Words & photos by: Jimmy Mak
As you watch gas prices go up you’re thinking to yourself it’s about time to find something a bit more fuel efficient. Which then you’ll end up looking at hybrids and even electric vehicles. Hybrids while still utilizing a combustion engine still uses fuel while a fully electric vehicle gives a lot of their operators range anxiety. Meet the world of PHEV, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. It meets both worlds into one by having pure electric range while still has fuel for when its needed to go a bit further.
Meet the brand new Clarity, for sale in Canada as a PHEV as well as in some places a hydrogen fuel cell. This clarity is currently the longest range PHEV for sale in Canada at 76Km of pure EV range. Sized liked the Accord it’s no compact vehicle. It’s suitable for most families as it’s size is made for 5 and their luggage.
Styling on the Clarity may not be for everyone. There are wheel covers on the back wheels which is reminiscent of the first gen Insight. The front end looks distinctive with LED headlights and daytime running lights, it sort of looks like Paul Teutul Sr’s mustache. the front overhang is rather long stretching the car out quite a bit.
What’s odd is on the rear trunk lid, there’s glass above the Honda badge which can look directly into the trunk and the cabin as there’s a small glass window behind the seat. I’ve seen this implemented in hatchbacks and liftbacks but definitely a first on a trunk system.
On the inside, the Clarity is a beautiful place to be. The dash has a great slab of wood and suede that stretches the dash. Simple and elegant.
Mounted on top of the suede is Honda’s infotainment display, an 8″ display and utilizing the same system as the latest Civic there’s nothing wrong with it minus the lack of a Volume knob. However, I do wish they used the newer system found in the Accord instead. Moving down is the vehicle’s HVAC controls, pretty simple to use nothing out of the ordinary here.
A bit further down is the push button shifter found in many current Hondas. Mounted on a floating centre console, there’s an empty space underneath to store your valuables as well as two USB plugs for your smartphones. Unlike other Hondas’ Qi wireless charging is nowhere to be found.
While the infotainment display can be set to tell you the vehicle’s range, the cluster houses most of the vital information like fuel, battery and exactly where the power is coming from. The centre of the cluster is a digital screen which can flip between pages with a click on the button on the steering wheel.
The seats on the Clarity are nice and plush. What’s odd is even on this top Touring trim the seat adjustments are manual, there is no option for powered seats which is quite weird for a vehicle at this price. But at least the front seats are heated even though it does take a toll on the electric range.
Since there’s no sunroof on any trim of the Clarity, headroom is abundant for all. Even the middle seat in the back is spacious and comfortable. Do note the little glass window behind the headrest, super odd to be able to see inside the trunk from the cabin.
In the trunk, space is more than enough at only one cubic foot shy when comparing to the Accord it’s a very usable space. Sadly the floor isn’t flat there is a small bump in the centre of the trunk and the pass-thru is small but it’s plenty for everyday use.
Driving the Clarity is like any regular car which is great. During startup it’s just like any other car except it’s completely silent, the motors make the quietest whisper as it rolls. As you set off the car makes a futuristic sound on the outside to warn pedestrians that the Clarity is nearby, luckily this feature can be muted with a switch by the driver’s knee. At which point this will make the Clarity completely silent other than the sound of debris under the tires.
The Clarity’s power management system will use all the electric power first until the batteries run flat. It will not start the engine unless about more than half the throttle is used or when HV mode is activated. Under the hood, there are two means of propulsion. The gas engine is a 1.5L running on Atkinson cycle producing 103hp and 99lb-ft which doesn’t sound all that exciting, but it’s there as a generator for when additional power is needed. The electric motor, on the other hand, makes 181hp and 232lb-ft making the total output of the Clarity to 212hp. While these numbers sound more than adequate there is the problem of weight, coming in at 4000lbs, it’s heavier than the Accord by some 700lbs. Weight is never a friend when it comes to cars, but the Clarity drives well and hides the weight with little to no problem. Acceleration is brisk, with a 0-100km/h time of under 9 seconds it’s more than quick enough to reach highway speeds. Torque from the electric motors does play a big role regarding how the Clarity feels, in town, it’s able to dart up to city speeds quickly and quietly.
The Clarity makes sense with 76km of pure EV range and a combined range of 547km it can go many to further destination with no issues. Priced from $41,680 before government incentive, the Clarity makes sense as long as there’s access to a charger.The ability to charge to full within 2.5 hours on a 240V plug or about 12 hours on a 112V plug it makes it easy to use the power from the vehicle.
Thank you to Honda Canada for providing the vehicle.