SEATTLE — It seems that Honda has had a bit of struggle finding its footing in the EV world of autos. While it’s been producing hybrid vehicles for several years now, they just hadn’t seem to catch-on as well as Honda would have hoped. The Clarity PHEV sedan is a plug-in hybrid that does things quite a bit better.
Unlike a standard hybrid, the plug-in feature allows you to drive roughly 45 miles on a full charge before the petrol-powered engine engages.
There’s a 1.5 liter 4-cylinder engine that augments the electric motor. When they kick in at the same time, you have a combined 212 horsepower with 232 lb-ft of torque. While it’s a formidable setup, the issue is – that the car weighs over 4,000 pounds. This means 0-60 times well above 7 seconds. There’s only one available transmission and it’s an automatic CVT (constantly variable transmission).
The Chevrolet Volt was the first true plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) — and there are a lot of consumers who appreciate the fuel savings they offer. If they drive the car within its maximum distance on a full charge, which is about 47 miles. So daily commuters, the car makes perfect sense as most don’t commute much more than that – so they’ll save a great deal on gasoline.
The EPA rates the fuel economy of the Clarity at a combined electric and gas to be 110 miles per gallon and 42 miles per gallon when it’s only using the gas engine.
Even though it appears to be the same size as the Accord, it’s actually a bit smaller in overall dimensions, however, it’s quite a bit heavier.
There’s quality in here:
Inside, the Clarity has the same design language we see in all of the current Hondas. It has quality materials and even the plastic parts of it don’t feel too cheap. Overall, it’s nicely put together and offers some quality amenities.
The infotainment system uses an 8-inch touchscreen that’s mounted squarely in the middle of the dash. It proves good but not great audio production and should satisfy most consumers. There’s support for Apple Carplay and Android Auto so you can more safely use your phone with the car’s built-in system. Audio support for AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 and Bluetooth audio are all in tow as well.
The leather seat surfaces and uses of plus materials throughout the cabin area, really help the Clarity feel a bit more upscale. The driver seat is 8-way power adjustable, while the passenger seat is 4-way. There’s more than ample leg room for four adults, and even perhaps a teenager in the rear middle seat.
While the Clarity has a super comfortable ride – perhaps more comfy than any other PHEV I’ve tested to date, it handles corners surprisingly well. Unlike many cars in this class which can feel like a milkwagon around corners, the Clarity has some adeptness to it that help give the driver confidence while cornering.
Braking feels solid and sure with minimal brake fade, even after spending a day around the hills of the Seattle area. Something not many Hybrid cars can boast about due to their regenerative braking technology which helps charge the battering during braking. It’s clear that Honda’s engineers have done a lot to bolster the brakes in the Clarity and it shows.
Even though our test model had a sticker price of $36,600, there are subsidies on EV cars. Depending on where you live, you can shave up to $10,000 from its price. At well under $30k, the car becomes a lot more of an attractive option to those who want a comfortable sedan, with a good ride, and great fuel economy.
While the Clarity isn’t perfect, it’s a step in the right direction for Honda’s line-up and should be highly considered if you’re looking for an economical, comfortable and adept sedan.