Honda Clarity – a PHEV for the family

One of the unfortunate facts of most EVs and PHEVs is they are rather compact and sometimes come with sticker shock when compared to similarly sized gasoline powered cars. Honda Clarity changes the game with a family sedan sized PHEV which after incentives can cost less than an Accord.

Yes the Clarity is actually Accord sized – within an inch of the length and width. Needless to say this is a car that can far more comfortably handle a few carseats or a carload of adults than a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf. And yes, it has a usefully large trunk of 15.5 cubic feet – between a Camry and Accord for trunk space.

So how does a Clarity cost less than an Accord? Say for example you want leather seats and a reasonable set of features – a loaded Clarity Touring costs $37,490 while a less well equipped Accord EX-L costs $30,860. But the Clarity has the $7500 Federal tax rebate (if available to you) and other state incentives. For example in Washington State the Clarity is sales tax exempt for the first $32000 of the car purchase value – assuming sales tax is 10% the Clarity sales tax is only $549 vs $3086 for an Accord. So with incentives and tax the Clarity Touring is $30539 while the Accord EX-L costs $33946.

As range and commuting cost, according to the US Department of Transportation, at least 78% of commuters could use the Clarity PHEV in fully electric mode on their round trip commute (47 miles electric range then gasoline hybrid mode after that). Say you drive 33 miles round trip that’s one gallon of gas in a 2018 Accord EX-L or about 10hWh of electricity in a Clarity. In PSE territory that means commuting for about a dollar of electricity rather than about $3 in gas. Needless to say over a car’s lifetime of commuting on electricity the savings could add up quickly – 100k miles driven 80% electric saves over $5000 in fuel costs over a 2018 Accord not to mention having fewer oil changes, likely never changing brake pads or rotors due to regenerative braking, etc.

But once you get past the hard numbers the fact is the Clarity is probably the nicest Honda ever. The interior is simply stunning – a modern but not outlandish design of suede, pretty decent faux wood, and a floating tablet infotainment system. The ride is quiet and smooth, unlike most Hondas which seem to favor weight savings over quietness. And of course like any electric the Clarity has plenty of torque. On the whole the experience reminds me of being in a far more expensive luxury car.

Bottom line its hard to find a major flaw in the Clarity – with the spaciousness of an Accord but a nicer interior, a smoother quieter ride, a lower purchase cost in some states, and lower fueling costs the Clarity is an easy car to recommend.

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