Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld
2019 Honda Clarity Touring
Updated: Dec 30, 2019
This week we are reviewing the 2019 Honda Clarity in Touring trim. Our vehicle was assembled at the Honda Saitama plant in Japan and has an MSRP of 46760.00 CAD
Fun Factor: 5
Can it Family: 7
Karaoke Friendly: 7
City Cruising: 10
The Honda Clarity is the 4th plug-in hybrid vehicle we've tested this year, and it’s the model that boasts the biggest battery; 17 kWh to be exact and has the longest range for a PHEV at this time with up to 76km. However, people seem to overlook its overall performance due to its futuristic exterior, which doesn't receive a unanimous response. This is unfortunate as its electric performance is the pièce de résistance of the Clarity. Under the hood, the Clarity has a 1.5 litre in-line 4 Cylinder producing 103 hp at 5500 rpm; the electric engine makes 181 hp giving it a combined horsepower of 212 hp and a respectable 232 lb-ft of torque. In our real-life acceleration test, we were able to achieve 100km/h from a still stand in 8.7 seconds. While these numbers aren't overwhelming for a vehicle that has an electric propulsion, for city use, the acceleration to 50km/h is more than decent, and you may use the Sport mode when you're looking for even more umpf. We also note the handling for such a long vehicle is outstanding and quite stable even at higher speeds. Driving the Clarity may not bring the highest engagement for its driving experience; however, what it does bring is a relaxing and worry-free drive that isn't found in gasoline-only powered vehicles. Each kilometre you travel without using the gasoline feels rewarding, and if you are travelling a long distance, range anxiety is removed by the possibility of fuelling up quickly.
Now for the practicality of the Clarity for a family, it can easily seat 4 adults comfortably, and 1 child can squeeze in the middle. However, children will most likely use these seats, and in that case, 3 children will have plenty of space in the back. The front seats are comfortable and can be adjusted manually in our touring model, and heated seats are offered standard on all trims. The front doors pockets have enough space to fit your reusable water bottle; the same goes for the cup holders in front of the armrest. The visibility is good except for the split rear window design, which, while adding to the aerodynamics of the car, obstructs the rearview to a certain degree. The other challenge is with the battery placement; it creates a higher surface at the back of the trunk and lower in the front, making it tricky when loading a stroller. With the wheel arches, you have to fit the stroller in the centre and use the extra space on both sides for a diaper bag and groceries or other items.
Where the Clarity really shows its superiority compared to other plug-in hybrids is its range, we observed a real-life range of 45-52km in an all-electric mode during the winter. We were surprised to see the 45km range during a snowstorm with poor road conditions and the heating turned on nice and toasty. Otherwise, we saw a range of 55km in the city, with temperatures oscillating between -5c and -20c. We can easily imagine a range of 76km is possible in the summer, a fellow car reviewer who had the vehicle, achieved this easily. When plugged at a charging station outside, we observed a charging time for the Clarity of approximately 3 hours. We could confirm this using our mobile charging app, the vehicle itself doesn't show anywhere the charging time on the dashboard compared to other PHEV's or EV's we've tested recently. Honda does have the Honda Link app that provides this information; unfortunately, we were not able to get it to work as another user/journalist registered our vehicle. Honda announces 2.5 hours on a level 2 charger and 12 hours on a wall charger. At home, we alternated between a level 2 charger and the wall outlet to charge the car since our usual commute was less than 40km, leaving enough time to charge the Clarity fully overnight using the regular wall outlet.
Now for the fuel consumption, we averaged 3.1L per 100km during the full week we tested the Clarity. When we tested the car in the city, we were able to get an average of 0.9L per 100km when charging overnight. As for the HWY fuel consumption, when the battery is depleted, we saw an average of 5.2L per 100km on our regular test run when keeping a constant speed of 105km/h. We also did our test when driving at a constant speed of 120km/h, and the fuel consumption was 6.4L per 100km.
As for the HWY, the Clarity gets pretty good fuel economy as mentioned above and is also a versatile vehicle for short to medium-long road trips. The reason for this is that the Clarity only has a 26.5L fuel tank once the battery is depleted. Hence, the need to go to the fuel pump more often on long road trips. We saw an approximate range of about 399km on fuel only during the winter. On the safety side, the Honda Sensing suite of safety features is naturally included in all trims of the Clarity. It covers you pretty well; it is unfortunate to see the competition still has this type of security features as an option. As for the electric range, during the winter on the HWY, we saw a total range of 45km with an average speed of 105km/h. What we would like to see on future models of the Honda Clarity is the capability of fast charging, especially with such a large battery, and with some competitors already having this option.
The sound system in the Clarity is tuned in a charming way to make most styles of music sound good. We could say a little more bass wouldn't hurt, but it would be nitpicking, for most people, the sound system will be nice with its 180 watts, 8-speaker audio system. The sound system is all controlled via the 8-inch Honda Link infotainment found in the touring trim. The system has a slight hesitation before responding to commands, and the fact that there isn't a physical button for the volume makes it unpleasant to change the volume for any co-pilot. Luckily it can be adjusted on the steering wheel via a button, making it more accessible. The system offers the option to have both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Getting car seats into the Clarity isn't too hard either; the doors open wide enough, only the cushions on the side of the doors remove some of the space to make it a smoother entry. The vehicle has ISOFIX ports for 2 car seats; they are hidden under the seats, making it a little difficult to latch them on & off in a breeze. Now for younger children to get into the car, the exterior door handles are nice and easy for them to open, and the side cushions we talked about previously make it more comfortable for them to get in. The seat belts are nicely placed and give the kids autonomy to buckle themselves without any trouble.
We loved the Clarity the most in the city, even in the harshest conditions where other cars would have had trouble, such as during a snowstorm, we were happy to be driving the Clarity with all-electric propulsion. In most cases, during the week, we saw a real-life range close to 55km, even if the battery was cold and exterior temperatures were dipping close to -20c. During the whole week, excluding the weekend, we used 6L of fuel because we accidentally de-activated the charging cycle during the day. This caused the vehicle to only charge at night, where for some, the kWh rates are cheaper. The rearview camera is of average quality, and unfortunately, no 360-degree camera is offered at this time, this would help with visibility in tight spots with the aerodynamical form it has. Overall we think the Clarity is one of the most economical plug-in hybrids to operate in the city with the possibility of never using any fuel during a regular commute.
Why would we buy the Honda Clarity touring or what we liked about it: Very efficient with up to 76km of range during the warmer months and about 45-55km of pure EV range in the winter. Very spacious and with no compromise to the passengers. Easy to drive, small and taller drivers will find a comfortable seating position.
Why we wouldn't buy the Honda Clarity Touring or what we didn't like about it: No fast charging beyond level 2, small fuel tank for longer journeys not ideal, futuristic look that may not fit everyone. High revving/Loud engine note when going from fully electrical mode to gas-only while driving on the HWY in cold weather.
Honda has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle, we have no affiliation with Honda Canada, and the above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the vehicle referred to above.
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