Honda Clarity PHEV: The Ultimate Plug-In Hybrid?


More and more reviews point to the Honda Clarity PHEV as a solid choice.

Let’s just start by saying up front, try to set the Honda Clarity’s “interesting” facade aside for just a moment and see its potential as a top-notch entrant in the segment. Of course, that’s not easy. But, let’s not forget that there are plenty of folks out there that drive a Toyota Corolla or Prius, among many others cars that don’t boast striking good looks. Nonetheless, they get the job done in plenty of other areas. So, with that being said, is the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid “mostly” the total package?

We’ve yet to find many reviews about the Clarity PHEV that tear it to shreds. In fact, just about every article we read about this Honda says it’s first-rate in most ways. So, what makes this car the real deal, and where does it fall short? And, is its exterior styling really that awful?

Interestingly, this reviewer is actually enamored with the look of the Clarity. He says it almost has the aggressive vibe of the new sought-after Honda Civic, at least from the front. He’s also impressed with the Clarity’s trunk space, comfortable front seats, rear-seat room, and in-cabin storage. In addition, its responsive 8-inch touch screen with standard, up-to-date smartphone integration is a welcome addition that many cars only offer as an option. However, one of the best perks of the Clarity PHEV is its standard advanced driver assistance technologies. To learn more, watch the video.

What do you think about the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, aside from its exterior design? Have you driven one or do you own one? Please share your insight with us in the comment section below or on our Forum. We have lots of active Clarity PHEV threads over there that may help you out.

Video Description via EZ-EV on YouTube:

2018 Honda Clarity: The Ultimate Plug-In Hybrid?

In this week’s car review, the EZ-EV team took an indepth look at the 2018 Honda Clarity. Watch to see if this car is truly the ultimate plug-in hybrid.

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38 Comments on "Honda Clarity PHEV: The Ultimate Plug-In Hybrid?"

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Honda has always been good at creating cars that are fun to drive, so they should stick to that. The clarity is just a plain car. Remember the original Honda Accord? That was a cool model with fancy interior. Now it is just mainstream (and ugly)

Speaking as the former owner of a 1975 Honda Civic CVCC, I can state without hesitation that Honda didn’t get its start as a maker of cars which are “fun to drive”. I developed a fondness for my early Civic, despite chronic problems with its electrical system. But the lack of power steering coupled with a small steering wheel gave it a very stiff steering, and left my arms aching when driving on long trips. That’s a problem I have never encountered in any other vehicle, not even driving large trucks with no power steering (because they all had much larger steering wheels).

Honda, just like all Japanese auto makers, got its start by making cars cheaper than American make cars. Not by making “fun to drive” cars.

Honda did, indeed, start with a “fun to drive” car: 11 years before the 1975 Civic CVCC, Honda’s the cute chain-drive sports car, the S600, hit the road. I would have found a way to buy one if it had had the steering wheel on the left side.

Oops, I forgot about the very rare 1962 S360, which became the S500, the S600, and then the ultimate, the S800.

Sorry, I can’t take this video review seriously. First he starts talking about 12v charging at home. Then he talks about DCFC which this car doesn’t even support. Stopped watching after those first few minutes.

The guy is just another self-appointed big expert – accidentally or otherwise he does give a pretty good review although he could go into the difference between ‘modes’, something that I’m still a bit unclear about myself….

But the Honda Clarity might be the Ultimate since it is a MIDSIZE (of which there are almost no competitors), and with the volt being discontinued, beggars can’t be choosers. And it might just have HONDA Reliability. And the price is right for such a luxurious, versatile car.

I’ll miss the VOLT but I won’t miss the Chinese PHEV CT6 or the 1/3 Chinese Content ICE CT6 – both of which are getting discontinued. Chinese stuff is like Japanese stuff before it got good – right now some of it is good and some is not.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Compact EREV. GM released the 2019 with 7.2kW charging, and ERDTT at -13F. And this is the end.

It’s Clarity vs Volt for top PHEV. Clarity is larger which is nice, but those fenders are so polarizing, I can’t stand them.

I prefer Volt overall due to it being a stronger EV and its looks/features despite its smaller size, but Clarity is also a great offering.

I chose the Volt over the Clarity. I tried, but I could not get past the ugly exterior.

Agree. But I thought the interior was even more ugly.

If it’s ugly, it’s designed for low sales.
Honda hit the ugly button hard.

Not for much longer.

Love my Honda Clarity PHEV. Finally, a roomy, mid-size EV (and with a roomy trunk!) that doesn’t break the bank, has real, not “teaser”, EV range, and lets me commute 100% EV every workday yet can go anywhere, anytime, whenever I want, with no charging layovers and planning. I’ve owned my Honda Clarity PHEV since July and now have over 9,000 miles on it and just love it. FYI, my previous car was a 2016 FFE SE. Kudos to Honda for giving us an excellent EV option!

Okay, the looks are indeed polarizing… which means a minority of people really do like the styling.

That aside, most of the people posting to the surprisingly active Honda Clarity section of the InsideEVs Forum are very positive about the car. And nearly all the comments are about the Clarity PHEV.

The lack of DCFC ability is a definite liability, but let’s not forget that the main advantage of a PHEV over a BEV is that you never have to stop en-route for a charge. You can just keep driving by burning gas.

Well, obviously most comments are about the PHEV, considering that the BEV variant is a joke, and the hydrogen one is part of a running gag…

Note that Honda and Toyota hydrogen expense seems to exactly match the CARB Credits they earn in California. Hydrogen is fully funded by the California tax payer. Once that stops, they will order the headstone.

Japan is also subsidizing ongoing attempts to commercialize hydrogen for transportation.

I wonder, if, like the Prius Prime Advanced, that you can lease the 300% better BMW i3 REX for less than you can lease this car. What are the lease details?

Of course, with the BMW i3 you can only fit 4 adults.
And it’s rear wheel drive, which means snow tires in winter but more fun the other 9 months of the year.

Leasing the ReX is a good idea … I certainly wouldn’t own one out of warranty. The Honda on the other hand will probably (if reliability proves good) be a good contender among options I’ll consider in to buy several years used, letting the first owner take the big depreciation hit.

Of the 3 PHEVs I have owned, 3 year old 2015 i3 Rex, 3 year old 2012 Volt, and a new 2018 Clarity, the Clarity has been in the shop most, and the i3 the least. I put 11,000 (8 mo), 40,000 (3 yr), and 27,000 (1 yr) miles on the vehicles respectively.

How’s the road noise?
Honda’s are Known World Over for road noise.

Quietest car I have ever been in.

What road noise? It has active and passive noise reduction, multi layer front side windows, on a car that ends up costing mid to high 20s if you qualify for tax credits.

You can’t just declare the Clarity the “ultimate PHEV”. Some people need larger, some prefer smaller, some need a liftback, some prefer a trunk. some want an Asian import, some want a car made in the U.S. by a U.S. car company. My vote would have to go to the Volt – great style and flawless functionality.

I would like the Volt more if it had more headroom (my head rubs on ceiling). I like many of the features in the car electronics. They let their engineers provide a lot of technical data (compared to none in the Honda). The paddle regen is better in Volt. However, it just isn’t as practical or efficient of a car. The size of the Clarity wins me over.

I have 3 kids. The volt is a non-starter for me.

I have owned a black Touring Clarity for almost a year now and it is the smoothest, quietest car I have ever driven. I recently bought another PHEV, a Cadillac ELR that originally listed for over $70,000 and the Clarity is a better ride with more amenities like lane keep assist and brake hold. I didn’t fully appreciate how nice the Clarity is until I bought the ELR, which is a really nice car, too. That just allowed me to see just how good the Clarity is.

I own one in Santa Barbara area. It’s amazing. Roomy, great all-electric mileage. Trunk space is excellent. I also own a Ford Fusion plug-in hybrid with horrid trunk space. There’s nothing I dislike about this vehicle thus far. We just took a trip from SB to Las Vegas, and it was a comfortable ride and a $35.00 gas trip each way.

I love that Honda built this car and is selling it in some real volume.

Probably won’t get another Volt because of the interior passenger and storage space limitations, and because Volts dropped below average reliability for new cars for the 2015-17 model years, per Consumer Reports survey.

I am happy to see that the 2018 Volts are scoring average reliability on that survey. Maybe there’s an outside chance I’ll pick up one of those down the road a couple or few years if that rating holds up … 2018 Clarity PHEVs have ranked a miserable ‘much worse than average’ reliability for their first year of production. I’d avoid them for now, but I bet Honda will get that straightened out quickly: the worst trouble spot is body hardware, should be easy for them to fix that going forward.

I wonder what they mean by Body Hardware? The car has held up really well for a family hauler, 27,000 miles this year on the Clarity. It has never stranded us, but has been in the shop 3 or 4 times for repairs, all new model glitch type things. So it is the “worst reliability” new car I have owned, but I trust it will be fine long term if that makes sense.

I see a lot of negative commentary on the clarity. Some of them are with external looks, some with internal looks and some with tech specs such as DCFC. Net net, I see the car from only two perspectives: I need a family car that is environmentally friendly and reasonable on purchase price. With its ample space inside and in the trunk, it more than met the definition of a “Family car”. With 47 miles of electric, we rarely ever use the gas engine. At price point of $36K for the touring edition, it is a steal when you consider the $7.5K federal rebate and $2.5K state rebate (TX), For the average family that is concerned about the environment and needs a good family car, I think this vehicle makes a superb economical choice.

Exactly, I put 27,000 miles on my Clarity this year, saving more than 1,000 gallons of gas I would have burned in my minivan. It is an incredible family sedan and I can’t get over how I get 40 mpg at 75 to 80 mph loaded with people and stuff. More like 45 mpg at 70 mph.

I’m now three months into owning the Clarity and still am amazed at how well it drives. Plenty of battery for my daily commute and weekend errands. Free charging stations means I barely pay anything to run this car. Fits five adults comfortably and sufficient power for normal driving. Troll comments below made me laugh. Try to find ANY car that touches what I got in my Touring model for under $25k after rebates. And it is fun to drive – smooth and quiet – so I can enjoy my music the right way on my commute

Hi… We’ve updated the link! Please update the video link!

Thank you! Got the email.

So glad that Honda is making an alternative to the Chevy Volt that I have now. My Volt, a 2014 Generation 1, has been super reliable for 65k miles, but I will eventually need a new car in the next six years or so. So I’m glad there are options out there.

The Clarity would perfectly match the use case we have, with one additional (admittedly cramped) seat than the Volt. And I’ve loved Honda vehicles I have had in the past.

There are two things that have kept me from buying one yet. The first is the system they use for lane change safety. I would MUCH rather have blind spot indicators on both sides like they have on other vehicles. I could live with that, but the second item is a deal breaker for me. The current infotainment system sucks. If all they did for the 2019 model was update that (newer one has knobs), I would be driving one now.

I really hope they make that change for the 2020 model, because I will be buying a PHEV then. Whether it’s a Clarity or not remains to be seen.

So the insides of the car work great, like most every Honda. For all us loyal folk that buy Honda after Honda, but just want it to look “normal,” can you pleeeeeeeeease offer the guts of a Clarity as an Accord powertrain option? Why must it turn onlookers into stone to be PHEV??