Honda Clarity PHEV Versus Nissan LEAF: Which Wins In Overall Value?


Thinking of going green? What to buy?

If you’ve decided to buy an electric car and prioritize space and value, the 2018 Nissan LEAF is hard to beat. It’s currently the only EV available in the U.S. with decent range, a midsize EPA classification, and a sub $30k price tag. The all-new, midsize 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will set you back ~$33,400 and offers 48 miles of all-electric range. How do these cars compare when it comes to overall value?

First of all, both vehicles are widely available in the U.S. and qualify for the full $7,500 federal EV tax credit. According to the EPA, annual fuel cost for the LEAF is $600, while the Clarity Plug-in will cost you $700. Overall savings compared to the average car is high for both models. The EPA says the LEAF will save you $4,750 over a five-year period compared to the Clarity’s $4,250. Looking at the EPA’s efficiency ratings reveals the following:

2018 Nissan LEAF:

  • 112 MPGe
  • 30 kWh/100 miles

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid:

  • 110 MPGe (electric)
  • 31 kWh/100 miles
  • 42 MPG (gas)

The Nissan has a smaller footprint, but its hatchback configuration means a sizable interior and plenty of cargo space. It also gets 125 MPGe in the city. For these reasons, it may be the better urban vehicle overall. Still, it’s smaller than the Honda and its interior is nothing to write home about.

The Clarity Plug-in is a midsize sedan with an upscale interior, lots of passenger space, and a large trunk. However, keep in mind that its 15 cubic feet of luggage capacity still pales in comparison to the LEAF’s 24 cubic feet. The Clarity also delivers 212 horsepower, while the LEAF comes in at 147. Honda Safety Sense comes standard (a full suite of advanced driver assistance technologies) in the Clarity, and you also get niceties like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the base model.

In the end, CleanSheet says the Nissan LEAF dominates the EV segment when it comes to range and price. However, the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid’s “overall package shines.”

CheatSheet concludes:

In brief:

  • The Clarity PHEV is a comfortable midsize sedan you can mostly drive electric. If you take the tax credit, you can get one for less than $30,000.
  • Leaf is the pick for all-electric drivers on a budget in 2018. With the tax credit, it drops below $25,000.
  • In terms of value and staying power, Clarity’s 48 miles EV range is one of the high-water marks for plug-in hybrids. It won’t be topped anytime soon.
  • Leaf’s 151 miles of range is solid but will be topped soon. In fact, the 2019 Leaf will top its range. Both cars are among the greenest vehicles you can buy on the U.S. market.

What are your thoughts on these two vehicles? Let us know in the comment section below.

Source: CleanSheet

 Nissan LEAF US

2018 Nissan LEAF
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Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid

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2018 Honda Clarity PHEV 2018 Honda Clarity PHEV 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid Instrument Cluster Lots of room in the back of the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid

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63 Comments on "Honda Clarity PHEV Versus Nissan LEAF: Which Wins In Overall Value?"

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Yelp. Waiting for a Clarity used one to get on the market for $23k

I got a deal on a clarity touring, with the 33195 for the car plus the 1700 nys rebate, military discount 500= 30,995 then a 7500 federal tax rebate. 23495. Less for the base obviously if you get a good deal so why wait! 2300 miles on the car and I’ve put 28 dollars of gas in it due to a few longer road trips for hiking.

Congratulations, you will love your car, I guarantee it.

I live in the rust belt so no incentives for me unless I use my old address from the Bronx

Just in case you weren’t aware, we have the largest community of Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid owners at the InsideEVs Forum:

You can get a new one for $22,408 after the federal $7,500 tax incentive if you’re willing to pick it up in Massachusetts:

Both 2018 Leaf And Honda Clarity PHEV have terrible center consoles.

They both win the Right Knee Rub Award!

Otherwise, the Helpful Honda back seat is absolutely spacious.


I cannot understand how they screwed up leg room like that.

The Clarity PHEV has been a great replacement to our Minivan, gas savings is huge, going from about 17 MPG average to about 38-40 MPG average when we use gasoline, and with the ~50 mile electric range we only use gasoline on longer trips.

We have put almost 20,000 miles on the car. Minor complaints are infotainment system and occasionally the revving of the 4 cylinder is annoying when power demands are high. I can’t get over the real world fuel economy of about 40 MPG at 80 MPH. Yes, it really does that well, almost twice the van at the same speed.

We have saved close to 900 gallons of gas vs the van in that time. It is the only PHEV I felt could fit our needs, seat 5 easily (wider than any compact cars or CUVs). The electric range is great, we can use multiple electric charges in a day (not unusual for it to get 100 EV miles a day), it has powerful electric heating (lacking in Hyundai/Kia PHEVs) and is really comfortable driving.

The Pacifica Hybrid wouldn’t have worked for you?

Costs more, Fiat Chrysler quality and depreciation, significantly worse MPGe and MPG gasoline.

Pacifica would be great…. except no towing, which is what we need to replace our 12 yr old, 190,000 mile Chrysler minivan that has been remarkably reliable.

Any particular reason you didn’t choose the Pacifica Hybrid?

Surely there are mutiple reasons, but a comparable Pacifica (Limited with SafetyTec) would be about $12K more and possibly depreciate faster.

If Chrysler threw in SafetTec in their base models, they would sell more.

Also if the beige thresholds were dark/black on the PHEV Chrysler, it would also be more appealing for families. We went on a test drive and with 18 miles on van, the scuff marks looked awful.

Viking79 Does the low regen bother you? I’ve heard that the default regen is really low and you have to always put it up when you start the car because it doesn’t have memory. I probably still going to get the Clarity PHEV, but was hoping they would fix that before I buy it.
I was thinking of the Pacifica Hybrid, but new minivans don’t fit in my garage. I don’t like that automakers keep making minivans and SUVs bigger and bigger so they no longer fit in standard garages. It’s either too long or too wide to fit two cars in a garage.

Can’t speak for Viking79. The regen level steering peddle manual increase actually resets after each acceleration peddle press. In my experience it is annoying but not detrimental since you have a lot of electric range to waste. The weaker electric motor that lacks torque when compared to 1st gen Leaf and Volt is more notable to me as there is more adaptation curve in learning how not to accidentally trigger the ICE. But if you are coming from an ICE then it would not be a big deal especially if you are comparing Pacifica Hybrid and Clarity PHEV, as they would both have similar accelerator reaction.

I like detente since it forces you to drive efficiently

When done with it hit me up

Love my Clarity. Would prefer a bigger battery and/or DCFC option, but still happy with it. The Electric model has SAE Combo plug. Would have been nice to have that on ours.

On the bright side.. I drove by my local Honda dealer the other day here in Texas and saw they have 6 Clarity PHEVs on the lot, and they were actually displayed near the main entrance where people could see them. However, the Toyota dealer next door has no Prius Primes on the lot anywhere, and when I asked about it, they said they didn’t plan to stock them. And the Chevy Dealer next door to them had not a single Volt on the lot, and they had one Bolt buried deep in their overstock lot as far from the dealer as is possible, and it took me about 20 minutes to find it. When I asked them about it, they claimed not to have any electric cars and that there was no demand for those here. So anyway, based on this one anecdote, it appears Honda may be more serious about their plug-in vehicle than these others.

Any Insights?

Yes, 4 insights and 3 Clarity in front of dealer here In Ohio

Ugh. The EV sales experience is mind bogglingly poor. Are their commissions lower? Money usually drives ambitions, what other reason is there for dealers to behave like this?

When I test drove the Clarity its battery was totally discharged. The Clarity’s small engine made a great effort to keep up with the car if you drive it hard with a discharged battery. The salesman didn’t have a clue about the car either.
Anyway, I bought the Touring Trim because I liked the interior space and finish; and I had watched quite a few YouTube videos to know that it was a great car.
Once the car battery was charged and I learned how to drive the car in all the different modes, EV, EV Econ, HV and Sport, My Opinion is that this is the best car in the category. I have driven 3,600 miles and filled the tank once ($13.00).

“In terms of value and staying power, Clarity’s 48 miles EV range is one of the high-water marks for plug-in hybrids. It won’t be topped anytime soon.” – the Volt’s 53 mile EV range topped it years before the Clarity PHEV even came out.

“Leaf’s 151 miles of range is solid but will be topped soon.” – the Bolt topped the Leaf before the Leaf was released.

But not for less than $30k.

Different types of cars Bro1999. Clarity is a spacious midsize. Volt is a compact, the gen2 being even narrower than the Gen1.

As far as the comparison with the Leaf is concerned, it depends on how good the battery life turns out to be on both cars.

Not mention the i3 rEX…

I think it’s irrelevant that the Clarity is larger and cheaper than those cars, because the writer didn’t qualify statement. As it stands it is simply incorrect.

I think it hard to compare the two vehicles. The Leaf is a good second car for commuting or urban driving. I don’t think it is really suitable for trips given its comfort and range. The Clarity while more expensive can easily serve as the primary vehicle in a family given its comfort and unlimited range when EV is combined with HV driving.

Yes! It only makes sense to consider plug-in cars in the context of their usage scenarios. But many people don’t do this, and assume that anything they buy must be capable of 1,000-mile trips with zero advance notice, even if it’s the household’s 2nd or 3rd vehicle and could easily be used solely as a commuter/local use vehicle. I’ve fought this battle non-stop with friends and relative since the earliest days of the Volt and Leaf.

I have a 2018 Leaf SV, and it’s perfect for us. We routinely make a trip of 65 miles (each way), with an extended stop at either end. For this use plus normal local errands, the Leaf’s range is more than enough, and I recharge exclusively in my garage. Plus, it drives like an EV, and we all know what a major plus that is. Car ownership doesn’t get any more low-maintenance and enjoyable than that.

Why compare a PHEV with a BEV. The Volt vs Clarity would be a better match.

And the Hyundai Ioniq PHEV. Those were the three we were looking at (volt, clarity, ioniq). Ioniq gets better mpg, but shorter EV range than the volt/clarity, so it may be better for those who more frequently drive outside the EV range for longer trips. And Volt doesn’t really fit 3 in the back (even though it says it seats 5). The Clarity seats 5 comfortably (more comfy than the Ioniq in the back, which is better than the volt). Clarity it is for us, and we love it!

Might as well add Niro PHEV while you’re at it.

The Hyundai/Kia PHEV is a warm weather car. Fine in California, but the lack of an electric heater makes it a no sale in here in Washington state.

But how does the Clarity compare with the Volt in front seat comfort? I don’t care how comfortable back seat passengers are – they should be thankful they don’t have to drive.

Isn’t a Honda Clarity PHEV vs Chevy Volt PHEV a better comparison? Or, Honda Clarity BEV vs Nissan LEAF?

Well until now, the Clarity has better L2 charging than the Volt, which now has 7.2kWh optional? Clarity is larger and spacious making up for its slightly less AER. And Clarity is more luxurious than either the Bolt or Volt. Probably better resale value also?

Yes, 7.2kW will be standard on the Volt Premier, optional on the LT.

I have been in the market for both these vehicles. I actually bought a Clarity. Signed on the bottom line and drove it home. Only to have the dealer call me up and say they gave us an interest rate they couldn’t give me as it was only available in ZEV states. So we gave it back and took our B-Class electric back. Sigh. So I will say we liked it enough to buy it. I absolutely loved the interior of the Clarity. Felt luxurious. Nice quality materials. Smooth ride although not very athletic reflexes compared to the very nimble handling of the B-Class electric we were used to. The thing that drove me nuts though was the gas engine cutting in on hard acceleration with absolutely no way to keep it from coming on. I put the pedal to the metal a lot and this would mean constantly having to hear the raucous engine fire up. It really isn’t very refined sounding which partially destroys the EV experience. Also of note is that the AC is underpowered. I live in Texas where AC gets put to the test. My father(who now owns a Clarity), my wife, and I went… Read more »

Definitely a Smart Move,

Lease the 2018 40 kWh Leaf, only because the Leaf useable driving range will decrease 4-5 miles a year, especially in Texas. In 2022, your 2018 Leaf would only have about 130 miles of range.

Buy a Honda PHEV Clarity, or Chevy Bolt EV is the way to go in hotter climates.

I would have told it’s in the contract and it’s not your fault and drove off

Sadly I believe the fine print says otherwise. I did a google search when it happened and most documents have a clause that allows them to get out of the deal just the same as some allow the buyer to also get out within a short period of time if there is buyers remorse.

We have both the clarity and 2013 volt. We took the clarity from Austin to Santa Fe NM and the volt from Austin to Destin FL. We averaged 38mpg in the volt and 44mpg in the clarity. The clarity is much more spacious and comfortable. Basically if you are going to use the car for traveling, the clarity of definitely the better choice and the leaf is really not feasible.

I wish the battery size / electric range listed for the clarity were correct. I believe the range of 48 miles in the text is right though. Still an attractive choic. And the source is “CheatSheet”.

The Honda may be a “Clarity” to someone, but the design leaves a lot to be desired. Fugly at best. Only thing it has going for it is the size. It’s a compromise for the times. 48 mile electric in cold weather will be less, maybe 20 miles, So the irony of hybrid plug in being a compromise should not be lost on you.
The Leaf is the beginning of a movement. 2nd gen better than the first, but looking at 2020 and 3rd gen vehicles really dates the leaf even today. Anyone over 6’3″ or 190cm will not fit in the leaf. A loaded Leaf is quite expensive. The Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona are better than the leaf. PHEV is a conservative bet on a sure thing that EV will rule.

In my experience, even at 21-32 F you would still get high 30s highway miles and the programming with cold weather engine start cycle that was better than earlier 1st Gen Volt’s.

Better Apple to Apples… test against the weak tea Clarity EV…

Here in the UK the price of a gallon is around £6 I can travel at 5pence per kwh over night nearly 500 miles for the same price of a gallon of diesel or petrol. My old diesel would have cost £1650 for 10k and only £153 for the leaf! It depends on the country but the leaf wins hands down with epic real world speed too less servicing etc. Phevs should have been manufactured over a decade ago and 12 years after the original prius. Having two drive trains is meh with battery costs these days.

“Clarity’s 48 miles EV range is one of the high-water marks for plug-in hybrids. It won’t be topped anytime soon.”

Excuse me, but doesn’t Volt go 53 Miles EV?

There is a sizable difference in back seat spaciousness and comfort, especially for 3 rear passengers, between the PHEV Honda Clarity and Chevy Volt. Sacrificing an extra 5 EV miles, may be a sacrifice many are willing to take.

Right, but that has nothing to do with the range statement in question.

Yep it does. I read that and did a double take, too. But, they word it in such a way to get away with it.

one of the high-water marks … Meaning not the only high-water mark

They failed to mention the other high-water mark, but either way, neither will be topped anytime soon.

My first gen volt often got over the rated 38 miles of range, when driving it carefully

If the range of the all electric car suites your needs with some reserve capacity then the driving of the all EV is a much better and more reliable and economical solution. If you make that long trip out of town a lot the hybrid could be the superior choice especially for convenience. I doubt you can find any car more reliable than the Nissan LEAF or a car with a lower cost of ownership. Just make sure the driving range suites your needs. I thought our Honda CRV was a reliable and economical car ten years ago. it was reliable but it was anything but economical. Very expensive car to operate. However, if you are a Honda person the Honda is a great choice. If you are a Nissan person go with the Nissan. I guarantee you will both have the best driving experiences.

Very well said!

I work from home and my wife has a short commute. We may put gas in our phevs once every 3 months or so…. Maybe longer. So a longer electric range does us no good. But in a phevs, we can save money on our vacations by driving. For us they are perfect.

PS I know most people hate the looks of the clarity but I really like it. People made fun of my volt for being ugly too. But one of the reasons I bought the volt was for how it looked.

Honda Clarity PHEV is just just so so ugly. After seeing one on the street, I refuse to even test drive it. What was Honda thinking. Even the latest 2019 Accords don’t look as good as the last generation, though not as ugly as the Clarity. I cannot say it with more CLARITY, Honda please stop making UGLY cars.


I expect the Clarity chassis will port over to a Pilot PHEV and possibly a pick-up.

Just purchased the Honda Clarity. In my mind it beat the Leaf hands down. With 3 teenage kids the back seat in the Leaf was unusable where as the Clarity has tons of passenger space. Been driving for 3 weeks now and have not used a drop of gas and it’s comforting to know that you can go to gas if needed. Bought the touring edition for the extra few thousand dollars it costs it feels like a luxury vehicle but still at a reasonable price.

As an owner of 2014 Ford C-Max Engeri, I love the flexibility of a plug-in hybrid. I runaround on electricity during my commute, but I am not afraid to take it on longer trips. I want to like the Honda for the same reason, but the styling of the Clarity is just plain ugly to me. As I get closer to replacing my C-Max, I need ot convince myself that I won’t see the outside of the car when I drive it.

We had a ‘13 Leaf SV and now have a Base Clarity. Both are wonderful in their own way. The Clarity to me is by far the superior car. The seats are extremely comfortable, the interior is very roomy. The Leaf was a great city car; the Clarity is a great car in general.