Honda Clarity PHEV Review After One Year Of Ownership

DEC 28 2018 BY STAFF 155

Detailed impressions of living with the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid over the long term.

The past 12 months have flown by with the 2018 Honda Clarity PHEV, as well as the miles, racking up 28,750 miles since last Dec. I imagine you are all asking the question: how was it? Why should you buy one instead of a Model 3?

My impressions is it’s the best car I have owned. I can’t get over how a 4,000 lb family car can get such great gas mileage, have good performance, and feel like a luxury sedan.

***Our thanks go out to InsideEVs commenter and author of this article Viking79 for allowing us to share this post with our readers. Check out the original post here.

Drive

We find the car incredibly comfortable. It doesn’t have lumbar support adjustment, but both my wife and I find the seat very comfortable, and we have both driven it many long 14 hour days on the highway.

My wife loves the floating console for resting her knee against, I find it painful. I would rather it not be there, but she likes it. It is worth driving the car to see if it will be a problem for you. Personally, it wouldn’t influence my decision either way.

The car has brisk acceleration if you are willing to start the engine in sport, and even in Econ running EV only it is brisk in town, but a bit slow at speed, you have to be willing to push the gas pedal all the way to the detent (place it lightly stops and you have to push hard to push past it).

Handling is safe and fine for a touring car. The Clarity PHEV has no issues cruising at reasonable speeds all day (80 mph or even more if you want to push it). You aren’t going over 100 mph in the car, but it does very well up to that point, so even if you drive on the faster side, the car is very pleasant.

Engine Usage

The engine sounds like a 4 cylinder when it is revving, so if you are used to smooth revving BMW inline 6 you might be disappointed, but overall I don’t find the engine intrusive. It sometimes revs up if it needs to recover battery charge or you are driving hard. When it does, it sounds like a 4 cylinder revved up.

This is a hybrid with a 7 gallon gas tank and an EPA rated electric range from 0-47 miles, meaning the engine can start any time, but in practice I find the engine only starts if you push past detent in Econ mode, accelerate briskly in Normal or Sport modes, or rarely the engine will start if charging has just completed and you are driving downhill. This is the one surprise start condition, otherwise it is pretty much EV only. In very cold weather it will also run the engine, but this is mostly below 0 F (or close to it). It seems to depend on battery temperature and heater demands.

Brakes, Transmission & More

Brakes are excellent, blending in regen before applying friction brakes. They are the smoothest of any car I have driven with blended brakes, hardly even noticeable if it is using mechanical or regen braking. They appear to be a similar system to the Fit EV where it provides artificial feedback when using regen. Skip to the next section if you don’t care about transmission details.

The transmission is an electronic (i.e. not mechanically linked) CVT that uses the gas engine and generator motor (Genset) to drive the wheels by generating electricity to power the main traction motor. Surplus electricity is fed to the battery or if the main motor needs more electricity it comes from the battery. The engine RPM is independent of wheel speed in this mode (CVT).

Alternately, the gas engine can drive the wheels mechanically through a fixed ratio (single speed) gear reduction transmission. This is geared like overdrive in a normal car, so it will only be used higher speeds on the highway under lower loads.

The Honda Clarity PHEV transmission selects the mode that is most efficient, so you don’t need to worry about it. Sometimes you will notice the car driving like a CVT (fixed revs but changing speeds) and others you will notice it more like a normal car. You can identify which mode its in using the energy display either on the center console or on the instrument cluster. If a gear shows between the wheels it is in direct drive mode.

Acceleration

Measuring acceleration with my OBD II scanner and Torque Pro running at least two trials back to back in opposite directions and I was at 9 seconds in Sport Mode (or any mode if floored all the way) and about 13 seconds in Econ mode if I didn’t start the engine (again, if pushed past detent it will accelerate as fast as Sport). This is with no roll-out so it will be slower than published times by magazines that target test towards drag racing that allows roll-out. For reference, my 2015 i3 REx was about 7.6 seconds and the 2012 Volt about 10 seconds, 2010 Mini S Clubman 6spd manual about 8 seconds.

Interior

The Clarity PHEV has very little noise, vibration, or harshness (NVH), other than the engine noise when it revs high. Honda went to great lengths to reduce noise to levels you would expect from full luxury cars. They used multilayer front side windows that eliminate 99% of UV light and greatly reduce noise. These are usually reserved for high-end luxury cars, not even entry level luxury cars do this.  They also employ active road noise cancellation using an in-cabin speaker, and other passive devices like the sound attenuators in each wheel and plugs in the frame rails, among other things.

The quality of the interior has held up to almost 30,000 miles of abusive kids. I have seen no wear on the seats or anywhere else. My only complaint is the suede gets lint on it, using a lint roller will help keep it looking nice.

The car is incredibly comfortable for 4 large adults, and holds 5 with relative ease. You can fit 3 across car seats, but having more than 1 car seat will limit the ability to hold 5. We use a special booster harness for my 4 YO when we drive long distance with 5 that opens up more space in the back.

The all-weather mats are a great investment. They do a great job protecting the floor, but aftermarket might have better coverage around the pedals, the main weak point of the factory mats. I have never installed the factory carpet mats, opting instead to use the all-weather mats year round.

Infotainment

This is possibly the worst part about the Clarity PHEV. It is sluggish and not well designed (layout). It is customizable, but I much prefer a good base design that doesn’t need customization. Thankfully, Honda admits that they might not have the best infotainment and provide both Android Auto and Apple Car Play for no extra charge (Hear that BMW?!?).

I will only talk about Android Auto since I don’t have any Apple devices. It works great most of the time, but my new Note 9 phone doesn’t work well with it (My Wife’s S9 works much better). I am unsure if it is something with my phone or the car, but it locks up a lot, not letting me add destinations to a route (like gas stations or food stops) while driving. I work around this by unplugging my phone and entering the info then reconnecting. Update: this appears to be a resolution setting on the phone, forcing a lower resolution can resolve this.

If you use Android Auto for NAV, directions will also display on the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel when you are approaching turns. This is helpful to avoid distractions. Update: the latest version of Android Auto seems to have broken this feature.

Service

The total service costs have been about $250 for 4 oil changes (full synthetic) and tire rotations. The dealer is saying I will need a $600 30,000 mile service soon, but I am going to challenge them on this. The car is not asking for anything special, and still says the next service of A01 is due soon. Which is odd as I just did a service at 25,000 miles. It has only been 3800 miles, which seems much too soon. Granted it has been almost all gas miles due to a couple long trips, but it still seems premature.

The reliability has been “poor” in the sense it has been in for service 3 or 4 times this year (more than any other car I have owned), but good in the sense that it has never left me stranded. It has mostly new car bugs that are being worked through and should be a reliable car once those are fixed. It better be as I am going to have 150,000 miles on it in 6 years.

Problem areas include rattling HVAC fan, issue with HVAC computer (replaced under recall), water valve related to heater, and HV range calculations (fixed twice, first fix was buggy).

Tire life is looking to be about 50,000 miles from the OEM tires, and brake life will be excellent as well. They show almost no wear, they showed about 8 mm on first service and 7 mm on latest service, but measurement error on those is probably 1 mm. I expect they will last 100,000 miles and that is with no effort to reduce braking.

Efficiency

The car gets an almost unbelievable 40 mpg, when driving up to 80 mph!!! I have driven lots of cars that get 40 mpg on the highway, but they are less than 3000 lbs, now 30 years old, and driving 65 mph instead of 80 mph (this car will get 50 mpg or more in that situation). Driving to GA last month I had fill ups of 41 to 46 mpg and that was at a leisurely 70 mph with a fully loaded car. This is calculated by pump fill up (trip reads up to 5 or 10% high). Your situation might vary, worst case highway fuel economy was 33 mpg, but that isn’t typical with what I see.

The gas tank is small with a comfortable 250 mile range (roughly), so on long trips just turn every stop into a gas stop. Instead of stopping at rest areas in between gas ups I stop at another gas station. They are a lot more common than rest areas anyway.

We bought this vehicle to replace a 2012 Nissan Quest that averaged about 19 mpg, or a little over 1500 gallons of gas to drive the same miles as the Clarity. So far in the Clarity we have used just over 300 gallons of gas and about 5 MWh of electricity, or about 1200 gallons less of gas than the van.

Looking at CO2 produced from the electricity generation, burning the 1200 gallons would generate at least 10 metric tons of CO2 (vs less than 4 for the electricity).

Safety

I use the adaptive cruise with lane keep assist (ACC + LKAS) whenever I drive on the highway. If driving with the engine on (longer distance) be sure to use Sport mode. The car will resume and hold cruising speed much more reliably. In Econ the speed will fluctuate and it is dangerously slow resuming cruising speed if it slows down at all.

The adaptive cruise does an excellent job in any situation in light traffic except for rain. I would advise turning it off in rain, it is the only time I have had the car fail to slow for a vehicle in front of me. I don’t drive in heavy traffic situations frequently, but remember the car might not stop in time if traffic is stopped ahead of you that is not being tracked by the system. If a car being tracked suddenly slows, the car should see that and slow with it. The car will appear inside the grey outline in the ACC area if it is being tracked.

LKAS is a useful assistant, but you still need to always have your hands on the wheel. I find it reduces fatigue in well painted areas where I am driving long distance. It works better if you are providing torque in same direction, it doesn’t provide enough torque to turn the car by itself in many situations. Again, it is designed to assist, not steer for you.

Special Considerations

Be sure to run through fuel every year and run the engine at least once a month until it gets hot (ideally 15 or 20 minutes). You bought a PHEV, don’t be afraid to burn gas occasionally. It is worse for the engine not to run it regularly as oil runs off the metal exposing it to corrosion.

The keys provided with the car have unique profiles stored in the computer. If you open the door with one it will change the settings of the car based on the key used. So you need to change all the settings for each key individually. If you don’t, you will be incredibly confused why the car isn’t behaving as you expect. If you have the US Touring model your seat will adjust to the memory associated with the key when you open the door.

Features Not Used

I generally don’t use the regen paddles and almost always drive in Econ mode to reduce chances I will start the engine accidentally (It is easy to start in Sport mode). To make the car more fun to drive in Econ push the pedal most of the way to the detent and it will take off quickly.

After driving my i3 most of the time I find the regen paddles inadequate, but the Clarity PHEV blends regen so well with the brake peddle, there is no real need to use the regen to save the brakes, the car will do it automatically. However, if driving in sport I use the paddles to adjust speed for turns and such where I need only a little regen braking.

Built-in NAV is nice, but we rarely use it, opting for Android Auto instead. However, if you are one of the few people without a smartphone, the built-in NAV is a Garmin developed solution that adds some EV charging points of interest, and is a great overall NAV system. I like that it includes speed limits (based on the map data) and is very easy to see directions and map is easy to understand.

We disabled the right turn camera. It is a gimmick, but can still be manually engaged in the few cases we want it by pressing the button on the end of the turn signal stalk.

Desired Features

I wish the car had cross traffic alert and lane change warnings. Sometimes backing into a busy street is a safety concern that the camera might not show a warning soon enough, and lane change warnings to prevent changing lanes into a car in the blind spot, especially on the left.

Conclusion

This Clarity PHEV will save emissions. Dramatically. It is a plug in hybrid with minimal compromise in interior space. The performance is good in all respects. Nothing else like it on the market. It is $15,000 less than a Model 3, which is what makes it such a great buy.

The reality is many of us have to drive on the highway long distances, and gas is still the most convenient way of doing that. Buying a Clarity PHEV instead of an all gas car is a huge savings, and even though you are burning gas on the highway, it is incredibly little amount of gas vs most mid-sized gas sedans.

Do I want a Model 3 Long Range (standard range doesn’t charge quick enough for me for long travel)? Yes, but could I have convinced my wife to buy one instead of the Clarity PHEV? Not likely, too much more expensive and wasn’t confident in long distance driving yet. The Model 3 could have saved an additional 300 gallons worth of gas vs the 1200 I saved moving to the Clarity from the van.

When it comes time to replace the Clarity it will likely be with a BEV, but until then these PHEVs make great stepping stones.

Categories: Honda, Test Drives

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155 Comments on "Honda Clarity PHEV Review After One Year Of Ownership"

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The Clarity PHEV is clearly the oEVr all PHEV long range winner. This will be especially true when GM finally gets around to Thelma and Louise-ing the Volt In mid 2019.

I’d say the BMW i3 REX clobbers it.
-No dealer issues.
-Consumer Reports recommended for 2019.
-It drives, rides and accelerates like a real EV.
Although this car fits 5, and the i3 fits 4.

I have both as I mention in the article. Love both for different reasons. The Clarity is way batter on gas or long distance driving, getting about 40 mpg at 80 mph vs about 25 to 30 mpg at 80 mph in the i3 REx (it can’t actually go that fast once battery runs down, but factoring out battery usage over a short road trip), given Clarity is much larger and 1200 lbs heavier it is impressive.

The i3 is my preferred choice around town with amazing turning radius and brisk EV acceleration, although the skinny tires are annoying at times. The Clarity has nice wide 235 tires that feel very stable compared to the 155 tires on the i3. They really are different cars. Value wise the Clarity is better of course, more features for less money, unless you just need EV range. I bought my i3 REx used, but people seem to get some good discounts on them new as well making them good buys.

I agree with your comparison of the two and would add that for the money that BMW wants for the I3 rex new, the Model 3 blows it away except small size for parking.

Of course the very sporty Model 3 also blows away the FUGLY Honda in every respect but size but the Honda is cheaper.

Looks are subjective. I think Clarity is one of the best looking cars. Futuristic, but not too much. Model 3 looks like a Hyundai.

It actually does – like a flattened 2007 Elantra. A cute car, but not an otherworldly beauty.

Kind of like a duck..

The model 3 really has a Porsche front end, don’t know where you’d get Hyundai.

LMAO, Jorttu must have really poor eyesight or bad taste.

I saw a white model 3 and To Me, it looked like an albino space alien on wheels….lol. How ever i must admit it has a superb design. Up close all the Teslas exude fine quality and workmanship. I can see why some wealthy people buy them.

Reliable after the quirks are fix

Of course, there’s a very real question of how many people are actually paying MSRP for a new i3 since BMW frequently throws $10k on the hood. Add in other incentives and one can easily push it past 40% off in some states.

“Thelma and Louise-ing” : beautiful! Thanx! And the Volt didn’t deserve that…

As much as the GM Volt doesn’t deserve the abrupt deep dive, off of the rim of the Grand Canyon, the Volts demise is certainly better than the pancake treatment, that GM’s last real EV received (besides the Caddy CT6 PHEV) back in the day (2002).

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnet.com/google-amp/news/cadillac-ct6-phev-killed-2019/

Good review. I would love to see this drivetrain in a CRV.

Honda is like Toyota, starting with cars. We see a great deal of potential for CRV and RAV4 to both get the plug-in hybrid treatment. Refining the tech is a better approach than just diving in head first. It’s odd that GM did the reverse, showing off a prototype of a plug-in SUV (Saturn Vue), then rolling out a car (Chevy Volt).

The key with any of these choices is production-cost reduction. Ordinary shoppers couldn’t care less if the price is too high. Of course, most dealers won’t bother stocking inventory for the same reason.

The Clarity basically uses its copy of the GM Voltec drive system. This owner seems to think he has a CVT transmission. He doesnt. Single speed. Main difference is interior volume. Volt goes 52 miles all electric and if you want to thrill your passengers you can mash it and go over 100 mph without an ICE turning on to spoil it. But, otherwise the approach is identical. I wish GM had gone to a larger car with the setup. But I think the Voltec approach becomes limited in capability beyond certain weights and power though we’ll see what BMW pushes it to.

It has an electronic variator CVT, it really has a CVT, even all Honda’s documentation says so (just not a classic belt driven variator like you are thinking or a planetary variator like Volt uses). If you floor the car and make the engine start, the engine will jump to max RPM and run up to 100 mph at the same RPM (this is the definition of a CVT, it sounds and feels just like one).

It also has a single speed gear reduction transmission (direct drive if you will) as I indicate above in my review that acts like an overdrive in a regular car, it can use either or. The Clarity transmission is not at all like the Voltec transmission other than both are 2 motor and a gas engine and both can drive the wheels mechanically if it is more efficient.

The Clarity doesn’t have a CVT type transmission in the common sense. It is a variation of the Voltec system which technically could be called a limited kind of CVT. But it’s complicated to explain, especially because I couldn’t find a good diagram of Clarity’s to demonstrate.

The Volt’s transmission is referred to as a fixed ratio CVT.

Well that’s a misleading moniker. But I never expect much clarity out of GM anyway, their engineering teems seeming to be much too arrogant.

BTW, I think my Bolt ev may still have around 60 kwh of capacity. I realized you shouldn’t charge it up to the brim that often, and so in over 36,000 miles I’ve almost never done it, (but the charge capacity was down to about 53 kwh), so I let it charge up and – compared to when it was supposed to be completed it ran on for another 2 hours at about a 1500 watt charge rate. So I switched cords and put it on the 900 watt charge cord and let it run for ANOTHER 2 hours until it was finally complete to do its 96 cell group equalization. Battery looks to have a lot more capacity now – if current ‘bars’ usage makes sense it is forecasting 63 kwh which obviously cannot be – but by the end of the next few days I’ll know if it has approached 60 where it was when I bought it.

The Clarity powertrain may work in a manner quite similar to GM’s Voltec, but is that because Honda engineers copied GM, or is it a case of similar capabilities require similar engineering? A dolphin has an overall shape quite similar to that of a fish, but not because the dolphin copied the fish.

There is one way in which the Clarity’s operation is quite different from the Volt’s: GM engineered Voltec to provide a seamless transition from pure EV mode all the way over to “direct drive” mode. The driver has a hard time telling the difference between one mode and another.

Contrariwise, Honda chose to make the transition much more apparent, giving the driver more control over when he does, and doesn’t, burn gas. Viking79 mentioned the detent in the accelerator pedal, which clearly signals to the driver when he’s about to start using gas. Viking79 also mentioned a gear icon displayed on the car’s instrument panel, again something with no equivalent indicator in the Volt.

I won’t claim that either Voltec or Honda’s PHEV drivetrain is better; I’d say that depends on individual preference. But there are some noticeable differences.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Honda licensed tech from GM.

Actually, the Volt gives you complete control of when the auxiliary genset comes on, until the 30% of the battery allocated for all electric drive is used.

You can mash it until you reach 102 mph (at least in the Gen 1) and it will still be strongly accelerating on electric only.

There are spy shots of a PHEV Pilot. The Pilot is a similar platform to the Accord (The CRV is similar to the Civic) and probably better suited for PHEV (more room for a battery). So I am hopeful that they will have something in a year or so. These photos showed up last summer.

First of all, fantastic review.

Second of all, PHEV Pilot!!!! I am very excited if it has this drivetrain and full pilot space.

Share a link if you have one.

https://www.motor1.com/news/249808/2019-honda-pilot-phev-spied/

Again, just shots of a car with both gas/EV ports, so appears to be a Pilot PHEV. I agree, could be a great seller, and people will generally pay more for a Pilot than they will a Clarity, even if they are similar manufacturing costs.

Thanks for sharing! I see that news was June, I must have missed it.

Also said debut by the end of the year, so maybe CES?

Isn’t the Ridgeline also riding on the same platform as the Pilot? Honda could have a real winner on their hands if they were to put a plug on the truck.

Have you heard about Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?

Very small battery to be an effective PHEV.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Outlander PHEV was a smart choice by Mitsubishi because there aren’t any other mainstream manufacturers who want to kill their cash cows. But it’s inefficient on and off the plug, and I think it’ll disappear if any AWD competition appears.

No third row seating in the Outlander.

Pilot has the perfect seating setup as an option, 2nd row captain seat with a walk through.

“…or rarely the engine will start if charging has just completed and you are driving downhill…”

That’s the car using engine braking to slow down the car. All modern ICE cars cut off the gasoline going to the engine while engine braking or just coasting with your foot off the gas pedal. I think the same applies to the Clarity PHEV while driving downhill with a fully charged battery.

My C-Max Energi has the same hokey setup if you have the shifter set to the “L” (high-regen) setting. I live in the hills above town, about 600 feet. In the winter it is no problem because by the time I get to the downhill the cabin heating has brought the battery down to about 90%. But in the summer if I’m in high-regen it would actually run the engine (because it hadn’t been run in weeks) with fuel and spark until it gets hot enough. I get around that by running in “D” (low-regen) until I get down into the valley and then switching to “L” for city traffic. It would have been nice if there was a menu setting someplace to disable the “engine-braking” nonsense and just use friction brakes if the battery fills going downhill.

Replace the 7 gallon gas tank with a 7 gge biomethane tank — now the stepping stone is a fully renewable destination. == without the large battery liability (75 kwh+) required for road trips.

==14 hour days driving in the clarity phev would likely be 19 hour days in a model 3 long range.

/if these are 10 year batteries, the clarity phev can take a 17 kwh replacement and still be viable,.. the model 3 LR can not take a 75 kwh replacement — just too expensive, so maybe a small (25 kwh?) replacement pack lets it live a second life as a city car , .. and it will require a power reduction.
//the Honda quality ICE ought to last many, many hundreds of thousands of miles as it is not used often

To be clear I have a unique driving situation with kids where I have to stop frequently and also feed them, so 14 hours is really a 12 or 13 hour drive. I could probably do in 15 with Model 3 LR, so adding maybe 1 hour vs gas for my use case, but maybe 2-3 hours vs someone going as fast as they can with gas (while staying within 10% of the speed limit).

15 is about the longest I would go one day, any more then that would cause a 2 day drive, which is why my limit for long distance travel would be the Model 3 LR (standard would add too much). Since I drive trips where I would have to charge more than once only a couple times a year, the extra few hours from driving wouldn’t be a huge deal.

The way I understand it —- At 70 mph to 80 mph in a LR M3 , you are likely stopping about every 2 hours (400 wh/mile) for a 45+ minute charge, — more or less.

So a 12 hour day of driving (driving time, only) will add 5 charge stops. 45 x 5 = almost 4 hours of charging, and I think I’m being optimistic here.

/and this is assuming (pretending) all 5 superchargers are in exactly the right spots along the highway
//add,… so far, this appears to be stretching the limits of current battery tech durability, .. so do this trip too many times and you will likely be throttled at the supercharger (longer charge times) in order to preserve battery life.

It’s faster to stop more often and charge from 10% to ~60%. That takes 18-19 minutes in a Model 3 LR and buys you about 120 miles at 75 mph (1 hour, 40 minutes). Your first leg is 3 hours (225 miles) because you start with a full charge.

So 12 hours of actual driving needs about 1:45 of charging time for just under 14 hours total. This assumes Superchargers aren’t blocked by lifted pickups 🙂

Yes, this is what I was seeing too, charge for ~20 mins and be more efficient (charging 45 min might be too long). Figure 2 hours of stops and it is only slightly longer than gas (if you are making frequent 15 or 20 min stops anyway, how long it takes to get kids in and out and to the bathroom).

I don’t think so.

50% of the 75 kwh usable for 120 miles is about 312wh/mile. You’re only getting that on warm, no wind day at 68 mph.

75 mph on a ‘typical’ winter day looks to be around 400 wh/mile.

/I’m not trying to invalidate the “stop more often to charge” tactic (I’m sure it works — sometimes) — just trying to keep the numbers real.

EV Trip Planner lets you enter speeds you drive, temperatures, etc.
For one of my drives, at a speed of 1.2x (averaging about 80 mph on I-80 west, typical speed of traffic) and ambient temperatures it says my drive would take 10:44 minutes with 2:16 minutes charging with no climate use or headwinds.

In winter with 25 mph head winds, and ambient of 0 F with cabin of 72 F, it would go up to 5 hours of charging time. So absolute worst case we are looking at 16 hours, best case maybe 13 hours. This is fine with me. Gas would probably be 12 if I just stopped for lunch for an 45 minutes and 2 other short stops.

Weather and supercharger availability play huge into the drive times. For a lot of people a 12 hour day is doable but a 16 hour means an extra overnight. But if the trip is infrequent (1,2, 3 times a year) then it’s probably not a big consideration — or more likely, you just end up taking the other car.

/1st world problems on a great american road trip, .. I suppose.

I think you are being pessimistic to almost an extreme.
I get rated range at 70 mph in my Model S which admittedly is better than others. That is in non winter conditions.
Obviously everyone has different use cases. But a 12 hour drive in the winter? That is crazy because of what you might encounter – forget charging time. And then you consider 3 times a year infrequent?

So what you are talking about is the model 3 is not really good if you take 4 winter trips of 12 hours (or more) each. Ok – I am on board with that. So the converse is true then? A Tesla is a great road tripping car if you take 3 (or less) winter roadtrips of more than 12 hours. So they will be limited to 99.7% penetration?

I personally haven’t taken a 12 hour trip in a car since I was 21 years old. And I can tell you, it was not winter. I did take a 10 hour trip in February when I was 27 and then again in June of that year – job interview and then move. That was just over 20 years ago.

Oh yes. 10 year old ice engines never break down, and ev’s need their batteries replaced. The eu model 3 will be capable of 250 kW charging when supercharger v3 is released. Doing long trips won’t be that much different between the two.

I find it hard to believe that the car needed 4 oil changes in what appears to be about 12,000 miles of gas engine use! Am I calculating that right? My old CMax Energi had only called for oil changes at 20,000 mile odometer intervals, and that probably because 20K miles appears to be the max the oil life system will allow even though the gas engine has been used for only a small fraction of that.

Many kudos for the use of “measurement error” in a car review! I’m often disappointed to see that other reviewers, some who even claim to be engineers, do not seem to understand such concepts.

Yep, Honda needs to fix that maintenance schedule. 1 oil change should have been enough.

Fix?! It’s working great for them, more oil changes more money. If ain’t broke….you know the rest…

I guess Honda wants to make money off you , no matter what Honda you drive , gotta keep them service staff busy, and you don’t want warranty issues

I am going by computer, that was their recommendation (not what I plan on doing going forward).

Yeah still haven’t change my oil since 86k miles now I’m on 97k

Volt notified the driver of oil change based on mileage or one years time. I put 35k on and changed twice.

Gen 1 Volt oil changes are based on mileage or 2 year’s time (not 1), whichever occurs first. I think the Gen 2 is also 2 years?

Does anyone know what units/conditions he was talking about with acceleration? 0-60 mph or something else?

Ah, sorry, 0-60 mph, two way same stretch of road, just using OBD II and Torque Pro (has its own limitations). No roll out.

Fail to see why you are comparing tos model 3!
Why not compare to Volt,Prius?

Because I want a Model 3, Volt is much too small of a car for my purposes for a family vehicle (great commuter car or if your family is 4 and not overly tall). Prius Prime is out for same reason, 4 seater.

Model 3 is very similar interior and luggage space to Clarity (despite being quite a bit shorter).

You would be surprise at how narrow most of the cars are, which makes seating for 5 an issue.

Because I want a Model 3” brings us back to the who question again.

Will there really be PHEV cross-shopping with EV choices from the same brand?

They seem to serve a fundamentally different purpose & audience.

Well of course there will be cross-shopping between BEVs and PHEVs. A lot of PHEV owners say their next car will be a BEV, and I’ve seen some comments from BEV owners who wished they had gotten a PHEV instead.

That’s not going to change until the situation with driving BEVs long distances improves significantly. Competition will continue to drive faster and faster fast-charging, and we’ll continue to see upgrades in fast-charger power. But until it’s commonplace for BEVs (and not only Tesla cars) to charge, let’s say, 300 miles of range in 10 minutes or less, there will continue to be some who will prefer PHEVs.

Kudos to dedicated EV drivers who are willing to stop for 30-45 minutes of charge per 150 highway miles driven, but the average driver isn’t going to put up with that inconvenience.

The lifestyle of those who don’t have guaranteed nightly access to their own EV slow charger is another reason some will prefer a PHEV to a BEV. Someday, virtually every place where cars are parked overnight in first-world countries will have an EV charger within reach. But that won’t happen tomorrow, nor next year.

30-45 per 150 highway miles driven is pessimistic.
The first 250 miles driven on the highway have zero charging stops. That is the vast majority of highway miles.
Most people in the US live in the coastal areas and trips over 250 miles are not that common. Now if we only had better trains and some autonomous Ubers, the super rare trip over 250 could be a rental if charging was so bothersome….
We have been all electric for 4 years and I never have spent 30 min at a supercharger and I have done it 20+ times – most stops are 10-15 min. 68k miles on my Tesla

Know your audience. Those comments are very much from the perspective of an early-adopter. The way mainstream buyers of new vehicles shop is quite different. First, they won’t have the influence of a $7,500 tax-credit. Second, they will primarily stick to their favorite brand and rarely consider another automaker. Third, they will immediately dismiss a BEV if they haven’t ever been exposed to one yet, and even then it will be a challenging sales. In other words, make sure a realistic timing expectation is stated. Far too many here don’t recognize being in the low-hanging-fruit stage still. We haven’t even seen sales begin directly against the true competition yet, traditional vehicles. Enthusiasts have no concept of how intimidating the idea of wiring up their garage for 240-volt charging can be. Besides the possibility of their service-panel being poorly located or underpowered, there’s the uncertainty of equipment & installation cost. That’s just for support of a single vehicle. Think about how many households have at least 2. And none of that takes into account those who won’t have a plug available at their apartment or the extreme expense of super-high-speed charger locations. It will be a rude awakening for many who… Read more »

Prime, with only 4 seats, is not geared towards main market consumers. You stated that about the Volt when it was only 4 seats on every story about the Volt.

“Know your audience”

Yes, know your audience. 8 years later, Volt is still just a 4-seater with limited leg & head room. Prius Prime offers more leg & head room, but didn’t bother offering a narrow middle seat since the market (audience) has shifted to RAV4 for that. You want the comfortable 5th position, you buy a larger vehicle. Currently, the hybrid model of RAV4 offers 39 MPG at a competitive price with traditional vehicles. In a few years, a plug could be added to make it an affordable PHEV. Right now, we see that Honda is testing that potential with Clarity. Why GM never implemented Voltec in Equinox or Trax is obvious, the technology was too expensive. So, abandoning Volt is no surprise to anyone. As for what I stated about Volt on every story, it was not as you claim. I mentioned TOO LITTLE, TOO SLOWLY on a regular basis. That’s because GM did not spread their technology. It should have been done prior to tax-credit expiration. Lack of diversification is what harmed their business investment, becoming a costly liability… hence ending production. This is why many would like to see a CRV or Pilot from Honda and a RAV4 from… Read more »

I’m a happy 7 months owner of Clarity and agree with most of the review. But. If doing 80 tp 85 ml on highway with full load and any sort of incline the range quickly falls to 150 miles which I found a hard way on trip from San Diego to Las Vegas. The range estimator is a joke frequently shwing 999 likes of range because in the city I use electric only mode all the time. Also you should mention HV mode which pretty much leaves whatever you have in the battery untouched

Get your car updated, the range estimator has been fixed in newer software. Highway MPG depends a lot on conditions, I tend to get around 40 mpg from 75 – 80 mph. If you use 6 gallons that is 240 mile range, although I usually gas up before that so probably 150 to 200 miles (stop every 2 hours at 75 mph is 150 miles)

I got the same result in my clarity going from Austin to Santa Fe and back.

The Clarity is the car I recommend for people that do lots of highway driving and aren’t quite ready to take the full EV plunge, especially now that GM has killed the Volt.

The one thing I can’t get over is how ugly it is. Honda must have picked up the design team from the Pontiac Aztec for this thing.

Doesn’t matter. Early adopters tend to gravitate toward standout looks. The market for cars is changing anyway. The point is to spread the tech to other vehicles. Like with Toyota, how we see Corolla and RAV4 hybrids, its an obvious path to electrification. Add a plug to the hybrids, make then a common choice, then move on to adding electric-only choices.

The point is to appeal to a wide array of consumers. Honda made their first something easy to recognize. Had it been Accord, would that have been an effective means of promoting the tech? How would it get noticed?

> Had it been Accord, would that have been an effective means of promoting the tech?

Yes.

> How would it get noticed?

By the millions who shop for an Accord when they see something that looks like what they wanted but has some EV in it.

Compelling EVs, and that includes well-designed PHEVs such as the Clarity, are designed from the ground up. They aren’t made by removing a gasmobile powertrain and trying to shoehorn a PHEV powertrain into the hole. Doing that to the Accord wouldn’t have made a compelling PHEV.

Yes, Honda could have made the styling of the Clarity less polarizing, more attractive. But some people find the usefulness, comfort, and utility of a car far more important than its looks. Others… don’t.

They’re designed from the ground-up, but Honda COULD have designed the Accord to be a PHEV at the same time they were doing the new generation instead of trying to adapt the Clarity for PHEV (or BEV).

This is why Tesla wins and Honda is seeing lost sales.

“The point is to appeal to a wide array of consumers.”

Methinks making the car hideously ugly doesnt help here!

Specifically designed to be ugly so that it does not sell in large numbers.
Just like toyota’s Prius, and Mirai.
They’re both designed just to suck of CARB credits and nothing else.
Will be cancelled if CARB cancels hydrogen support.

The Prius Prime is the better looking Prius, so I’m not buying the ‘designed to be ugly’ line of thought. Also, if these cars were designed only for CARB credits, they would only be sold in CARB states. The Mirai needs to be limited to where there is some (very limited) hydrogen infrastructure – so its looks aren’t the main factor in its low sales.

I think the quirky, unconventional looks are a Japanese designer thing. Thankfully the American automakers are overcoming this design school of thought, and the Koreans and Germans never went there.

It’s not as bad as an Aztek, but Honda should have done better on the styling. I think Honda chose the wrong model for their pure electric and plug-in hybrid. The Clarity has a stunning front end IMO – but the design falls apart with that strange rear styling. Was 2 or 3 extra miles of range really worth ruining the looks? The new Insight is attractive. Why couldn’t they have offered their PHEV/BEV as an Insight instead of the Clarity?

I tested a Clarity recently and was impressed overall. My only complaint was the fault of the dealer who told me the day beforehand that he would “have one ready to go” for a test drive. When I got there, I was informed that none of their Claritys had been charged (ever as it turns out). After my ‘gas only’ test drive, I politely suggested that they might want to charge these cars if they wanted to sell them because they were not allowing potential customers to experience the best feature of an electric car.

Haha, the Pontiac Aztek. What could the dopes at GM have been thinking? Anyone who has spent some time around a farm has said the front of the car looks like a COW in the process of standing up! . hehehe.

Yeah I run into that at dealers all the time until lately – for years it seems I was the first one who ever plugged in one of their ‘loaner’ PHEV’s.

My Honda Clarity PHEV test drive didn’t go so well initially since the sales lady insisted on demonstrating “REGENERATING THE BATTERY” by constantly changing the mode so that the engine would start.

I’d say that since this is an ELECTRIC I’d like to see how the car works occasionally WITHOUT the engine.

Brake “peddle” should be PEDAL, unless you’re selling the brakes. Excellent review, though. But no mention of the exterior styling? I can’t get past those fender skirts and the rest of the car seems to have been designed by a committee. The Crosstour is beautiful by comparison.

Yep, paddle in the same paragraph made me use the wrong word, thanks!

I purchased a base model couple of days ago, and I believe it is a tremendous value once you factor in the tax incentives. Basically you are getting a midsize Acura for the price of a Civic and fuel efficiency of a Prius. What surprised me the most was how well behaved the car was with a completely depleted battery (when I took delivery from the dealer, the car was not charged at all.)

I just wish it was a hatchback, rather than a sedan. I think they needed the structural element, perhaps for the fuel cell version. I also wish it had mount points for a roof rack, but all Japanese cars don’t have these for some reason.

Overall I believe for most people who have access to one car only, the PHEV still makes much more sense than a BEV. Some people question why lug around a 500 lb gas engine and use it only twice a month. My answer is that why lug around 700 lbs of additional batteries and use them twice a month?

Not to mention all the people who drive around with 1000 lbs of extra pickup truck weight (versus a car) because someday they’re actually going to buy some plywood!

The right tool for the right job, is an unknown concept for Americans.
Driving a Sport Commuter car like the i3 is like being on vacation in traffic.

The dealers are insane.
I test drove a Prius Prime Advanced and its battery was not charged either.
Made me wonder why I should buy from the dealership with such poor support out the door.

It’s as if dealers can’t do math.
The electric charge is literally 75% lower than gas.
So, they’re actually COSTING THEMSELVES more money by forcing a test drive on gas.

But, test drive the BMW i3, and lease it.
You won’t look back.
300% better across the board.

Maybe the habit of dealerships in not charging up their PEVs (Plug-in EVs) isn’t a matter of neglect; maybe it’s part of their strategy to “steer” customers away from PEVs toward gasmobiles.

True, but if you walk in to test drive the Prius, you’re not going to drive out with a pickup.

Note, that I wanted to buy the Advanced, their most expensive Prius and that car was not charged.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

You always use the extra capacity of a battery.

Yeah the purists complain about ‘two power trains’; but to me that can be a big benefit… When the battery is tired the engine still has plenty of life left in it ==>> for people who keep their cars for years.

Pitty your reactions could not have been blended with one of the very many seniors driving cars these days. For us, retired seniors, the Clarity is awesome because we rarely drive more than 40 miles in a day. We plug in every evening so that the next day wench again drive exclusively on the power in the batteries. Once per week I drive further and use the gas engine for about 20 minutes. Consequently, we are using the batteries for power more than 80% of the time and our regular, average mpg is over 100. A very different story from yours. In addition we have never punched the accelerator or put the Clarity in sport mode — whatever for? We bought the Clarity for economy and to do our part in cleaning up a dirty planet — not to race it on a track, even though it is capable of that. I think that our pattern of usage might be at least as typical of Clarity owners as yours. Like you, we have no use for the paddles — the brakes carry out the same function automatically. We also note the very smooth, quiet ride like a luxury sedan with… Read more »

“…average mpg is over 100…”

No, it is not. You didn’t get 100 MPG, which has a very specific meaning: 100 miles of travel powered by 1 gallon of gas. You got 100 miles of travel powered by an unreported number of kWh of electricity plus 1 gallon of gas.

But it seems pretty clear that PHEV drivers are not going to stop mis-using the term “MPG”, at least not until we EV advocates offer a more correct alternative yardstick.

Has anyone seen an acronym suggested for this usage? I don’t think I have. I would suggest “MEPG”, meaning “Miles on Electricity Plus Gasoline”, but adding one more obscure acronym to discussions on EV forums isn’t going to facilitate communication. We need a term that enough people will use that it will actually become a meme which will spread on its own.

MPGe

Don’t down vote him Push, it’s MPGe and it’s been out for literally years.

Pushi was constantly criticizing the gen 1 VOLT when he didn’t understand the difference between MPG and MPGe. Now, he must split hairs with every other commenter since I taught him the difference.

And some places have really cheap off-peak and/or net metering such that the electricity is for all intents and purposes free enough. Charging overnight helps central plants last longer, and improves the serving utility’s financial shape, so its all good.

Exactly.
And as I’m sure you know, every thing you mention as a “senior” applies to 90% of the population and isn’t age related.

> “Why isn’t everyone buying one of these cars???”

I have the same question, especially of those who commute along corridors that provide free access to HOT lanes. Save money at the pump, save time commuting, AND get money back in tax credits/rebates. It should be a very obvious no-brainer, especially as more companies install charging at work.

Bought our clarity, touring model last April and I love it. My wife drives it mostly for around the town battery only driving. But when I have driven it 90 miles or so I have exceeded 60mpg in hv mode. Of course, I’m driving very conservatively, 60mph on the freeway. Great review but you didn’t mention how the car behaves when the battery is depleted. It is really awful. When I drove the car off the dealer lot they didn’t have the battery charged and I questioned my decision. The engine was loud and the car very sluggish. We now go into hv mode before the battery dies if we know we can’t makes it home before that.

I gather that what you mean by that is the engine doesn’t effectively have much power left for freeway driving when the battery is totally dead. Now myself, I think I could live with that…. Everything else about the car is nice, and as you say, if you’re very concerned about it you can just change its mode.

My Clarity is 10 months old with 7,000 miles, and I love it. The “ugly” comments baffle me. What exactly is ugly about it? The skirts over the rear wheels just give it a distinctive look that allows me to identify other Claritys (Clarities?? Haha!) on the road. They are not ugly.

We took a long trip last summer, and it performed well averaging 47mpg. Yes, you have to stop for gas about every 250 miles, but my bladder can’t go much farther than that.

I also wonder why more people don’t buy PHEVs. Maybe it’s because few people know that this technology even exists. I spend a LOT of time explaining to my friends how this car works. They’ve never heard of it. The automotive industry needs to educate the public.

The skirts are what I find particularly ugly. Subjective, of course.

4 oil changes? Is the car telling you this as it seems VERY excessive, given you are using full synthetic and it’s a PHEV. I had a Fusion PHEV for almost 5 years and 66k miles and I had 4 changes of full synthetic too.

I agree completely, there is effort complaining to Honda about this. I think it is software carried over from the Hybrids (6,000 or 7,000 is reasonable for a regular hybrid).

Yep – I’ll bet you’re right.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

6,000 to 7,000? My 2010 Prius has a 10,000 mile oil change interval.

Get this man a Model 3 before he is lost in the Lalaland.
The 15k Difference will be recouped in gas saving and repair cost just a few years down the road, plus there is no need to compromise.

You can say it is a great PHEV but it’s nothing in comparison to Model 3. The AP alone is worth the car’s value to some people.

As mentioned, 300 gallons of gas savings a year would take about 20 years to recover the difference in price just based on fuel cost. The Model 3 would never be cheaper than the Clarity PHEV in this regard. That is not accounting for electricity use in the Model 3. The Clarity PHEV gets about 40 mpg on average on gas, so you could probably double that 20 years to 40 years to pay for the difference. I use about $1.40 of electricity per gallon of gas range, so with gas only $2.00 I am only saving 60 cents. I will assume gas will go up significantly though.

Other Honda’s I have owned have need only a few thousand in maintenance to go 250,000 miles, so again, not going to recover that cost. I would buy the Model 3 for other reasons (OTA, AP, faster), the Clarity will be significantly cheaper to own though.

Only in fantasyland a Model 3 will be cheaper to run than an Accord, not to mention Clarity. Model 3 is a great car for what it is, but low running cost is not one of its strong points.

Depends what pay in electricity of course. Running costs are cheaper than an Accord in almost every situation. You might need to explain what you are talking about? Tire cost?

Depreciation is the largest running cost.

And insurance of course.

Having owned some variety of PHEV since the first Prius PHEV came out almost 7 years ago, I can say that Clarity is definitely a different car – more power, more room, less noise, less gas use – than other PHEVs I’ve driven or owned. Honda’s use of a 17.5 kW battery means that many owners will almost never have to use ICE to power the vehicle. Having owned a Clarity for just a little longer than a year, like Viking79, there’s not much to complain about. Our MPGe is astounding at 131. That’s for a whole year. While the car isn’t doesn’t get driven much more than 500-600 miles/month, it has become the perfect second vehicle. Because some driving is done on mountainous roads, we frequently use the “flippers”, and they have a pronounced affect on recharging when on the downhill run. The car is quiet, stable, and quick. Federal tax credits, state rebates, and other ongoing incentives from utility companies can take 25% off the list price. It did for us. The only thing I am really concerned about is speculative, but the small volume of build for the car does leave some reason to be cautious. That… Read more »

You can purchase extended warranty and maintenance (Honda Care) at very reasonable cost. Besides depending on where you live (PZEV states) drivetrain components may already have very long warranties.

The disconnect here is this thing looks like a Baleen Whale, and Japan hunts those.
Coincidence?

The Japanese made this whale…..and its the number 1 plugin full size sedan. The white model 3 looks like an albino space alien on wheels.

AFAIK, there is no CVT in this car. Most car reviewers say CVT when they talk about a hybrid/PHEV and most of the time they are mistaken. There is no CVT (or even a planetary transmission) in the Clarity PHEV.

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a15114066/explaining-the-honda-accords-shrewdly-designed-new-hybrid-system-tech-dept/

The car uses an electronic variator CVT (instead of a belt/mechanical variator CVT). Correct, no planetary gear set like Volt/Prius/Etc, please read my description of the electronic variator (it is very cut down in interests of not being overly wordy). It has a CVT and feels exactly like one when accelerating hard, the engine jumps to a specific RPM and the car accelerates through the range up to max speed with engine at same RPM. CVT just means the engine RPM is independent of wheel speed.

The CandD post is wrong in what they consider a transmission, just a means of applying power from the power source to the wheels. A single speed gearbox is still a transmission. The Honda uses a CVT (all their brochures mention it and it even has CVT fluid necessary), but the linkage between the motors is electrical and not mechanical in CVT operation so for some reason CandD says it isn’t a transmission.

I am curious if it also feels like a hole in torque delivery, like a mechanical CVT. In other words, when you call for torque by pressing on the gas pedal, does it respond immediately without any perceptible delay with the expected amount of torque like EVs respond, or does it have no immediate response and instead you get artificially feeling torque delivery that does not correspond to what you expect, like mechanical CVTs? Supposing you use noise cancelling headphones and are able to completely ignore engine sound…

When I drive any automatic transmission, I intensely dislike this feeling of artificial and delayed torque delivery. This is the biggest reason I drive only manual transmission ICE cars and have now switched to EV (Tesla MS,) since I am not able to buy suitable manual transmission replacement. I have driven PHEVs like Ford Energie (both Fusion and C-Max) and Chevy Volt and really liked their toque delivery, probably specifically due to their planetary gearboxes.

Response should be immediate. The drive motor can pull current from the battery while the ICE revs up.

I disagree with Viking 79 and Honda calling this a CVT. Below 43 mph it’s a serial hybrid, The ICE only connects to the generator, as in a diesel-electric locomotive. Do locomotives have CVTs? One could argue they do, as Viking does. But that’s not how the term is generally used because it causes confusion with mechanical CVTs and eCVTs.

That’s what I am thinking, too. I will test drive it some day.

Locomotives and ships work the same way with ICE generating electricity for electric propulsion motors.

Absolutely the future of autos. All electric isn’t the future due to the HUGE amount of pollution and use of precious metals. Untill hydrogen can be pulled more efficiently this is truly the only way to go.

Honda would have the number 1 selling vehicle on the road with this car if they would just stop making them look weird. People DON’T want to drive weird looking cars!!! If it looked like Accord or Camery, we would see the conversion to plug in way faster.

You are parroting the Koch-Head’s funded right-wing anti-EV Propaganda.
The huge amount of pollution belongs to burning fossil fuels, not to using electrons from a rapidly greener grid.

“Absolutely the future of autos. All electric isn’t the future due to the HUGE amount of pollution and use of precious metals.”

Really? So making a battery pack once for a car causes more pollution than making hundreds (or for PHEVs, at least scores) of tanks full of gas?

Where did you get your “alternative facts” from? A think tank funded by Big Oil?

Oh, reality check: Making a gasmobile or a PHEV uses “precious metals” too.

“Untill hydrogen can be pulled more efficiently this is truly the only way to go.”

Big Oil and Russia thank you for helping to spread anti-EV pravduh, and helping to promote the “hydrogen economy” hoax.

https://insideevsforum.com/community/index.php?threads/how-to-promote-the-hydrogen-economy-hoax.429/

In the future, renewable electricity and batteries will cost exactly the same as they do today? All the actual historical data says otherwise. The trend lines are like a sword stabbing down through the status-quo costs you seem to be trying to protect. But then again, you probably still think renewable electricity and batteries cost what they did in 2010.

Nothing pollutes more than an oil Refinery and Oil shipping.

“Desired features”? A rear hatch instead of a trunk. Honda would have sold 4 times as many if it had a rear hatch door. Buyers for these kind of cars are ususally “practical” people and love a hatchback.

Honda greatly increased the sales of Clarity Plugin in 2018, hope they will increase more in 2019.
GM could have reduced the price of Volt and continued to sell, instead they killed it. So sad.

Seems like a good review:

Most of the negative comments seem to be related to the styling of the car – most people who actually pay money for the car would see this as a minor concern, – as Honda sells this car worldwide and appeals to the whole gamut of what appeals to people.

He said he doesn’t use the regen paddle which I can fully understand as they are too difficult to use, and judicious use of the brake pedal seems to provide adequate electric braking.

The car seems great either electrically, or later on when you are forced to use gas. Now if they could get reliability up a bit, and be a little more lenient with the periodic maintenance, people will forget that GM discontinued the VOLT.

Its nice that Honda apparently still wants to be in the EV business.

I dont know about worldwide Honda doesnt sell them in Australia,seems like a nice car.

The car is not attractive. No dancing around it. Tesla put tech and style in front of the world and based on sales, are killing it. When Honda decides to make the same style decision they did with the Insight, we should see more Clarities on the road.

While admittedly, I think the Clarity is ugly, I have been curious about it since it is selling well and seems to be poised to be the king of PHEVs with the Volt going away. (Yes, yes, the i3 rex.. blah blah. Not quite the same thing) . However, I am a little disappointed in what I read about the performance in the article. So if its 0-60 time is 9 seconds in hybrid mode and 13 seconds in EV mode, then this is far slower than I was expecting. First of all, the Prius Prime might just possibly outrun it in EV mode, which is sad to say the least, considering how slow the Prime is. (Yes, I own one so I know first hand how slow it is, especially above 30 mph.) However, it does appear that with the ICE running, the Clarity will easily beat the Prius. I just figured with the larger batter of the Clarity it could deliver more amps, like the Chevy Volt.

Yes, it seems more limited in EV mode, although not bad around town, it is noticeable on the highway. The engine will also engage if driving up a mountain at speed with EV, for example driving up a 6% grade at 75 mph on electric the engine started after a couple miles even though battery had plenty of charge. I can only presume the car didn’t like delivering near max EV power for that long and decided to use the engine to offset battery demands. Driving up a grade like that with a loaded car with a base weight of 4000 lbs is a lot of power. The Volt would have no issue there, but the trip was long enough it was going to use gas anyway.

To add, my wife drove a loaner 2017 Accord EX-L V6 while a dent in her door was being repaired and she didn’t generally like the car as much as the Clarity, she did comment that it had “a lot of power”. She is not one to really push it in sport mode. If you are after higher performance than the Clarity might not be the car for you, but it is perfectly fine in normal driving. For performance there are faster cars (for example the Model 3). The Clarity is great for a family PHEV with great EV range.

It’s plenty quick in EV mode and if you need more just pass the detent. It’s a heavy cruiser so it’s not surprising that it’s a bit slower than some alternatives. I don’t mind the styling of it now. Seems that it’s matching the new Civic and Accord even. It’s a really nice car for the $ and as a former Volt owner I can see why GM is stopping production. Similar cost vs the Clarity, Clarity gets full tax rebate for longer, much bigger and comfier and all you lose is 5 miles of AER? No brainier, even more so when you are comparing the Touring model!

You should not compare magazine 0-60 times with regular user times. Clarity is decently fast. Most magazines report sub 8 second 0-60 time for Clarity, which is good for a large EV. To get the fastest times, the car will use the engine to deliver additional electricity to the motor, but the car doesn’t have to be in sport mode. I can tell you Prius Prime doesn’t feel remotely as fast as Clarity, regardless of driving mode. Beside of 0-60 times, Clarity drives like an upscale car, a couple of classes above the Prius or your average compact car (e.g. Golf, Elantra, etc.)

The only case that I have not tried yet is a sustained uphill with a depleted battery, like going from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe. I fully expect the engine to run at high RPM for this scenario, but keep in mind that you can preserve battery charge in Clarity by using EV mode, so when you hit the steep sections you have a full battery. You can even charge the battery to 55% while driving on a flat to have charge when you hit the mountains.

EV’s are starting to take on a more consistent look to the nose area with air intakes low down under the the nose of the vehicles. The Clarity will probably be typical of EV looks in the near future.

Thanks for this great review. As a Clarity owner I agree with the observations. 2 comments:

1- I would not buy the Clarity if I did a lot of highway driving that exceeded electric only range. Nothing especially wrong with hybrid mode but it takes some getting used, especially around town where the ICE is charging the battery, not driving the front wheels as it does on the highway. The relationship between your right foot, ears and the ICE is pretty casual. This can be controlled (mostly) by the driver conserving battery for low speed driving which brings me to point 2:

2 – One reviewer wrote the Clarity is a car designed by engineers for engineers. I agree. The management of power modes is very flexible but the engine’s software control has the last word so I find myself doing a lot of reverse engineering. As a computer science professor it’s all fun and games for me. My wife simply drives the car (which is just fine) but the weirdness of ICE behavior is less charming for her.

Great car for the right driver and use profile. And, it feels and works like a Honda.

A great number of comments on the very active Clarity section of InsideEVs Forum do say that the way the gas motor runs seems largely disconnected from the second-to-second operation of the vehicle. So yes, if you’re trying to drive the car “by ear”, listening to the engine, then you’re going to be rather confused.

From what is reported on the forum, whether or not the gas motor runs is almost entirely dependent on how much energy/power the battery pack needs, or doesn’t… not how much power is being used to propel the car on a second-by-second basis.

Good analysis and report. One thing I am very surprised about is the number of oil changes. With my Volt I can go 25,000 miles as driving on electric the oil stays clean.

Kudos to Viking79! This is possibly the very best-written and best-informed review of a car I’ve ever seen from anyone who (I presume) isn’t a professional auto reviewer. Or maybe he is a professional; his writing is that good!

I was particularly impressed by how well Viking79 explained the complex drivetrain setup, with its multiple operating modes. I don’t think I have ever seen the disparate operations of such a complex powertrain explained so well and so succinctly. I particularly like his use of the self-explanatory term “direct drive” for one of the modes.

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I hate to nitpick about such an exemplary case of an auto review done right, but I question the need to run the gas engine once a month. Perhaps there is some advantage to that, but I haven’t seen that claim elsewhere. I know that PHEVs do need to burn off the gas in the tank often enough to keep the average age of the gasoline at no more than a year old, but I question the need to run the gas motor that often.

Excellent review. I’ve had a Clarity BEV since Nov’17 and it’s been my daily driver since. I absolutely love this car, particularly when considering how affordable the lease is. Even after a year of driving (when I’m usually starting to get bored or at least critical of my cars), I’m still amazed with this car. Even though the range of the BEV isn’t on par with other EVs, at around 90 miles per charge, there hasn’t been one day in the past year that it wasn’t sufficient for our needs, and I’ve never had to use a public charger. I can’t believe how much shade this car gets (especially from eV snobs) because it can’t go 300 miles on a charge…it’s completely irrelevant for 90% of our driving. We have a Subaru that we take on longer trips, but we have only found ourselves driving it two or three times a month on average this past year. The car isn’t perfect, but it’s been pretty close for us. The infotainment sucks – it’s horrible. But I’ve not had any issue that required a trip to the dealer, other than a nail in my tire…which makes Consumer Reports claim that it’s… Read more »

Bought my Clarity 8 months ago and it is an amazing car. My daily weekday commute allows me to run on EV 95% of the time. On weekends I have to charge up 3 times a day in order to have sufficient EV range. I only have filled up the gas tank 3 times so my biggest complaint is why Honda recommends an oil change using the same interval as an ICE car. It is such a waste to replace synthetic engine oil when the engine has only run approximately 500 miles cause the other 10000 miles is run using EV. If more of this type of longer range PHEV cars are sold in the urban cities, the gas stations would be finished. Of course the big petroleum companies won’t allow that so as significant shareholders of automobile companies they influence automakers to limit production, make them look non-standard, keep the inventory on the lot low, limit training of their staff on these cars, keep the prices high enough to make it unaffordable for lower income consumers. But then along came Tesla. Thank you Elon for forcing the automakers hand to change their ways.

Design is obviously not a factor taken in to consideration, that rear end looks like a monkeys ass.

It looks wired in pictures, but on the road it looks much better.

No thanks,I’m keeping my Volt.

Clarity seems to be the more premium looking car to me over a Volt.

Awesome review! I have only two things worth mentioning. 1. There is apparently some rumor that the Clarity PHEV uses aspects of GM’s Volt or Voltec powertrain design. Not true. The Clarity is a completely independent design and the internals in the transmission are completely different. 2. You are repeating Honda’s marketing description of the Clarity as having an electronic (non-mechanical) CVT. This reference to CVT confuses people who know what a mechanical CVT is. Toyota calls their hybrid a CVT of sorts as well. All this means is that the engine doesn’t have a fixed gear ratio to the vehicle speed that shifts abruptly like a conventional auto transmissions. The Clarity transmission is basically the same as the Accord non-Plug-in hybrid. It uses a series hybrid design at speeds under around 40 mph where the gas engine just spins a generator. At speeds much above 40 and at low to moderate torque demand it clutches the engine to the wheels at a fixed gear ratio equivalent to 6th gear in the Accord manual transmission and operates as a parallel hybrid that gets some assist or regen braking from an electric motor. You got this right but were too shy… Read more »

A positive review. But can this car take the heat? My Clarity has 26k miles in the past 10 months. Put it though 3 types of driving: long distance AZ to CA; up and over the Sierra’s mountains, and Lyft/Uber driver. I now drive 780 miles per week for the past 3 months. I’m always learning with the help from EV web sites, and mostly Facebook owner group just for Clarity PHEV’s. As seen in this article, I’ve had issues with ACC, so maybe Sports Mode can help. Now the Good news – living in Phoenix driving every day in very hot roads, the liquid cooling for the main battery works great. Still educating the Honda service as the reserves coolant for the battery is not easily seen. Oil changed with synthetic.. I now count how many gallons of gas I put in then multiply it by 43. Past 3 months as a Lyft/Uber driver, did 126 gallons. Still reading that the dealer never plugs in the PHEV’s.

I think the acceleration is deceptive. This is a large 4000 lb (plus cargo and passengers weight) that has plenty of power and is no slouch by any means. But it is not designed as a drag racer nor can it float in water. Pun intended. I raced a BMW and beat it (less than 1/4 mile). Not sure the model. We were going about 15mph when we accelerated. The car is very smooth and seems faster than my old 2010 camry hybrid. I find the handling and braking the best, hands down, of any car i have driven. The electtric brakes are so responsive to the slightest change in down pressure on the pedal. I personally love the regen paddles and not having to lift my large foot to the brake pedal every time i want to slow down a bit when cornering. I will admit that i am biased because this car made a big impression on me. The battery wasn’t charged when i test drove it, and niether did I know how to use many of the features. So as i tripped to the excellent engineering and technology i was definately sold on this car. The few… Read more »

I concur with authors experience. This is the finest car value in TODAYS PLUG IN /HYBRID MARKET. I have driven in colder great lakes area for one year. The car has performed above my expectation in economy and driving performance I have achieved 50 mpg on trips of 1000mile or more. I not the battery range is about 50 miles in summer but only about 36 miles in winter when temperature average around 32f. Apple I phone has worked every time and easy to pair. Have yet to get recall on range estimates. Spent less than $140 to service during the year.

I drove the Clarity and it exactly as the above review describes it, namely boring. It rides just like a new Honda Accord, but costs much more for almost no benefit. Acceleration is adequate, but nothing to get excited about. The gasoline engine noise is significant and very noticeable even with Honda attempting to insulate the noise. When comparing it to a Chevy VOLT of comparable cost, the VOLT is much more fun to drive. That said, the Clarity can seat 5, while the VOLT is limited to 4 and the back seat legroom in the VOLT is minimal. But driving a new VOLT is like driving a sports car, a very quiet sports car with really good handling. The Clarity not so much. The new VOLT will leave most cars in the “dust” from a stoplight, while the Clarity does keep up with other sedans. Bottom line, a boring sedan that costs too much for what you get. Too bad GM has discontinued the VOLT, one of the best affordable cars ever produced by GM.

Okay buddy. Keep on thinking that way if it makes you happy.

Did you do a test drive from a standard Honda dealer that didn’t power up the battiery? That would leave to engine noise and slow acceleration.

Slow? When the battery-pack is EV depleted, there is still HV capacity available.

The Clarity actually costs about the same as the cheapest Accord after tax credits, depending on state.

We traded in our 2013 Volt for the Clarity 6 months ago. We liked the Volt, love the Claity. Comfortable, roomy, quiet with a nice combination of standard features (like Homelink, which GM removed from the Volt). Charge time with. Level 2 charger is also much better with the Clarity (finally improved in the 2019 Volt).

Still wondering how hard can it be to make a model3-like PHEV, i.e. a real EV with a 25Kwh battery under the floor, RWD electric motor, and a compact 70Kw generator in the front (ideally, removable) that will activate only when battery charge gets below a critic level, or when you tell it to do so (like, while HW driving)

I’ve owned my Honda Clarity PHEV since July 2018 and now have 10K miles on it and can’t say enough good things about it. I commute 80 miles a day and do it all on electricity (recharge at the office). I drive about 2,000 miles a month and over 90% of it is on electricity. It is so nice to have the gas engine for when I need it for long trips or when I don’t have time (or forget) to recharge. Most Clarity PHEV owners already know all of this already. Finally, thanks to Honda, we have a roomy mid-size sedan (with a roomy trunk!!), that has real EV range + gas. It’s almost perfect. Having said all of this, the main reason I’m posting a comment is to give kudos to the author for an outstanding report. This article is the best I’ve ever read on this car and I’ve learned a few things about my car I didn’t know after reading your article (1. Use sport mode when using ACC with the engine on to hold cruising speed more reliably, 2. gear displayed on the energy display indicates car is in direct-drive mode). Thank you!!