Test Drive: 2017 Honda Clarity Electric

Specs

Vehicle Type:

front electric motor, front-wheel-drive, 5-passengers, 4-door sedan

Engine Type:

permanent-magnet synchronous AC,
25.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack

Transmission:

Single-Speed Direct-Drive Transmission

Engine

permanent-magnet synchronous AC
25.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack

Transmission

Single-Speed Direct-Drive Transmission

Fuel Economy

Range with a Full Charge
89 miles
143 km

Horsepower

161 hp
120 kW

Torque

221 lb-ft
300 NM

Curb Weight

4,148 lbs
1,882 kgs

The Honda Clarity Electric is Honda’s pure electric powered vehicle with zero emission. Clarity is Honda’s nameplate for alternate fuel vehicles. It all started with the hydrogen fuel cell electric. New to the Clarity family is the Clarity Electric, which I was able to test drive. Later on this year the plug-in hybrid Clarity will join the family. The plug-in hybrid is the Clarity Electric with a range extender.

The Clarity Electric and the Clarity Fuel Cell share the same chassis. This gets obvious when you pop the hood and look in the “engine compartment”. There is a big unused space which gets used by the Clarity Fuell Cell but not the Electric.

The Clarity Electric comes in one trim only and is pretty much equipped with all the toys you can think off. As of right now, the Clarity Electric is only available for lease to California and Oregon residents. The lease rate is $269 plus taxes and fees for a 36 months lease. According to Honda, the MSRP would be around $35,000 USD.

Exterior

The exterior of the Clarity Electric is designed for aerodynamics and efficiency and the 18-Inch Alloy Wheels feature an aerodynamic design and are optimized for performance and brake-cooling. Special tires provide optimal performance and efficiency. The near perfect weight distribution of 51/49 from front to rear and the Multi-Link Rear Independent Suspension helps for a comfortable but also sporty ride if desired.

The LED front and back lights not only help to save the limited and important battery power, but they also provide exceptional visibility and a brighter appearance on the road to be better seen by other cars.

Available in only three colors: Vortex Blue Pearl, White Orchid Pearl, and Modern Steel Metallic. The cover for the charging port is on the driver side of the vehicle just in front of the driver door.

Interior and Infotainment

With 80% of the interior made out of eco-conscious materials, the Clarity Electric is not only a zero-emission vehicle it also is built with sustainability in mind. Spacious seating for up to 5 adults let everyone enjoy the quiet interior of the vehicle. Heated front seats and dual climate zones are standard in the Honda Clarity as well as leather ultra-suede seats. There are only 2 colors available for the interior – gray or black leather. However, the black leather option is only available with the White Orchid Pearl exterior color.

For the driver, the Honda Clarity Electric has a display replacing the usual analog gauges in the cockpit dashboard. A big power-charge meter gives you information about your current charge and regeneration. As mentioned earlier you don’t have to take your key fob out of your pocket anymore. Just take a seat and push the GO-button and the Honda Clarity Electric comes alive. Electric gear selectors replace the traditional gear stick. This gave the center console another stowage area directly underneath the center console where usually your gear stick would run.

Most of the functions and settings are accessible by the steering-wheel controls and the two handles on either side of the steering wheel. This allows adjustment of the most used settings without ever taking your eyes off the street. Speaking of taking the eyes of the street, the Clarity Electric is loaded with safety features to assist the driver. Honda calls them Honda Sense which includes Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS). These systems are supported by a camera mounted under the right mirror and comes on when you use your turn signal to have a better view of the right-side blind spot of the car. The image is displayed in the main 8″ display in the center of the car. Additionally, you can switch on the camera manually via a button on the lever on the steering wheel. The camera will stay on even when you drive and shows what happens on your right side in the center display.

Of course, the car comes with Bluetooth audio and cell phone integration. In addition to the Bluetooth hookup, the Infotainment system also comes with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. The high resolution 8″ Infotainment Display lets you adjust further settings of the car and also comes with a built-in satellite navigation system based on Garmin. With free map updates for 5 years, you are on the safe side and it outruns the 3 years lease period anyway. Eight speakers provide a great audio experience throughout the whole car. With the HondaLink app (available for iOS and Android) you can pre-set the heating and air conditioning in the car, check battery status, get roadside assistance, set charging times, estimate driving range and find the next EV charging station. All remotely from your smartphone.

Honda Clarity Electric

A really great feature is the integrated smartphone pockets in the driver and passenger seat. This allows the person sitting behind either one to stow the cell phone just in arms reach without having to search through big pockets. The center armrest can be folded up to get access to even more storage space inside the car. Cupholders are strategically placed for all passengers of the car and there are 12V cigarette-lighter outlets in the front and back. All of the features are standard in every car.

With 14,3 cu-ft trunk space and a 60/40 split folding rear seat, you have enough storage even for bigger gear or shopping trips. There is a little lid in the trunk which gives you access to another hidden storage compartment which holds the regular Level 1 charging adapter and some vehicle accessories.

Driving and Handling

Driving the Clarity is easy and after a few moments of getting familiar with the control instruments as easy to drive as any other car. The keyless entry and go features is almost a must-have for me. It’s so convenient to get in your car and start it without ever taking out the key fob. Now once you turned on the Clarity Electric you won’t find a gear stick. Instead, you have buttons for your drive selection (P, R, N, D).

The Clarity has three distinct driving modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. Of course, the Sports mode is the most fun one and thanks to the electric motor you have instant torque on your wheels with an amazing acceleration. However, it still takes the Clarity Electric a few seconds to reach 60 mph. This is not because the couldn’t tune the car any further, it’s because this is not a race car and it’s built with eco-friendliness in mind and saving precious battery power. You can switch the modes on the fly and don’t have to stand still for that. You can feel the changes immediately. Eco mode gives you the most power saving drive settings to maximize your range. With a range of 89 miles on a full charge, this car is a perfect commuter car. It offers 3 levels of fast charging.

Level 1: regular 120V household outlet (dedicated 15-amp circuit); 0-100% charge takes about 19 hours
Level 2: 240V charging. Available at most charging stations and available to be installed in your home 0-100% charge takes about 3.1 hours
Level 3: DC fast-charging. This type of charging is also available on many charging stations throughout the nation. Fast charging gives you 80% battery in 30 minutes.

Inside you hear almost no noise at all only your tires riding on the street. Depending on the streets this could be a bit more or less. However, if you drive the car below 17 mph it will give an audible sound for pedestrian safety. I loved the Adaptive Cruise Contro (ACC) and it should be standard in all cars. ACC makes traffic jams a breeze and you don’t have to worry anymore about accelerating and braking. The car will do all that for you. Most of you probably never driven a stick shift in traffic. I tell you after sitting 2 hours in traffic your feet are killing you.

Conclusion

The Honda Clarity Electric is for sure worth to put in consideration if you are looking for an eco-friendly car. It is a perfect commuter car which can seat 5 adults easily. Depending on your income there are California and Oregon state incentives which are worth to consider as well. In California, you are allowed to use the HOV-lanes even tho you are just driving by yourself. Apply for the sticker at your local DMV. After a down payment of $1,999, the lease rate of $269 (plus fees and taxes) is not too bad for a car like this. The lease will run for 36 months. Unfortunately, this car is only available to certain people who live in certain regions of California and Oregon. Check the Honda website if you are eligible. This is a big downside as of right now. You can’t buy the car nor is it available for everyone in the country. The plug-in hybrid Clarity will be most likely introduced at the end of 2017, the beginning of 2018. According to Honda, this one will be available for purchase.

Honda offers the Clarity Electric only in one trim level which comes pretty much everything you want. They don’t offer ventilated seats but the leather ultra-suede seats stay cooler as regular leather in hot temperatures. I am also missing a Heads-Up Display (HUD). For some reasons, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell has a HUD.

Personalisation of the Honda Clarity is almost non-existent. Like I mentioned you only have 3 choices for exterior color and 2 for interior color. A lot of extras are standard, which is a good thing. You only can do some minor customization by adding stuff like door edge trim or a chrome door trim.

Photo Gallery

This is my own opinion about the reviewed car. Many cars come in different trim levels from engine size to color and extras. I am not a car sales person nor will I alter my opinions for sponsored test drives.
The rating below is based on the driven car. As you know every car can have different options and extras, depending on how much you want to spend. I can’t tell you how nice or bad a feature is which is not equipped in the car during my test drive.

Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

2017 Honda Clarity Electric

9.3

Interior

9.9/10

Exterior

9.8/10

COMFORT & QUALITY

9.0/10

FEATURES

9.9/10

PERFORMANCE

9.0/10

Range

8.0/10

Pros

  • Seats easily 5 Adults
  • Many features and extras come as standard
  • Keyless Entry and Keyless Go
  • Decent lease rate
  • Great commuter car

Cons

  • Driver Seat has no Lumbar Support
  • Lease Only
  • Not a lot of ways to customize your car
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