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2018 Honda Clarity--New Owner's Review

semenzatosemenzato Member Posts: 41
edited July 2018 in Honda
Hi, I just bought a Clarity Touring and am a little surprised that there isn't a discussion on it already.

The car has surprised us positively in many ways. We bought it without a test drive, based on its specs and reviews. It's going to be driven mostly by my wife, who has been driving mostly a Prius. She wanted a plug-in hybrid with a decent range, which left two choices, this car or the Chevy Volt.

The Clarity is about 1 foot longer than the Prius, and a few inches wider. It's a lot more fun to drive than the Prius. It feels a lot more powerful and handles better, and is quieter. In electric-only mode acceleration is similar to that of a Nissan Leaf, which is not bad at all. Of course large part of the good feeling comes from the quietness under acceleration.

When the battery is close to empty the car switches to hybrid mode. I am not sure I like that much, as the gas engine seems to strain under acceleration. I prefer to start "recharge mode" before it gets to that point---then the engine charges the battery steadily at good pace and fairly low RPM (in fact, it seems to switch between close to idle when the car is not moving, to faster recharge when the car is moving).

The Clarity misses one important point about sedan vs. hatchback. A sedan has a trunk, which has less capacity and is harder to load, but usually has one important advantage, which is that one can leave items in the trunk, and they are not visible from outside. Not here! There is a narrow window above the back seat and on part of the trunk lid, for visibility. A would-be thief with a flashlight can easily inspect the contents of the trunk.

Another missing feature is a programmable recharge starting time. Of course this could be better done on the EV charger, but I am surprised that I haven't yet found a simple charger with programmable timer. There are plenty of "smart" chargers with WiFi and phone apps, but I really only need something that starts charging every night at 11pm and stops at 5am. I'll figure something out, but, again, I am surprised and disappointed because it seems like a pretty basic need.

At $4/gallon and the advertised 42 MPG, the break-even point for this car is 16.7c/kWh. The special EV rate in Oakland, CA, is barely below that at 13c/kWh at night.

I took only one trip with it so far---mixed freeway and hills driving, using the paddles to recharge on the downhills. The battery lasted 57 miles, 10 miles over the specs. Hills driving was at fairly low speed (and lots of curves). The paddles are fairly easy to use but I wish they were mounted on the dashboard rather than the wheel, because they can be hard to reach when I need to change the setting in a curve.

The UI on the control panel is of course also disappointing (I say "of course" because the traditional car companies have always been years behind the computer companies so this is no surprise). For instance, there's no immediate feedback when touching an icon, so users can only wait and hope that they aimed correctly (the software isn't running at blinding speed and most operations take well over a second). Android Auto is very helpful, unfortunately one has to learn yet another interface to common operations, but we're used to it, aren't we?

This is it so far! If I seem excessively critical, please note that the car still gets two thumbs up!


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    semenzatosemenzato Member Posts: 41
    CORRECTION. The Clarity can be programmed to start charging after a set daily time, but not from the car itself. One first needs to install the HondaLink app on their phone, and make sure that the car is connected via WiFi. There is a HondaLink web site too, but it appears to be set up only for a couple of Honda models, not including the Clarity. I was able to log on to my HondaLink account on the web, but the Clarity was greyed out and could not be selected for further operations.
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    THE_JUICETHE_JUICE Member Posts: 2
    I leased one in MA for a net one payment around $5500 for 36/12K. Fun toy for the price, nitpicking aside. I mean no ventillated seats, no spare tire, and a back end that look like a Yugo and Corvair had a [non-permissible content removed] child. But again, it was all about the Benjamins for me,
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    ellinj12ellinj12 Member Posts: 7
    edited January 2019
    For those of you with a clarity can you comment on how the car drives with a flat battery, I see a HP figure for gas and combined value with the electric motor. This car is fairly heavy and it seems like it would be a real dog to run on gas only. Is that really a thing to worry about or is using HV mode when away from the charger for a while a practical option.

    I am thinking of the case when If I went on a road trip and was unable to charge the battery overnight.
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    semenzatosemenzato Member Posts: 41
    ellinj12: I've driven the car from the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe a couple of times (about 200 miles each way) and it's not bad, although I am not too happy about its recharge strategy, because it could to a lot better (and it's clearly just a marketing choice).

    On a flat freeway there are no issues. I like to use the "battery charge" mode, which causes the gas engine to rev up slightly more than the plain hybrid mode.

    Going up the Sierra Nevada, both plain hybrid and recharge mode are suboptimal. The problem is that the car tries to recharge the battery on the uphill stretches, and lets the gas engine idle on the downhill stretches. This is the opposite of what it should do. The gas engine ends up either idle or at an annoyingly high RPM, which is silly because the climb is mild on average (less than 100ft/mile) but steep uphills and downhills alternate, so the ICE should run continuously at a lower, steadier RPM, and the car should use the electric drive on the uphills.

    This could be fixed with a software update but I don't have much hope that it will happen. However, the car is very enjoyable for city driving, where recharge mode is effective and doesn't cause high revving (because of the car's lower speed), and acceptable on flat freeways.
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    4sallypat4sallypat Member Posts: 49
    edited January 2019
    I just picked up the Clarity and having had previous ICE cars that consume so much fuel, this Clarity is the perfect commuter car!
    Can't believe I still have the original tank of gasoline by the dealer - all EV drive is just amazing.

    Love the exterior - the sleek coupe like look but still retaining the traditional trunk.

    Interior is perfect for a commute car - I chose the base trim because I prefer cloth seats over the leather (have 2 other cars with leather and hate the heat during the summer).

    Regenerative braking / coasting is so much fun using the paddles. Since my Clarity drives in ECO (EV) mode 95% of the time, using the regen paddles really helps on keeping the car recharged while driving as well as saving brake pad material as you don't use the brakes much at all. The "downshifting" or engine braking that is used by the paddles, really helps on not having to pump the brakes in stop/go traffic.

    It also has a feature that is common on BMW and Mercedes models called Brake Hold. Very useful for saving your foot from fatigue driving in bumper to bumper to traffic - once you stop, the brakes remain and leaves your foot free so you can rest it.

    The car also has a high and low speed distance/pacing system which makes driving in traffic very easy - especially bumper to bumper freeway traffic so common in Southern California.

    Charging the car is easy using the included Honda level 1 charger in the garage because it sits overnight for over 14 hours giving that time needed for a full charge. I can see if the car was tasked to drive at night or many trips during the day a faster level 2 charger would be necessary. The cost of electricity spent so far is trending $25 per month more but is offset by not having to pump $200 per month when I drove a ICE as a daily driver.

    EV drive range varies from 40-55 miles per charge - this depends on temperature, how much electronics/heater is used, and driving style. Most optimal miles (over 47 miles per charge) is possible if you drive like a gentle grandmother, all electronics off, warm weather, and using the regen paddles. Others in the country who drive in snow weather with seat heaters, cabin heaters, and in HV / Sport mode will report back very low miles per charge - so beware!

    I am not sure I would take this on a long distance drive although the range for a full tank of fuel plus full charge is over 400 miles if I have to. On long distance drives, I would take my ICE car instead because they have AWD / 4WD traction and drive higher (SUV/CUV).

    If I had the ultimate choice, I would love to see the CRV or Pilot or even the upcoming Passport be equipped with this PHEV system and offer AWD for those that venture to the mountains or off road. Another options I would want: park distance sensors, rear cross traffic alert, blind side monitoring (driver), 360 degree cameras, bigger gas tank.

    Overall, a very good car with green in mind. While I leased the Clarity to get the immediate credit / incentive of $7600 from Honda, add in the $1500 state of CA CVRP rebate, $1000 utility rebate, carpool (HOV) stickers, and no fuel for my commute - it's a bargain compared to the other PHEV I have test driven (BMW 530e, Mitsubishi Outlander, Audi A3 eTron).

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    zorentozorento Member Posts: 19
    You can set the Clarity to charge at a set time in the car.

    Using a Timer
    You can set the timer for the High Voltage battery charge using the driver information interface’s customization feature.

    The vehicle automatically begins charging at the scheduled time when the charging connector is connected to the vehicle.

    1. Press the (display/information) button and press or until Vehicle Settings appears on the display, then press the
    ENTER button.

    2. Select Charge Timer Setup, then press the ENTER button.

    Driver Information Interface Timer: Select ON or OFF.

    Mode: When Timer is ON, select the charging mode, Full or Time.

    Full: Charging will continue until the battery is fully charged.

    Time: The battery will be charged between the time you have designated to start and end.

    Start: Set the time when to start the High Voltage battery charge.

    End: Set the time when to end the High Voltage battery charging. You cannot set this when the Full mode is selected.
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