Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
Base MSRP: From $33,400
- Base – From $33,400
- Touring – From $36,600
Destination Charge: $920
Tax Credit: up to $7,500
EPA Range: 47 electric miles, 340 total
Battery: 17 kWh
Performance: Electric vehicle (EV) 1.5-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine, paired with electric motor hybrid system; 212 horsepower
Mileage estimate: Equivalent of 110 mpge; 40-44 mpg overall
Price estimate: $ 34,000
Warranty: 3 years / 36,000 miles
Drivetrain warranty: 5 years / 60,000 miles
Roadside assistance: 3 years/ 36,000 miles
Corrosion warranty: 5 years / unlimited miles
Reviews of the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
There are three versions of the front-wheel drive Clarity, a relatively new sedan in the Honda lineup. The Japanese automaker is offering the Clarity as an electric vehicle (EV), a fuel-cell model, and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that will be the primary focus of this review.
The fuel-cell Clarity is an electric motor that draws its power from a hydrogen fuel cell. It’s available only in California and is offered for lease only. The EV model can be leased in just California and Oregon.
Honda has big expectations for the Clarity, believing it can reach 75,000 in yearly sales by 2021 for all three versions. Sales are slow right now for the EV and fuel-cell models; the Clarity PHEV is considered the best buy among the three and is sold nationwide.
Not familiar with the PHEV term? It’s an acronym that puzzles many car buyers when it’s mentioned. A Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) is a vehicle that can operate on either electricity or petrol, switching between the two sources of power.
Like the Chevrolet Volt, the Clarity PHEV features an internal-combustion engine that’s utilized as a generator to charge the batteries for an electric motor that primarily drives the vehicle. A hybrid that does not have an option to plug-in for electrical power, like the original Toyota Prius, uses a gas engine and electric motors that connect to the transmission to get the vehicle in motion. (The Prius is now offered as a PHEV with the introduction of the Prius Prime.)
Not everyone is enamored by the Clarity’s exterior appearance. The Clarity is 192.7 inches long and has a 108.3-inch wheelbase. The exterior is rather busy for some, featuring an assortment of odd angles, folds, creases, and slashes that were seemingly done without a true overall game plan.
The PHEV has the most mass appeal in the Clarity lineup. It has a solid electric range, delivers adequate performance, provides excellent mileage, and is a sedan with good road manners that many find comfortable.
Introduced in 2018, the Clarity PHEV starts at around $34,400, which is several thousand less than the popular Honda Accord Hybrid. If applicable, the $7,500 federal tax credit adds another incentive for buying the Clarity.
The Clarity PHEV has a 48-mile range when in EV mode, meaning it will get many people to work and back each day on electricity alone. Charging takes about 2½ hours from a 240 Volt (Level 2) EV charging station and 12 hours from a standard 120 Volt wall plug (Level 1 EVSE). The overall range for the PHEV is approximately 340 miles.
We found the Clarity PHEV providing better performance than expected. It has a 17-kilowatt lithium-ion battery and employs a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine that’s paired with an electric motor hybrid. Combined they generate 212 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque. The PHEV goes roughly 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds when fully charged. It gets the equivalent of 110 mpge in EV mode and 40-44 mpg overall.
The PHEV comes with three drive modes – Econ, Normal and Sport. What is tricky to accomplish is keeping the Clarity in true all-electric mode and expect major acceleration, as a big push of the accelerator immediately causes the Clarity to go into hybrid mode.
The Clarity has paddles on the steering wheel that are not used for the traditional shift to manual transmission. These paddles are all about the regenerative braking and are easy to master. Just pull on the left paddle for more braking and the right one for less.
Although the back seat will feel a bit cramped, the Clarity cabin can transport five people. There’s ample room up front and the cargo area is suitable as well with 14.8 cubic feet in the trunk. The 8-inch touchscreen is a little less sophisticated than expected and some of the basic functions can be difficult to use. The Clarity does support Apple CarPlay and Android.
We’re impressed by Clarity PHEV for its overall package and suspect Honda may have another solid car to add to its electric drive lineup.