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Real-World Price Comparison Shows Honda Clarity PHEV Costs About Half That of Mid-Range Tesla Model 3

The Honda Clarity PHEV is the top-selling affordable EV in America and Tesla's Model 3 is the top-selling EV overall. Here is a real-world price comparison of the two that illustrates just how much more green vehicle buyers will pay for a Model 3.


The EV market is changing rapidly. Top-selling models like the Chevy Volt and Prius Prime have been overtaken by the new Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), and the Tesla Model 3 luxury battery electric vehicle (BEV) is now selling at mainstream vehicle levels. We thought we would compare the two new top-sellers to give green vehicle shoppers an idea of exactly what the prices are for the Tesla Model 3 and Honda Clarity PHEV.

We have conducted our price analysis in New England, specifically Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Both are EV-targeted states for sales and both have state governments that participate in green vehicle initiatives. However, neither state offers any rebate on the Clarity PHEV. The Tesla Model 3, by contrast, enjoys a $1,500 state rebate in Massachusetts, so we will include that in its price breakdown.

honda clarity prices

The Honda Clarity Base has an after-incentives price to a Massachusetts buyer of $21,295. That price includes all documentation and delivery fees. That price does require the buyer finance through Honda as the image shows. We contacted the dealer and were quoted an after-incentive price of $24,290 for the fully-loaded Touring trim. Another local dealer has the Base Clarity PHEV priced at $22,408 with no finance requirement. We also inquired about inventory and were told by the RI dealer that four Clarity PHEVs were available from stock for immediate delivery and "Pretty much any combination of colors and trims" is presently available with a 4 business day delivery.

clarity vs model 3

The Tesla Model 3 Mid-Range, Rear-Wheel Drive is presently the least expensive Model 3 sold. This is the one that Elon Musk recently fibbed to the public about costing "$35K." His imaginary price includes a discount for "fuel savings." Of course, there is no meaningful "fuel savings" if one is shopping the Model 3 against any other green vehicle. Tesla apparently feels that only with embellishment is the Model 3 a good value. In any case, the Model 3 is easy to price out since Tesla prohibits discounting.
Here is the Model 3 math:
Model 3 Mid-Range, RWD In Black = $42,900
Mandatory Delivery Fee = $1,200
Price before incentives is $44,100 (not $35K)
Federal Tax Credit = $-3,750 (Until July1st, after which it drops to $1,875)
State of Mass Rebate = $-1,500
Current Model 3 cost after incentives = $38,850

The black Model 3 priced above has no Autopilot, no free Supercharger use included and has no options. Is this really a true Tesla? Your opinion is all that matters with regard to that question. If you want a silver Model 3 be sure to add $1,500. If you want white add $2,000, and for red add $2,500.

Our comparison shows that a base Honda Clarity PHEV has a price of about half the price of a base Tesla Model 3 depending on the color of the Model 3. A comparison of higher trims is difficult since the two vehicles diverge so much as the Model 3 is optioned out. Please keep in mind we are not claiming these two vehicles are "equal" in any way. The Honda Clarity PHEV is an Affordable EV and the Telsla Model 3 is a Premium or Luxury model. Just for the sake of comparison, a fully-loaded Model 3 in red with a white interior and with Autopilot has a before-incentives price of $ 70,600 and an after incentives price of $65,350. A fully-loaded Honda Clarity PHEV has a post-incentive price of $24,290 according to dealers we spoke to with inventory for sale today.

Image notes:
Top of page image by John Goreham - Use with permission only
Clarity price chart courtesy of Mass Drive Green website. Please note that the prices change over time.
Fuel economy comparison courtesy of


Grwwww (not verified)    February 14, 2019 - 11:04PM

The Model 3 is not the same vehicle as a PHEV. You are confusing two incomparable vehicles. The Clarity has no autopilot options so you can’t compare them with any price based comparison. The clarity has the burden of still burning Gasoline for any extended range travel while the Model 3 runs without gasoline required/needed.

I would strongly encourage anyone interested in an EV to drive all types you can get to. The model 3 beats all of them on most fronts because of its minimalist design.

Auto pilot adds a specific capability for aiding in safe, non-tiring driving. Navigate on auto pilot allows the driver to understand lane usage required for wide road structures with multiple entries and exits which the driver is unfamiliar with.

John Goreham    February 15, 2019 - 2:40PM

In reply to by Grwwww (not verified)

Thanks for your comments Grwwww. The Base Model 3 does not include Autopilot. It adds $5K to the price when purchased new and $7K when added later. If you prefer a BEV, simply substitute the Chevy Bolt battery-electric vehicle for the Clarity we used in the story. It costs about $1,000 less than the Clarity PHEV. - One Tesla Model 3 with Autopilot costs more than the price of a New Chevy Bolt and new Nissan Leaf combined. We opted for the Clarity example because it is the top-selling affordable EV in America for the past two months.

Bernard guste (not verified)    February 14, 2019 - 11:41PM

Tesla owner! This is a garbage comparison. People buy the Model 3 to support the EV movement. They don’t want a hybrid. That is over! Any why not compare the Honda to a Prius? Maybe because Prius is getting their asses handed to them by the Model 3. How much did Honda pay you for this article? Checking the math is pointless cause the car goes less than 50 miles using the electric motor which means most of the miles on that hybrid are gas and I’m not buying another gas car in my lifetime. Bye, Torque News!

John Goreham    February 15, 2019 - 2:44PM

In reply to by Bernard guste (not verified)

If you prefer, use the Chevy Bolt battery electric vehicle instead as the example vehicle to compare to the Model 3. Or the Nissan Leaf. Both work in the story. The Bolt is much less than the Clarity PHEV, the Leaf is about $600 more than the Clarity PHEV. You may wish to join the Clarity PHEV Owners club, Volt Owners club, or the Prius Prime owners club on FB. There are many owners who use their gas engines so rarely that the fuel is only used when it refreshed by the vehicle every few months. Many operate their low-cost EVs on electricity only unless they have an emergency trip to make.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    February 15, 2019 - 3:46AM

I've owned 10 Hondas, so I can be considered an avid fan of their engineering, comfort, reliability and economy. And the Clarity Plug in hybrid looks like a great bargain for people looking for a car with it's attributes, price and capabilities. But it's not really a great car to compare against the Tesla Model 3. I noticed that you didn't compared BEV to BEV against the Clarity Electric, but with it's relatively meager 89 miles of EV range, and brisk but not blazing acceleration, the plug in Clarity understandably makes a better competitor. Still, for more of an Apples to Apples comparison between BEVs and PHEVs I would have compared the Clarity plug in to the Nissan Leaf, and compared the BMW 530e to the Model 3. If I had your $60K budget to spend on the Model 3 I would get mine in blue, with the AWD/Performance package, which would come in around $58,350 after incentive and fees. And that Tesla model offers performance that is close to the BMW M5 (for about half the price). Unfortunately there is no way to add any options the Clarity Plug in Hybrid to get anywhere near those capabilities, but the Model 3 offers amazing performance, decent luxury and included amenities, but is as economical to drive as an economy car. I found it surprising to see that the top trade ins for the Model 3 are the Toyota Prius, BMW 3 Series, Honda Accord, Honda Civic and Nissan Leaf. Which means that most Model 3 buyers are willing to spend the extra money to move up to the capabilities and features that the Model 3 offers that separate it from more basic commuter cars.

John Goreham    February 15, 2019 - 2:48PM

In reply to by DeanMcManis (not verified)

Great perspective. I can't in any honest story really speak about the Clarity BEV yet. It is only sold in California and only a handful have been produced. Do you really consider the Mid-Range, RWD Model 3's performance to be that amazing? Can you name a few key luxury features the base Model 3 comes with that the Clarity PHEV, Prius Prime, and other affordable EVs are not available with at about half the cost?

Parks McCants    March 6, 2019 - 1:26PM

Thank you John. This article offers food for thought to any consumer wishing to go electric. It starts the ball rolling. As to Bernard's comment. The majority of consumers live in regions where extended range is a consideration, AND, there is minimal public charging networks available. Not every consumer is willing or financially able to install a home charging station, or qualify for a lease. While I've driven and appreciate both offerings, my hat goes off to Honda for presenting a roomy 4-door PHEV sedan featuring rather conventional car features, comfort and handling. To my Tesla driving fans... Drive the Clarity before you criticize it. You'll find it to be surprisingly exceptional. Cheers!

Jon Doh (not verified)    August 7, 2019 - 9:37PM

Why is no one talking about the elephant in the room than is the exterior of the Clarity? While I’d gladly trade my civic for a Clarity PHEV sight unseen, I’d be some pissed once I saw what it looked like. I like that they unchained themselves from an existing vehicle to courageously experiment with the multiple versions of the Clarity but with them nailing just about every external design since the current Civic it’s hard to guess what went wrong. Perhaps the design predates the Civic. Maybe coefficient of drag dictated too much of the final design. Please redesign ASAP or do an Accord phev. While you’re at it Honda, be courageous and make it a hatch.... works for Tesla.