "cheap." But the cabin’s design and assembly conveys a solid build quality with a clear nod toward the electric lifestyle. For instance, just to make doubly sure the driver is aware of how much electric charge remains a primary gauge donates half its area to a virtual fuel indicator featuring lots of tiny increments. In an ironic bit of design, the remaining battery charge icon is a gas pump with a plug.
Throughout the rest of the cabin, the usual Honda Fit practicality remains. The seats are firm and supportive while still being comfortable. They also fold in various permutations. The rear seats split and fold in a 60/40 fashion, and the front passenger seat can also fold down. Just one snag: the Fit EV’s battery pack needs a fair bit of space. This results in the rear seats not forming a floor that's completely flat. A gas-powered Fit offers 57.3 cubic feet of total cargo volume (rear seat folded down); the EV makes do with 49.4. Keep the rear seat up and you’re left with 12 cubic feet in the EV (versus 20.6 in the standard Fit). That's still a useful amount of storage space for a car in this segment and price range. Moreover, the accommodations for rear passengers remain remarkable given the Fit EV’s exterior size.
Keeping the Fit EV’s green theme are seats and door panels upholstered in a bio-fabric derived from sugar cane residue that would never have gone into any food production.
Primary Features and Options
For the not inconsiderable sum of $389 a month for 36 months (with no money down), the 2013 Honda Fit EV comes standard with automatic climate control, an audio system, a navigation system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone connectivity and full power accessories. That payment also includes full maintenance, roadside assistance and collision insurance. By Honda's reckoning, the Fit EV could cost $3,981 less to run over three years than a counterpart powered by traditional internal combustion.
There aren't really any options, although smart phone owners with either an Apple iPhone or Android device will no doubt avail themselves of the HondaLink telematics app. This is a new departure for the company. Among other things it allows remote control of various functions like programming the cabin temperature while the Fit EV is still connected to the grid, plus traffic info, charge completion time, available range and charging station locations.
It’s Perfect For…
Electric vehicle buyers know the pros and cons of driving without internal combustion. If you’re doing a local school run, or your average drive to work and back is about 30 miles, the 2013 Fit EV can cover this easily and still allow for some random errands on the way home. Charge it up at night when the off-peak rates kick in (the car’s app's timer can be programmed for this) and it's all set to head for the office in the morning.
This assumes you live in California or Portland, Oregon, where the 2013 Honda Fit EV will initially be available. East Coasters must wait several months, after which production could be limited to about 1,000 units annually.
Vehicle Tested: 2013 Honda Fit EV
Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $36,625
Options on Test Vehicle: None
MSRP of Test Vehicle (including destination charge): $36,625
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The manufacturer provided Total Car Score this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Photos Courtesy of the manufacturer.