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    2019 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid review: Worth a second look

    The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid did not arrive to as a lot fanfare as its hydrogen- and battery-powered siblings. However, in hindsight, it is essentially the most compelling and sensible of the trio.
    Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow
    Back in 2016, Honda debuted the brand new Clarity, reviving the nameplate as a inexperienced automotive platform that will host a trio of electrified powertrains. The hydrogen-powered Clarity Fuel Cell hit the highway first, early within the 12 months, adopted carefully by the battery-driven Clarity Electric, however the humble Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid did not hit the highway till a 12 months later, to a lot much less fanfare than its siblings.

    Like47 miles of electrical vary per chargeNearly as spacious as an SUV, however far more environment friendly

    Don’t LikeLaneWatch is not any alternative for blind spot monitoringIt’s a really bizarre trying automotive

    The years have not been form to the older Clarity siblings. The Fuel Cell mannequin — nonetheless my private favourite of the three — continues to be very restricted in geographic availability due to the United States’ slow-growing hydrogen infrastructure. Meanwhile, the Clarity Electric entered the EV market with much less vary than almost each main participant and right now, with a paltry 89 miles per cost. That makes it a fairly horrible selection in a area dominated by 200-mile-range fashions.The 2019 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid that arrived within the Roadshow storage not too long ago has lived within the shadow of its siblings however emerges as essentially the most sensible and essentially the most generally accessible mannequin of the three. And within the wake of the Chevrolet Volt’s demise, the Clarity has discovered itself in a really fascinating place within the plug-in hybrid panorama that I feel makes it value a re-examination. 

    Spacious, however bizarreThe Clarity’s design hasn’t modified in any respect since its debut two years in the past. The styling language is not too far off of the present Honda aesthetic with a entrance finish that appears quite a bit like that of the Accord. The proportions, nonetheless, are quite a bit much less sporty. At about 192 inches from nostril to tail, the 2 sedans are about the identical size, however the Clarity’s wheelbase is 3 inches shorter, at 108.3 inches, creating longer overhangs and a much less horny stance.The design begins to get bizarre on the rear finish with the partial fairings over the rear wheels, a reasonably haphazard assortment of rear quarter creases and cuts and a tall rear decklid. This provides the Clarity a busy and chunky-looking rear finish that is not precisely ugly, but additionally not not ugly.

    Despite its shallow roofline, the Clarity shouldn’t be a hatchback; there is a discrete trunk again there. This bizarre resolution signifies that Honda needed to construct a window between the rear headrests that appears by means of the trunk for rear visibility. It’s silly, but it surely works, and I type of assume it is a good design novelty. But, if Honda ever did one other Clarity era, a rear digital camera mirror such as you’ll discover in sure GM fashions can be a a lot better answer.

    At simply 15.5 cubic toes, the Clarity’s trunk is greater than a dice wanting the Accord Hybrid’s 16.7, due to the previous’s bigger hybrid battery protruding with a hump into the cargo ground. Still, that is a cubic foot greater than the Clarity Electric and almost 4 cubic toes greater than the Fuel Cell mannequin, which additionally loses its rear-seat pass-through. Yet one other approach of it’s that the Clarity’s trunk is not too far off the 15.9 cubic toes the Subaru Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid provides with its rear seats within the upright place. While the Crosstrek extra decisively takes the utility crown when its seats fold flat, the 2 boast related passenger quantity. The Honda edges out with extra shoulder room, whereas the Subie has somewhat extra for heads and legs. We’ll return to why, precisely, I tossed the crossover into this dialogue in a second.Going with a trunk as an alternative of a liftback considerably limits the Clarity’s utility, however the sedan is so large to start with that it isn’t too large a deal.
    Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow
    Honda Earth Dreams Plug-In Hybrid eCVTBeyond related scale and aesthetics, the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid and the Accord Hybrid characteristic acquainted engine rooms. Pop the Clarity’s hood and you will find Honda’s Earth Dreams Hybrid eCVT system, which mates a 103-horsepower, 1.5-liter gasoline engine with a 181-horsepower electrical motor. For essentially the most half, the gasoline engine by no means truly connects to the pushed wheels; as an alternative, it hums alongside in its effectivity candy spot, performing as a generator for the electrical motor which sends 232 pound-feet of torque to the entrance wheels by way of a single-speed gearbox. (The gasoline engine can often connect with the wheels throughout mild freeway cruising, but it surely’s a reasonably slim window of operation.)There’s not an entire lot to say concerning the Clarity Plug-In’s driving fashion: With respectable electrical torque, it is pretty spry off of the road, but it surely’s additionally not notably spectacular, both. The large, heavy sedan feels higher suited to a relaxed driving mode which, I do know, is mainly a pleasant approach of claiming it is a bit boring. There’s a Sport mode that livens issues up a bit with snappier throttle response and a extra liberal utility of torque, but it surely does nothing for the heavy automotive dealing with and the size and weight of the Clarity make themselves obvious when trying any type of dynamic driving. This is a car that shines finest if you’re simply having fun with the graceful, quiet trip.The Clarity differs from the Accord Hybrid (and the smaller Honda Insight) with its bigger, 17-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and the charging port on the motive force’s facet entrance fender. Together, they grant the plug-in hybrid as much as 47 miles of electrical vary per cost. The PHEV could be juiced at a daily 110-volt wall outlet in about 12 hours or a extra cheap 2.5 hours at 240-volt, Level 2 stations. L2 chargers could be put in pretty cheaply within the common American dwelling and are extremely advisable for plug-in drivers.Fully electrical operation is estimated at 110 miles per gallon equal, dropping right down to about 42 mixed mpg for hybrid operation past that first 40-odd miles. Calculating what these numbers imply in the true world is enjoyable when you love math, however irritating for many, I do know. With plug-in hybrids, you mileage could fluctuate based mostly not simply in your driving fashion, but additionally your charging habits, native charging station infrastructure and a number of different components. Thankfully, there are many actual world estimates for all three Clarity PHEV mannequin years on person reporting websites like Fuelly. There, I’m seeing averages round 60 to 80 mpg with many customers, presumably those that cost extra usually, stretching all the best way into the 200-mpg neighborhood.The Clarity PHEV’s sequence hybrid system is architecturally just like that of the Accord Hybrid and Chevrolet’s Volt.
    Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow
    Anecdotally, I used to be capable of cost at public charging stations close to the native libraries and low outlets the place I do a lot of my writing and — even with a day of filming, which is normally brutal on financial system — I ended the week at about 125 mpg mixed, barely touching the gasoline tank in any respect. Eventually, the gasoline would wish to get used — it does not maintain without end — however my takeaway is common charging performs finest to the PHEV’s strengths.Cabin and cabin techThe Clarity’s cabin is about as good as the common modern Honda. Cabin supplies are well-chosen and various, giving the dashboard a excessive degree of visible and tactile curiosity. I particularly just like the floating middle console, which appears a tad bizarre provides good ergonomics and opens up a beneficiant storage shelf beneath.In the middle of the dashboard is the 8-inch Honda Display Audio system that is beginning to really feel somewhat dated. Both the software program and {hardware} are a few era older than a lot of Honda’s present lineup, which has — for essentially the most half — been up to date over the previous few years. That stated, customary Android Auto and Apple CarPlay permit me to just about gloss over the OEM software program and use the superior maps and apps on my telephone, so I discovered the day-to-day cabin tech expertise to be fairly pleasing.Safety tech consists of the usual Honda Sensing suite with automated collision mitigation braking, road- and lane-keeping help and adaptive cruise management that works in stop-and-go visitors. Not a foul out-of-the-box loadout. It’s additionally packing Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot digital camera system, which I do not love because it solely works on the passenger facet of the automotive when the flip sign is lively, and requires I look away from the highway to see the digital camera’s dashboard feed. Still, LaneWatch is best than no blind-spot system in any respect.As examined at $37,530, I’m undecided it is value the additional dough to spring for the leather-based trimmed Touring mannequin.
    Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow
    Pricing and competitorsThe underdog 2019 Clarity Plug-In Hybrid finds itself in an fascinating place within the wake of the Chevrolet Volt’s demise and the rise of plug-in hybrid SUV.For starters, it is one of many longest-range PHEVs on the highway right now for the cash. At $34,330 (together with a $930 vacation spot cost) or $37,530 as examined for this Touring mannequin, the Clarity delivers almost 50 miles of vary per cost at a value aggressive with smaller plug-in sedans, just like the Prius Prime or Hyundai’s Ioniq and Sonata plug-ins, all of which solely handle 25 to 28 miles per cost.The Clarity’s scale additionally works in its favor. Being designed with a battery in thoughts and touchdown on the massive finish of the midsize sedan class signifies that the Honda’s trunk is about as massive because the hatch on most of the plug-in SUVs, autos just like the Kia Niro and the aforementioned Subaru Crosstrek. Competitively priced, these plug-in SUVs are likely to common at or under 20 miles per cost and provide even decrease hybrid financial system than a sedan past that. Of course, the Honda is not any match for the spaciousness of an SUV with its seats folded flat and it does not provide all-wheel drive, which many SUVs do, however for drivers who worth folks area greater than cargo capability, the extra environment friendly Clarity is not a foul compromise. At least, till the Toyota RAV4 Prime arrives with its 39 miles of electrical vary — lower than the Clarity, however nonetheless respectable on this class. I do know what a few of you might be considering, for $36 grand, you are within the ballpark of a good totally electrical car, and I agree. But I additionally perceive that not everybody’s not prepared (or ready) to make the total EV plunge simply but. For these trying to simply dip their toe into the electrified life-style, the spacious, environment friendly and humble Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is a surprisingly sensible choice.

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