3-month ownership - Pro/Con

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by rotaxmax, Mar 21, 2018.

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  1. rotaxmax

    rotaxmax New Member

    Hello InsideEVers,

    I purchased the first Clarity Plug-in in the Vancouver, BC area back in early January and i want to share with you the pro/con of the Clarity from my 3-months ownership. I hope this will help prospective buyer in making their decisions.

    I am a mechanical engineer in hydrogen fuel cell sector. As you can see, this is the primary reason i purchased the Clarity Plug-in. Hydrogen infrastructure is not as developed in Vancouver compared to California. So Clarity Plug-in is my only choice here. This is not my first EV in the house. My wife drives a Chevy Bolt.


    - The car is very quiet at speed. I believe it is due to the active noise canceling system, and the aerodynamic property of the body. Wind noise starts to be very noticeable on our Chevy Bolt above 100km/hr.

    -Lane keep Assist works well. No border bouncing like other system i have tried.

    - True to EPA EV range estimate.


    - HV Range estimator is broken. However, i like to impress passengers with the estimate of 1400KM range from a 26L tank.

    - Car Logic is weird. When you start the car in ECO mode, the car will stay in EV-only (with blue EV bar) until you hit the kick-down button. Once you hit the kick-down button, it goes into a special mode (with ECO logo, but no blue EV bar). The special mode will run the car in EV from 0-60km/hr , and ICE from 60km/hr regardless of how much throttle you apply. There is no way to return to the EV-only mode unless you shut off the car for 5 seconds. I tried going thru different mode ( Sport, HV, HV charge), and the blue bar won't appear. This is particularly frustrating as i accidentally used the kick-down when i accelerate onto the highway, and no way to return to EV for the duration as i am traveling way faster than 60km/hr. I had to shut the car off as soon as i pull off the highway to force it back to EV-only mode.

    - Acceleration is not good until ICE is warmed up. The car tried to protect the ICE from hard acceleration when it is cold. It caught me off-guard a few time when i needed the extra power when im in EV and ICE is not warmed up.

    - Vancouver is called Raincouver in the winter. It rains 90% of the time. Water is dripping down from the rear Trunk lid arms in heavy rain. Seems like it is a common issue, I saw a few others have similar problem in this forum as well.

    Final Thought:
    It feels like Honda rushed the Clarity Plug-in into market. The car feels like a work in progress compared to other BEV, PHEV, and FCEV in the market. I recommend holding out until the above issue is addressed.
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  3. jdonalds

    jdonalds Well-Known Member

    I agree the HV range is broken. Other than that I find no faults with the car that would make me consider any other PHEV. The difference may be that I just don't push the car at all. So I don't run into issues of the ICE not having enough power, nor does the ICE come on due to my heavy foot on the accelerator.

    In my case I don't feel Honda rushed it to market. In fact I think of it as a very refined vehicle. All of my life I longed to own a luxury car, one that would be quiet, ride smoothly, and be spacious and comfortable with ample gadgets. I didn't know it when we bought the Clarity but it fills all of those desires.
    zbartrout, LAF, K8QM and 1 other person like this.
  4. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Good points but even with its quirks and omissions it’s still the overall winner for me (until there’s a hydrogen fueling station on every corner).

    I find the acceleration in EV mode to be all I need, even for merging. May I ask at what temperature you found the acceleration to be “not good”. At lower temps the power draw will be limited due to physics and algorithms protecting the battery. Could this be the problem? I’m getting plenty of EV acceleration in the 40s and 50s F.

    As far as rushed to market vs. refined, it’s got almost all the features I wanted at a fantastic price (w tax credits), near extreme economy, and with a quiet ride that is almost as good as a more expensive luxury car. Hard to ask for more at this price point.

    Keep working on the hydrogen engineering. I agree with you that a hydrogen economy is the future. You just can’t beat the energy density of hydrogen. But until then, it’s hard to beat the Clarity.

    PS: I got a headache converting the evil km and l to miles and gallons. :)
    LAF likes this.
  5. Tailwind

    Tailwind Active Member

    I have never felt that the acceleration of my Clarity was lacking. And I've never tripped the accelerator button to force the ICE to come on. That level of acceleration I just don't find necessary in any circumstance.

    I've read all the posts about the HV mode range issue but not experienced it since I still have part of the original tank of gas from the time of purchase.

    Interested in the rain dripping issue on the trunk lid. I always have to load luggage into my car when I return from a trip. I always thought my Civic was going to have water gushing into the trunk when the lid was opened, but it didn't. Clarity seems to be designed in a similar manner, but no experience with significant rainfall to test it.
  6. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    In moderate rain it’s all going around the channel to the sides and not gushing into the trunk when opened. The trick for me is to open it quickly and all the way so run off from trunk lid hits car and not open trunk. YMMV
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  8. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Yes, it appears there's a "Real-EV Mode" and a "Pretend-EV Mode," where the ICE runs in Pretend-EV Mode. As you say, there's no way (other than the pulling over and cycling the Power button) to get back to Real-EV Mode if you go wild with the right pedal (or select Sport Mode for a second) and push the car into Pretend-EV Mode. Even if Honda believes that's the way the car should work, the company should honor the desires of the customers who purchased this car specifically for its EV capabilities. If Honda's not going to let the car return to Real-EV mode by itself, at least they should reprogram the HV button to assert Real-EV Mode when you press that button twice.
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  9. A-Lebron

    A-Lebron New Member

    I love the car, but it really seems like they did odd cost cutting to get it into a specific price range. It's larger than it's competitors and that probably had something to do with it.

    The weird thing it does with turning the ICE on and then NEVER shutting it off again until you power cycle the car is really weird. I didn't even know you could run entirely in EV mode on the highway until it stayed on for an entire 40 mile trip. It seems that even if I turn HV mode on once I lose EV mode on the highway for the remainder of my trip independent of battery level.
    What it sounds like is that the car is designed to keep the ICE on if it's been once under heavy load during the power on cycle.

    Even though the explanation for the hybrid drive from Honda specifically states that the ICE comes on and off instantly it seems like the car is engineered to try to keep the engine on under certain conditions as much as possible.

    Possibly if it was tossed into sport mode once so the engine comes on again at operating temperature? Same thing with passing the indent or HV mode on the highway.

    Whereas if you're starting the day in EV mode and are idleing in traffic you haven't officially turned the engine on enough (or under enough load) warrant keeping it on for an extended period. Sounds like it was done to prevent that rumbling shaky start from a cold engine
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
  10. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    I notice a few of the bugs as well, but don't think enough that it would stop me from buying. However, it does make me appreciate Tesla's model of OTA updates more, especially for more computer based cars of today. I wonder how long until first update?

    My main gripe is the small windshield washer fluid tank that lasts a few weeks in the winter. I think I have filled my Volt only 3 or 4 times in 4 years. Already filled the Clarity tank 3 or 4 times in as many months.

    Radio controls aren't great, no big deal since I don't use them much and use Android Auto for everything I can.

    I love the overall driving comfort of the car, quiet, refined, performs well enough (clearly not a performance car). The safety features are great (Honda Sensing). Glad I bought it, I would recommend it even with its bugs. I always want to drive it over my Volt, but only get to drive it a few times a week at most ;)
  11. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    Is the bug with engine staying running only if you click past detent? If so, try Sport mode or something, then you might not accidentally click past the detent? You would still start the engine of course, but maybe if it starts in sport it returns to EV? I will have to try this more.

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  13. bpratt

    bpratt Active Member

    I read somewhere that once the engine starts on the Clarity, it will continue to run until it warms up. Seems like it said something like it was done to prevent water condensation in the engine.
  14. jdonalds

    jdonalds Well-Known Member

    This morning as we drove away from the house I noticed the ICE was on and the car dropped out of EV mode. That almost never happens. It wasn't because of a heavy foot. We drove for about 2 miles before EV mode was restored and the ICE had shut down. Then about a mile later the ICE again came on for about 1 minute then shut down.

    I figure Honda simply has an algorithm that occasionally runs the ICE for some reason, perhaps for no other reason than to pump oil through the engine.
  15. A-Lebron

    A-Lebron New Member

    The manual DOES say it cycles the engine on from time to time as part of its normal run cycle. The issue I've encountered is one where the ICE comes on and if under load will refuse to turn off unless I'm completely stopped at a red light or something. If I'm on the highway it stays on under load, as others have mentioned it may also be a temperature related thing.
  16. bfd

    bfd Active Member

    This is true. It also explains why - for some anyway - they need to reboot their cars if they go into HV mode and want out. What I've observed is that when the engine temp (coolant) hits 160ºF, it triggers the system to allow EV again. You can press the econ button and the system will revert to ICE off mode - at least until you run out of range and if the coolant/engine temp is 160ºF or greater. What I'm wondering is, with the number of Claritys (ies?) being driven in colder climates, is the engine coolant temp on those vehicles ever hitting 160ºF?

    But it remains true that once the ICE pops on, the engine will continue to run until it gets to what I've observed - regardless of what the driver might want to have happen. Even with a reboot, I've often found that the ICE will just start up again immediately.

    One more thing I wish is that there was some kind of gauge for coolant temp and for ICE rpm. Currently, the only way to get at that info specifically is via the OBD II port and some sort of external gauge such as Scan Gauge II.
  17. dstrauss

    dstrauss Well-Known Member

    Man - talk about brothers from different mothers...my feelings exactly! I do agree that once you accidentally trip the ICE (or intentionally with hard acceleration) it is near impossible to kick it back down without a restart, but short of that (and probably the broken HV range estimates) this car is amazingly flawless for a first generation product. It's only TRUE failing is lack of side and rear vehicle detection like we have on out 2018 Odyssey.

    In fact, my wife, the big car (Odyssey 2018) fan loves the front passenger seat for comfort and MORE foot room than her big people hauler. From fit & finish, to performance, to fuel economy, to ride comfort and quietness, the Clarity has been the best car I have purchased in 47 years of driving...

    PS - I joined the 3000 mile club this morning (officially 3011). I believe two years from now (2020 model) will be all too tempting because they will have:
    • fixed all the computer and design glitches (range estimates, ICE kick-down, high beams, radio, etc.)
    • upped the EV range to 70-80 miles
    • offer a hatchback option
    • offer the blue color option (my wife will be all over it then)
    • AND, for the real brave prediction - offer all of the same in the HR-V - soccer dad dream vehicle!
  18. bfd

    bfd Active Member

    I think they could increase the range right now - just by dropping in the EV Clarity's battery. That would require Honda to somewhat give up on the EV model, though, unless they figure out how to increase the range in their EV without affecting cost and weight.
  19. loomis2

    loomis2 Well-Known Member

    I seriously doubt they will ever offer a hatchback version of the Clarity.
  20. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    I did a test yesterday for the engine running behavior for Clarity.
    Ambient temp: 44 F, night, heater on Auto 70F.

    Eco mode. Push past detent accelerator pedal while entering freeway. Immediate engine start, engine revs up, car accelerates. Enters "white" (engine running) mode on dash. Stayed in that mode for 10 or 15 minutes. I drove 70 mph for maybe 5 minutes, stopped a stop sign, turned back onto interstate for another 5 minutes at 70 mph. It returned to Eco mode when I started slowing down again. It just took 10 or 15 minutes to do so. Once in Eco, it behaved as normal. Turned around again and accelerated back up to 70 mph and engine never started. I never turned off the car in this period.

    I don't see any bug here with how this operates, it runs the engine for 10 or 15 minutes to evaporate condensation. I don't like how Volt and some others don't run the engine up to temp, it is really bad for the oil not to. If the temp is really cold (maybe 10 F or less) it might never come back out of engine running mode.

    Once the engine was warm, the car would exit engine running mode much quicker as it was already warm. I forced it one other time into the mode, and it was there for maybe 1 minute before it exited.
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  21. bpratt

    bpratt Active Member

    The EV battery won't fit in the PHEV. It would takes space where the tail pipe and muffler are located.
  22. JimW

    JimW Active Member

    My experience is exactly like Viking79's. This is why I was asking for a new mode in my previous post. Running in normal mode, it is way too easy to accidentally turn on the ICE on an on-ramp, and then it runs for 10-15 minutes to warm up and dry out condensation.

    I was not running in econ mode because we were having torrential rain every day and econ a/c was not able to remove condensation on windows and humidity in the air. Now that weather is more normal, I run 100% econ mode and ICE has not started in several weeks.

    And my HV range stays at 620 miles.
  23. Kieran973

    Kieran973 New Member

    So just to clarify: if you leave the car in econ mode, then this problem does not occur? In other words, in econ, you can drive in HV mode on the highway for a while, but then switch back to using pure EV miles without having to pull the car over, turn it off for 10 seconds, and turn it back on?

    The reason I ask is that I'm wondering how/when to use the 47 EV miles during a long-range highway trip. My understanding from other threads on this forum was that if you use those 47 miles at the beginning of a long-range highway trip (draining the battery down to zero), then the engine will rev high and the mpg in HV will suffer during the rest of the trip; I thought it was instead better to begin the highway trip in HV mode, then switch to EV during the last 47 miles of the trip. But if you can't switch back to EV without turning the car on and off again, this seems like you would end up wasting a lot more gas than you need to....

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