Road Trip Report

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by Reyn, Jun 14, 2022.

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  1. Reyn

    Reyn New Member

    My wife and I did a eight day, seven nights road trip in June 2022 from Southern California to southern Utah (and back) to visit various national and state parks in my 2021 Clarity Touring PHEV. This trip involved a wide range of freeway speeds (up to 80 mph in Utah), near constant use of air-conditioning (high temps in Utah were in the mid 90s to low 100 degree F), and significant elevation changes. I started with a fully charged battery and full gas tank, and ended the journey by topping up the battery and filling the gas tank. I pumped gas several times over the eight days, and charged the battery during four of the seven nights. Detailed records were kept. I drove almost all the time in HV mode.

    I drove 1914 miles, used 37.317 gallons of regular gas (including the final top up) and 35.47 kWh of battery charge (including the final top up). The battery charge use was calculated as follows: I kept note of the SOC at the start and end of each charging session. I added up all the percentage changes and multiplied the total by 14.5 kWh (the usable capacity of the battery.)

    If the 35.47 kWh can be assumed to have contributed 35.47 x (47/14.5) = 115 miles of range, then the total miles driven on gasoline would be 1914 - 115 = 1799 miles. This resulted in an effective gas mileage rate of 1799/37.317 = 48.21 miles per gallon.

    My wife and I are very pleased with the car’s efficiency. We tried to keep the battery level high by charging at the hotels. However, our hotel in Moab, where we stayed three nights, did not have an L2 charger and the Moab city hall charger was offline, and so I had to do HV+ a few times to charge the battery to approximately 60% SOC to help with steep climbs.

    @Mr.FixIt, I have (since the trip) purchased an OBDII reader and after 5269 miles on the odometer my battery capacity as of June 12, 2022 is 54.12 Ah. I took possession of the new car in September 2021.

    I did not find the 7 gallon gas tank to be a limitation. My 60+ year old body needs a break every 2.5 to 3 hours, and I used that as an opportunity to take a bathroom break and also fill up gas. I had never previously in my daily commutes found the seat to be uncomfortable, but after spending almost six hours one day driving this car, I found myself with a sore behind. Any suggestions for a seat cushion?
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  3. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the excellent report.
    I took the liberty of entering your capacity reading into the shared spreadsheet. Glad you have joined the ranks of us Clarity owners.
    You clearly have learned how to effectively use the car (maintaining a reasonable SOC while on a long HV trip).
  4. Reyn

    Reyn New Member

    I learned by lurking and reading on this and the other Clarity fora.

    My questions are: Is the 40 mpg highway EPA rating a significant understatement of this car's gas mileage? Was that 40 mpg rating measured with a discharged battery with zero EV range? Is there some interaction between the motor and engine in the HV mode (at higher charge levels) that results in an efficiency that exceeds what the HV mode can do at low charge levels?
  5. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    Well, although I cannot find any flaws in your math, I am somewhat surprised by your 48 mpg.
    I probably would have expected low to mid 40's rather than high 40's.

    I suspect much of your trip was 'high' speed (maybe not consistently the 80 mph that you experienced in Utah), but highway speed at any rate.
    I don't think there is any 'magic' with higher charge levels in HV mode. Fundamentally you are simply operating on gasoline.

    It will be interesting to hear from others to see if they can confirm or deny the possibility of achieving 48 mpg on this kind of a trip. Your degree of meticulousness and your calculations seem indisputable to me. Even if you are off a little on the contribution of 'electric' miles along the way, it doesn't change the story much at all because these 'EV' miles are such a small portion of the overall total. Miles divided by gallons used equals miles per gallon. 48 is very good !
    Madmartigen likes this.
  6. Robert_Alabama

    Robert_Alabama Well-Known Member

    I consistently get 40+ mpg on interstate trips, running with traffic on 70 mph highways. On a recent trip, I drove 550 miles total, probably got 70 miles on battery, and burned just over 11 gallons of gasoline. That's essentially 43-44 mpg and I was on 70 mph interstate most of the trip with the A/C on and the car pretty loaded. If you drive 2 lane roads with 55 mph or less speed limits, I've seen mpg go well over 50. It's hard to beat the economics of this car.
    Madmartigen likes this.
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  8. It’s been awhile since we did one of our 700 mile one day trips. At 75-80mph, with a full battery, in warm weather, the car gets 36mpg in HV.
  9. Dan Albrich

    Dan Albrich Well-Known Member

    I've driven Eugene to Tucson a few times to visit family there. My car is 2018 so older. I'd say I average about 36mpg but I do a lot of hilly remote terrain and don't charge EV at all except right when I leave home, then its all gas all the time even to HV charge to keep EV above 10 estimated miles of range. I also try to get to and stay at 80Mph or best available speed. i.e. The trip requires two 10 hour days per-direction and I want to minimize time in car. Still, very pleased with fuel economy as these things go. At one point I measured 32 mpg (worst I've seen in Clarity) for one tank of gas but I was driving against a fierce head wind in that stretch. -Dan
  10. coutinpe

    coutinpe Active Member

    One can't overestimate the effect of head wind on fuel economy. On the same stretch of road (I-15 LV to LA) with the same driving habits I've had a range of 50+ down to below 30, all depending on where the wind was blowing from and its strength. But it can be worse. One of my worst nightmares came to pass one winter day when I had to go to LA and the I-15 was closed at the mountain pass due to ice/snow. I had to take a detour south through the 95 down to near Needles and then the I-40 westwards towards Barstow CA. Driving southwards everything looked fine, with average fuel economy at high 40's and HV estimate range on 320 miles, so I was confident I had enough juice and fuel to reach my usual midway refuel point at Barstow, 228 miles away. But when we headed west on the I-40, the west wind was really strong and fuel economy went down to 17 mpg consistently. That stretch of road goes through the middle of nowhere with no town, no pump, no nothing for tens and tens of miles, and without knowledge of the region to find any hidden pump, I saw my tank practically evaporate and my battery gone on 110 miles without seeing a single pump and terrified of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere on that darn desert on a winter storm. Until at the last minute we bumped into a ghostly place called Ludlow with a tiny gas station... The next 60 miles to Barstow took half a tank. How I wished the Clarity had a bigger tank! Fortunately, from there we went southwards with the wind now on the side, so fuel economy went back to the 40's, I was even able to do some HV+ to recharge the battery, and the big down slope at Cajon Junction made the rest. We ended with more than half the tank and half the battery. So take home lessons for long trips: 1) NEVER TRUST THE RANGE ESTIMATES. Fuel economy varies wildly with different geographical factors, not the least wind. 2) Don't wait to refill when you have a chance and you don't really know what's coming next, even if you still have 3/4 of the tank full...
    David Towle, Mmisola and Dan Albrich like this.
  11. Dan Albrich

    Dan Albrich Well-Known Member

    Yes, and just to second this. If Clarity even had a 10 gal tank I'd be happy. The 7 gal tank under some conditions (noted by coutinpe), is bad. I've seen my estimated range in hilly and windy terrain drop to about 240mi total. That never happens when I'm home, but yeah, in remote places where the fuel economy gets zapped due to wind, bad weather, cold temps etc. And if I'm seeing 240 estimated, then I feel the need to stop before I drop below 100mi estimated. So it makes for a lot of stopping.
    Sario77 likes this.
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  13. Reyn

    Reyn New Member

    It is very helpful to know that a head/tail wind can have such a significant impact on mileage and range. In my case, I have no idea whether I benefitted from or was hampered by wind. I am risk averse -in general - and therefore during the trip I used to top up the gas tank every time I took a bathroom break - once every 2.5 to 3 hours. I think that the advice to not take the range estimate too seriously, and to top up the tiny gas tank more often are both good.

    My intention in calculating the effective mpg of the Clarity was to help me make a decision on whether I should buy this car from Honda when my lease ends next year. I have a reservation in for a VW ID.4 and have also been looking at the Hyundai Ioniq 5, but even with the Ioniq 5’s very fast DC charge speed, a long road trip like the one I did would have taken significantly longer in an EV (I checked using ABRP) - and on top of that, there are a limited number of Electrify America stations in southern Utah. Next year, my wife and I want to do a much longer road trip. What I am currently thinking is that I should hold on to the Clarity for a few more years.
  14. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Do you expect your ID.4 in less than a year when your lease is up? Have you checked the dealer "market adjustments" on Ioniq 5s? Did you check ABRP for DC charging stations that offer 800-Volt charging?

    We're glad to have our Clarity for long trips because there's no obviously better alternative--and it's paid for. Of course, an EV is the best way to side-step the soaring price of gasoline if you travel further than the Clarity PHEV's 47-mile EV range frequently.
    Walt R likes this.
  15. Reyn

    Reyn New Member

    @insightman, my Insight purchase option will happen around May 2023. My ID4 reservation has not locked in, but I expect to receive the car by Feb or March 2023. I am going through a VW dealer that sells cars at MSRP. There are a couple of southern California Hyundai dealers who will sell the Ioniq 5 at MSRP, but the supply is limited.

    I did specify 800V charging stations when calculating the travel time for the Ioniq 5. Of course, whether a station is working, or available is another matter. As you can imagine, there are a lot of uncertainties with long distance road tripping with non-Tesla EVs. My wife and I will be partially retired next year and we want to do a lot of road trips while we can, and the current state of the DC fast charging network doesn't fill me with much confidence. The Clarity's performance on the recent road trip (which I reported at the top of this thread) makes me think that it will meet my needs for another 3 years or so.
    Meanwhile, when my reserved ID4 arrives I will encourage my wife to use that as her car instead of her current Acura SUV.
    insightman likes this.
  16. DaleL

    DaleL Active Member

    I just drove to Ohio and back to Florida last weekend (6/10/2022 up and 6/13/2022 back). I got just under 41 mpg. I tend to drive about 5 mph over the limit to keep up with traffic. It took 14 hours 10 minutes to go the 880 miles to Columbus and 13 hours 20 minutes to return. (Hugh jam on I-26 on the way north.) I find the driver's seat on my 2018 Clarity Touring to be quite comfortable. One of the best of any vehicle I have ever owned.
  17. Was that figure provided by the vehicle or calculated by a human? I’ve found the car to be approximately 10% optimistic. 40 indicated, works out to 36 on paper.
  18. DaleL

    DaleL Active Member

    I agree; the car's computer overestimates by about 10%. The computer estimated about 45 mpg. The 41 was based on fuel consumed (purchased) divided into the odometer miles travelled, minus the estimated miles driven by EV at the beginning of each long trip drive.
  19. PHEV Newbie

    PHEV Newbie Well-Known Member

    I take the back roads during road trips (50-55 mph). I get 52-53 mpg at that speed (based on what's pumped into the car) in HV and have a far prettier drive. Usually doesn't take much more time than on the interstate because I can map more direct, shorter routes and without tolls.
  20. David Towle

    David Towle Active Member

    I don't have specific numbers for all situations to back this up, but after 3.5 years of ownership it seems my Clarity consistently sees a bigger percentage drop in mpg under all non-ideal conditions than my previous gas cars. Whether its low temperature (even if heat is not being used), high winds, big hills, or high speeds, when you are at non ideal conditions things go south a bit worse percentage-wise than my previous cars. The good thing for me is that my move to Florida has resulted in me driving at near ideal conditions most all the time so it does not affect me much. And even in non ideal conditions the results are still better than my ICE cars.

    Maybe this is because it is tuned to perfection for ideal conditions, maybe because my ICE cars were much higher powered and the engine gets more efficient when called on to do more, I'm not sure.
  21. Mass Clarity owner

    Mass Clarity owner New Member

    Thanks for sharing your trip report and your data. Let me join the chorus of those promoting PHEVs as the optimal solution for trips like this.

    We recently drove our 2018 Clarity base model 1100 miles from Boston to Niagara Falls and back; taking our time during the week to meander through the NY finger lakes on our way out. Through a combination of staying at hotels, inns or a friends' house, we were able to charge every night of our trip. And, during the days, we visited several state parks to go hiking, while our car charged for free at the parks' charging stations. in places like Watkins Glen, Letchworth, and even Niagara Falls itself we were able to secure a free L2 charge. Locating these chargers took a (very ) little bit of planning, kind of like a scavenger hunt, but with no pressure, because we always had ICE backup if needed. And with more and more charging stations being built (albeit most of them are not free) finding an L2 charge when needed on trips like this is only going to get easier.

    In the end, we drove 1100ish miles and used about 15 gallons of gas (most of which was consumed on the way home when we drove on I-90 nonstop on the return leg).

    I cannot over emphasize how perfectly suited this car is for a driving vacation like this one (hopping from inn to inn, park to park, etc. along backroads and rolling state highways).
  22. coutinpe

    coutinpe Active Member

    I'm very much of the same way of thinking as you are. While the Clarity is not perfect, it's still the worst PHEV on the road, except all the others. So FWIW I would stick to the Clarity. I plan to keep mine at least until a PHEV with better specifications comes around (i.e. comparable or better comfort and longer EV and HV ranges), or until the battery shows evident signs of degradation, whatever happen first. I am not ready to tie myself to a full EV yet, at least not with the current charge speeds and charging availability. I'm a practical guy, not too much cause-driven... yet, I would love some genius inventing a device to regenerate/recharge from head winds energy. That would get me closer...
    Dan Albrich likes this.
  23. turtleturtle

    turtleturtle Active Member

    That was a really long intro to get a seat cushion recommendation, lol.

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