EV Review: 2018 Honda Clarity EV

 In Electric Cars, EV Industry

Introduction

First introduced in California as a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, the Honda Clarity seemed like it would remain unattainable for most people in the world. And then, the fully-electric version was announced at the 2017 New York International Auto Show. That flipped the tables and demonstrated that Honda was not going to miss the EV party. Instead, Honda plans to put up some truly impressive competition to make it tougher on electric car shoppers.

The 2018 Honda Clarity Electric combines a relatively traditional Honda design with in-demand technologies and an environmentally-friendly driving experience. The tallest hurdle to date for the 2018 Honda Clarity EV is self-imposed – the Clarity is being released initially to California and Oregon while the rest of North America has to wait. And instead of outright ownership, the initial rollout for the 2018 Honda Clarity Electric is lease only. For anyone who values equity in the vehicles they drive, it’s a deterrent. In addition to the hydrogen fuel-cell and electric versions, there will also be a Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid coming. It’s mildly appealing, and if it’s about chasing more sales, should have been released before the all-electric.

Exterior Styling

At a quick glance, it would be very easy to mistake the Clarity for a new Accord. The profile is similar to the long cabin and short trunk, but there are some distinct differences when you take a long look. The first impression from the front is incredibly bold and modern, yet not overstated. Clean LED headlights and signature lighting surround the bold body-colored bumper and grille area, which has less open space than the Accord. It also has fantastical wheels that are both aerodynamic and sharp-looking…literally.

What might not appeal to many people, are the rear wheel arches, or lack thereof. Mimicking Toyota Prius’ design, the Clarity Electric’s aerodynamics are improved with the partial covering, but it’s not exactly a great look. In fact, it’s off-putting.

Rear view of Honda Clarity EVFit and Finish Interior

Because the Clarity EV is a Honda, you can count on a high-quality and well-finished cabin that’s almost perfectly equipped. It’s incredibly spacious for a sedan its size, and the stretched cabin and elongated roofline make seating three full-size adults in the backseat a breeze. You’ll find premium seating with ‘eco-conscious materials’, but that’s a positive item for shoppers in this segment.

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Rear seats of Honda Clarity EVThe design is quite innovative, almost to the edge of acceptable. The center console has a bridge to the center stack, which is where shift controls and other buttons reside. Underneath the bridge is a massive, empty, and open storage space. The infotainment system touchscreen is mounted above that, along with dual-zone automatic climate control.

As far as equipment is concerned, there’s a healthy selection in the 2018 Honda Clarity Electric. A full-color digital instrument cluster incorporates Honda’s Power Meter, there’s push-button start, and Honda Sensing technologies including Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keeping Assist, Road Departure Mitigation System, and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Dash of 2018 Honda Clarity EVCargo space is at a premium despite the roomy cabin. The trunk has a two-step design with very limited space. If you drop the 60/40 split rear seats, you can accommodate much more. And because you can’t go on long trips with the Clarity EV, that’s likely not a huge issue.

Driving Experience

The 2018 Honda Clarity doesn’t drive like your typical electric vehicle. Honda has attempted to give the Clarity electric the same driving feel as a conventional gas-powered car. If it’s your first EV, that’s not necessarily a big deal, but if you’re comparing to any other models, that’s a detriment. The 2018 Honda Clarity does not use regenerative braking to the same degree. It offers four driver-selectable levels of regenerative braking, but none of which offer one-pedal driving. They claim that coasting recharges the battery, but increasing the level would certainly add to its limited range. It’s a missed opportunity.

The acceleration is unremarkable. It isn’t zippy nor is it sluggish. As an everyday vehicle, it would suffice as a rudimentary, unexciting mode of transportation, but virtually all car buyers want their car to be fun to drive. A more powerful electric motor would be a nice touch to start.

And that leads us to the range. If the year was 2013, 89 miles of range would be acceptable. But this far into EV development demands more. Sure, you can recharge the 25.5 kWh battery to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes, but what good does that do if you can’t venture more than 30 miles from home?

Features

MSRP $36,620 USD
Type BEV
Electric Range 89 miles / 144 km
Total Range 89 miles / 144 km
Time to Charge 3.1 hours (Level 2)
Electric Motor 120 kW
Battery Capacity 25.5 kWh
Top Speed 100 mph / 162 km/h
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles or 60,000km

Conclusion

There are a few major flaws in the 2018 Honda Clarity, namely the lack of battery range and cargo space. It means the Clarity EV is limited to local travel only, and it limits its appeal. However, if someone needs an extremely efficient car for short distance trips, there’s not much you can fault the Clarity EV for. It has excellent fast-charging abilities, great equipment, and good styling cues.

Top Competitors

  • 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV
  • 2018 Tesla Model 3
  • 2018 Hyundai IONIQ Electric
  • 2018 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

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  • Random Volt

    >>It offers four driver-selectable levels of regenerative braking, but none of which offer one-pedal driving.

    This seems to be a common misconception. Sport mode plus level 4 “M” regen is essentially one-pedal driving in the Honda Clarity PHEV.