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2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid: Value Priced—for a Limited Time Only?

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 11/17/2017 Bengt Halvorson

a car driving on a highway: 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid: Value Priced—for a Limited Time Only?© Bengt Halvorson 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid: Value Priced—for a Limited Time Only?

The 2018 Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid is a comfy sedan that can go 47 miles solely on electric power—which is plenty for most weekday commutes—and then operates as a gasoline-electric hybrid for another 293 miles before you fill up the tank again. More than the Clarity fuel cell, which is only available in specific markets in California, and the Clarity electric, with its total range of just 89 miles, the plug-in hybrid is the member of the 2018 Honda Clarity lineup that makes the most sense for Americans. Honda has announced pricing for the plug-in hybrid, and it’s quite the deal: $34,290 in base form or $37,390 in top Touring guise, or just $26,790 (base) or $29,990 (Touring) after the $7500 federal EV tax credit. Additional incentives apply in some states.

a man standing in front of a car: 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid© Provided by Car and Driver 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid

The bad news is that the Clarity plug-in hybrid might not be such a great value for long. The EV tax credit is on shaky ground as the current tax bill works its way through Congress. The version that the House of Representatives passed yesterday includes the repeal of the EV tax credit; the Senate plan retains it. If both bills pass, a joint committee will ultimately determine whether the credit stays or goes.

Honda has said that it will push ahead with its product plan with or without the tax credit. It aims for electrified vehicles to make up two-thirds of its global sales by 2030.

a car parked in a parking lot: 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid© Provided by Car and Driver 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid

PHEV Rivals

Research

The Honda’s direct rival is the Chevrolet Volt, which can achieve 53 all-electric miles before its engine starts. Honda says that the Clarity plug-in hybrid’s range of 47 miles is better than any other plug-in hybrid sedan; that’s true on a technicality, as the Volt is a hatchback. The Volt undercuts the Clarity plug-in hybrid slightly, at a base price of $34,095 (or $26,595 after the credit), and while its features aren’t all that different, the Clarity plug-in has a roomier, more upscale cabin. In an early prototype drive, we noticed one other key difference between these two models: You can’t, as in the Volt, lock out the gasoline engine when you have a full charge in the Clarity plug-in hybrid.

Congress is looking to make the tax changes effective for the 2018 tax year. That means buyers would have to take delivery by the end of December 2017, to take advantage of the current credit. PHEV buyers might want to act fast; the days of this government-abetted bargain pricing could be numbered.

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