Honda Clarity PHEV: KBB To Conduct 1-Year Ownership Review

FEB 15 2019 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 17

Kelley Blue Book is spending 12 months with the 2019 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid. Let’s take a look.

KBB added a 2019 Honda Clarity PHEV to its testing arsenal just this month. As the publication notes, the plug-in hybrid promises electric efficiency paried with good fuel economy. Not to mention the fact that it’s a family-friendly offering by Honda, with rising sales as of late. The Clarity PHEV already took home KBB’s “Electric/Hybrid Car Best Buy of 2019” award.

KBB shares:

Kelley Blue Book’s long-term Clarity is a Touring model, in Solar Silver Metallic, which is the range-topping trim. In addition to the standard features such as full-LED lighting, Honda Sensing safety equipment, and an 8-speaker (180-watt) audio system, it adds navigation, leather upholstery, and power seats with a memory function.

The 2019 Honda Clarity PHEV joins a four-person family household, where it will be used as a daily driver for carpools, running around, and hauling the family all over the LA Basin. And, it will be forced to endure a two-hour drive to work — 98 miles each way. This should present an excellent opportunity to see how well the Clarity delivers comfort and efficiency during the daily trek.

It’s important to note that the Touring model is Honda’s top Clarity PHEV time and will set you back some $36,600 prior to any rebates. However, the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid starts at $33,400, according to Honda. Due to its 17-kWh battery pack, it qualifies for the full $7,500 U.S. federal EV tax credit, as well as additional credits available in some states. In addition, the Clarity PHEV is available in the U.S. nationwide.

While it’s not a looker, the reviewing agency says the Clarity is quite aerodynamic and its interior it what really counts. Yes, it’s important to many of us how our car looks on the outside, but honestly, we spend our time inside, and that’s where the Clarity excels. The car is much like the award-winning and sought-after Accord with its above-average predicted reliability. Unfortunately, crash test ratings from the NHTSA and IIHS are not yet in for the Clarity, but we expect it to fare well, like the lion share of Honda’s competitive and popular vehicle lineup.

KKB clarifies that the Clarity PHEV will use its electric motor in most cases, for speeds up to some 100 mph. However, if you want to go faster (we sure hope not unless you’re at the track – this is not a track car!), the vehicle will add its ICE to the mix. Additionally, the ICE must kick in after you exceed its 47-mile range.

Interestingly, and as many of you may already know, this PHEV doesn’t employ a traditional CVT or any type of standard multi-speed automatic transmission like many other PHEVs. Instead, it relies on a single-speed gearbox that’s more comparable to most all-electric vehicles. However, it’s somewhat unique in that it works off a power-split transmission, which utilizes an electronic CVT-type mode when the gas engine is active.

KBB makes mention of the Clarity PHEV’s three power modes, which give the driver ultimate control of the car’s powertrain management. You can choose between “versatility, flexibility, and efficiency.” Nonetheless, regardless of user choices, the Clarity is able to switch between electric and gas power seamlessly.

Hat tip to some welcome clarification from Viking79 about the unique transmission situation.

For more details from KBB, follow the source link below.

Source: Kelley Blue Book

Categories: Honda

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17 Comments on "Honda Clarity PHEV: KBB To Conduct 1-Year Ownership Review"

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“Interestingly, and as many of you may already know, this PHEV doesn’t employ a CVT or any type of multi-speed automatic transmission like many other PHEVs.”

Honda refers to it as a CVT, and it is a power-split transmission that can run in an electronic variator CVT mode with ratios of 2.454 ~ 0.805, or single speed gear reduction that is an overdrive ratio for good highway MPG at low loads. Yes, the power-split transmission functions differently than a planetary based eCVT, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a CVT. I suppose one could argue that all series hybrids are an electronic variator CVT. If you floor the car and make the engine start it drives exactly like a belt driven CVT.

I am fine if they want to call it something else, but I imagine Honda chooses to call it a CVT as it operates like one.

I like the Clarity’s size, straight-line performance, and electric range, but Honda apparently has some manufacturing issues to sort out, if they haven’t already. Consumer Reports reliability survey rates the 2018 Clarity a 1/5 (worst), with the worst trouble spot in body hardware, also struggling with paint/trim, body integrity, and power equipment.

Very un-Honda-like. I expect they’ve probably already improved things, but I’d avoid buying until I had confirmation the 2019s are put together better.

Talking from personal experience, i have no clue what the survey is talking about. I see none of it in mine….maybe there were issues in the early copies?

Same here. 11 months, 9000 miles, zero problems.

Same same. One year, no issues. Mine is tight as a drum panel and door wise.

Good to hear. Was probably some issues with earlier copies that they’ve already fixed the manufacturing process/tools/parts for.

Modern cars are generally so well made that it doesn’t take a lot of problems to fall into the ‘much worse than average’ category.

Never had issues mentioned by CR since owing the car since April 2018.

They might be referring to the early builds, but who knows.

Also the Clarity’s are built in Japan so I would think that the quality would be top notch.

I love how Honda’s fuel cell Clarity flopped but it became a big hit as a PHEV. 😀

It was always pretty obvious that the PHEV was the only credible version; the FCEV is, well, a FCEV, and the EV is 89 miles (in 2019 – seriously?). Neither the FCEV nor the EV is available for purchase in the US; they are both lease-only, and only in a restricted area.

Assuming EV ownership and charging infrastructure develop as we expect, by 2030 (this is a Honda, so it should easily last that long), a Clarity will essentially be an EV with a pitifully small range, plus a dependence on a by-then completely anachronistic ICE. Not sure I’d want to own one.

Oh man – people who think the world is going to be totally changed in 11 years are probably in for a rude awakening. In some sense we’ve gone backwards. You could buy a very nice GM Hybrid in late 2010, but you’ll not be able to do the same thing in 2020 – and although I enjoy my Bolt ev – it is definitely not for everyone – and it would fail as an only car – since even the VW paid for chargers springing up across the country are $21 for around 120 miles of range. Seeing as that is twice the price for gasoline in my area (compared to a 30 mpg car) – people will not have any incentive to take vacations electrically – and there is no mechanism in the foreseeable future to get that price down – simply because it is much more difficult to fast charge an ev than to slow charge it. Also – in 2010 I could buy a rather expensive (but still doable) sports Roadster – something I could not do in 2021 even if Tesla does release it by that time. So I rather wonder what planet some of… Read more »

That is a pretty weird argument against someone just saying fuel cell cars suck.

Are you OK?

Did I trigger you by mentioning the ELR in another post?

I never even read your comment – it was in response to James. Relax Spec, I’m always ok – are you so paranoid that you always have to continually ask? How ’bout checking yourself first? If you read my comment it is obviously referring to what JAMES wrote and – you must be SO VAIN that you think that every comment has to refer back to you, when NOTHING in my comment remotely refers to yours.

I didn’t mention the ELR in this comment (even though it sold pretty well), since I was talking about the VOLT and original ROADSTER, cars I mainly mentioned since, being of limited funds, I could still afford them, and they were quite representative of technology from 10 years ago. You might not realize it but James is talking about what will be available 10-11 years from now. Perhaps his argument , besides mine, was too complex for you also..

Reading comprehension is needed by you.

It has a gas tank? ITS AN ICE. PERIOD.

“However, it’s somewhat unique in that it works off a power-split transmission, which utilizes an electronic CVT-type mode when the gas engine is active.”

Electronic CVT-type ?
Hard to find info on this transmission…
I know CVT transmissions are not reliable not matter who makes them…. never heard of one with 100k miles on them without a problem.

It’s disgusting that the Chevy Volt costs $80,000 in Japan while we give them $7500 to dump this Clarity in the US.