Green Car Report Aug 3

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by tim, Aug 4, 2018.

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  1. tim

    tim Member

    I read the latest Green Car Report review of the Clarity PHEV. It compared the Clarity PHEV to the Volt and came away with a very bad impression of the Clarity compared to the Volt in several important ways:

    1) The regen is weak even at the 4-arrow paddle setting. Quote: "The feel was pretty much the same as a conventional car."

    2) Acceleration is sluggish compared to the Volt. Quote: "The car’s acceleration also felt sluggish compared to the Volt. And to my ear, the gas motor seemed rather louder than the Volt’s in gas mode, surging erratically up and down in a way that is oddly disconnected from the gas pedal. (The Volt does this as well; it’s just not as noticeable.)"

    For those that have driven both the Volt and Clarity, would you agree with these assessments? I've never driven a Volt, so I have no point of comparison.

    BTW, I was poking around on Google Search for Clarity specs, and I saw the following interesting statement on this page: "The Engine of Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is equipped with an engine management system (EMS)/Engine Control Unit (ECU) which can be modified to different settings, producing different performance levels and boosting Clarity Plug-In Hybrid\'s horsepower."

    I know that Honda engineers obviously can modify engine settings, but is this something that can be done once a car has been delivered and driven off a dealer lot?
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  3. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Car & Driver's review is much more favorable to the Clarity.

    Honda certainly didn't include a knob or a set-screw under the hood to alter the Clarity's performance. It would take a company like Hondata (who makes tuner chips that enhance the performance of cars like the Civic Type R) to reverse-engineer the Clarity to discover how to alter its performance. Based on the small numbers of Clarity's produced and the even smaller number of owners who are looking to mess with warranty-invalidating modifications, I wouldn't expect Hondata or its competitors to bother with the Clarity PHEV.

    Due to the extremely complex operation of the Clarity, it would be a much, much greater challenge to reverse engineer than the task of increasing the horsepower of the Civic Type R.

    Finally, the engine isn't really the focus of the Clarity PHEV when it comes to performance. The Clarity's traction motor is where all the power is (181 hp). Only rarely does the Clarity combine the power of its engine and traction motor. The rest of the time when it's running, the engine is just generating electricity. The real tuner question would be, how much harder can the traction motor be pushed without burning it out?
  4. clinton

    clinton New Member

    My 2c on the regen: if you like to coast (in gear), the Clarity paddles are GREAT, and if you think about them as a support for coasting (and not single pedal), then it also makes completely sense that setting/chevrons reset as soon as the current "braking" operation is over. They make for a really smooth driving, while single pedal driving is not for my stomach (I get car sick very easily), thank you very much.
    And you get plenty of regen from the normal brake pedal, if you want to.
    Jaketesla likes this.
  5. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Have to respectfully disagree with the Green Car Report base on personal experience.
    If they found the Clarity noisy and underpowered then I suspect they drove it with the battery depleted or have an agenda.

    Also I seriously question the sanity and connection to reality of anyone who has, on the same day, sat in and test driven both cars with the batteries charged in EV and HV/Mountain and then thought the Volt was better than the Clarity.
    johncl likes this.
  6. iluvscuba

    iluvscuba Active Member

    i test drove the Volt 3 days before I test drove the Clarity. Out of the several reasons I chose the Clarity instead of the Volt is due to engine noise of the Volt compare to the engine noise of the Clarity on the highway so my experience was exactly the opposite of what you quoted above. And I don't feel the acceleration of the Volt is much more than the Clarity (I guess spec-wise the Volt is a second or so quicker than the Clarity) but for my over 30 years of driving I can't think of a time where I need to accelerate that quick considering I live in peaceful Canada so I never have the need to escape a gun battle like our American friends according to what Hollywood told me every night when I watch my TV shows :p)

    The other thing you mentioned regarding the deceleration paddle during ECON mode bothered me when I first test drove the Clarity but after all these months thinking about it (since I still don't have the car yet), I found I like it this way more as I will just think of it as up-shifting (I am currently driving a manual transmission car) without the need to use the clutch when I want to slow down the car. Also I really hate the regen of the Volt when I hold the paddle down (only has 1 level which is heavy) as it feels like I was up-shifting from 6th gear to 2nd gear which is very jarring as I can feel my body being thrown forward. I much prefer the smoothness of the Clarity regen, I also believe neutral coasting to almost stopping (with planning) is more efficient than using regen so the 1 paddle driving of the Leaf is not for me (at least for now). And if I do want to have a similar 1 paddle driving (almost as the Clarity does not stop the car using regen alone), I will just use SPORT mode with 4 chevron regen and brake for the last 5mph/8kmph to stop the car.
    Jaketesla, JSL and KentuckyKen like this.
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  8. bfd

    bfd Active Member

    It wasn't a they, it was a him, and he is a Volt owner. From reading the article, it's clear that he went into the dealership looking for problems, and he found some. As a result, I give his report very little credence. Two cars for two different kinds of drivers. And frankly, neither car beats a Tesla. Right?
  9. iluvscuba

    iluvscuba Active Member

    According to the report, the test Clarity has no battery charge at all. No wonder he found the power lacking as he only has 82hp (or whatever the little engine puts out) to play with
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  10. bfd

    bfd Active Member

    In fairness, he wrote that he went back the next day and it was charged. He neglected to mention that in June, the Clarity outsold Volt, and was only 100 behind in July. Since the article was about whether or not the Clarity is a competitor, I think he missed the mark.
  11. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Yes, surprise, surprise, when the Green Car reviewer (and multiple Volt owner) went to the dealer, there was zero charge in the Clarity's battery! However, when the reviewer returned after the dealer charged the car, he still felt the Clarity's acceleration was "sluggish." Car and Driver found the Clarity slightly faster than the Volt and more fuel efficient. They even got more miles out of the Clarity's battery.

    Complaining about the fact that the Clarity--unlike the Volt--provides maximum acceleration by allowing the engine to provide additional voltage when needed is just a philosophical matter. If one is concerned only with driving on EV power, then the Volt does provide that capability by never starting the engine until the battery is depleted. The key to Honda's PHEV philosophy is overall efficiency, not pretending to be a BEV.

    I'm sure that once a driver gets used to using a certain level of regen braking, anything less would be unsatisfying. But what does the Volt do with the regenerated power when the battery is already fully charged? Does it provide the same feel or does the regen braking feel different when there's no place to send the regenerated power? Maybe I should go drive one someday.
    bfd, johncl and Johnhaydev like this.
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  13. David A

    David A Guest

    For what it is worth, the Volt and the Clarity are similar in many aspects.

    Volt has a little more tech but is noticeably smaller inside. I noticed slightly more road noise in the Volt.

    Clarity is by far larger inside and back seats are pretty comfortable. Clarity struck me as more quiet inside and a bit more "traditional "sedan" feel.

    IMHO both cars are more than adequate off the starting line with decent enough power for passing as needed. Clarity drivers seat is a bit more comfortable.

    Comes down to hatchback vs sedan, and...this one has this button but this one has this knob...too many similarities to say one head and shoulders above other.

    Good news is...this means consumers now have a true choice of 50 mi ev range daily driver. I'm sure everyone chooses the one they think is best for them. I chose Clarity for "traditional sedan" feel and overall interior including spaciousness AND Honda alleged reliability...this is my first Honda.
  14. I don't use the paddles, I drive it like a conventional car, like how I drive in past 20 years.
    And I believe that's how a hybrid, plug-in or EV should be, they shouldn't make the driving experience different than conventional car.

    How? For the same price, your can barely get a barebone Model 3(and Tesla has already exceeded the Federal tax credits quota per manufacturer). Add more options than you're in the range of a base Porsche.
    And I will take the one with gas engine so I won't need to worry about out of battery ever.
    While Telas has good customer service (and PR), I will take the trackable reliability record of Honda.
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  15. johncl

    johncl Member

    I traded my 2013 Volt for a Clarity PHEV, and almost every front I couldn't disagree more with the Green Car report. At least as far as the 2013 Volt is concerned, the Honda Clarity is so much more refined. From comfort, quietness, to all around drivability.

    I also easily get in excess of 50 miles, and even sometimes 60 miles on all electric with the Clarity. I never got that good on my 2013 Volt
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
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  16. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Honda's philosophy is clearly that drivers should be able to get into the Clarity and drive without having to think about anything but driving. However, I'm very happy that Honda didn't force all drivers to accept the same driving paradigm. It's great that ECON Mode is available for those most interested in maximizing efficiency and SPORT Mode is available for those who want to take full advantage of the car's powerful capabilities. NORMAL Mode? I guess it's good that there's a middle-of-the-road option, but if Honda really liked it, they would have given it its own button.

    Similarly, it's great that Honda provided the HV on/off capability so drivers who want to travel primarily under EV power (as we have for 9 months) can do that, while those who need to travel further than the battery can carry them can preserve the battery power to get them up significant grades or for use when they reach a metropolitan area at the end of their journey. Then there's HV Charge Mode, which casual drivers can ignore, but which "involved" drivers can use to ensure they have battery power for the purposes just stated.

    We "involved" drivers would like even more control, and more information about what decisions the computers in the Clarity PHEV are making. Knowing that Honda's engineers designed the Clarity PHEV to maximize efficiency rather than to maximize the distance the car can go exclusively on EV power, I've come to accept the absence of an EV Mode button.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
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  17. weave

    weave Active Member

    I usually just drive electric around town and only use HV on long trips on the highway, and even then I won't switch on the ICE until I'm at cruising speed. So I never hear the motor.

    Also the acceleration on just electric is awesome. I beat everyone off the line consistently without even thinking about it. It's just pretty natural feeling.

    I *would* like a little more resistance on the regen paddles but that's not that big of a deal.

    Speaking of paddles, yesterday I drove my Honda Fit for the first time since I got my Clarity a few weeks ago. Without thinking I flipped the paddle shifters a few times and dropped into second gear going fairly fast. Pushed the tach up to almost the red line. The downshift was a bit jarring. Going to take some retraining of my brain whenever I switch cars! :D
  18. Eric1978a

    Eric1978a New Member

    I want to be more of an "involved" driver. Where can I learn about how the paddles, chevrons, etc?
  19. weave

    weave Active Member

    Not trying to be a smart-***, but read the manual. That's where I figured all this stuff out from. There's a lot in there. Also, there's a lot about the car you can customize. Like how the locks operate, how long the headlights stay on after turning off the car, when/if the locks auto lock when you start driving, etc etc...

    It's really an awesome car and pays to get to know it well.
  20. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Page 32 of the Owners Manual describes the operation of the "Deceleration Paddle Selector." Here's something they don't tell you: the first level (1 chevron in the upper left of the instrument panel) is the same as the default regeneration. In fact, when you pull the left paddle to increase the level of regeneration to slow the car a little, you don't get 1 chevron, you get 2 chevrons, because only with 2 chevrons does the car slow more quickly than with the default regen. If, for some reason you want to see a single chevron, you can pull the right paddle once. Why would the + paddle display a chevron? Beats me.

    Also, when the battery is fully charged, the highest level of regen braking (4 chevrons) is not available. I assume that's true because there's nowhere to put the electricity being regenerated. You'll see the car automatically step down from 4 chevrons to 3.

    Interestingly, you can get more regen braking with the brake pedal. If you press it lightly, you can watch the power gauge dip down into the recharge zone further than it does when you use the minus paddle. Because the Clarity's braking system is so sophisticated, it's difficult to tell when the regen braking is supplemented by mechanical braking from the discs.
  21. Clarity Dave

    Clarity Dave Member

    My wife and I test drove a Volt the day before we drove a Clarity. We liked the Volt and, thanks to better dealer discounts, could have bought the base model for maybe $4k less than the base Clarity, but the Clarity won us over with its superior standard features and interior space, among other things.

    I admit I don't get the appeal of "one pedal driving" (maybe it's because all previous cars I've owned have had manual transmissions so I'm already down one pedal :)). I find the paddles useful in situations where I would ordinarily want to feather the brake pedal. Freeway offramps are the obvious application, but I had a delightful "no pedal driving" experience on the road coming down Mt Spokane by modulating the regen, increasing as needed for curves or steeper grades.
  22. weave

    weave Active Member

    I was really hoping for this myself, but with playing with the closest thing we have in sport mode and four chevrons I find that the ride is just too jerky. It's fun on twisty mountain roads, but other than that I don't see the real benefit of it.
  23. neal adkins

    neal adkins Active Member

    The paddles are easy. When you are negotiating slowing or bringing the car to a stop think of the neg. paddle as a brake and the pos. paddle as a back key. The more times you tap the neg. paddle the more braking. The pos. paddle releases the braking (or regen) in increments as you tap it. They are nice when you are coming into a curve and want to slightly slow the car down. Then you can accelerate out of the curve.The more times you tap the paddles the more the effect(up to 4 times).

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