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It’s electric! Powerful 2013 Honda Fit EV won’t make you miss the gas – NY Daily News

JEFFREY JABLANSKY

For most consumers, making the leap from a conventional, gas-powered car or truck to an electric vehicle is something of a lateral move. Given the right circumstances, including a manageable daily commute, access to a charging station, and infrequent long trips, an EV begins to make sense.

As range anxiety subsides, with a growing network of charging stations in the five boroughs, the barriers to EV entry begin to fall. Looking at the current offerings, careful shoppers default to a safe, tested choice that resembles something proven and market-tested.

Enter the Honda Fit EV. Based on the second-generation Fit hatchback, the Fit EV is not the newest electric vehicle on the block, nor is it the most powerful, the most expensive, or the largest. In fact, the Fit EV – currently on sale in eight states in the Northeast and the West Coast – comfortably occupies a middle position in the EV segment.

On the outside, few visual cues distinguish the Fit EV from its conventionally powered sibling. The most obvious changes are marked by a thin, chrome strip across the grille, which takes the place of the black, centered honeycomb, and by the substitution of clear taillights that flank the rear. A charging port on the driver’s side supplants a fuel-filler cap. You can have the Fit EV in any color, as long as it’s ‘Reflection Blue Pearl.’

More http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/latest-reviews/electric-2013-honda-fit-ev-won-gas-article-1.1398947

JEFFREY JABLANSKY

For most consumers, making the leap from a conventional, gas-powered car or truck to an electric vehicle is something of a lateral move. Given the right circumstances, including a manageable daily commute, access to a charging station, and infrequent long trips, an EV begins to make sense.

As range anxiety subsides, with a growing network of charging stations in the five boroughs, the barriers to EV entry begin to fall. Looking at the current offerings, careful shoppers default to a safe, tested choice that resembles something proven and market-tested.

Enter the Honda Fit EV. Based on the second-generation Fit hatchback, the Fit EV is not the newest electric vehicle on the block, nor is it the most powerful, the most expensive, or the largest. In fact, the Fit EV – currently on sale in eight states in the Northeast and the West Coast – comfortably occupies a middle position in the EV segment.

On the outside, few visual cues distinguish the Fit EV from its conventionally powered sibling. The most obvious changes are marked by a thin, chrome strip across the grille, which takes the place of the black, centered honeycomb, and by the substitution of clear taillights that flank the rear. A charging port on the driver’s side supplants a fuel-filler cap. You can have the Fit EV in any color, as long as it’s ‘Reflection Blue Pearl.’

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The Fit EV’s driver compartment is changed subtly from other Fits, and looks remarkably contemporary for a design nearly six years old. A digital speedometer replaces an analog readout, sandwiched between a “fuel” gauge and a charge/power indicator.

Jeffrey Jablansky

A chrome strip across the grille is the most obvious exterior cue distinguishing the electric Fit from the gas-powered model.

An antiquated navigation system, which is standard equipment, was consistently slow to react. It feels ancient in user-interface and user-friendliness when compared to that of the Ford Focus Electric, for example. A power outlet and auxiliary input are located beneath the climate control system, next to controls for heated seats, but far away from the glovebox-mounted USB input.

Like other electric vehicles, the Fit EV offers driver-selectable modes of operation for more frugal, or more enthusiastic, motoring. In the Fit EV, these settings exist to maximize efficiency, at no expense to lead-footed drivers, by limiting the amount of power. In “Normal,” the Fit EV utilizes about 80 percent of its 92-kW motor, and operates all systems conventionally.

In “Econ,” green dashboard lighting indicates that the Fit EV is exerting about 50 percent of maximum power – up to 80 percent during hard acceleration – and air conditioning runs at lower power. “Sport” mode is a lively kick, as it utilizes full electric power and provides effortless torque through a more sensitive go pedal. Regenerative brakes and a “B” transmission setting aggressively try to recapture power whenever possible. Short runs in Sport and B-mode quickly evolve into hilariously fast highway blasts.

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Over nearly 250 miles of mixed driving, primarily conducted in Econ mode, the Fit EV returned approximately 80 miles per charge – in line with Honda’s own claim of 82 miles per charge. In addition to being the most efficient setting, Econ is also the most balanced in terms of driver inputs, and avoids herky-jerky movements associated with the Sport setting.

Worth noting is the significant drop in vehicle range at sustained highway speeds over 50 mph; unlike a gas-powered Fit, in which range increases with steady speed and less stop-and-go movement, the Fit EV is most efficient when utilizing its regenerative brakes. This means that, in situations like rush hour traffic, drivers might actually see range increase.

Jeffrey Jablansky

Recharging the Fit EV takes between three and four hours when utilizing a 240-volt outlet.

Recharging is a 3-4 hour process, when utilizing a 240-volt outlet. A recharge using a 110-volt outlet, however, can more than triple your Fit EV’s downtime. Plugging it into a regular wall outlet, overnight, at home, was the only way to ensure a full charge by morning.

The most memorable aspect of the Fit EV’s driving experience is, without question, its positive association with the gas-powered Fit – which remains at the top of the subcompact hatchback class. Steering feel is linear and nicely weighted, regardless of driving mode. The chassis is well adapted to cut-and-thrust city driving, as well as less-than-perfect stretches of highway pavement. The Fit EV is even more planted than the standard Fit, thanks to the battery pack sandwiched in the middle of the vehicle.

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Only several compromises were made to the Fit EV’s interior to accommodate its battery pack, most significantly the elimination of the Fit’s trick, flip-folding, Magic Seat. While the rear seat still folds forward, it does not fold completely flat, nor does it have the adjustment or versatility of the conventional Fit’s rear bench. Otherwise, passenger comfort in both rows of seats is nearly the same as in the gas-powered Fit.

But the thing about the Fit EV is that it remains true to the engineering philosophy that makes the standard gas-powered model so appealing. Granted, it doesn’t have the range of a conventional engine, but the Fit EV’s electric powertrain isn’t intimidating or difficult to get accustomed to on a daily basis. As an added plus, the Fit EV also offers gobs more power. While it lacks the technological edge of some newer EVs, the Fit EV is a practical solution for drivers who value quality in engineering.

That – and a killer lease deal, as of press time – are reason enough to see if room exists in a gas-heavy lifestyle for the cheerful Fit EV.

Jeffrey Jablansky

The Fit EV remains at the top of the subcompact hatchback class, just like its gas-powered sibling.

Vital Stats – 2013 Honda Fit EV

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Base price: $37,415 (inclusive of destination charge, but lease-only, around $259/month for 36 months)

Drivetrain: 20-kWh battery and 92 kW/123 horsepower motor and 189 lb.-ft. torque

EPA fuel economy: 132/105/118 city/highway/combined mpgE

Major competitors: Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500e, Nissan Leaf

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