One of Three: The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid.
After a year of being a California-only, fuel cell-only vehicle, Honda has expanded the Clarity model lineup to include a pure electric and a plug-in hybrid. 

The fuel cell model, running on hydrogen with a range of 366 miles, is of limited use even in the state of California, since once outside the metropolitan Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento areas, hydrogen filling stations are few and far between.  The pure electric is limited by a range of just 89 miles.  This, at a time when the Tesla Model 3 can break 300, properly equipped, the Hyundai Kona EV is good for 258 and the Chevy Bolt 238.  The latest generation of the Nissan Leaf now boasts a range of 150 miles. 

The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is, then, the one of the most usefulness to the greatest number of people, since it can be bought outright (the fuel cell and pure electric are available through lease only) and boasts a combined range of 340 miles.

Charging port of 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In.

Like the Chevrolet Volt, the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid and the Toyota Prius Prime, the Clarity Plug-In uses up its pure electric range before switching over to gasoline/hybrid operation.  But the Clarity gets a lot more out of the juice---promising (and delivering, in our weeklong test) 47 miles of zero gasoline, zero pollution driving before entering hybrid mode.  The Volt, upgraded since our last test, tops it at 53, with the Ioniq and Prius Prime trailing at 29 and 25 respectively.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Honda Clarity
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In.
The Clarity, in all its forms, has---well, let's call it polarizing---styling.  Mrs. TireKicker was okay with it, but to me, the rear is a bad echo of the late, unlamented Honda Crosstour and the asymmetrical rear wheel openings just look weird (I'm sure there's a legitimate payoff in airflow and thus mileage, but still).

The good news is that all disappears when you open the door and get in.

Interior view of 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In interior.
The interior of the Clarity is classic Honda---instantly familiar to anyone who's spent time in a recent Accord or Odyssey.  And, like contemporary Hondas, it's exceptionally well-equipped. Our tester was the top-of-the-line Touring model, which comes with the following as standard equipment:

  • Hill start assist.
  • Anti-lock braking.
  • Electronic brake distribution.
  • Vehicle stability assist.
  • Tire pressure monitoring.
  • LED daytime running lights.
  • Leather-trimmed seats.
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel.
  • Eight-speaker audio system.
  • Display audio with Honda Navigation, voice recognition and multi-view rear camera.
  • HD Radio.
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
  • HondaLink with smart phone integration.
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • Bluetooth.
  • USB.
  • Pushbutton start.
  • Honda LaneWatch.
  • Automatic up/down windows.
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control with air filtration system.
  • Rear console vents.
  • Driver's eight-way passenger seat.
  • Front passenger's four-way power seat.
  • Heated front seats.
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror.
  • HomeLink.
  • Illuminated visor vanity mirrors.
  • 12-volt power outlets.
  • Exterior temperature display.
  • Tilt/telescoping steering column.
  • Floor mats.
  • 18-inch alloy wheels.
  • Auto on/off headlights.
  • LED headlights and taillights.
  • Variable intermittent windshield wipers.
  • Heated power door mirrors.
  • Smart entry with security.
  • Adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow.
  • Collision mitigation braking system.
  • Lane keeping assist.
  • Road departure mitigation.
All that and a full tank of gas for $36,600---plus $890 destination and handling, which takes the bottom line to $37,490.   Until Honda cracks the code on pure EV range or hydrogen stations start significantly multiplying, this is the one of the three Clarity models to have.