Last year, the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid impressed Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder. The Honda provided quality electric drive with no major compromises. Most importantly, it was the only other plug-in hybrid on the market that could stand toe-to-toe with the Chevy Volt in all electric range. One year later, this still holds true with the 2019 Clarity PHEV.
The main selling point that the Clarity has always had over the Volt is a much roomier interior at 101 cubic feet vs 90.3 cubic feet. The back seat has 37.1 inches of seat headroom and 36.2 inches of legroom. This is a significant benefit over the Volt's 34.7 inches, the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid's 35.7 inches and the Prius Prime's 33.4 inches of legroom.
Cargo room is good at 15.5 cubic feet available in the trunk compared to the Volt's 10.6 cubic foot hatch area. Although depending on the cargo, the hatchback body style of the Volt could hold large, long objects that might not fit in the Clarity.
Steering and ride quality is good, especially for a heavy plug-in hybrid sporting low rolling resistance tires. In Econ mode, the Clarity will prioritize driving on electric power. A light foot will ensure that the engine never takes over at high speeds. Wiesenfelder was able to go several days in Econ mode without ever triggering a switch to engine power. Acceleration in electric-only mode is linear and consistent as one would expect. But this is not the case when driving in Sport or HV mode.
HV mode will utilize the engine and regenerative braking to recharge the battery to full. Sport mode improves performance but lowers efficiency, running the engine more frequently than in Econ mode.
Gallery: 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid: First Drive
Of course, the Clarity is not without some faults to consider. Like many hybrids, the Clarity has squishy, disconnected brake-pedal feel. As with last year's model, the regenerative braking settings are also a point of contention. The Clarity has a pair of steering wheel paddles for increased regen similar to the Ioniq and the Volt. However, Honda's implementation of this feature continues to baffle Wiesenfelder:
One paddle decreases and the other increases braking strength, and each click raises or lowers it across four settings. The problem is that the Clarity then defaults to the original setting after a few seconds. What?! Who wants that? The only driving mode in which the selected setting stays is Sport, which isn’t the mode of choice for efficiency.
Overall driving range also comes in lower than the competition. Combining gas and electric power, the Clarity has an EPA estimated 340 mile range (47 electric, 293 on gas). This is lower than the Volt's 420 miles and significantly lower than the Prius Prime's 640 miles.
Still, despite some issues, Cars.com does recommend the vehicle for buyers interested in driving electric but not ready to jump all in on a BEV.
For someone who wants to get his or her feet wet without risk, a well-executed plug-in hybrid like the Clarity Plug-In does the job with practically no trade-offs.
This is just a small summary of a very extensive review. Be sure to check out the link below for the full details to see if the Clarity is the right plug-in for you.