Auto Reviewer Confused On Details But Enjoys Honda Clarity PHEV


The Auto Channel reviewer enjoyed his time with the Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid

In the plug-in hybrid space there are really only 2 models that most EV advocates can agree can be driven as electric vehicles first and hybrids second. One is the founder of category, the Chevy Volt. The other is the Honda Clarity PHEV, a relative newcomer from Honda.

Following the vehicle’s introduction in 2017, the Clarity has been making its mark on the plug-in space. Since then it has received a very positive reception from owners. David Colman of The Auto Channel recently had the opportunity to take the Clarity out on the road. Like many others, he was very impressed with Honda’s first dedicated electric vehicle variants.

On the handling of the Clarity, David writes “Given its hefty curb weight (4,045lbs.), this full size sedan comports itself with dignity and grace. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it nimble, but it certainly merits the term sure-footed.”

The brakes are a step up from what he expects from a hybrid. “It doesn’t have squishy, unpredictable brakes. (…) And its handling is neither treacherous nor slovenly.” Sport mode was also a nice feature for quicker throttle response and stiffer steering feedback.

Once the electric range is depleted, fuel efficiency is quite good at 42 MPG. On the downside, the Clarity has a small 7 gallon fuel tank. So there will be frequent gas station trips for those driving in hybrid mode regularly.

In general David feels the exterior styling is a bit much. The simplified interior cabin is “restful and well laid out” although the infotainment system can be difficult to use. Specifically the lack of a dedicated volume control or station changing knobs causes a distraction when driving. Thankfully, steering wheel volume controls help alleviate this some.

Interior of 2018-Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid PHEV

Electric vehicles are still new for most people so there is a learning process

While his praise is wonderful, Mr. Colman seems to have not spent much time with plug-ins: “In other words, the Clarity is miles ahead of other plug-in hybrids because it behaves like a real car, not an overpriced golf kart.” Basically no major PHEVs on the market drive anything at all like “an overpriced golf kart.”

He refers to the steering wheel paddle as controlling the operation of the CVT transmission. This leads to a complaint that “You’re never quite sure what simulated “gear” you’re in because the video display on the instrument panel does not record gear number, but rather displays a series of tiny chevrons which increase as you shift up and decrease as you paddle shift down.” His confusion comes from the fact that he is not in fact shifting gears. The paddles are instead adjusting the regenerative braking levels.

There also seems to be some confusion about the different models of the Honda Clarity. He lists the electric range of the plug-in hybrid model as 89 miles. This is in fact the range of the all-electric Clarity EV. The plug-in hybrid model has an EPA estimated 47 miles of electric range.

Considering all of this, the reviewer is likely fairly new to not only the Honda Clarity but electric driving in general. So the fact that he enjoyed his time with the Clarity is great to see. The more new drivers have positive experiences with plug-ins, the faster they will catch on.

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Source: The Auto Channel

Categories: Honda

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37 Comments on "Auto Reviewer Confused On Details But Enjoys Honda Clarity PHEV"

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I’ve test drove the car twice – the first time with the lady salesman trying to “Regenerate the Battery” by constantly fooling with the center console buttons to force the Engine to run. There’s only one decent midsize low-priced plug-in, the PHEV Honda Clarity, so its not as though there is anything else to compare it to. Its 2 HUGE advantages are: 1). It is a Midsize. 2). It has non-trivial electric range (47 miles supposedly), and 42 MPG when you’re out of juice. Beggars can’t be choosers. Since NOTHING else in the way of a competitive plug in is available, you have to accept the rather funny looks of some parts of the car, such as the crooked rear fender skirts, and the Oriental front end styling. The 4 – level dynamic braking (regeneration) is rather like this: The four positions: 1). I think the air is slowing the car down. 2). I think I feel something. 3). Seems like an automatic in ‘Drive’ 4). A bit of a slowdown, but the car is doing as well as it can. Obviously you’d leave the car in #4 – but it resets to 1 by itself in all but one… Read more »

All good points. But I would suggest that the modern reference to Oriental is Asian. It’s similar to referring to African Americans as negroes.

I was fine with it.

Origami might be the better word to use.

And here I wondered whether the Thought Police would get tripped up over ‘Beggar’.

Oriental is acceptable when describing objects, like a rug or a car for example. However, it’s no longer considered acceptable for describing people. FYI, I’m Asian/Pacific Islander myself.

I consider it acceptable – the exact same way as I am not offended when being referred to as an Occidental. But people here are far too thin-skinned to talk about anything important.

For your information, I was referring to the car, which is what I thought we were talking about.

I think you’ve been too easy on a very poor level of knowledge from what should be a professional and therefore competent reviewer.

Perhaps, but we were all new to plug-ins once so I try to be understanding. As a person who has followed plug-ins for over half a decade now and covers them daily, these errors are easy to spot. But I have talked to many people who are genuinely interested in electrics that know very little about them.

If I was asked (forced?) to cover a story about the workings of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, I can guarantee I would make at least one error on my first article or two. After all, I only occasionally read and rarely write about the subject. This makes it more difficult to spot your own mistake.

Until someone corrects you, you cannot know that you made a mistake. So if the author reads this piece, he should consider my comments as a friendly correction not a rebuke. 🙂

It depends upon the error. Getting the range wrong is similar to quoting the wrong MPG in a gas car. It shouldn’t be hard to get the specs right.

You’d think a professional reviewer would do some basic fact checking before publishing his review. Gear control? 89 miles? Golf carts? Oy.

He was basically positive toward the car, and, in fairness, there are plenty of articles all full of errors.. Plus plenty of nonsense commentary – doesn’t do much good to nitpick, no offense. Many CVT’s have ‘default’ ratios that have been commonly referred to as what ‘gear’ it is in.

What credentials are required to be a “Professional Reviewer”? Hey at least he wasn’t doing any advertising.

What credentials are required to be a “Professional Commenter”? Many might be disappointed.

I have seen this mentioned a few times now on different medias, referring to “Golf kart”. However, I can’t seem to get any grasp on what this word relates to.
What is the meaning of a “Golf-kart” and why do the reviewers keep using it?

I think a Golf-kart is something like a Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

Golf carts use batteries and they’re slow and mushy, so all battery powered vehicles must be slow and mushy! /s

“GOLF CART” has been the term used by reviewers for nearly 20 years. Specifically, it is a reference to the on/off nature of golf-cart operation. It’s what they observe while driving on HV mode.

To us, it means the reviewer is at a loss, without anything useful to contribute… a dead giveaway they are not a good resource for the required knowledge to actually to the review.

Sadly, it also reveals the uninformed nature of the audience here. Not having knowledge of the past indicates they stand a chance of pulling the same greenwash nonsense again.

Reviewers will continue to write based on anecdotal observations, rather than doing actual research. Post comments on those reviews. Don’t allow them to pass off that dribble as journalism.

Terms like these can help create a negative opinion without really conveying much. Helpful for people who has a pre conceived notion but can not be bothered to approach things with an open mind

… Aaand this is precisely why Mr Musk and friends have taken their trajectory with Tesla. Preconceptions like this must be smashed with overwhelming force in the marketplace of ideas.

The sheer incompetence is VERY annoying.
I check out a lot of Zeromotorcycle ‘reviews’ on YT. Often, there is a lot misinformation in the comment by the reviewer, and that constantly freaking out over abssnce of a clutch…

It actually makes sense that the fuel tank is smaller. My in-laws have a Volt and rarely get out of pure EV range. As a result, they end up with gas in the tank that approaches being a year old. If one has gas in the tank, you want to cycle through it fairly often.

Not only that but the car is super efficient for its size. At 42mpg you don’t need a 13 gal tank.

My Fusion PHEV also gets 42MPG, and has a 14 gal tank that took me from SF to Disneyland (400 miles) with no gas stop. Clarity cannot make that distance on one tank. That, to me, is a minimum requirement.

It is a minimum requirement not to stop 5 min to refuel on a once a year (if that) 400 mile trip??? You have to be joking!

Yes, real world efficiency at highway speeds is easily 40+ even fully loaded at 75 mph. Just turned over 27,000 miles on mine and it is doing great! Incredibly cheap to operate, although Honda recommends service far to often for a PHEV.

I’m a Clarity owner and share that experience with your parents. I try to run the gas motor once a week to keep it lubricated, but I really don’t need to. In hybrid mode on the highway I have close to 400 mile range, with just over 2 hours to full charge, a well planned stop on a long road trip is enough to keep you going – or not. I could just skip charging and stop for gas twice in a day if I feel the need to drive 1000 miles in one day. But day to day I just charge at home and never rarely need to burn gas at all.

So does the engine solely run when it absolutely has to, or is there a timed exercise as usually exists in , for example, GM products?

That’s true Crevasse. I had to find a reason to drive past the EV range to use up old gas. This may have something to do with one of the negative review from the CR Magazine. 7 gallons of gas is plenty.

The clarity keeps the fuel pressurized to prolong life past a year. I run all EV and the motor turns on one or twice a month as a part of its auto maintenance to keep fluids loose like the Volt. Keeps my mind clear. It literally just idles for 5 mins.

Wow. The editor never went over the facts of the vehicle. That’s why I only watch Alex Autos

I dig Alex on Autos too! Learned about it from this site.

Wade, you say that the Clarity and the Volt are the only real PHEVs. How about the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid? I own a 2014 Volt and a 2018 Pacifica Limited.

Certainly not saying those are the only PHEVs! But those are the two I find most people “agree” are full electrics that can be driven entirely electric day in and day out. Both have electric ranges above the average daily commute and only rarely require the engine. (Although the Clarity does seem to engage its engine more often than the current gen Volt in colder weather from what I have read. I have only test driven a Clarity once.)

At 33 miles the Pacifica is quite good compared to other PHEVs as well. Highly recommend for those with larger families. Although it would not cover my personal full commute to and from work every day, I could easily do 70+% of my daily driving electric in the Pacifica. At least in the spring through the fall. My wife has a gen 1 Volt and less than a 15 mile round trip to work. So she could easily do 90% of her driving all electric in a Pacifica.

How do you like your Pacifica so far? I have only spoken with one owner so far but he loved his. Have yet to test drive it myself.

While one’s definition of a “true” PHEV could be considered relative, I would contend that the BMW’ i3-REx falls into your own definition. I’m currently on my second one (a 2017 model), and I have yet to fill up the 2.3-gallon tank after over 11K miles and long trips. What’s more, in this class, the i3-REx has the longest EV range and one can be confident that the engine will not fire up until the battery is sufficiently depleted.

Similar to your own recommendation, I’d suggest you spend some time with the BMW i3-REx to experience a very satisfying, true PVEV.

David “half-Oriental” Shelton

I am Clarity owner. The one stat that should be noted here is that I bought the car on 10/20.. over one month ago and I have not put in a drop of gas. Sure I exceeded the ev battery on longer distance trip (140 miles +), but I am still using the same tank of gas I got from the dealership. And the tank still show 119 miles range.

Bought mine in Aug and am yet to refill 🙂 and still have about 80 miles from the original fill from the dealer. Note, we rarely exceed 40-50 miles a day and always plug in overnight.

Worth noting the 330e and GLC350e also have 350-mile total changes. But this isn’t a common complaint because nobody buys them.

Problem is the electric-only range of those cars is abysmal. The Clarity is the only decent-size car where you can do a 45-mile commute to and from work without using any gas. That will change next year with the release of the new 2020 BMW 330e. But the bimmer will be a lot pricier than the Clarity.

I don’t like the design of its rear fender