The Exceptional Zero Emissions 2017 Honda Clarity
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As I braced myself for a compromised drive and ride experience, the zero emissions hydrogen fueled 2017 Honda Clarity surprised at every turn. It’s arguably the finest automobile to ever come out of Japan.
I, like many of my auto writing comrades, remain a bit skeptical as to the market viability of hydrogen fuel cell cars. In development for several decades, fuel cells have been employed to generate electricity for industrial equipment, buildings, city buses and yes, cars. Honda sits at the forefront of mainstream fuel cell car development and marketing with Clarity, now in its 3rd generation traveling the roads of Japan and Southern California.
To date, the downside of fuel cell vehicles is a glaring lack of hydrogen fueling infrastructure, as well as the per-unit cost of development and marketing of hydrogen fueled cars. Honda’s dedicated to not only expanding the fueling network, but measurably increasing Clarity lease availability in select markets. According to Honda, by the end of March, 100 3rd generation Clarity FCVs will be delivered to customers, on the path to placing thousands of Clarity FCV (fuel cell electric vehicles) on the road in the near term. With Clarity, you’ll have 3 electric variants to choose from.
Honda tells us that the Clarity plug-in hybrid will be the best seller of the 3. Yet, Clarity hydrogen fuel cell comes to market first with a drive and ride experience unique to fuel cell electric, and arguably the most future forward body design, interior craftsmanship, advanced electronics, connectivity, and active accident avoidance safety features available in Honda’s reinvented car and light truck lineup.
Once Honda Clarity FCV is fueled with compressed hydrogen,(26 fueling locations in California) a process that’s completed in 5 minutes or so, Clarity falls in line with the best performing electric cars on the market today. On the performance side of Clarity, the hydrogen fuel stack electric generator produces a combined motor horsepower of 174 @ 13,000 rpm. Maximum torque is stated at 221 lb-ft, with an electronically limited top speed of 103 mph. We noted no lack of instant-on torque with Clarity. Discover more about 2017 Clarity FCV specification and availability here.
Within minutes of dropping behind the wheel of Clarity’s” advanced modern lounge”, one forgets that Clarity is an electric vehicle. Outside of the instant-on throttle response, the transition from start to cruising speed is seamless -- Honda’s reduced the electric motor whirl in Clarity to a whisper -- braking, although regenerative, has a very natural hydraulic pedal feel to it -- the road feedback through the steering wheel is responsive, yet not overly so --the suspension reduces road imperfection to nil, with interior noise levels generally associated with a university library.
One finds a near intuitive driver to car connectivity as to ease of access and vehicle command. Drive selection, electronic parking brake and drive-mode, is accessed through an eye pleasing consul, well positioned electronic dash gauge array, i-MID and exceptional no-smudge static monitor center stack. Our Clarity is finished in executive office-like wood grained plastics, brushed metals, tight piled carpeting, and man-made leather seating surfaces. Clarity seating is seriously comfortable, power adjusted(front) and heated. In clarity, a multi-controlled climate control system is micron filtered -- fantastic freedom from airborne particulates.
Twisting through the country back roads of Santa Barbara, due to Clarity’s rather low center of gravity, reactive dampening, and independent front and rear suspension, Clarity took on the personality of a sport-sedan. Range anxiety generally associated with electric cars is gone, thanks to Clarity’s 360 + mile between fill up drive range, so we didn’t baby Clarity. Road handling, acceleration, and downhill deceleration is exceptional.
Truthfully, If I lived within the current hydrogen refueling network, I’d lease a 2017 Clarity FCV tomorrow morning. Clarity’s appeal goes way beyond zero exhaust emissions. Simply put, it’s a glimpse into the future of personal transportation, class-topping comfortable, and dare I say, fun to drive!