Seats five comfortably, head-turning good looks, and costs $37,490 fully loaded with all kinds of safety features not usually found at this price. Ditto the paddle shifters and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
I was even more impressed by the fuel economy. I clocked an impressive 51.6 average MPG, nearly 10 miles more per gallon than the official 42 MPG EPA rating.
Simply, I fell in love with the all-new 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid on a recent weeklong road trip in Southern California.
It was a normal driving mix of freeways alternating between traffic-choked to wide open raceways, mountainous switchbacks, and local errands. And let me repeat that I did it all with 51.6 average MPG.
More power than Toyota Prius or Chevy Volt
Clarity PHEG has a 47 mile range on electric only and 350 miles total on battery and gas. At 212 horsepower, it’s powerful, zippy and responsive, especially in Sport mode. By comparison, the Prius Prime has 121 hp, and the similar-size Chevy Volt has 149 hp.
Clarity PHEG has two HV modes. One holds the battery charge level, for highway driving when you want to save the battery for “downtown”. The other charges the battery, including with regenerative braking, to store EV range for later in the trip.
Honda launched the hydrogen fuel cell Clarity a decade ago, and extended the model line in 2017 with an all-electric. The PHEG version was added for 2018.
They are all built on the same body, which can be fitted on the assembly line for any of the three green powertrain systems. That production efficiency helps lower cost.
The Clarity line is part of what Honda calls its Electrification Initiative, planning to make EV, PHEG and hybrid models account for two-thirds of global sales by 2030.
The hydrogen and EV are available in California only. My new paramour plug-in hybrid is available in all 50 states. And it’s produced in the USA.
Honda has several decades of hybrid experience. The company’s first mass production hybrid was the Insight, introduced in 1999 and still being sold, along with several other hybrid models, including Camry and Avalon. Honda’s only other PHEG model is an Accord.
The Clarity PHEG has all the bells and whistles you expect in a high-tech car, including keyless entry and remote start; plus adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist and pre-collision automatic braking, all part of the Honda Sensing package. New wiper technology puts the washer solution jets on the blades themselves, so you use less fluid and get more even coverage.
There also was another great new feature I hadn’t encountered before.
We’re all familiar by now with the camera that turns on automatically when you put the car in reverse. It’s saved many lives by showing a small child in a driveway, and prevented many accidents by showing an approaching vehicle as we pull out of a shopping mall parking spot.
And, we are becoming familiar with so-called blind-spot monitors that warn us via a blinking light on the side view mirror or on the dashboard, or both, that something’s coming.
Clarity goes one better by combining both – it activates the blind-spot camera on the dashboard touchscreen when you activate the right blinker, for a live, full-lane view of oncoming traffic. It’s a broader view than the side mirror, and closer to the driver’s line of sight.
Brilliant! The system is standard on all Clarity models and available on some other Honda models.
There’s ample leg and head room in the front, including for my six-foot son who has rejected as a tight squeeze other vehicles we’ve tested together. I’m five-foot-one, so I look for how far the steering wheel adjusts downward and the seat raises upward to unblock my view over the dashboard.
All good, and it proves again how important it is for everybody who will drive a vehicle regularly to test drive it first to be sure it’s a comfortable fit.
ecoXplorer Test Drive Recommends
The 2018 Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is a great addition to the Honda family, and yours, too.