Honda Clarity PHEV Drive and Review

Forget about the Tesla 3. You’ll want the Honda Clarity PHEV.

PHEV stands for “plug-in hybrid EV“. That means this car is electric up to a certain point whereupon the engine will kick in and make it feel like a normal, gas-powered car. So assuming you buy this car, you can get all the eco-points of an EV, the tax incentives, and all without the range anxiety issues. Plus you won’t have to wait for 2-years for one as they’re on sale and in showrooms today. Right now.

Honda Clarity Price

Then factor in the starting price, which is just $33k. Ok, it’s not a drop in the bucket, but after incentives, such as in California, that’s an extra $10k off the sticker price, dropping it to $23k. Sure, you can order the Touring addition, but that only adds about $3k.

The Feature List of the Honda Clarity PHEV

So what do you get in the base Clarity PHEV?

  • 18″ alloy wheels
  • LED headlights, taillights
  • Auto on/off headlights
  • Smart entry and start
  • HondaSensing
  • LaneWatch
  • Dual Zone automatic air
  • Rear HVAC vents
  • 60/40 split rear seat
  • 8″ display with Android and Apple CarPlay
  • 8 Speakers at 180 watts of power
  • Rear view camera
  • Heated front seats
  • Sat Nav (Touring only)
  • Leather Trimmed Seats and steering wheel (Touring only)
  • 8-way power seat with 2 memory settings (Touring only)
  • 4-way power passenger seat (Touring only)
  • Ultraseude dashboard  (Touring only)

That’s a pretty exhaustive list if you ask me. You’ll need to add $890 for destination and handling, though. But moot in this case.

But let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we? The Clarity PHEV can do 341 miles combined – 47 of that is pure EV driving mode. That’s enough for most Americans’ daily commute, give or take a few miles. Of course, 47 is under ideal circumstances, but 30-35 should be achievable. And it really doesn’t matter, because soon as you run out of electric juice, the petrol engine will kick in. But my point is that you can get away with using very, very little gas.

During my testing, which included zero, yes zero highway driving, I achieved about 100 mpg. Take it on a highway and I’d expect that number to increase by 10-20%. But that’s a guess and hopefully a conservative one.

Honda Clarity PHEV Rear End
The Honda Clarity PHEV has a small pass-through window in the trunk.

If you’re considering the Clarity EV I will steer you back to the PHEV version of the car. The PHEV drives better, is more nimble through the turns and when it comes to in general handling. The 100% EV is fine (and everything), but it feels much more weighty and like a Caddy in the suspension department. I’m exaggerating, but hopefully, you get my point.

Alternatively, there is a Hydrogen (Fuel Cell) version of the Clarity. Honda doesn’t plan to sell many of these. It drives just as good as the PHEV and has a slight bit more pick up. I – aside from being told it was a Hydrogen car – wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Back to the Honda Clarity PHEV…

Total horsepower is 212. That’s combining both the electric and gas powered powertrain. The electric powertrain is the workhorse here.

Related: Honda Civic Si Review

Much like Honda’s entire line up, the Clarity PHEV feels very practical. Though if you step up to the Touring mode you’ll feel like you’ve jumped into another tax bracket. Albeit slightly.

The trunk is large and in charge. There is a silly pass-through window, though it does add a bit more “clarity” out the back. The back seat is roomie, and allowed myself to sit behind myself – I’m just over 6′ 1″.

So it will likely make a great car if you’re a Lyft or Uber driver (hopefully not the latter – we don’t like them much).  Total passenger capacity is 101.5 cu feet. More than the Prius Prime, the Chevy Volt or the Ford Fusion PHEV.

Car Play and Android Auto Are Standard

As mentioned, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Also included is the Honda passenger side mirror camera, which activates on the 8″ screen when you flick your right signal indicator.

Safety First: Honda Sensing is Also Standard

Standard is Honda Sensing, which will brake the car if you’re gonna crash (CMBS), let you know if you depart your lane unwittingly (RDS), help you stay in the lane (LKAS), and automatically adjust the car’s speed to the car in front if cruise control is active (ACC).

Performance wise there is nothing to snub with this car. It feels fairly nimble despite the onboard batteries.

There are a set of steering wheel paddles. These “shift the car” into a lower gear (left pad) and allow for one pedal driving(ish). I suggest switching the car into “sport” mode and setting it into the lowest gear. You’ll experience a drive that is not only the most engaging but one that is more analogous to that of a manual vehicle. I’m not saying it is anything like, but it hedges in that direction. All said and done, you could hit a canyon in the Clarity PHEV and not feel like you’re swimming through the corners. But you can also take it on a road trip and be pretty comfortable.

It’s a Buy in My Book

I’d mark the Honda Clarity PHEV as a buy if you’re looking for practicality and an electric vehicle without any of the anxiety range issues. You can take it cross country if you have to, or just commute around town.

Looks wise it’s something like a fastback. In this sense, it might get mistaken for an Audi. Plus it has some sharp lines that add a masculine presence. But not so much that it will scare off drivers that want a softer look.

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Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."

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