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The Honda Clarity Has Our Attention: Comparing to Chevy Volt

The electric and plugin hybrid car market is officially hot. Tesla, Chevrolet and Nissan have ruled the roost in the electric car market for quite a few years now. Tesla brought their first electric car to market in 2008. Nissan brought the Leaf to the market in 2010. Chevrolet began selling the Volt in 2011.
Posted: April 30, 2018 - 10:33AM
Author: John Falk

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The moment is now. Electric cars are a thing. Whether you are looking for a pure electric such as the Chevy Bolt, or a plug-in electric such as the new Honda Clarity, your choices now are many. The Honda Clarity is the Chevrolet Volt's biggest competitor. The comparison's are intriguing. The Clarity pricing begins at 34,000 US dollars. It's a 5 passenger midsize sedan wrapped in sheet metal that has polarizing styling. The biggest complaint is the rear wheel wells and the cars bulbous body. They appear to have rear fender skirts that hearken back to the 50's and 60's when they were in vogue.

Great features of Honda Clarity

Honda Clarity has a roster of great features that make it an excellent choice for a buyer wanting to jump into the electric car market. It has a luxurious interior with quality materials and construction. In up level models the interior features Ultrasuede inserts in the doors and dash, for a luxurious feel.

The seats of Honda Clarity are comfortable with good bolstering and a variety of power adjustments. There is plenty of legroom and headroom. The rear seat compartment has less headroom because of the slope of the roof line. There are plenty of cup holders, map pockets and storage compartments. Trunk space is large at 15.5 cubic feet. It has a good amount of tech features including info displays that let you know how much electric range you have. It has Bluetooth connectivity, Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

Torque News reporter Parks McCant writes that the 2018 Honda Clarity PHEV exceeds performance and comfort expectations.

How does Honda Clarity compare to the Chevrolet Volt?

The Chevrolet Volt, now in it's 2nd generation is the Clarity's direct competitor. The focus here will be on their respective drive trains. This is a major factor for anyone choosing between these two models. The main differences in the two cars can be found in how the gas generator operates in conjunction with the electric motor.

The Chevrolet Volt runs on pure electric power with 53 miles of electric range. In electric mode, accelerating up to it's top speed, there is no assist from the gas generator. The gas generator automatically comes on when your electric power is depleted. In the Clarity there is an indicator in the digital display that let's you know when you are using electric power and when the gas engine will kick in. This helps you when you want to keep the car in electric mode. Gentle acceleration will keep you in electric mode all the time. The Clarity drive train requires use of the gas engine when you have to accelerate quickly. This means no matter what, the Clarity will use gasoline.

The Volt on the other hand never uses it when in electric power mode. The Clarity has 181 horsepower and 232 pound-feet-of torque. The Volt has 149 horsepower and 294 pound-feet of torque. The Volt is quicker off the line in electric mode and takes 7.8 seconds to get to 60 MPH. The Clarity takes 8.5 seconds.

What are people saying about the Clarity.

On blogs and Facebook pages devoted to Volt there is strong support for the Clarity. Many readers on the Volt owners Facebook page have test driven the Clarity. Many say when their lease is up on their Volt they will buy the Clarity.

A vast majority of comments criticize the Clarity's styling. The Volt has been on the market for 7 years. This fact gives the Volt an advantage. Volt's drive train technology is proven and well engineered. Chevrolet's Voltec drive train will find it's way into a crossover vehicle. This is important because passenger cars are falling out of favor. I predict the Clarity will be a success for Honda but make no mistake, Chevrolet Volt owners are unwavering in their love of their cars.

Recently the Honda Clarity Electric was honored as the most innovative car at CES Las Vegas.

Have you driven Honda Clarity? Please, let us know what you think about this car in the comments section below for discussion.

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Bill (not verified)    April 30, 2018 - 10:40PM

Gave my Volt to my daughter-in-law and bought a Clarity. Both great cars! Clarity is much bigger and gets much better gas and electric mileage than either of my Gen 1 Volts. Volt has much better metric reporting - the Clarity can’t tell you what your cumulative gas mileage is (unless you set a trip odometer and never change it), how many miles you have traveled on electric today, and how many miles you can travel on your remaining gas (mine said 850 miles today after I filed the 7 gallon tank). The Clarity is much more luxurious inside. It uses the gas engine more and sometimes randomly, as the gas engine supplements the electric power plant when extra power is needed. You can’t go wrong with either car!

Donald Osborne (not verified)    May 1, 2018 - 6:57AM

I own a Honda Clarity and love it. I do disagree with a number of points in the article. First, the Clarity is the same overall size as the Honda Accord while the Volt is based on the Chevy Cruz. No one would say that the Accord and Cruz are direct competitors. They are in completely different classes. The only similarity is the electric only range. The second point is that you can stay in electric mode easily by staying in Econ mode. Here, there is still spirited acceleration and when extra oomph is needed, you just floor it past the detent in the accelerator. The gas engine has never turned on for me in Econ mode and I do 90% of my driving in Econ mode. The two cars are in completely different classes. The Volt can be thought of as a more sporty compact or subcompact while the Clarity as more of a mid to full size luxury car (it is about the same size as the last generation Avalon). They are very, very different cars that should be considered by the needs of different car buyers. It's been super cheap and super fun to run the Clarity!

Jim C (not verified)    May 1, 2018 - 9:19AM

I own both a 2017 Volt Premiere and just bought my wife a new 2018 Clarity Touring a few weeks ago. I actually love both cars for different reasons. Here's a few things that i like/dislike about both:

1. The Clarity gets amazing gas mileage. I just can't believe it and will need to do some more tests to confirm this. I drove from NJ to DC and averaged 58mpg on the way down (this is resetting the trip meter and then hitting HV mode). I got 54mpg on the way back. All going about 70mph. i'm just blown away by this. My Volt would average about 47 on the same trip.
2. Electric range goes to Volt but it's close due to Clarity somewhat smaller battery. i can get 65 electric miles in my Volt. Same trip in clarity would be about 57. This is driving on 45-50mph roads in about 60 degree temps.
3. Clarity drives like a heavier car, is quieter and handles the road very well. Not a sports car but good for my needs
4. Volt seems faster off the line. I don't gun it much so not a big deal to me
5. Volt has an annoying dead foot rest for the left foot. Drives me crazy on long trips.
6. The cupholder on the Clarity won't hold Wawa cups very well. A 12oz cup will have lid knocked off due to hitting the storage box on the way down. A small redesign by flipping the spring-driven plastic piece to the other side would have solved this issue.
7. Clarity charges twice as fast. Both have liquid cooling (i won't buy an electric car without it)
8. ACC on Clarity is smoother. The Volt accelerates / decelerates to aggressively in my opinion
9. Trunk storage in Clarity is huge. Volt does have some advantage due to the hatch though as large boxes would fit easier.
10. You get more detail in the Volt about MPGE, electric used in KWH, gas and electirc usage without resetting trip odometer, etc. The Volt has more detail in this area if that's important to you. I look at it all the time so it's important to me...

if i had to keep 1 car it would be tough. i would probably pick the Clarity but it's still too early to tell.

Mike (not verified)    June 17, 2018 - 4:33PM

In reply to by Jim C (not verified)

It is really good to hear from someone who has owned both cars. I just test drove a Clarity PHEV and an Accord hybrid. Both had less than twenty miles on the odometer and the batteries showed no charge. I put ten miles on each car of mostly highway driving 55 to 65 mph, and I was disappointed neither vehicle showed more than 34 mpg. I wasn't accelerating hard, and I was disappointed in the mileage. It has kind of made me pause on purchasing a hybrid. Any comments from Clarity owners would be appreciated.

DK (not verified)    July 3, 2018 - 2:40PM

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

My initial test Clarity does not charged at all. (The dealer had not have a level 2 charger. Thus, it was not practically possible to charge.) Yes, initially the Clarity was loud when going up a hill @ highway speed, which was the first segment right after the dealer lot. (I also tried 2018 Accord Sports 2.0 Turbo. The engine noise for the same condition was loud too. The condition was the worst for the Clarity, while it should be normal to the 2018 Accord Sports 2.0 Turbo. Thus, I would say it is not a fair assessment -- worst vs normal for a highly demanding road segment.) Then it was getting better. I drove at 50 MPH on the semi-highway. When I return to the dealer lot, it showed 50 MPG. I thought that it was good enough to me because 50 MPG was under a non-ideal condition. Following day, the dealer charged up the Clarity. The difference wasis day and night. Of course, I purchased the Clarity. Now, I have owned the Clarity for one month, and drove 1700 miles. Most of the miles are EV miles. My average range with battery only varies 65 to 75 miles,which is far better than EPA estimation 47 miles. To my curiosity, I have measured HV mode after the battery completely ran out. Then I continued driving two more days without charging. My Clarity showed 0 EV mile. The HV MPG result (70-80F sunny days): the Hybrid MPG for my commutes is 75 MPG! I could not believe this number. Thus, I put gas into my tank. The MPG was correct per my gas purchase. In short, I am really happy with my Clarity, not just because of the EV range and HV MPG, but also because the extremely smooth ride and luxury internal material and design. Again, this is what I get, and as EPA MPG estimation tells that an actual MPG may varies.

Jenny (not verified)    August 3, 2018 - 1:56AM

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

The Honda dealers are just not used to selling electric cars, so they don't seem to have any of them charged. I told our local dealer to just get a charger and charge all of them, since people want to use it as a quiet electric car, not a noisy gas car! It's the most awesome car ever ($1.50 in electricity can take you 50 miles) and can take you on your daily trips to work without using any gas (no more smelly gas stations). I would just tell the dealer to charge one for you and try it again. It will blow your mind.