Clarity a month in, vs. Prius Prime.

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by CyberDyneSystems, Jul 27, 2019.

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  1. I am going to try to write this as objectively as I can, but it won't be easy. I really liked my Prius Prime, but the Clarity ticks so many more boxes, and is such an upgrade, it is hard not to gush uncontrollably like a co-ed with Harrison Ford as a professor in "Raiders".

    I'll start with the short list, of what the Prius does better than the Clarity, because it does have some objective and subjective advantages.

    - Autopilot/Cruise control: Prius Primes' "auto pilot" braking and cruise control is vastly smoother in use. In the Prime, it slowed down as I approached oncoming vehicles gently, then it would begin to roll again gradually, all as if a conscientious hybrid owner was driving and applying the brakes and accelerator. In the Clarity this is not smooth, It's as if it's being driven by a new teenage male driver, herky jerky on the brake and accelerator.

    - MPG: Highest rated Hybrid mode MPG.

    - Range: Longer combined range (like nearly 600miles vs 375 or so.)

    - Hatchback: Subjective of course, but there are times (and people ) where the preference is for the hatchback. This "advantage" is mitigated by the fact that the Clarity actually has very good trunk space, so it really is a sketchy "advantage" Perfect world would be if the Clarity hinged above the rear windshield as a hatchback. In the Prime I was able to use it to carry a LOT of 8' lumber by folding seats down.

    - Information: The Prius Primes multitude of information display settings are not only prolific, but easily and massively customize-able. One can set the various LCDs to provide exactly the info you want all the time. Again, this is subjective, and again mitigated by the fact that the Clarity's display is much more elegant, looks more like a car, is positioned in the right place, and just overall more pleasing and less "weird". Perfect world would be if the Clarity allowed us to customize it's display more, with at least two separate sections.

    - Mag Wheels: Remove the Primes ugly arse plastic hubcaps, and you get a VERY stylish set of alloy rims. For Free! Removing the plastic from the Clarity reveals even more ugliness!

    - Center Console: Prime has larger storage in center console.

    - Volume Knob: Nothing else need be said.

    Okay, now that's out of the way, let's move on to the Clarity's advantages.

    - Longer Battery Range: this was THE reason I was unsatisfied with my Prime, and once the Clarity was announced I started plotting the trade in. If not for this, I never would have even looked at the Clarity. I am glad I did!

    - Seating: Clarity Seats 5 comfortably. Of course the Prime can only seat 4. No you can't even fake it,. it just can't seat 5.

    - Trunk Space: Oh you want truck space? Well, then don't bother with the Prime. The Clarity? It's got it in spades. Where the heck did they put all those batteries? The Clarity not only has ample trunk space, again unlike the Prime, it also has a sizeable secret hidy-hole for other uses*. (*see next entry) This is where the Prime designers really show the lack of thought that went into making the Prius a plug in with EV range. No attempt to fit the (minimal) extra batteries in a way that was unobtrusive. No they took your trunk space and gave it to the batteries. You give up all that space and only get 17-30 miles (depending on season/temp) of battery only range.

    - Audio Upgrade-ability: I am a bit of a audio junky. I've put very good to "high end" audio systems in the vast majority of the cars I've owned, starting all the way back in the 1980's running audio cassettes. For the two years I drove the Prime, I was plotting HOW I would shoehorn a good system into the Prime without compromising the limited storage space even further. I never did it. The Clarity has this wonderful space below the trunk floor where a jack and other tools might go (mine came with none of those?) Instead, it's housing the DSP, and a pair of amps to power the new door and column mounted speakers, and the removable sub-woofer that fits in yet another "part" of the trunk that isn't the main compartment. Combine all that with the Claritys' amazing front tweeter placement and you are set for a VERY nice platform for an audio upgrade!

    - Styling: Prime looks fine, Certainly better than the standard Prius. But it still looks quite a bit "eco/green". Clarity just looks good. If you can accept the aerodynamic throwback to the first plug in electric cars' rear wheel covers,. then it's a damn fine looking car. The front end is simply gorgeous IMHO, with THE. BEST. (full stop) driving lights in existence! It's great looking from any angle with the possible exception of the rear 3/4 view, (but to me the wheel wells are not an issue.)

    - Climate Control: AC is faster, better, settings are better/more accurate (I set mine between 70-72 and forget it) I have yet to need to try heat, but I can tell you that vs. my previous Toyota Tacoma, the Prius Primes' lack of ability to comfortably keep me warm on a half hour commute was legendary. For two winters I wore a "lap blanket" because my legs would ALWAYS be cold, regardless of what the Prime's settings were. I am a cold blooded red headed viking that is always too hot. Not in my Prime in Winter! I have high hopes that the Claritys' heat will equal it's AC.

    - Comfort: Clarity is more comfortable. I have the base model.

    - Quiet: An even quieter ride than the Prime, more insulated.

    - Ride: So smooth. It's like a true luxury car. You'd need to move up to Lexus to get something this smooth in a Toyota.

    In short, right now I am in honey moon mode. This is the best car I've owned since my 1969 Cadillac I owned in the late 1980s. It is the most comfortable, quiet, stylish luxurious ride. I am really looking forward to the next year commuting to work. :)

    Thanks for all your insight (unintended) and help getting to upgrade to the Clarity. I am having a blast!

    (photos of Audio install to come, maybe in another thread)

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  3. Reissc

    Reissc New Member

    Nice comparison. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the audio upgrade.

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
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  4. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    I have driven all four generations of Prius (I owned Gen I and Gen II) and I looked closely at Prime starting when it first came out and I very nearly bought one the same month that Clarity came out, however when I read about Clarity I decided to wait. Had to wait over a year until the prices came down and bought one in April. An amazing car. As is the Prime, I agree with all of your comments it is a technical marvel in spite of its ergonomic shortcomings. One thing you didn't mention is LKAS. Gen III Prius introduced LKA in 2010 (only in the very top model and even then only when you purchased the technology package). By all accounts it worked extremely well, acting essentially as LCA (Lane Centering Assist). However in Gen IV they switched Prius to TSS (Toyota Safety Sense) like all other Toyota models, and several people who moved from Gen III to Gen IV (or Prime) were livid to find out that the newer models had something called LDW w/SA "Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist" which gives you flashing lights and beeps and maybe will pull you back into the lane when you start going out. Don't know if that was your experience. Clarity LKAS is fantastic, just today it steered my car through several slight highway turns (no other cars nearby). It doesn't see the lines all the time which is why you cannot think of it as autonomous driving, but on longer drives it really is nice. Now that's my opinion, I find I am in the minority I think, which I wonder sometimes if the initial calibration is not consistent and I was lucky to get one that is calibrated right. There are others who are as impressed by it as I am, but again I think the minority.

    ACC I really like, after experimenting and finding my preferred number of bars and driving mode (either Eco or Normal) it works really well for slowing and stopping. A little jerky at times but not bad and I really feel that it is a safety enhancement and I use it all the time. However when I got it set to my liking for slowing and stopping, I found that accelerating is incredibly anemic. No problem, I just go ahead and press the accelerator when needed. That I don't mind since it handles slowing and stopping to my satisfaction and that is the needed safety area (I don't want to rely only on CMBS (Collision Mitigation Braking System). Another issue everyone experiences is when someone in front of you moves out of your lane, as you pass them all of a sudden it panics and slows very suddenly. This may be some of the jerkiness you are experiencing. I now anticipate that and simply press the accelerator at that moment, ACC doesn't fight you on that so it's no problem.
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  5. Groves Cooke

    Groves Cooke Active Member

    The heater is just as good as the A/C. Will cost you more EV miles though.
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  6. I have yet to really play with LKAS vs. the Primes version, but the Primes version was so unhelpful, I did not even remember to consider it here, so good point! The one time I did play with LKAS on the Clarity, it seemed to work well. I am still using the Clarity ACC, and yes it's very helpful. It's jts less smooth than Toyota's version right now. I often have to hit a terrible highway rush hour traffic jam if I time my commute wrong on the way home,. and with the Prime, I just turned on the ACC and played some music and relaxed. I expect to be using it the same way in the Clarity. I'll be sure to try he accelerator trick.
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  8. Teslawannabe

    Teslawannabe Active Member

    Thanks for sharing. That was fun to read. I am a Ford fanatic and I feel the same way about the Clarity. Question: Audio upgrad-ability? If you wanted to change audio unit where would you put it? This tablet is integrated into the vehicle system too much, like most newer cars. I guessing you are keeping the factory unit and just adding on?
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  9. petteyg359

    petteyg359 Well-Known Member

    Regarding the MPG difference, remember the Prius Prime is 700 pounds lighter than the Clarity PHEV, and as you noted, the Prime's advantage ceases to exist as soon as you want to go somewhere 20 miles away *and come back*, because the Clarity does the whole distance EV, and the Prime can't.
    Texas22Step likes this.
  10. Exactly why I now own the Clarity!
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  11. About the sound system;

    - Front speakers are Audison Voce 6.5" components. Tweeters installed in the amazing front pillar locations for a gorgeous soundstage. Woofers in the door kick panels.

    - Rear cabin speakers are Audison Prima 6.5" in rear door stock locations as well. Even the rear doors provide a very nice location for a separate tweeter we took advantage of.

    - Subwoofer in the trunk is a Hertz Mille Pro 10" D.V.C. @ 2 ohms x2 installed in a spec sealed enclosure.

    - Hertz H8 DSP handling the transition from the factory head unit and signal processing.

    JL Audio XD600 6V2 6 channel Amp handling the front and rear speakers.

    JL Audio XD600 1V2 Mono block powering the Subwoofer.

    Clarity Install 01 tweet.jpg Clarity Install 02 tweet.jpg Clarity Install 03 tweet.jpg Clarity Install 05 Sub.jpg Clarity Install 06 Sub.jpg Clarity Install 07 amps.jpg Clarity Install 08 amps.jpg
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  13. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    I am always blown away by how great the Clarity PHEV is as a highway car. We have an 2015 i3 REx and the Clarity, and if I ever take road trips I ask my wife if I can use the Clarity. The i3 works fine with hold state of charge mode, but the comfort and handling are not good, it is too short with a rear weight balance making it very twitchy at higher speeds. The Clarity is long and stable and very pleasant to cruise at 80 mph for long distances, and it actually has good passing power making it fun to drive like a touring car, no, it doesn't have the power of a V6 Accord, but it is no slouch in normal driving conditions.

    The Clarity also gets much better hybrid mileage than the i3. I am blown away how I can drive 75-80 mph for 150 miles and get over 40 mpg. Driving around 65 mph average and I was getting 50 mpg. It is just unreal for a 4000 lb family car. Yes, the Prime is even better mpg, but the per mile cost of the Clarity is already so low to drive that it doesn't make much difference. The Clarity offers a lot for a "green" car that is also fun to drive and reasonably priced.

    Despite the styling on the Clarity, I actually get quite a few compliments on the style of the car. It isn't my favorite rear 3/4 either, but I like the rear and front very much. It looks heavy and sporty and has good road presence. As you say, the running lights are great too. Great review, thanks for the write up! I am approaching end of warranty 50,000 miles this year and suspect the car will do just fine. It is easy to put a lot of EV miles on with the large for PHEV battery, and the gas miles are relatively guilt free due to the efficiency.
  14. HVACman

    HVACman New Member

    Interesting comment about the Prime heating. Toyota is using a new "vapor-injected heat pump" system for the Prime, not the typical PHEV electric resistance heater or relying on engine heat all the time. This is a new heat pump technology that is supposed to allow high heat output + efficient heat pump operation even at low outside air temperatures, which many automotive heat pumps can't do. It may be something that more EV manufacturers go to in the future, or may be just a "flash in the pan". George Bower and I did an article for IEVs on this new heat pump here:

    Can you expand on how the heating is controlled in the Prime vs the Clarity? Do you have options to "boost" the heat at the expense of using more energy or bringing on the engine?
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  15. At this point my information is limited to the Prime for heat, as I have only owned the Clarity for the month of July.

    I did learn later that I could "boost" the heat to respond more like a "normal car" when in Hybrid mode (ie: when the gas engine is in use)
    However even with the cheat of allowing the overall temp to go up by burning gas, there always seemed to be a cool draft from the knee down. No way to get actual heat down there. I've never faced this on any other vehicle. As I mentioned, the only cure, regardless of settings, or what engine was being used, was to place a blanket in my lap and wrap it around my legs. I am not a Dickensian old codger in a wheel chair or anything, just 51, and used to Northern climates (I am departing for Newfoundland next week)

    My daily commute where I was trying to be efficient and battery only, the whole car pretty much seemed cold. To get anything resembling "normal" heating, I'd have to switch from "eco" to "normal" and let the hybrid motor kick in. And still, the impact on the tiny range of the Prime battery was huge.

    For the legs, I am not sure the tech of the heat pump was the issue, more the way air flows through the car, or insulation (lack of) and the not very good ducting in the leg area. I would assume that since I could get comfy up top, that it's not the heater per se, but more how the heat is being directed. Just a theory.
  16. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    The heater in the Clarity is very good, although not particularly efficient. It blows hot air within a few blocks of the house and has plenty of power to heat even on sub 0 F days.
  17. HVACman

    HVACman New Member

    Does the Clarity have an engine-running-due-to-temperature (ERDTT) requirement at low outside air temperatures like the Gen 1 or Gen 2 Volt?
  18. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    It seems related to battery temperature, if the battery drops below a certain temperature the car will run in hybrid mode, otherwise it is engine off. So if I start from the garage and car has just finished charging I can generally drive no engine even if temp is 0 F. If it cold soaks outside during the day the car will run in hybrid mode.

    In general, the engine doesn't run as much in winter as my Gen 1 Volt. The Volt has 2 ERDTT modes, ambient temp based and battery temp based (sometimes called deep cold ERDTT in Volt forums). This is more like the Volt's deep cold ERDTT. If the high temps are 0 to 10 F it will probably run in hybrid mode a lot. Above 10 F? Not much at all, but might depend on how you park (cold soaked or not).
  19. Agzand

    Agzand Active Member

    I looked at both cars before purchasing Clarity, I generally prefer wagons/hatchbacks, but the boot in Toyota is a joke in comparison to Clarity. It is severely compromised by the battery pack. It is only usable for bulky items if you drop the rear seats.

    Overall when sitting in the car, the clarity feels like a midsize car that it is, while Toyota or Volt feel like a compact car. The same is true in terms of driving feel, Clarity feels like a comfortable midsize, the other two feel like a compact economy car.
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  20. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    For those who don't know what Agzand and others are referring to, the Prius Prime's 9 kWh battery is located underneath the cargo floor. Unfortunately this mean they had to raise the cargo floor about three inches. When you first see it you think someone left an air mattress in the back.

    Prime 1.jpg

    Folding the seats down opens a lot of space, however it is not level which can be a bit awkward for some items.

    Prime 2.jpg

    Ironically there is a decent amount of unused space underneath the battery, which appears to be the space set aside for the spare tire which some Prius models have but not others. All Prius including Prime share the same platform. Unfortunately this empty space was not large enough for the Prime's battery, and the space is inaccessible for any other storage, so the space gets wasted while meanwhile the battery has to impinge on the cargo space. They also apparently have some wasted space underneath the rear seat which is for the battery for the solar panel which is available only in the Japanese market. Maybe they will figure something out in the next Prius platform redesign, which rumors say will be more crossover like.

    In spite of all this you can still stuff a lot of things into the back of a Prius Prime.

    Prime 3.jpg
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  21. Teslawannabe

    Teslawannabe Active Member

    Beautiful install. I'm sure it sounds great. Nice Job!!!
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  22. ab13

    ab13 Active Member

    More Honda models seem to have the roll down windows from key fob than Toyota. Does the Prius Prime have that feature?
    BeMurda likes this.
  23. atc98092

    atc98092 New Member

    I looked at the Clarity, but two things kept me from pulling the trigger. One was the horrendous drone when the ICE started and revved to a ridiculous RPM. It settled down and wasn't too annoying until I tried climbing a long hill. Note that this was all with an uncharged battery. I found another dealer that had one with about a 1/2 charge, and it became a completely different car. I was giving it serious thought, but then I folded the seats down to see how much cargo space was available. I was shocked to see a small opening, rather than having a wide open space between the trunk and the rear seat area. This made it completely unacceptable for me, as a flat, long storage area is something I have to have.

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