Evaluating the Clarity for purchase

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by Lowell_Greenberg, Jan 20, 2019.

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  1. Lowell_Greenberg

    Lowell_Greenberg Active Member

    I've been evaluating the Clarity for purchase recently. What I have come up with is mixed at best, and I wanted to open my evaluation for discussion.

    (1) I test rode the Clarity. I liked the styling, interior design and spaciousness. I found the ride to be reasonably comfortable, and handling and braking adequate. Interior noise levels were OK- however lack of engine noise was made up for by road and tire noise at times. Acceleration was brisk. Overall, the car makes a much better first impression than the Prius Prime. Yet, from a pure driving standpoint, the Clarity is no Accord.

    (2) I respect Consumer Reports and the Clarity's 1/5 reliability and mediocre emergency handling, braking and turn radius did not impress. CR created the impression that the cars steering and suspension components are not up to it's two ton curb weight. While reliability issues were not with the powertrain- electronics are integral to this car- and this is where it has struggled in its first year.

    (3) I've come to rely on blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. On crowded highway driving I believe it really prevents accidents and saves lives. The Clarity's camera for right turns capability seems to be a very weak aubsitute.

    (4) I am also concerned about future parts availability and cost. While the Clarity may share components with other Hondas such as the Accord hybrid and NSX- none of the aforementioned are exactly taking off in sales.

    So- putting it out there, is my evaluation fair or not?

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
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  3. petteyg359

    petteyg359 Well-Known Member

    (1) I think it's nice to actually be able to hear the road now because I'm not deafened by the engine :) The road noise is quiet enough to be drowned out by low-volume FM radio, so I don't find it a problem at all. Maybe the one you test-drove had the not-uncommon problem of the dealer not bothering to install the underbody plugs that reduce noise.

    (2) CR can go fly a kite, or whatever more crude phrase passes for the idea these days. The electronics issues have been minor, and nobody who actually has the car has any idea how in hell they came up with that rating.

    (3) The camera is far better than "blind spot monitoring" IMNSHO. I've driven a Volt. The icons don't come on fast enough, and the one on the right mirror is uselessly far away in peripheral vision if traffic is heavy and I want to keep my eyes in front of me. Rear cross-traffic alert in a Volt beeps at me because there's a semi driving down the highway 50 meters behind me while I'm in the parking lot off the side of the road. That's not useful.

    (4) If they can't supply parts for my warranty for 10 years, lemon laws apply. Given their other existing hybrids, and expansion of plugin hybrids (Pilot, CR-V, CR-Z, Accord, Insight...), I don't think parts will be a concern. And as hybrids keep becoming more and more popular, and right-to-repair laws seem to be getting pushed harder, you might not be limited to OEM components for long.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
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  4. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Amen!!!! Could not have said it any better.

    Lack of blind spot monitoring doesn’t bother me as much as I once thought. As stated above it’s not fool proof and should not be used as a substitute for a visual check. I certainly would not trust my life to it.
    Thanks to someone posting a link to Car Talk which explained how to properly adjust the driver’s outside rear view mirror to eliminate the blind spot, I don’t need the monitor at all. I never realized I had been doing it all wrong until I read that explanation.

    I too would like the rear cross traffic monitor but have found the wide or fish eye view option on the back up camera to be almost as good.

    As to parts availability, I am not worried. Auto manufacturers are required by law to make parts available for a certain number of years (forgot how many). However, there may be a longer wait as they may not be stocked in the US. And I suspect they may be more expensive.

    I expect reliability to be on par with Honda’s reputation and my past experience which has been excellent even though it is a new model. This forum supports that since the overwhelming majority are extremely pleased with their purchase.

    Is the car perfect? Of course not, but it’s pretty darn close and as with anything in life you don’t get every last thing you want and have to accept some compromises. For me, I got every major thing I wanted and only had to compromise on a very few minor points. I give the Clarity 9.9 out of 10 after 11 months and 7,000 trouble free miles (all I’ve had to do is adjust the headlights and get a software update).
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  5. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Lowell, as an 11,000 mile owner of a Clarity, I feel your evaluation and concerns are 100% spot-on accurate. You just gotta decide whether you want one or not. Some people here love the Clarity from top to bottom.

    I personally love the technology it has on board and what it represents. If you're a technical nerd, which I largely am, you will absolutely love it. If you want to save the world from some carbon usage, you'll love it. And it is a good car if you are a normal driver who just cruises around and wants comfortable and economical (from a fuel standpoint) transportation.

    But if you're just looking for the best handling/driving car your money can buy, I think you will find it to be remarkably average in just about every way. And if you're looking for a car that handles like it's on rails, this is not the car for you...there is positively nothing sporty about the suspension and anytime I ever "throw" the car into a turn, or hit large rises/bumps at speed, the weight overwhelming the suspension becomes quite obvious compared to just about anything else I've ever driven...it harkens me back to cars of the 1980s and 90's....it's floaty with a lot of body roll. But those who don't drive aggressively find this to be irrelevant because they simply never push a threshold where they would notice it. So if you are an easy driver, and like more of an old-school Cadillac type of smooth ride, and drive it nicely for economy as most purchasers of PHEV's generally do, it is undeniably very comfortable, very quiet, and very plush. For that type of handling it is very good.

    With that opinion expressed, I now strongly urge you to simply trust your own test-drive of the car and trust your own opinion of handling. Ignore what any magazine says, and what any individual says, and what I say. Only YOU know whether you'll like the handling for your style of driving, and this is super easy to determine for yourself at zero cost. Go drive one again if you're unsure.

    I have no opinion on reliability or parts cost/availability for the future. I do trust the car to not leave me stranded. But I believe it is largely impossible to have an opinion in this category and we owners are all simply rolling the dice on long-term repair costs. I can likely answer this question in about 6 to 8 years, if I choose to keep the car that long. I might. Might not.

    I think you've got the facts. It all just depends what you want.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
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  6. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    You've landed in a nest of (mostly) Clarity PHEV lovers, so don't look for much criticism here. Many of us would gladly volunteer without pay to help the clueless dealers sell this car. We'd have an easy time selling against the Prius Prime.

    If you don't mind, may I ask what car you're currently driving that's more comfortable and quieter than the Clarity PHEV you drove?
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
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  8. AlAl

    AlAl Active Member

    1) The road/tire drone is a consequence of using the low rolling resistance tires. Also, the dealers have a tendency of leaving the tires grossly overinflated; mine were left at 42psi upon pickup, where others on this forum have reported a tire reading of as much as 51psi. This results in a bouncier ride quality, along with the tires being noisier.

    2) I personally found the handling of this car to be adequate, and turning radius is quite comparable to cars with a smaller wheelbase. Perhaps not up to snuff with the new accords? Compared to my previous lease vehicle(16 Camry), handling is a huge improvement. As far as electrical issues, I havent experienced any; it seems a majority of software bugs were worked out on the newer updates

    3) I agree, additional creature comforts are lacking, considering MSRP. Heck, I would have gladly paid extra for the integrated features.. That said, for the price after local incentives/tax breaks, it's a good car. Cant say I miss BSM, HUD, parking sensors, after getting used to the car's dimensions.

    4) From my understanding, the Clarity is a parts-bin car. Personally, I'm not too worried about the availability for parts(particularly body panels). Working at a body shop, I feel the low volume nature of this vehicle is a good thing, as this limits the temptation of insurance companies writing for aftermarket parts.

    Personally, while I like the design and creature comforts of the new Accord(wasnt a fan of the last generation, TBH), the Clarity ticks so many more boxes in the practicality segment.
    I was very close to pulling the trigger on a Model3 Performance, but ended up with this car after striking out so many others. Months later, I'm still happy with my decision, to say the least.
    ClarityDoc likes this.
  9. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member

    You’ve done a good job on the points important to you. I’ll add a couple of things.

    I came from a car with conventional icon blind spot monitoring to the Clarity and wondered about the side view camera at first. I’ve come to love it. Especially here in this college town (East Lansing, MI), the side view camera when turning right gives me a view of anything coming, including bikes and pedestrians on the sidewalks. It’s also great on the highway for seeing what’s there and how fast it’s moving. In short, I would buy the car just for that feature, I like it so much! I don’t have a blind spot on the left side.

    I wrote to Consumer Reports about their reliability rating of the Clarity changing from average to well below average in just 3 months. I’ve not heard back from them, but I did look more carefully at the algorithms they use for reliability. I’m still working on it, but from a statistics standpoint, I can honestly say I’m not impressed. I’ll post more in the thread on that topic when I’m done with the analysis.

    I really like driving the car; it’s handling, braking, and comfort are fine. Be sure you look at a variety of reviews and don’t just rely on Consumer Reports.

    The noise in the Clarity is almost 100% tire/road contact noise. Give the car good pavement and it’s silent. Give the car bad pavement and it’s loud at high speeds.
  10. Lowell_Greenberg

    Lowell_Greenberg Active Member

    Thank you for all the excellent replies. To be honest, I am a techie and some of the things that "drive" me back to the Clarity are related to eco-awareness and fuel economy. Another more pressing factor is that I am unsure how long the federal tax credit will last into 2019.

    Safety and reliability are critical to me. My daily commute is quite challenging and even harrowing. This is why blind spot monitoring, responsive braking and solid emergency handling are important to me. Also my view when pulling out of my driveway is blocked by a large F150 truck. Rear cross traffic alerting has definitely come in handy. And while not absolutely essential, AWD is not a bad thing to have where I live.

    I'll probably try another test drive of the Clarity. Again I appreciate the sincere and well meaning perspectives.

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
  11. KClark

    KClark Active Member

    I agree with your observation about road noise, from personal experience with three Hondas this seems to be a weakness with all of them. And yes, on a newly resurfaced asphalt road my Clarity is pretty quiet, so I guess I just have to find a state or maybe just a county where all of the roads are brand new smooth asphalt and everything will be fine.

    I also agree that some amenities which are increasingly found on many modern cars are strangely absent from the Clarity. Someone on my thread where I talked about my 1 month experience with this car said it well, they said a Clarity is a curious mix of mid size luxury and econobox cheapness (I’m paraphrasing but that was the essence.)
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  13. AlanSqB

    AlanSqB Active Member

    It’s a parts bin car put together with Japanese attention to detail. They are literally made in one of the Japanese Honda plants. It makes for some interesting variations between the Clarity and American Honda cars. One example, the buttons on the key fob are backwards.

    It also has a washer fluid tank the size of a thimble. It’s also strangely prone to wheel curbing (it’s not just me). It’s a weird car, but I love it. Really a relaxing oasis for me at the end of a long day.
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  14. Valente

    Valente Active Member

    I've owned my Clarity for exactly one year. I'm at 24,000 mi. I drive a lot from Palm Springs to LA for work. The only problem I've had was the incorrect mileage indicator after filling with gas. It read 800 mi available. For some reason, this started occurring only recently. This was corrected with an update at the dealership. I love the car. I never trusted blind spot monitors or rear cross traffic alert on my Volt. I prefer looking at mirrors and the wide angle backup camera. I'm one of the few that adjust my rear view mirrors to where I cannot see the side of my car. It REALLY helps!! I do wish it had bumper sensors as I have already scraped the front bumper but the scrape was easily fixed with touchup paint. The main reason I went from Volt to Clarity was the Volt did not have ACC or LKAS. Those 2 features are a tremendous help on freeway driving or heavy stop and go traffic. Also, the Volt was much smaller and hard to get in and out of. Right now, this is the best car I've ever owned. And I've owned a lot of cars being in my mid-70s.
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  15. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    You may want to ask your insurance agent what it will cost to insure a Clarity in your area. Some have found it much more expensive than expected and sought bids from other insurers.
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  16. Dan Albrich

    Dan Albrich Well-Known Member

    Like many here, I'd never considered or heard of Clarity when I bought one. The big selling point for me initially was cabin space. I'm physically a big person and I wanted the car to be comfortable. I also wanted shoulder room sufficient that two broad shouldered people could sit in front comfortably. So the cabin space was a big selling point. I had a buddy buy the Prius prime, and told me about the state and federal rebates. So for me cost was definitely a factor. i.e. Get an electric car (with gasoline backup) that costs about the same or maybe cheaper than a well-equipped Honda Accord.

    I had already test-driven the Prius Prime which is a great car but feels to me to be compact and not full-size. And the Toyota gets better mileage but I convinced myself something I can drive mostly electric, and get 40+ MPG is good enough.

    I've only owned mine about 4 months but have no regrets. It's a very good car, and even the things I was worried about didn't happen. i.e. I thought it would be gutless, but compared to my last gasoline vehicle (Subaru Outback), this car is peppy. It especially excels at low-speeds (i.e. from Stop, to about 30 mph, the car seems to have more power than others I've driven. At higher speeds it doesn't throw you in your seat but it isn't a problem to merge on the highway either.

    Style-wise this is a very comfortable car (as others compare to Cadillac-- and I agree). Partly due to the weight of the batteries the car feels really solid. It has sort of driving on a cloud kind of feel to it, and very quiet around town when in electric mode. And while it has good power and responsiveness, it isn't in the sports-car genre. For example, it's a completely different animal than say Mazda Miata.

    Anyway, very much enjoying the car. 4 months in and my wife and I still "fight" over who gets to drive.

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
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  17. Valente

    Valente Active Member

    I almost purchased the Prius Prime because it basically had the same features I wanted (ACC and LKAS) as the Clarity but it was small and noisy and the EV milage poor in comparison. So glad the Clarity came just as I was about to purchase the Prius. As for insurance, I do think I'm getting a good rate with 21st Century....$550 every 6 months. Probably because I've been with them for almost 50 years and have never had accident or tickets. Also - I get the "old people" discount!!
  18. We have a decent-sized network of Clarity owners represented here. I’m pretty sure most would be happy to either let you test drive theirs, or to go along on a drive to see what you think. Would be less distracting than to have a salesman along for the ride, I would think.

    Maybe post a request? Remember that the majority of readers of forums such as this never post, but might respond directly to a request for a test drive.

    We’ve had ours about 2 months and are still quite enamored with it!
  19. Savido

    Savido New Member

    I decided to buy a Clarity after test driving many other cars and after much thought about my reasons for driving. I decided to buy an ev based on values and my concerns for the environment. The Clarity bridged my desire for ev with the flexibility of long-range driving without range anxiety. I also purchased solar panels for my home and I will take other conservation steps to adjust my lifestyle. There is not a day that I drive the Clarity that I am not sharply aware of my energy consumption and our need to more responsibly use it. After decades of driving for my thrills and joys, the Clarity expresses my socially responsible choices while maintaining a need to be thrifty and enjoy the comforts of a well-made mid-size sedan. Is the Clarity perfect? Just about. I would buy again today. I even like the rear skirt, its oddly shaped rear end and its non-existent volume knob. But, I am someone that always thought the Citroen was a cool looking car too!
  20. Groves Cooke

    Groves Cooke Active Member

    CR has never liked Honda products. I've had my Clairty since Sept 1 (5500) miles. I used about 35 gal of gas so far. No long range trips yet but I am looking forward to one. I did not like the side mirror camera at first, but I like it now. CR does not like the shift buttons. I came from an Acura TLX so I was used to those. In 5500 miles I have had no issues other than the satellite radio not working after preconditioning of the cabin. I discovered the fix for this on this forum so that is not an issue now. I like the car and if sit was stolen today I would look for another one tomorrow.
  21. Candice

    Candice Active Member

    If you have an instance or a stretch of road that you feel the blind spot monitoring would be helpful, you can turn on the blind spot monitoring when you are driving even if not making a right turn. Just press the button at the end of the arm.
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  22. Agzand

    Agzand Active Member

    I think the owner satisfaction is very high. You need to make sure it is the right car for you. The main purpose of this car is to use it as a fully electric car for 90% of the time (and stick it to the taxman). If your driving pattern allows this to happen, then it is a great car.

    To get better handling in a long-range electric car, you have to spend much more for a Tesla or Jaguar, and even those can't handle as good as a BMW or Accord. It is the trade off for driving fully electric.

    In terms of driver assist features, I think it already has the most important ones (emergency braking and adaptive cruise control). The other stuff you get used to it, they are not deal breakers.

    Consumer reports shows an absurdly large turning radius for Clarity, the official specs and my personal experience is different, I think turning radius is in line with other midsize sedans. Also the car is not sporty, but it has good steering weight and precision, I like the steering better than my last car (Golf Sportwagen Mk7).

    If you don't car about electric range, you can significantly improve handling by using a higher performance tire. You will probably lose 10% in range/efficiency.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
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  23. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    I left one consideration out. With the lower price and better tax credit, I was able to get the Clarity and a 10 kW PV solar system for less than the price of a Model 3. My driving is 90%+ EV, so I get the benefit of a Tesla most of the time and get a “free” PV solar system.
    The only difference is that on my infrequent long trips I, I burn gas at 48 mpg, but then I don’t have to stop and charge or have range anxiety either.
    It was an obvious no brainer choice for me.
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