2018 Clarity

2017 Honda Clarity

Pros: Choice of futuristic powerplants; offers space and comfort benefits of a conventional midsize car; favorable leasing terms

Cons: Limited availability, especially for Clarity Fuel Cell; Clarity Electric has so-so driving range

CG Says: Honda introduces a new eco-focused midsize sedan for 2017 that will offer three different “green” powertrains. Available for the Clarity’s inaugural model year are the Clarity Fuel Cell and Clarity Electric versions; a Clarity Plug-in Hybrid model will follow as a 2018 model. The Clarity Fuel Cell is available for lease only, and only in California; it’s essentially an electric car that uses a hydrogen fuel-cell stack instead of a large battery pack to power the electric motors. The Fuel Cell can go an EPA-estimated 366 miles on a full tank of hydrogen (there are about 25 public hydrogen filling stations situated around Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area) and the car’s only emission is a small amount of water vapor. The Clarity Electric is available for lease in California and Oregon to start; it uses a 25.5-kilowatt-hour battery and has an estimated driving range of 80 miles. The forthcoming 2018 Clarity Plug-in Hybrid is slated to be available nationwide; it will be powered by a 1.5-liter gasoline-engine/181-hp electric-motor powertrain with a 17-kWh battery, and offer an estimated all-electric driving range of 42 miles and total driving range of 330 miles. The basic Clarity platform is the same size—both inside and out— as a Honda Accord sedan. The interior is nicely trimmed and available features include lane-departure mitigation, forward-collision warning, autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, and head-up instrument display. The Clarity Fuel Cell is an impressive eco-vehicle, but considering the limited availability of fueling stations and the fact that Honda will likely only build around 900 examples in total, it’s essentially an engineering/public-relations exercise. The Clarity Electric should have broader appeal; it too offers spacious passenger accommodations and an upscale interior packed with features, but its driving range doesn’t match smaller rivals such as the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Hyundai Ioniq Electric. When it launches, the 2018 Plug-in Hybrid will certainly be the most popular member of the Honda Clarity lineup.

The Facts
Class Midsize Car
Body Style(s) 4-door sedan
Passenger Count 5
Drive Wheels front-wheel drive
Manufacturer Honda
Nation of Manufacture Japan
Base Prices Clarity Fuel Cell: Lease only in CA
Clarity Electric: Lease only in CA, OR

Base Engine
hydrogen fuel cell w/electric motor
Horsepower
174
Std. Transmission
single-speed
Avail. Transmission
NA
EPA City Range (mpg)
NA
EPA Hwy Range (mpg)
NA

Optional Engine
electric motor
Horsepower
161
Std. Transmission
single-speed
Avail. Transmission
NA
EPA City Range (MPGe)
126
EPA Hwy Range (MPGe)
103