Experience the premium E-Drive that is 2018 Honda Clarity PHEV
Without question there are several very good plug-in hybrid electric car offerings on the market today. As the auto industry looks to electrification as the quickest, most cost effective road to emissions compliance, Honda reiterates its righteous intent to electrify 70% of the maker’s world car market by drop-dead year 2030.
Here at Torque News I’ve reported on Honda’s ‘Blue Skies for our Children’ philosophy for several years, and along the way, Honda’s presented several models, including the segment topping 2nd generation Honda Accord Hybrid as a preamble to what we experience today behind the wheel of Honda’s largest, and most premium, 4-door, 5 passenger sedan to be offered in North America to date.
The current generation Honda Clarity platform is like no other car offered by Honda, it’s huge by Honda standards, with a unique, and by some accounts, controversial body language. One thing is certain here: You will recognize Honda Clarity, day or night, as an electrified vehicle. Designed with special blue brand plates and accent trim running lights, There’s nothing “vanilla,” or appliance box about Clarity. Also, Clarity drives and rides like no other vehicle on the road today.
Looking to the cutting edge design of the futuristic Clarity, it comes to light that every curve in Clarity’s front and rear quarter panel is there for a purpose, a very aerodynamic exercise in the art-of-the-auto-line.
An example of Clarity innovation is the wind-curved generated windscreen that improves aerodynamics at Clarity’s specifically designed wheels and special rubber compounded tires. Me, I like the unique style of Clarity’s lighting, “unique” is an understatement.
Clarity offers a unique drive and ride experience like no other. It’s powerfully different
We first experienced Clarity FCV,( fuel cell vehicle) at the Polo Grounds in Santa Barbara , California. There, we were afforded a comparison drive with arch nemesis, Toyota Mirai, the lease leader in the rarefied realm of fuel cell powered electric cars -- Honda Clarity won this comparison hands-down.
The first thing one notices when sliding in behind the no nonsense wheel and dash of Honda Clarity is the people centric, near intuitive, placement of the well designed, programmable i-MID and gauge array. To the right of the dash sits a large “floating” color touch screen center stack monitor; that not only facilitates a P.C, or i-Pad like computer screen environment, but readily serve as a multi-view exterior surround view or backup camera.
The balance of the cockpit setup is pure Honda. With Honda SENSING, the maker’s award winning advanced, active safety and driver assist technology standard across all trim levels.
It’s not hard to imagine the absence of a hands-on steering wheel in the future of Clarity electric. Honda’s taken a minimalist design office approach to Clarity’s spacious 5-passenger cabin -- a sometimes eerily quiet confine rich with soft touch surfaces, supple leather, brushed metal and wood accents. Visibility to the outside from all seating positions is good. Leg, elbow, and headroom is superior; although the second row is best suited for those under 6 foot, 2 inches tall. I still can’t quite wrap my head around how big car feeling and riding Clarity is.
Granted, there is an advantage to having a battery module placed below the passenger floor, between safety rails -- Honda Clarity enjoys a very low center of gravity -- when driven aggressively through the sweeps, Clarity remains flat and lane stable. Unlike Clarity FCV, or Clarity BEV, (battery electric vehicle) Clarity PHEV utilizes a modified 3rd generation hybrid gasoline/electric drivetrain shared with 2018 Honda Accord, due on market in the first quarter of 2018.
Also, Clarity offers a class leading extended electric only-range of 47 miles, thanks to a much improved, higher density, larger battery module, improved PCU, and a greater horsepower and torque 2-electric motor drive system that incorporates a fuel efficient 1.5L Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder gasoline engine. The result is a rather stunning drive performance and class setting combined real-world fuel efficiency. * 212 hp/232 lb-ft-torque
It was not unusual for Ron Cogan of Green Car Journal and me to witness 160+ MPG on our 90 mile sojourn through the mountains and vineyards of Napa County. For the electric-car-obsessed among us, it became apparent that Clarity plug-in electric, if toyes with a bit, could be driven in electric-only mode full time -- it would simply require a bit of charge-time management.
Clarity PHEV is affordable, comfortable, and quiet
Here’s the stunning revelation that I’m sure you’re all waiting for: Clarity PHEV is affordable, comfortable, and welcomely quiet -- to the point of having little to no road to car, or detectable side mirror wind noise penetrate the tabernacle-like quiet confines of Honda’s largest mainstream sedan.
In Japan, Clarity will be used for executive transportation. It’s plush by any measure, and over the top when compared to Honda offerings of the past. Yet the most surprising revelation of the day for me was not the space-age technology that makes it possible to motivate a full size sedan on the same amount of fuel that it takes to run most motorcycles, (42 MPG combined) but the beginning MSRP for 2018 Honda Clarity, it’s greatest attribute.
Clarity PHEV comes to market in 2-trim variants, with a beginning MSRP of $33,400, and a fully optioned leather trimmed, navigation integrated variant priced at $36,600. I find both offerings to be an exceptional automotive drive, ride, and purchase values, like no other car available in the growing plug-in electric hybrid auto segment today.
Within minutes of taking the wheel of Honda Clarity, regardless of variant, the fact that Honda’s flagship sedan is electric becomes inconsequential. The electric side of Clarity is so seamlessly integrated that the driver is unaware of Clarity’s drivetrain motivation.
On the tech side, Clarity is the most tech-advanced production automobile in Honda history. Yet, within minutes of entering Clarity’s minimalist, Eco-friendly environment, becomes rather second nature in operation. Everything is automated -- the drive system is push button with sport drive mode, toggle selected, and ready for future upgrades.
Truthfully, the most evident difference noted when comparing Clarity electric to a conventional internal combustion engine powered full size sedan is the new found quiet, and no-transmission power flow of all Clarity variants. With Clarity electric becomes the preferred mode of personal transportation as Honda and all major manufacturers look to battery modules, controllers, and electric motors to evolve the car. Not only does Clarity normalize electric, it pushes it to the forefront of mainstream auto manufacturing and market. In short, I want one.