Honda’s Clarity Plug-In Hybrid Aims For The Luxury Affordable Car Market

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Honda Clarity LineupThe new Honda Clarity lineup certainly strikes a nice balance between affordability and modern-day luxury. And Honda is dead smart to tap into that neglected market.

Quick specs for the plug-in hybrid trim:

  • $33,400
  • 340 miles of total range (electric and gas)
  • 47 miles on electricity alone
  • 17 kWh battery pack

Honda Clarity PHEV — Affordable Luxury

How similar is this new lineup compared to the original Clarity of the mid-2000s? Well, come to think about it, not that much.

The hydrogen fuel cell Clarity of the mid-2000s was a nice sedan that felt poised and didn’t have the tell-tale signs of Honda’s light steering feel. It was a good car — it just had to be filled with hydrogen at a gas pump. That didn’t seem to us to be the right direction to take. At that time, almost every driver wanted to get away from having their wallets gouged at the pump.

Honda Clarity Lineup
Honda Clarity Lineup

Despite its drivetrain, the Clarity felt like a step above most sedans in its category. Perhaps Honda wanted to equate hydrogen with a certain air of class. Today’s Clarity has grown up and answers almost anyone’s needs. A hybrid Clarity? Sure. You say you want to drive more on electricity and just use gas on abnormally long drives? Sure. You want to go for the gusto and have it fully electric? All yours.

The Honda Clarity lineup is now pretty complete, as Steve Hanley announced back in April. The EV Clarity started showing up in July with a modest range of 89 miles. It is only available as a $199 36-month lease with $899 down. It sports a 120 kW electric motor with 221 lb-ft of torque hooked up to a 25.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

It comes standard with Honda’s Sensing system, DC Fast Charging, a Level 2 (J1772) onboard charger, and a Level 1 cable included.

It is joined on the dealership by the Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) and Fuel Cell versions. Although, we should point out that a fuel cell version has been spotted on our street in Long Beach, California, for a few months now.

How do you tell one Clarity apart from another? You’ll have to look at the badges and guess from the energy ports to make out which one is which. The interior doesn’t change. In many ways, this is Honda’s answer to Ford’s “Power of Choice” idea that first appeared in 2010 but didn’t last long.

Clarity Prices & Technicalities

The Honda Clarity PHEV starts at $33,400 and we figure will be the most sought out version. It has a range of 340 miles and can drive 47 miles on electricity alone with its 17 kWh battery pack. It sports three drive modes: Sport, Eco, and HV. The Clarity PHEV also includes a normal mode where the car manages the battery and gasoline engine depending on your driving.

Honda Clarity Lineup

Honda also opted for the steering-mounted regenerative braking paddles. This is something we liked with the Chevy Volt on a road trip to San Luis Obispo.

The big news is that Honda includes its Honda Sense, which is the company’s autonomous driver-assisted system. Well, almost autonomous, as Level 4 and 5 won’t happen until next year at the earliest for a few carmakers. It is, however, similar to Nissan’s ProPilot system.

One thing we welcome with this new Clarity is that it comes without leather seats. Okay, so leather seats seem to be a must these days when it comes to “luxury,” but they are also heavy and the material is anything but green. Not having leather seats removes weight. In fact, leather seating was never a luxury option with Rolls Royce and other high-end cars. It was reserved for the driver outside. Aristocracy rode on virgin wool and certainly wouldn’t be caught sitting on a dead cow. We welcome Honda’s consideration of vegans as well. But if you must, a leather upgrade is available.

Honda Clarity Now & Then

Honda has nicely matured its Clarity. The Clarity seems to belong to a higher-end market than its price implies. This new Clarity aims for the same higher-end luxury experience it offered when first released, and now makes that more affordable than most other options while also adding more drivetrain variety. The only competition it has would be the Hyundai Sonata PHEV, which impressed us greatly, but at a higher price than Honda’s Clarity. What do you say? Any likely Clarity customers in the crowd?

Honda Clarity Lineup

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Nicolas Zart

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Ever since he has produced green mobility content on various CleanTech outlets since 2007 and found his home on CleanTechnica. He grew up in an international environment and his communication passion led to cover electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. His favorite taglines are: "There are more solutions than obstacles." and "Yesterday's Future Now"

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