Honda Clarity: The Rare Plug-In Hybrid That Gets It (Mostly) Right
Cars.com says the regenerative braking controls “make no sense whatsoever”
Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder recently spent some quality time with the Honda Clarity PHEV. Like the Chevy Volt, range is the stand out feature of the Clarity. These cars have double or triple the electric range of other plug-in hybrids. Officially Honda’s popular plug-in hybrid has an EPA estimated 48 miles. Although thanks to mild weather and relaxed driving, Joe was seeing 58 miles of electric range during his review period.
With the engine up front and the battery pack in back, the car has great weight balance and a low center of gravity. Driving dynamics are good with responsive steering.
The fact that power is not severely diminished in electric mode also means the Clarity compares favorably with the Volt. “It kind of recalls the Chevy Volt when it is in its electric mode. Because it has pretty robust acceleration on electric power alone and it’s pretty linear in ways that hybrid cars often aren’t.”
Unlike the Volt, the Clarity will engage the engine if you drive aggressively. But Joe says he drove several days without ever burning a drop of gas. The key: he was able to do this “without even thinking about it.” No hypermiling necessary.
The car has a few drawbacks. Like many electrics, the energy efficient tires provide little grip. Honda’s in-car multimedia system is also slow, lacks useful driving information, and has no physical buttons.
Of course those are nitpicks. The review team has one big complaint that is common among Clarity drivers. Selecting your preferred regenerative braking strength via the steering wheel paddle:
The problem is, you have to do that every time. And when I say every time if you’re in the regular drive mode and you’re driving forward and hit it a few times then come to a stop or wait a few seconds, it defaults to where it was. It makes no sense whatsoever. I have not met anyone that likes this system.
Thankfully this can be overcome by driving in sport mode instead of the standard drive mode. So despite the Clarity “not being a sport car,” driving in sport is a must for those wanting high regen.
Be sure to check out the video above for the full review. Thinking about the car for yourself? Check out our knowledgeable community of Clarity owners over on the InsideEVs forums.
From Cars.com Video Description:
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are a strange phenomenon. Theoretically, they’re a good idea; the problem is that so many models have such a short electric range. That’s why, when an automaker seems to have gotten it right, we take notice. And that’s the case with the new Honda Clarity.