I'm new here -- my 7,000 mile review, including 4,200 mile road trip

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by craze1cars, Nov 8, 2018.

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  1. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Hi all...long time lurker, first time poster.

    Bought a Honda Clarity about 2.5 months ago. Just turned 7,000 miles. No I do NOT normally drive that much, but we just completed a 4,200 mile road trip starting and ending in Indiana, crossing Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, touching Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and back home thru Missouri/IL/IN again...great trip! And a heckuva learning experience with this strange little car!

    Gotta say to this day I have YET to see a single other Clarity on the road to-date. And I find this a little disconcerting since I know darn well what it's like to find parts for low-production vehicles as I spent a couple decades on the insurance side of the auto collision industry. Suffice it to say my #1 advise for everyone who owns one of these cars -- do NOT drop your collision coverage!! Fender benders no big deal, but if you wreck these things right, they WILL be more expensive to fix than a typical other car!!! But that's a discussion for another post...

    Our first 2,500 miles or so were more typical Clarity usage. Local running around town. Usually within electric range, occasionally running the ICE if exceeded. Quickly realized level 2 charger was mandatory for our usage, and installed one myself in my garage. I elected the Mustart 32A portable off Amazon and have been pleased with it.

    As other say the car is near dead silent in EV mode and generally a pleasure to drive. It's a basic sedan, just a bit quieter and smoother/more luxurious than most. Performance? Meh. Not surprising. 212 HP in a 4,050 lb car = 0.52 hp per pound. I put it slightly below the performance level of my previous 2013 Accord EX with a base 4 cylinder engine...185 hp in a 3300 lb car = 0.56 HP per pound. And by seat-of-pants comparison there is little doubt in my mind that our old 4 cyl Accord would beat this Clarity in a drag race by just a little bit. A race car it is not. But it does have enough power for merging and getting out of its own way. It is not slow or underpowered. But any one thinking this car will provide V6 power should frankly shop elsewhere.

    But that's not what this car is about, is it? Like others, our first 2,000 miles or so resulted in minimal gasoline usage...maybe 2 tanks because we took a couple in-state road trips. And it all worked great. But how about the 4,200 mile road trip? Interesting.

    I will sum it up by saying that that it handled the trip very comfortably, yet differently.

    Crossing Kansas was frankly the car's biggest challenge. Cruise control set at 80 mph, probably 20 mph headwind, for hours on end. The little generator was spinning mightily, the MPG readout recorded 33 mpg, and my calculated mpg was about 28. The range calculator was downright dangerous until I learned to not trust it at all -- at one time it said we had 80 miles to go and battery had been dead for the past 300 miles. 35 miles later the range was zero and we were down to one bar. Thankfully there was an exit nearby with a gas station. We took 6.75 gallons in our 7 gallon tank! Lesson learned. IGNORE the range calculator and start looking for gas as soon as you get down to about 1/3 tank, especially if you can hear that engine working, and at any substantial speed you will hear that engine working! And stopping for gas every 190 miles is frankly a little annoying if you don't need to pee yet...

    Mountain passes were a pleasant surprise. After vowing to start a day with a full charge (thanks to a nice mom & pop hotel owner who had no objection to a plug-in overnight), and go directly to HV mode to ensure no dead battery issues, we did some beautiful and substantial mountain passes in Colorado taking us over 12,000 feet. This car handled it extremely well, but again rather differently. Going up it was not uncommon for the engine to be running a certain 5,000 to 5,500 rpm -- instant MPG meter was registering about 12 mpg. But power was more than adequate, as an experiment even on these steep inclines I floored it to see how much was left for passing or whatever, and it took off reasonably briskly for a heavy pig of a car with the power-to-weight ratio of a 4 cylinder -- it actually had power in reserve which was refreshing! (Let's all remember that electric does NOT lose 30% of its HP like a NA gas engine does at 10,000 feet...so having that reserve in the battery really helps at altitude) And then we got to go DOWN these passes, which was an absolute blast! Working those paddle shifters I could gain 2, 3, sometimes 4 bars on the battery by the time I got to the bottom. And then we filled up with gas we got a whopping 49 mpg actual measured (55 mpg indicated on the exagger-o-meter)! This was a VERY pleasant surprise. This car was VERY economical thru mountain passes and large elevation changes (and the associated lower speeds), and such results repeated themselves.

    As for wierdness, you gotta get past the whole "pushing the gas pedal does NOT make the engine get louder when you think it should" thing. Once your mind gets past that and allows you to accept random rev-ups and shut-downs which ONLY effect your ears and nothing else, this car does work very well, and it's economical even without much electricity to run on.

    Over 4,200 miles we had opportunities to charge up 5 times -- not much -- that's only about 200 miles worth of electric. The rest of the time we were on gasoline. The exagger-o-meter said we got 46.5 mpg for the entire 4,200 miles. I actually calculated 41 -- pretty much dead on what the EPA said we would get. The car was quiet and comfortable save the angry bees under the hood which really are NOT that loud when you're running the interstate with the radio on -- I'd say overall it's quieter than most cars even with the bees running.

    And what other large sedan of ANY type would get 41 mpg legitimate over such a 4,200 mile road trip including long 80mph cruise control runs and 12,000 ft mountain passes? I will submit VERY few -- if any.

    Honda Sensing is fabulous. I have owned it before on a 2016 Honda Civic so this is nothing new to me, but it bears mentioning to those who have not used it before. On long road trips the Lanekeep assist and adaptive cruise control are absolutely outstanding at preventing driver fatigue. I do think the adaptive cruise control is WAY too slow to respond to re-accelerating the way Honda programmed it -- that's my only complaint. Otherwise once you get used to it and just stomp the gas to get back up to speed, it works very well and add a dimension of safety to your drive.

    And lets face it, this type of car excels around town, burning zero gasoline. Yet you CAN take cross-country road trips like you can with any other car. That's really really cool.

    I like the car. It doesn't "wow" me in any way as a car. Beyond its silence when running on electric. Overall I gotta admit when compared to other cars and similar 4 door sedans I find it to be remarkably average. But the technology and application of that technology absolutely DOES wow me. It simply has no competition. Show me another sedan of this size, with PLENTY of trunk space and outstanding road-trip manners, that will burn ZERO gasoline for 100% of your commuting all year long, yet allow you to run 4,000 miles on a vacation going all old-school and actually buying gas...at more than 40 mpg?

    Chevy Volt is as close as it gets. And I assure you that that is NOT a large sedan. It's just a sedan. Tesla? HAVE FUN chasing down all your electric charging stations. You Tesla owners can keep that stupid game. Until there is a full blown electric charging infrastructure I'm gonna use the antiquated gasoline network as my "keep this trip moving" plan. Some day it might turn, but we're simply not there yet.

    I am very pleased I purchased the Clarity and I REALLY hope this technology continues and improves. Honda has proven it works.

    I will post here periodically with my thoughts, but probably won't be a SUPER active member. But I want to contribute a bit as I learned quite a bit about the quirks of this car by lurking here and feel some payback is in order.

    Happy Thursday everyone!
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
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  3. SThomas219

    SThomas219 Active Member

    Thank you for the great long-distance review! Much appreciated.
  4. LAF

    LAF Active Member

    I had a similar experience on a long trip, but I would be interested in knowing if the writer ever used Sport mode to "improve" performance. I use it now and then for fun and find the car accelerates faster than my V6 Sonata did.
    Robin likes this.
  5. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Note that the nominal 212 horsepower is available only when in Engine Drive mode (when the tiny gear appears between the engine icon and the battery icon on the energy-flow display). When you stomp on the accelerator, however, the Clarity abandons Engine Drive mode and switches to Hybrid Drive mode, where 181 horsepower is available from the engine (powering the starter motor/generator) and the battery-powered traction motor. When in EV Drive mode, the traction motor running on battery power alone generates 121 horsepower.
    Phunny likes this.
  6. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    You can accelerate just as quickly in ECON Mode or NORMAL Mode as in SPORT Mode, but you have to press the accelerator further to achieve equivalent acceleration. SPORT Mode just re-maps the accelerator to deliver more power earlier in the pedal's travel.
    craze1cars likes this.
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  8. Electra

    Electra Active Member

    I wish that Honda would have used a larger gas tank. Stopping every 190 miles would be annoying. I would like to trade in my Prime for a Clarity but my commute is 110 miles daily and I would hate to stop for gas so often.
  9. rockstone

    rockstone New Member

    OP. Thanks for your report. I have a 155 mi roundtip to office everyday plus a couple of hundred during the weekend, so i should be around the 7k mark in just over a couple of months. I just wish the gas tank was bigger, else no other power complaints..HV mode on the freeway and EV in the city works great for me.
    Daniel M W and Electra like this.
  10. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    In response to the Sport mode question, yes I've used it. Agree that sport mode is more responsive in like a corner-to-corner situation. Dead stop drag-race? I believe zero difference. Simply put, this is not a "quick" car and nothing will convince me otherwise. Expect typical average 4 cylinder performance to anyone shopping for one.

    Electra, in response to 190 mile fill-ups you're misinterpreting fully what you can expect and this is not accurate. Bear in mind this was basically a one-time situation running 80 mph, with dead battery, uphill, into a headwind, when the car was only achieving 28 mpg. This is EXTREMELY rare, and will simply not happen for your daily commute.

    Typically, if you have a 110 mile commute, here is exactly how I believe that would play out:

    You'd run about 45 miles on electric every day, using no gas. The rest of the day you'd probably get about 45 mpg unless you're driving like a mad person. So based on that, every single day you would use 1.22 gallons of fuel per 110 mile commute. Lets assume you get down to about 1/4 or 1/8 of a tank and fill up, taking 6 gallons, you would need to fill up every 4.92 commutes, (about once a week).

    For your usage, if you owned a Honda Clarity instead of a Prime, you would reasonably expect to stop at a gas station to purchase 6 gallons of gas every 541 miles....attaining approximatly 90 mpg, plus some electric usage.

    You would simply buy one fill-up per week, and only about 6 gallons at that time.

    I am curious how that compares to your Prime? I have to assume somewhat similar but I'm not that familiar with the Prime, and presumably the Prime has a larger tank.

    I will freely acknowledge the small fuel tank is actually an annoyance for me with the Clarity, but ONLY on long road trips. Non-issue otherwise with heavy electric usage.
  11. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    I find this very interesting and not sure I fully understand that. Thanks for pointing it out. I wasn't paying much attention to the little gear thing while running up mountain passes. I was paying attention to it on long flat interstate runs at times -- it was not frequently engaged, seemed rather random and I'm not sure I fully understand the algorithm Honda uses to tell it to engage. Seemed to most likley engage on low-load highway runs, like 55 to 60 mph cruising. Push it much harder than that, the thing would almost never engage -- I guess Honda doesn't think the engine is strong enough to keep the car up to higher speeds with it coupled? Seems like it should. I'm not sure it all seemed odd to me.
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  13. Electra

    Electra Active Member

    Man, I thought my commute was bad. Do you get to charge at work? How often do you get gas? How many gallons do you fill each time?

    OP, when you posted, "every 190 miles", I thought that's how often you filled up on your trip. I estimate every 4 days with the Clarity just to be on the safe side. Right now, I am getting every 7 work days with the Prime, filling 10-11 gallons. Yeah the smaller tank is not a problem for 98% of the population.
    rockstone likes this.
  14. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    No during a stint across Kansas in unique circumstances that did happen. But not for the entire trip. Most of the time it was about every 250 miles. Still not great, but not awful usually need to stop to hit a restroom or restaurant anyway by then. Given the option I'd absolutely love a larger tank, if only for road trips. I think 10 or 11 gallons would be sufficient to give it a solid 400 mile roadtrip range like the typical "normal" car. I do feel Honda missed the mark here and is losing some Clarity sales as a result. And looking at the fuel tank itself, I think there's room to redesign it to fit a few more gallons in -- lots of air space around that tank that could be utilized.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
    Electra likes this.
  15. RogerB

    RogerB Active Member

    I sincerely doubt the size of the gas tank has any meaningful impact on sales numbers. Annoying? For long-distances drives, sure. Enough to outweigh all the other pros of the car? I wouldn't think so. Granted, if one plans to drive it using ICE the majority of the time and their biggest consideration is number of stops at the gas station per month, then a regular hybrid with a larger tank should have been at the top of the list to start with.
  16. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    As I've said before on this forum, I wouldn't give up a mile of EV range or a cubic foot of trunk space for a larger gas tank.

    Also, when you are forced to visit a gas station the time required to fill the 7-gallon tank is so brief that the local car-jackers don't have time to recognize what you're driving and decide if it is worth jacking.
  17. rockstone

    rockstone New Member

    Unfortunately no charging at work. It is a "big truck" work place.2 EV/PHEV in the whole company. I need to fill up every 3rd day ie i get around 280 miles on gas alone(drive like a granny) before i get to the pump.
    Electra likes this.
  18. Dave Ferrell

    Dave Ferrell Member

    Spot on comments, thanks! I've had the car for about 5 months, 7,300 miles. One long trip of 1,000 miles and my views of the car are remarkably similar to yours. Good car, tons of high tech (some with glitches), Honda fairly responsive at the software fixes and recalls, very comfortable and quiet to drive, a far better car in full EV, a bit odd in HV but having no range anxiety like my prior all EV makes up for it's quirks. With the $7,500 tax credit bringing the price of my Touring down to about $26,500 I think it's a solid purchase and will be a good longer term value in it's costs month to month...not so much when trade in time comes I bet but overall I'm happy with it.
  19. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Yeah that'll be a huge wild card on these things...trade-in/resale value 3 to 5 years from now, or more. Honda historically is VERY good with resale value, but the Clarity? I can hope but I can honestly see reasons for it going either way high or low. I have no idea how to even predict it, we shall see. Also you mention the $7,500 tax credit which I neglected to mention. If it were not for that credit, I'd have been far more likely to just purchase another new Accord to replace my old one instead of the Clarity...maybe the 1.5 turbo, maybe the hybrid. I am most certainly environmentally conscious, however I'm not much of a tree hugger as I'm primarily motivated by savings in my pocketbook. In no way do I feel this car is worth its price without the tax credit stacked on top. Government subsidy absolutely helps to sell this car.

    I do believe that electric cars are the future, and the future is essentially now. And if electric cars advance extremely quickly? I think this Clarity will become a dinosaur REAL quick and will simply be a short chapter in the history books.

    To be fair, when the Prius first came out some 12 years ago, I felt the hybrid drivetrain concept was too odd and complex to work well, and I predicted it would be a flash in the pan that would never last. I also was quite sure I'd never own a hybrid of any type. And I was flat wrong on both accounts. That car was and continues to be a raving success far beyond any of my wildest expectations. So I don't pretend to even come close to predicting the future of the Clarity.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
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  20. Dave Ferrell

    Dave Ferrell Member

    Yeah no way to really know but the resale on every other EV and PHEV I know about (not sure about Tesla) is awful mostly due to fear of needing to buy a $7,000 battery for them as they age. My guess is the Clarity will be the same without the advantage of high EV range to offset those costs. We shall see. But I agree that without the $7,500 tax credit the Clarity would not have been on my list of cars to buy.
  21. WantEV

    WantEV Member

    Hi craze1cars: I wonder if your experience (mileage) would have been much better if you had driven with a non-empty battery in HV mode? and slow down to 70-75 mph instead of 80? I used to do both of these two things when I went on long trips (in my now-gone gen 1 Volt), and alway saw decent gas MPG, better than EPA estimate.
  22. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Slower speed most certainly MPG would have been better. Wind resistance goes up exponentially at high speeds. I was not driving for economy and not trying to...I had places to go and I wanted to get there! LOL.

    Running with a non-empty battery I am quite certain there will be absolutely no difference. Because for example the generator will be running just as hard as it needs to in order to maintain 12 bars on the battery gauge in manually selected HV mode, as it does to maintain 2 bars on the battery gauge when it goes into forced HV mode. Maintaining a steady charge level on the battery will always take the same amount of power no matter where the battery state is currently at.
  23. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    @craze1cars, thanks for the time to post a very in depth review of a long trip. Much appreciated info there.

    FWIW, I found that going from Econ to “normal” (Econ off) made the resume acceleration of the ACC faster and more tolerable. I always drive in Econ and with ACC I just press once if I want more acceleration from the ACC.

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