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2018 Honda Clarity: What You Need to Know

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 6/6/2018 U.S. News & World Report
a car parked on the side of a road: 2018 Honda Clarity© American Honda Motor Co., Inc. 2018 Honda Clarity

The 2018 Honda Clarity has an upscale interior and highly efficient powertrains, but it can't keep up with the performance of class rivals. With meager highway passing power, a tricky infotainment system, and a lack of agility, the Clarity finishes near the bottom third of our midsize car rankings. 

The 2018 Honda Clarity is ranked:

Is the Honda Clarity a Good Car?

The Honda Clarity is a good car, but the midsize car class is filled with excellent cars. Still, it has redeeming qualities like a premium-quality cabin, comfortable seating, impressive fuel economy, quick charging times, and good electric range compared to other plug-in hybrids. It also has a comfortable ride. Still, its infotainment system could use some physical controls to make it more user friendly, and the Clarity's handling and highway passing power don’t impress.

Should I Buy the Honda Clarity?

The Honda Clarity is a great value for the money. Not only does it get outstanding gas mileage, it's also one of the most upscale plug-in hybrids for less than $35,000. Still, you should take a look at some other alternatives before you come to your decision. While the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid provides more than 15 cubic feet of cargo space, a high-end cabin, and seating for five, the Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid has the same level of luxury as the Clarity plus a longer warranty. The Chevrolet Volt is more fun to drive, and the Toyota Prius Prime is a budget-friendly alternative.

Compare the Clarity, Prius Prime, and Volt »

Should I Buy a New or Used Honda Clarity?

The Honda Clarity is a brand-new model for 2018, which means there are no previous model years to choose from.

We Did the Research for You: 9 Pieces of Data Analyzed

We researched nine Honda Clarity reviews and included information on price, fuel economy, and more to give you a complete overview of the 2018 Clarity. The Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is an all-new model for 2018. The Clarity Electric and Fuel Cell variants debuted in 2017 in select markets.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To keep our reviews unbiased, we refuse pricey gifts and trips from automakers, and a third party handles the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Honda Clarity Cost?

The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid has a starting price of $33,400, which is close to that of the Chevrolet Volt ($33,220). Some traditional midsize cars offer plug-in hybrid variants with lower starting prices than the Clarity, such as the Ford Fusion Energi ($31,305) The Toyota Prius Prime starts much lower, at $27,100. When it comes to plug-in hybrids, doing your research could save you thousands of dollars. In many areas, tax credits are available for those who purchase alternative fuel, electric, or plug-in hybrid vehicles. 

The Clarity Electric and Clarity Fuel Cell models are only available for lease in California and Oregon. Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Honda dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Honda deals page.

Honda Clarity Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Honda Clarity or Prius Prime?

The Toyota Prius Prime costs $6,300 less than the Clarity. Because it has a better power-to-weight ratio, the Toyota also passes and merges more easily on the highway than the Honda. In addition, the Prius Prime has a near-perfect predicted reliability rating and comes standard with navigation and an extra 4.3 cubic feet of cargo space. That said, there are a few advantages that the Clarity has over the Prius Prime. While the Toyota has a 25-mile electric-only range, the Honda has almost twice that amount, at 47 miles. Also, the Clarity comes with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, seats an extra person (five-passenger to the Prius Prime's four), and has a nicer interior. To save money and get a little extra cargo space, pick the Prius Prime. Choose the Clarity if you need the extra seating and desire a luxurious interior.

Which Is Better: Honda Clarity or Chevrolet Volt?

Consider the Chevy Volt, a compact car, over the Clarity if performance is your number one priority. Its handling is nimbler, and it has quicker acceleration. If your top concern is what's on the inside of the car, however, you'll be better off with the Clarity. It not only has a higher-quality cabin, but it also comes with roomier rear seats and nearly 5 additional cubic feet of cargo space. The Clarity also has an above-average predicted reliability rating, more standard safety equipment, and quicker charging times. Both vehicles have similar prices, annual fuel costs, and electric ranges.

Which Is Better: Honda Clarity or Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid?

Both the Clarity and Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid have smooth rides, upscale cabins, and easy drivability. However, a downside of both vehicles is their uninspiring highway passing power. The Sonata Plug-In comes with a longer warranty, a more user-friendly infotainment system, and quicker charging times. On the other hand, the Clarity will save you roughly $150 on fuel every year. It’s also a better choice if you're looking for a longer electric-only range, more cargo space, additional standard safety equipment, and smooth regenerative brakes. These vehicles are pretty close in our rankings, so you'll want to consider all of these factors before making your choice.

Compare the Clarity, Volt, and Sonata Plug-In Hybrid »

Clarity Interior

How Many People Does the Clarity Seat?

The five-seat Honda Clarity comes standard with cloth upholstery and heated front seats. Step up from the base model to get leather upholstery and power-adjustable front seats. The front seats are roomy, and the second row is spacious enough for average-sized passengers. Occupants over 6 feet tall might feel a bit cramped, but that’s not unusual in a midsize car.

Clarity and Car Seats

For installing child seats, the Clarity has two complete sets of LATCH connectors on the rear outboard seats and a tether-only connection on the middle seat.

Clarity Interior Quality

The Clarity’s interior materials resemble the look and feel of something from the Acura brand. Finishes like faux wood trim and suede dash upholstery enhance the Clarity’s luxury feel. At the same time, the cabin has a clean and modern design. Everything is organized in a way that makes sense.

Clarity Cargo Space

The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid has 15.5 cubic feet of cargo space, which is above average for a midsize car. The Electric and Fuel Cell models have 14.3 and 11.8 cubic feet of cargo space, respectively. There is a large center console bin and good-sized door pockets for storing items in the cabin.

Clarity Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The standard HondaLink infotainment system features an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth, and a USB port. Although it boasts crisp graphics, it relies too heavily on touch controls, which are a bit slow to respond to inputs. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow you to use select apps on your phone through the Clarity’s 8-inch display. For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto. Other standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start.

The available navigation system with voice recognition is helpful and shows you images to help navigate you. Upper trims allow you to control the climate settings remotely, meaning you can warm or cool your car's cabin before you get in it.

Read more about interior »

Clarity Performance

Clarity Engine: Hot Child in the City

The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid makes 212 horsepower with the use of a four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) comes standard. Acceleration is peppy around town, but highway passing power lacks gusto. You may hear a bit of engine noise when flooring the gas pedal, but for the most part, transitions between gas and electric power are smooth and quiet.

Clarity Gas Mileage: Go Longer Between Fill-Ups

The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid gets an EPA-rated 110 mpg-equivalent when in all-electric mode and 42 mpg combined city/highway when the gas engine joins in. In electric-only mode, the plug-in Clarity has a 47-mile range. Its $700 annual fuel cost is one of the lowest among competitors, though it is tied with the Chevrolet Volt and Kia Niro plug-in hybrid. 

There are two ways to charge the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid. Level 1 charging uses a 120-volt household power outlet to fully charge the Clarity in 12 hours. Level 2 charging employs a 240-volt charger, which fully charges the Clarity in 2.5 hours. Either time is fairly short compared to other plug-in hybrids. 

For more information, read What Is a Plug-In Hybrid? and Decoding Mpg-e.

Clarity Electric and Fuel Cell Models: California Dreamin'

In California and Oregon, Honda offers two zero-emissions alternatives to the plug-in hybrid Clarity. The Clarity Electric’s 89-mile range rating falls short of long-range rivals like the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf. Charging takes anywhere from 19 hours (Level 1 charging) to 30 minutes using a DC fast charger. The all-electric Clarity gets a combined 114 mpg-e, which is good for an electric vehicle (EV). The Clarity is also available as a fuel cell vehicle that yields a combined 68 mpg-e. It runs on fuel purchased at hydrogen stations in select regions.

Clarity Ride and Handling: Smooth Operator

The Clarity’s ride is luxury-car smooth, but its handling lacks athleticism. Around sharp corners, it shows its limits early on. At the same time, the Clarity controls body motions well enough for daily driving. If you’re looking for something more agile, check out the Ford C-Max Hybrid, another plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

Read more about performance »

Clarity Reliability

Is the Honda Clarity Reliable?

The Honda Clarity has an above-average predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power of 3.5 out of five.

Honda Clarity Warranty

Honda covers the Clarity with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Components related to the fuel cell system have an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty. You’ll also get two years of roadside assistance at no additional cost. The Hyundai Ioniq – offered as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicle – has an even longer powertrain warranty that lasts for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Read more about reliability »

Clarity Safety

Clarity Crash Test Results

As of this writing, neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has crash tested the Honda Clarity.

Clarity Safety Features

A vast majority of the Clarity’s safety features come standard. Every model comes with a multiangle rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. Honda LaneWatch (also standard) is a passenger-side mirror-mounted camera that gives you a feed of your blind spot on the infotainment screen when your right turn signal is on. Not to be outdone, the Toyota Prius Prime offers the same safety features as standard (except LaneWatch). Rear parking sensors are available in all Clarity models.

For more information on these features, read Today's High-Tech Car Safety Features and What They Do.

Read more about safety »

Which Honda Clarity Model Is Right for Me?

The Honda Clarity is available as a plug-in hybrid, an all-electric vehicle, or a fuel cell vehicle. The plug-in hybrid model comes in two trims: base and Touring. The other variants come with the same features as the Touring.

Although the base model is well-equipped, the Touring trim is worth the extra $3,200. It has luxury amenities, like leather upholstery and navigation, as well as convenience features you can remotely activate before getting in your car, such as automatic climate control.

Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

The base Clarity starts at $33,400. A four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery power this plug-in hybrid. Standard features include heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start. The Clarity’s infotainment system has an 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and a USB port. 

Every Clarity also comes with a multiangle rearview camera, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, Honda LaneWatch, and automatic high beams. Rear climate control is available for $514 in all Clarity models.

Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid Touring

The Touring trim ($36,600) adds leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, navigation, voice recognition, and remote start for climate controls.

Honda Clarity Electric

Available as a lease-only model in select markets of California and Oregon, the Clarity Electric comes with all the features of the Plug-In Hybrid Touring. Instead of using a hybrid system, it employs an all-electric powertrain consisting of a motor, a lithium-ion battery, and a single-speed transmission.

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

The hydrogen-powered Clarity Fuel Cell is only available only for lease in select markets of California and Oregon. Its powertrain consists of a hydrogen fuel cell stack, an electric motor, a lithium-ion battery, and a single-speed transmission.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Honda dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Honda deals page.

See 2018 Honda Clarity specs and trims »

The Final Call

The new Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is three things: efficient, smooth, and upscale. Its fuel economy, electric range, and charging times are good for a plug-in hybrid. It also has a cushioned ride, seamless transitions between gas and electric power, and a regenerative braking system that feels a lot like a normal car’s brakes. However, the Clarity ranks in the bottom third of the midsize car class. Its passing power and agility can’t match that of rivals like the Chevy Volt. Its infotainment system isn’t as easy to use as the one in the Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid. Also, the Toyota Prius Prime has a lower starting price, yet it offers similar standard safety features.

Read the full 2018 Honda Clarity review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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