Switching From Volt To Clarity

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by Aspesi4, May 31, 2018.

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  1. Aspesi4

    Aspesi4 New Member

    Hi everyone, I'm new to the forums. I'm considering making the plunge into the PHEV world and the two cars that grab my attention are the Chevy Volt and Honda Clarity due to their increased EV range. I was originally set on the Volt, but now the Clarity has grabbed my attention. I prefer the Honda name since I currently own two Hondas and have really never dealt with a GM vehicle.

    For those that have extended experience with the Volt and have transitioned to the Clarity, what are your thoughts? Do you miss anything from the Volt. The car for me will primarily be a commuter car back and forth to work about 63 miles total. I hope to achieve EV the majority of the way. I'll rarely drive with others, but it would be nice to have the option of a back seat hence why I'm considering the Clarity. Both cars qualify for the $7500 federal credit and the Massachusetts $2500 rebate totaling $10000 in savings. I get pick up the Volt LT after savings for $17,500 and the Clarity Base for about $20,000.


    Looking forward to making the jump!
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  3. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    I went from Gen 1 Volt to Clarity (technically went from Nissan Quest to Clarity, Volt was my commute vehicle). I appreciate interior material quality and some features like Power Seats (US Touring Clarity) and safety features are standard. Also appreciate the size of the Clarity, it's a reasonable family car (the Volt can be fine for smaller family).

    GM did a better job of designing the software towards nerds, with more info related to the electric drivetrain. Honda tried to make it more like a normal hybrid.

    GM has a better infotainment system in my opinion, at least for info I look for. Build quality of cars is very similar. Reliability is to early to know. My Clarity has had 1 repair, HVAC fan replacement.

    My suggestion is drive both, and don't pay MSRP for either. Try to drive both with and without charge. For our family car, the Clarity is only one I looked at due to size. Volt was out because of 4 seats only. For my vehicle I went used i3 Rex as I like it more than Volt (more headroom).
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  4. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Volt drivers are shocked, shocked by the Clarity's willingness to activate the engine to provide additional acceleration and increased overall efficiency. If you want to stay in EV mode as much as possible, and you don't care about materials and build quality, and you don't care about the comfort of rear-seat passengers, and you don't care about working with a GM dealership...the Volt is for you. Also, the Volt's door skins are steel, so they will be more resistant to door dings in the parking lot than the Clarity's weight-saving aluminum door skins.
  5. I test drove both and almost leased a Volt back in November (a week before the Clarity was available locally). I’m glad I waited.

    The previous comments are dead on. I was driving a 14 year old Lexus. I felt the Volt was going to be a compromise in terms of size and quality, but a good deal and plenty of all EV range for my predominantly short distance driving. I also found the visibility from drivers seat a little rough. I would have gone for the Premier trim if only for the blind spot sensors

    No problems with the Clarity carrying my 2 adult sized teenagers in the back seat, nor my golf clubs in the trunk. I chose the Touring edition, but I was even impressed by the interior of the base Clarity.

    Roomy, comfortable, well appointed and nimble enough. To me, the Clarity was the better fit.
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  6. Charles Hall

    Charles Hall New Member

    I dunno, I have to have a hatchback. The rules out the Clarity for me. Does the Clarity drive as well as the Volt? I really love driving my '17 Volt.
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  8. jdonalds

    jdonalds Well-Known Member

    I can't say if the Clarity drives as well as the Volt because I've not been in a Volt. But I'm continually surprised at how well the Clarity handles. There is a stretch of road going north from our town that is rated 65mph on the speed limit signs but there are some tight curves marked 45 or 55mph. Previously with the 2015 Prius there is no way I'd take those tight curves at 65 but the Clarity handles them with ease. There doesn't seem to be any body roll.

    I suppose if you pushed the Clarity and reached the point at which the tires might break free it would not be good due to the weight of the car.
  9. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    The Volt is sportier and easier to drive without starting the gas engine. The Clarity is a much larger car, hard to get this across without looking at cars side by side. The Clarity is closer in length to the minivan we had than the Volt.

    Accordingly, the trunk in the Clarity is much larger than hatch area on Volt.
    See my blog post: https://carswithplugs.com/2017/12/23/2018-honda-clarity-phev-junk-in-the-trun/
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  10. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member

    One minor note on this point; I just put the body side moldings on my Clarity for less than $150. Looks nice and will help a great deal with the potential for door dings.
    KenG likes this.
  11. loomis2

    loomis2 Well-Known Member

    Before the Clarity came out I test drove a Volt twice at the local dealer. Both test drives were a few miles of back roads, probably 45mph top speed. Both test drives the battery was between half and 3/4 full and both test drives the engine came on. That really surprised me. Just idling through the parking lot the engine was on. It was probably 45-50 degrees out. All I hear is how good the Volt is at keeping it in ev mode and that has never been my experience with that car. The engine never comes on for me in the Clarity with any sort of ev range left. You really have to push it to have the engine turn on in the Clarity.
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  13. K8QM

    K8QM Active Member

    Have you posted pictures anywhere?

  14. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member

    Good idea. I wonder if this image from the Clarity web site will paste here.....You can see the moldings on the sides of the doors. They are out far enough to be good protection (farther out than any other part of the door).

  15. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    A photo someone submitted to this forum shows the protectors mounted much higher on the side, which may not look as good but probably provides more protection. But door-ding cretins can always find a way to bypass any add-on protection. After 19 years in all-aluminum Honda Insights, I'm used to just parking further out or a couple levels higher up.
  16. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    The Volt never starts the engine no matter how hard you press the gas pedal with the following exceptions:
    1. Temperature is cold enough for ERDTT: less than 15 F or 35 F depending on setting.
    2. Engine maintenance mode: not run in 6 weeks
    3. Fuel maintenance mode: average fuel age over 1 year
    4. Hood open: start for service purposes
    5. User request: hold mode
    The Volt will never start the engine to assist with acceleration. The Volt is rated as 53 mile AER, the Clarity 0-48 mile AER.

    I have never had the engine randomly start on the Volt.

    However, I am totally ok with how Clarity works, and other than a few random engine starts the engine is better mpg and and it runs mostly gas free if desired.
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
  17. M.M.

    M.M. Active Member

    My personal experience was with 2 years in a 2013 Gen1 Volt, so I will preface this with: having driven a relative's 2017 I can say that Chevrolet fixed virtually every little complaint (nearly all related to cabin ergonomics and controls) in the Gen2s, but the cars fundamentally behave similarly so I think my observations wouldn't change that much if I had more experience with a current model.

    Fundamentally, they're both really good cars. There are things that Chevrolet nailed in the Volt that the Clarity botches, and a lot of things Honda nailed in the Clarity that the Volt isn't so good at.

    I think the biggest difference comes down to size and apparent weight. The Clarity is a much bigger car, for both better and worse. Coming from a Volt, there's way more room in the Clarity, it feels larger and more luxurious inside, it's quieter, and it feels more stable and heavy on rough roads. On the other hand, the Volt is easier to park, and feels much more spritely in all-electric driving--it feels markedly more peppy and responsive.

    Which is more important to you will depend entirely on taste.

    The other big difference is in the drivetrain; in terms of design decisions made, the Volt feels very much like an electric car that happens to have a long-range gasoline backup, while the Clarity feels like a really good hybrid that doesn't turn the gas engine on much. For example, put the Volt in sport mode and step on the accelerator, and it goes fast all electric. You get very little performance improvement if the gas engine is running, and it won't start unless it absolutely has to. Put the Clarity in Sport and it turns on the gas engine at about halfway down on the pedal, with no indicator of when it's going to do that, and it doesn't get anywhere near full acceleration performance without the gas engine running. It's by no means anemic all-electric, but there is a very noticeable performance advantage to the gas engine running.

    Whether you care will depend entirely on taste and driving style.

    The one-pedal-driving functionality on the Volt is also much better, if you're into that. Just put it in L and you're almost in one-pedal driving. The Clarity has regen paddles, which are fun, but even at maximum the regen is weak, and you need to put it in Sport mode to get it to hold a regen setting, which has the tradeoff of the car wanting to turn on the ICE when you go even a bit heavy on the accelerator. I've adjusted, but I still find myself wishing for an L gear that doesn't exist.

    Whether you care will, again, depend entirely on taste.

    The Clarity has much cooler driving technology--mild auto-steer, adaptive cruise control you only get on the technology-package-loaded Volt, and low-speed follow where it will actually stop if the car in front of you stops. Those are all kinds of fun. On the other hand, the basic cruise control on the Volt is much better at holding speed and honestly I prefer everything about it other than the adaptive following. Give me the choice and I'd take the Volt's package--I went from feeling like "This is the best cruise control I have ever used in any vehicle, and it behaves exactly how I wish cruise control would, except for adaptive follow." to "This cruise control is okay, but it's mushy, annoying, and I find myself having to manually manage it all the time."

    Once again, which, if either of those two areas you care about, and how much you'll enjoy one or the other or it will bug you, comes entirely down to taste.

    The Clarity has no front parking sensors available. This absolutely sucks, and I'm fiercely annoyed by it. On the other hand, it has the right-side camera, which is totally awesome, and the backup camera is much better.

    The heater is more efficient in the Clarity when on battery, which is really nice, and makes the lack of a heated steering wheel less annoying. On the other hand, the heated seats take longer to warm up than the Volt.

    Those are the particulars that have stuck out the most to me coming from one car to the other.

    One more general thing I'll say is that the 2018 Clarity's hybrid drivetrain does feel kind of like a "version 1.0" vehicle; there are glitches, weird oversights, inconsistencies, questionable design decisions, and if you're being picky (emphasis important--not everyone will notice or care) it feels like there are a lot of kinks to work out. The user interface for it is also needlessly complicated and poorly explained (it's entirely unclear that HV Charge mode is for mountain driving, for example). In contrast, even in 2013 the Volt's drivetrain logic felt rock-solid, and I always felt like I knew exactly what it was doing, why it was doing it, and it made sense to me. But then, I'm an engineer, so I'm probably a lot more sensitive to controls weirdness than most people.

    The good news: There's no wrong decision. Overall, they're both really good vehicles, and now that there's a mid-sized sedan with an all-EV range of over 40 miles to compete with the Volt there's no reason left not to buy a plug-in hybrid.
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  18. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Everything posted above is spot on and you can take it to the bank!
    I have to start by saying my only experience in the Volt was a test drive in 2015, that as much as I wanted a PHEV, prevented me from buying it.
    To me it’s just too small, too hard to get in and out of, and too hard to see out of. At my stage in life I am not prepared, able, or willing to have to sqeeze into a shoe box and contort and fold my self into a human origami pretzel just to get in and out of my car. Not to mention risking development of claustrophobia.
    The Clarity is so much larger and especially wider and taller. It’s more like an Accord. At 6’, I was able to raise the seat almost all the way up and not be touching the headliner. This way it’s so much easier to get into and out of. And the sight lines are way better.
    The inside of the Volt seemed the size of Rhode Island while the Clarity seems like Texas or Alaska.
    It’s a rare individual who will test drive both on the same day and want the Volt.
    The Volt may have better software, but the Clarity has the room and comfort. I find the Clarity stays in EV mode all the time for me with normal driving (not being Mario Andretti but not Mr. MaGoo’s grandma either). I’ve gone 2000 miles and 3 1/2 months with no ICE usage except for the very occasional (<10 miles total) Service Check Mode/battery protect thing.

    I will bet you $10 that if you test drive both on the same day, you will buy the Clarity. If you don’t, PM me a picture of you and your new Volt and I’ll pay up!
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  19. loomis2

    loomis2 Well-Known Member

    Except for the blue line around the speedometer.
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  20. KenG

    KenG Member


    Sent from my iPhone using Inside EVs
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  21. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    I nominate KenG’s pix as best depiction of a Clarity on the forum. He color coded his Clarity to the body of water behind it!
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
  22. Grumpie

    Grumpie New Member

    I'm also currently in the market for a second car and was considering the Volt vs the Clarity.

    By way of background, I've owned a Nissan Leaf (Gen 1) then a Honda Fit EV and I now drive a Bolt. The Bolt might in some ways be the nicest car I've ever driven (including, at times, my old Lexus SC430!) BUT by a very very wide margin, GM is the worst car company I have ever dealt with. I might even consider going back to a gasoline car one day, but I hope to never ever have to buy a GM car ever again.

    So in short, for me, it's the Clarity over the Volt but that is not based on the merits of the vehicle itself. If like me, you've never dealt with GM before, be prepared for an education :)
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  23. M.M.

    M.M. Active Member

    Does yours do that? Because mine sure doesn't if you are in EV mode and switch to Sport or Normal, although it would certainly make sense.

    For me, the only time the white/blue line works is in HV mode, which isn't what I'm talking about.

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