After almost one month, rambling thoughts about my Clarity

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by KClark, Jan 17, 2019.

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  1. KClark

    KClark Active Member

    After several weeks of commuting 44 miles round trip and one week of a family health emergency where I was driving 100+ miles per day and getting home too late to get a full charge using my level 1 charger I've been thinking about this new experience of driving a PHEV versus my previous 17 years driving a 2001 F150. Just some rambling thoughts I'm sharing for no real reason, but maybe some are interested enough to take the time to read.

    I had been thinking of a new car and was reading up and watching Youtube videos on what was out there. I've been very interested in electric cars for a while. I think that in 20 years, when my future grandchildren learn to drive, they will be astonished to think that everyone used to drive fume belching, gas guzzling, oil leaking, noisy vehicles with radiators, transmissions, and various fluid reservoirs. They will probably look at ICE vehicles like I look at steam locomotives, just relics from a more primitive era.

    But I also thought that EVs were not quite ready for prime time. If I had enough money to burn on being a pioneer I probably would have bought a Tesla model 3, but I'm not going to spend $40k+ on any car, especially one from a company that hasn't proved it will be around for the long haul. I was intrigued by the Bolts and the eKonas and the eNeros but they are all tiny cars and not much cheaper than a T3 so I had decided that I would buy a lightly used Accord, maybe a hybrid, for about $25k. Then I accidentally came across a YT video about the Clarity plug in hybrid. I thought I knew all about Claritys, they had hydrogen fuel cells so I didn't even pay attention to them. But the more I investigated the better the Clarity PHEV looked. It wasn't a tiny car, it had all of the safety features, Apple Carplay, there would be no range anxiety, I could experience true EV driving and get 3 times the mileage of my truck using hybrid mode, and it was from a trusted and established company. And then when I found out it also qualified for the rebates and that local dealers were willing to make a deal I went to Sierra Honda in Monrovia, CA and bought a brand new dark green/tan interior standard model for an astonishing $21,750 after rebates.

    So, first some minor quibbles. The horn and the high beams are anemic. Driving in some heavy rain this week made me wish for another faster wiper speed. And I would have gladly given Honda more money for a Touring if it offered some more value to me. I miss electric seats with presets but that's the only Touring upgrade that tempted me and it didn't seem enough to justify $3000 more. If the Touring had a heated steering wheel I would have been right on the fence, if it offered something more, like maybe an upgraded audio system I would have gladly written a bigger check.

    Now the important things. Driving around around town in EV mode is just great, I frequently turn off the music just to listen to the silence. Commuting on teh freeway every day in EV mode is fantastic, if you have a less than 50 mile round trip the Clarity is the perfect commuting car, large enough, quiet enough and economical.

    Driving in HV mode on the freeway is not bad at all, and it was fantastic to pull into the gas station after 3 weeks of driving and pay about $14 for 4.5 gallons of gas, but I wouldn't call the Clarity my idea of a great highway cruiser. If I had to drive 50+ miles a day or did frequent long trips I would consider a Clarity but probably opt for something else.

    Driving non electric around town is not pleasant. I can't get used to the gas engine revving up like a Disneyland Autopia car when I'm barely doing 20mph. If I had to drive without electric and off the freeway I definitely would not get a Clarity.

    But since I'm commuting less than 50 miles I'm really happy to own a Clarity. The price was excellent, the car is well equipped, the technology works. But I think my biggest impression after driving a Clarity for almost a month is this, I really want a pure EV. Clarity is the best in class bridge car between ICE and EV but it's still just a bridge. Someday when prices go down and EVs are the mainstream I'll buy one, until then a Clarity is the next best thing.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
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  3. jdonalds

    jdonalds Well-Known Member

    I totally agree about our kids and grandkids in the future marveling at the ICE cars we drove for over 100 years.

    I too didn't know about the Clarity but stumbled on it one day. The Clarity drew all of my attention away from the other PHEVs on the market, or soon to appear on the market. I'm not ready for a pure EV because our occasional long trips would involve stops to charge. The PHEV still has to have a gas engine which I'm sorry about but it's only in use perhaps 10-15% of the time throughout the year. Our commutes total about 50-70 miles per day but they are all EV because we return home mid-day and fully charge.

    I don't agree about the road trips. To me the Clarity is the best road trip car I've ever owned. The seats are very comfortable, the car rides smoothly, it is quiet even with the ICE running at 75 mph, and the ACC and LKAS takes the pain out of driving long distances. We've driven 11 hours at a time and feel more rested when we reach our destination than any other car we've owned.

    I live in a town where we might hear a horn beep once in two months so I don't even notice. Low beams are fine but high beams are almost non existent.
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  4. Agzand

    Agzand Active Member

    I totally agree, it is not for everyone. The fact that you don't need a Level 2 charger is another advantage, some homes cannot support a Level 2 charger. With a pure EV you definitely need a min 30 amp 240v plug. My panel won't support more than 20 amp safely, so that is another $5k to switch to a full EV.
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  5. petteyg359

    petteyg359 Well-Known Member

    Turn on HV mode while the battery still has 50% charge in it. Everything will be happier. It's when there's minimal battery available and the engine has to run flat out that performance becomes crappy.

    Mine's been on several 300 mile trips and a couple 700 mile trips, and it's had no problem. I just made sure to turn on HV the whole way (or until I'm about as far away as estimated range shows, then EV until I get there with 0.5 miles EV range left).
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
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  6. Kendalf

    Kendalf Active Member

    My thoughts exactly!
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  8. Mark W

    Mark W Active Member

    I totally agree with just about everything you said exactly. Got it because of the great value with rebates, etc. Around town is a fantastic car, love it in EV mode. In HV mode it's still very good for the most part, but I find the engine noise not jarring, but just distracting. I'm sure the engine noise 99% of the time is no noisier than any other mid size car with a small four cylinder engine, but the contrast from going from pure EV to the engine noise is just... a distraction. I find myself listening for it all the time. Then there is the other 1% of the HV time where the much louder revving takes place, and that is really off-putting, but I think it's only happened two or three times in 4 months.

    I'd love the car even more if it was a 300 mile range EV! But if it was, I probably wouldn't be able to afford it. In our household, we have a 2014 Nissan Leaf, the Clarity, and a 2012 Mazda CX-9. Nobody in the family wants to drive the CX-9. The thing seems like a massive loud dinosaur to me now. The Leaf gets taken first for commuting and most normal short trips, the Clarity for longer trips or if the Leaf is not around, and the Mazda last.
  9. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Then you'd want Honda's large-bladder cruiser, the Accord Hybrid.
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  10. neal adkins

    neal adkins Active Member

    I find the ride exceptional. And i feel much better after a road trip in the Clarity than other vehicles. At the price you piad for your Clarity it could eventually come very close to paying for itself with the fuel and maintenance savings in contrast with a ford pickup.
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  11. MPower

    MPower Well-Known Member

    I agree about feeling better on long distance driving in the Clarity. In October I drove the 1500 miles to deliver my 2012 Prius Plugin to my daughter. I decided I had gotten too old to do it in 3 days and spent an extra day on the road.

    When I made the same trip for Christmas in my new Clarity, I had planned to take the extra time, but the driving was so easy, I was back to doing the trip in three days.
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  13. David Towle

    David Towle Well-Known Member

    I see no difference between 100% and 10% battery in HV on my car. And 2 bars only deteriorates performance if I'm in hills.
  14. I find the ride just “OK”. I feels a little under-damped to me. Fine on the highway, but a little lacking on backroads. Not as “tight” as our 2011 Flex with 90,000+ miles, for instance. Not bad, mind you, but just not “exceptional”, at least as I define “ride”.

    I’ve found the Clarity treads a fine line between economy car and luxury car. As such, there are times it seems kinda basic for a luxury car (manual seats, no rear wiper, etc.) but still quite full-featured for an economy car (CarPlay, ACC, LKAS, keyless entry, etc.) none of which I’ve ever experienced before and am growing to love.

    Still enamored overall after about 2 months. Really like the way it sips fuel, even in HV mode. I expect I’ll love it even more when I plug in the numbers in TurboTax and watch $7,500 in tax liability vanish!
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  15. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Are there non-hatchback cars with rear wipers? I haven't checked but don't remember seeing them.

    Instead of a giant Ford Flex, I compare ride of our Clarity to that of my 1,850-lb Insight. Guess which one is nicer?
  16. Or compare it to our 2005 Element which has 203,000 miles and has needed new shocks for about a decade! We just bounce happily down the road in our Galapagos Green clown car! Guess which one is nicer?
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  17. neal adkins

    neal adkins Active Member

    I have the touring with power adjustable leather seats. So i wonder if the the base model has a different feel. I think the stablitity control in the suspension is the main issue. The resonators in wheels also enhance smoothness. When i travel over rougher roads that bounce one side of the vehicle i noticed i was bounced around much more in my large late model pickup. When i travel a curvy road the Clarity's steering is extremely tight and responsive. That being said there is obviously a subjective element to ride preference.
  18. KClark

    KClark Active Member

    I make a 1500mile round trip from LA to Salt Lake City one or more times a year. If the clarity had a 12 or even 10 gallon gas tank that would raise it’s grade as a highway cruiser for me.
  19. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Would you trade 20 miles of EV range for a 12-gallon tank? How about halving the trunk size? The Clarity is a collection of compromises due to the limited space inside and I, for one, am happy with the choices Honda made.

    The Accord Hybrid does a better job of stretching the miles between gas stations because it doesn't have to make room for--or haul around--a 17 kWh battery.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
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  20. David Towle

    David Towle Well-Known Member

    Yup there's compromises everywhere. I discovered this week the only way to get my ski box (for airlines) in the car is through the front window with the passenger headrest removed and the passenger seat tilted all the way back. Trying to go in through the trunk that low crossbar prevented the box from sliding in.
  21. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    I suspect that low crossbar provides strength to the midsection, which might be more important in the Clarity Fuel Cell and Clarity Electric, which have their trunks nearly filled with their particular fuel storage devices.
  22. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    12 gal at 44 mpg and 70 mph is about 7 hours of driving.
    I enviously salute your cast iron bladder!
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  23. David Towle

    David Towle Well-Known Member

    I suspect that low crossbar provides strength to the midsection, which might be more important in the Clarity Fuel Cell and Clarity Electric, which have their trunks nearly filled with their particular fuel storage devices.

    Agreed, especially the hydrogen one! The sides of the pass through area are also quite triangulated to stiffen the box further, making the overall pass through area very small compared to most cars.
    They could have cheaped out and just not included a pass through like some econocars, so I'm thankful they gave us what they did.
    insightman likes this.

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