Don’t jump to the next story about a brand-new SUV or pickup truck! We understand that gas is cheap and truck sales are booming, but that doesn’t mean a car like the 2019 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid deserves to be ignored. During our time with this green-thinking Honda sedan, we discovered it’s an affordable, practical and comfortable alternative to many mainstream competitors.
Related: 2019 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid Review: A Rare Winner of Its Kind
Thanks to its combination of a small gasoline engine and two electric motors, the Clarity can easily serve as your only car. That isn’t the case with many pure-electric vehicles, which might have more limited driving range or take long hours to recharge. With a plug-in hybrid, you have a limited range of electric power coupled with extended mileage once the gas-fed engine kicks in.
Of course, that balance of power can sometimes result in awkward driving behavior and strange noises. Much as we like it, there’s no denying the Clarity exhibits some of these powertrain quirks. You might also notice the edgy exterior isn’t what you’d call bashful — decidedly the opposite, in fact.
Let’s take a look at some of the things we enjoyed during our moment of Clarity, if we may — plus a few areas where improvement is warranted. Here are eight things we like, and four we don’t, about the 2019 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid.
Things We Like
1. Good Value
Unlike some headline-grabbing electric cars that quickly spike upward in price — we’re looking at you, Tesla Model 3— the Clarity PHEV is a solid value and won’t put a massive dent in your car-shopping budget. The base price hovers around $34,000, and the Clarity PHEV is eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. That lowers the price to roughly $27,000; as Cars.com’s Joe Wiesenfelder noted in his review, that isn’t much more than the base price of the 2019 Honda Accord sedan.
2. Solid Electric-Only Range
One of the reasons plug-in hybrids have had a tough time finding customers is that the original versions were stingy when it came to electric-only mileage. That’s not the case with the 2019 Clarity, which offers 47 miles of electric-only driving range. For comparison, the recently discontinued Chevrolet Volt offered a total of 53 electric miles before its gas engine jumped into action.
3. Roomy Cabin
Just because it’s economical doesn’t mean this Honda skimps on passenger room. The mid-size sedan has a cabin that’s spacious for actual-size adults. We found the front seats to be plenty comfortable during our drives. (Some testers did note the lower part of the center console intruded on their legroom, however.)
4. Handy Trunk Space
This is where things often got ugly with earlier plug-in hybrids. Batteries need somewhere to live, and in many cases that meant jamming them into the trunk. This could dramatically decrease overall cargo room and limit a plug-in hybrid’s practicality. Thankfully, Honda worked harder, and the packaging of the Clarity’s powertrain doesn’t take a huge bite out of cargo room. The 15.5-cubic-foot trunk is only slightly smaller than what you get in the regular Accord.
5. Rear Legroom Bests Rivals
When it comes to rear legroom, the Clarity has a clear edge over its main rivals. We took out the measuring tape and found it offers more rear space than cars like the outgoing Volt, Hyundai Ioniq and Toyota Prius Prime.
6. Ride and Handling
We noted that you won’t fool yourself into thinking the Clarity is a sports car, but that doesn’t mean this sedan is dull to drive. Honda did a nice job with the car’s balance of ride and handling. An Accord has a slight dynamic edge given it weighs less than the Clarity. The harder tires fitted to the Honda plug-in hybrid also limit some of the car’s overall agility, though we doubt this would be a deal-breaker for many shoppers.
7. The Numbers Add Up
Not only do we like the fact that the Clarity offers a competitive starting price, the amount you’ll pay for each driven mile makes this Honda a solid long-term investment. Keeping the car charged and using the available EV drive mode is important to saving money, however. If you do, the Clarity ranks among the very best (and better than many regular hybrids) when it comes to saving you money.
8. More Practical Than EVs
Thanks to its overall driving range of 340 miles (including those 47 in electric-only mode), the Honda Clarity can serve as your one and only car. That’s simply not the case with many electric vehicles, which have more limited range and need lots of time to recharge. We know: There are certain EVs out there that offer more than 300 miles of range. The Tesla Model 3, for example, can travel 310 miles when ordered in the available Long Range trim … except that sameModel 3 has a starting price of more than $49,000.
More From Cars.com:
- 2019 Eco-Friendly Car of the Year
- Should I Buy an Electric Car or Plug-In Hybrid?
- 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid Video: Clear Advantages?
- Honda Clarity Plug-Ins Review: First Impressions and Photo Galleries
- Research the 2019 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
Things We Don’t
1. Dated Infotainment System
Honda has been busy adding volume and tuning knobs back into its infotainment system, but the one fitted to the Clarity hasn’t gotten this much-needed switch (pun intended). As it stands, the total-touchscreen nature of the system is frustrating, and the graphics look dated compared to systems used in competing vehicles.
2. Hybrid Powertrain Takes Getting Used To
You get plug-in hybrid mileage with the Honda Clarity PHEV, but you also get some of the strange driving behavior that’s common with this type of car. There’s no getting around the fact that the switch from electric to gas-fed power can still feel and sound bizarre. Once you’re used to it, we think the strangeness would fade away, but a short test drive might cause car shoppers to bypass the Clarity due to these quirks.
3. Bizarre Styling
The Clarity is not the kind of car that fades into the background. That’s being nice, because this is one of the more polarizing designs you’ll find on a mainstream vehicle. Despite the aerodynamic shape, the Clarity isn’t an actual hatchback; that means the driver has a funky rear split-window view of the world when looking backward. Still, we noted, overall visibility was pretty good.
4. Tiny Fuel Tank Limits Overall Range
While the Honda Clarity has a mileage advantage over many pure electric cars, its small fuel tank means it trails similar hybrids or plug-in hybrids. The Hyundai Ioniq Blueoffers a massive 690 miles of range between each refill. At 340 miles, the Clarity offers less than half that mileage.
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