Honda’s goal is to make ALL of its global sales electric by 2040. To do this, the Japanese automaker will invest $46B in research and development over the next six years.
The 2021 Clarity Plug-In is one of 2 cars in Honda’s “Clarity Duo” available for sale: Fuel Cell Clarity and Plug-In Hybrid Clarity. With Fuel Cell Clarity only sold in California, and Plug-In-In Hybrid Clarity sold in all 50 states, there’s no question Plug-In Hybrid Clarity will be the sales leader. The Duo was once a Trio, offering a Pure Electric Clarity as well, which has since been discontinued.
PHEV Clarity’s EPA-Estimated electric range is 48 miles. Its city/highway/combined MPGe is 110. Driving on gas alone, its has an EPA-Estimated MPG of 42. Total range is an EPA-estimated 340 miles.
The EPA estimates drivers will save $4,750 in fuel costs over 5 years, driving a PHEV Clarity compared to driving an average new gas-powered vehicle.
Car.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder says: “A Rare Winner of Its Kind. The verdict: Clarity is a rare plug-in hybrid that delivers a good balance of the basics: good electric-only range, decent gas mileage after the charge is depleted and no onerous trade-offs.”
The car’s futuristic exterior has been designed to create efficient airstream aerodynamics. The PHEV measures: 192.7” long, 73.9” wide and 58.2” tall.
There are two Clarity Plug-In trims: Plug-In Hybrid ($33,400) and Touring ($36,600).
A $7,500 Federal Tax credit lowers the price considerably considerably. For customers deciding to go Green for the first time and looking for a transition car that uses both gas and electric (rather than all electric), the Clarity Plug-In hybrid is an excellent choice. The car delivers predominantly gas-free commuting without the range limitations of a pure electric. For short hops around town, you can go all-electric. For road trips, you can use electric AND gas. PHEV Clarity’s 17kWh, 168-cell Lithium-ion battery works with two electric motors. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine spins a generator which provides current to recharge the battery. The generator can also provide additional power to the gas engine, bringing the car’s total horsepower to 212. Top speed is 110mph and the car reaches 60mph in 7.6 seconds.
Charging the plug-in-hybrid Clarity takes around 12 hours with a 120-volt household-style power outlet or around 2.5 hours with a 240-volt charger. The car’s regenerative braking system has four settings, controlled by paddles on either side of the steering wheel. Not only that, there are three choices for controlling how the PHEV uses its battery charge.
Key Plug-In Hybrid trim features include: Honda Sensing, Deceleration Selectors, an 8-Inch Display Audio Touch-Screen, LED Headlights with Auto-On/Off, Apple CarPlay Integration, Android Auto Integration, Honda LaneWatch, a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera with Dynamic Guidelines, Smart Entry with Walk Away Auto Lock, Push Button Start, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, HondaLink, Heated Front Seats, an 8-Year High-Voltage Battery Warranty, 60/40 Split Fold-Down Rear Seat back with Center Armrest, a USB Audio Interface, Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (e-CVT) with Sport Mode.
The Touring trim adds: Leather-Trimmed Seating, a Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel, Power-Adjustable Front Seats, Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System, Voice Recognition.
Offering 15.5 cubic feet of cargo area, the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid has a larger trunk than many of its competitors. PHEV Clarity comes with an expansive list of standard equipment including Honda Sensing driver-assistance features that include: • Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS)
• Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM)
• Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow
• Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
• Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
• Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Active safety Features include: a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera with Dynamic Guidelines, Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS), Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with Traction Control, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), and LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL).
Passive Safety Features include:
• Advanced Compatibility Engineering
• (ACE) Body Structure
• Advanced Front Airbags
• SmartVent Front Side Airbags
• Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor
• Driver's Knee Airbag
• 3-Point Seat Belts at all Seating Positions
• Front 3-Point Seat Belts with Automatic Tensioning System
• Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH): Lower Anchors (2nd-Row • Outboard), Tether Anchors (2nd-Row All)
• Driver's and Front Passenger's Seat-Belt Reminder
• Child-Proof Rear Door Locks
Says AutoBlog reviewer John Snyder: “The really impressive thing here is the car's interior. Particularly in the Touring trim level, the look and feel of the Clarity's cabin is perhaps the best we've seen in recent memory in a car bearing the Honda badge. The interior comes in ivory white or black (we preferred the white). The design is conservative, pepped up by clever styling. The Touring combines a plastic that does a fine impression of wood grain with strips of ultrasuede throughout, including across the dash. The floating central touchscreen doesn't feature any wacky surrounds, and looks simple and uncluttered on the dash. The leather-trimmed seats are comfortable, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel is comfortable in hand over a long drive. The shift buttons on the lower part of the center console are the only things that look a little out of place, but the open area below them makes for useful, accessible storage.”
Edmunds Senior Road Tester, Jason Kavanagh, says: "Hugely complex on paper, the Clarity PHEV is simple to use in practice. It's not necessary to futz with the various modes — you can simply get in and drive it like any other car if you so choose. There's satisfying thrust on tap from a standstill thanks to the Clarity's ample low-end torque. Like most plug-ins, though, its acceleration at freeway speeds is considerably less exuberant. Its 212 hp has some 4,052 pounds to move, after all. This is a pleasant-riding car, thanks in part to the Clarity's multilink independent rear suspension. Its ride quality is refined, and it steers precisely around turns. Routine handling is cooperative rather than engaging, which probably isn't a surprise given its curb weight, though body roll is kept at bay. When the engine turns on, you'll hear it, but engagement is smooth. In general, the Clarity is a quiet car both around town and on the highway. The Clarity PHEV is among the more polished plug-in hybrids. Its cabin looks and feels well-finished, with a design motif that brings to mind high-end home audio equipment. It's roomier than a Volt, especially in the back seat, and has a much larger trunk."
Says Liz Kim, New York Daily News, speaking of plug-ins in general and the Clarity Plug-In: "Will planning around the need to recharge the vehicle, and the act of recharging, become a huge obstacle in your day? And do you really want to drive around in a car that’s charitably described as “different”? Honda solves this with the Clarity Plug-in, making it easy, affordable and appealing to drive the car primarily on electricity for the average number of miles Americans typically travel each day. With its unusual yet attractive looks, prettily outfitted cabin, ease of use, and seamless driving experience, there are few downsides to owning this plug-in hybrid vehicle. And the upside, of course, is that you never, ever, suffer from range anxiety."
REVISED MAY 2021
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