Specifications of Honda Clarity 1.5 (212 HP) Plug-in Hybrid Automatic
General characteristics of Honda Clarity 1.5 (212 HP) Plug-in Hybrid Automatic
Though not an alternative fuel vehicle, the comparable Honda Accord with its conventional engine also slots into the midsize sedan class. In comparison to the Honda Accord, the Clarity Fuel Cell has bigger dimensions and a heavier weight because of its specialized technology. At 192.7 inches in overall length, the Clarity is 0.5 inches longer than the Accord, although its 108.3-inch wheelbase is 3.1 inches shorter. With an overall height of 58.2 inches and a width of 73.9 inches, the Clarity is both taller and wider than the Accord as well. The Clarity's fuel cell powertrain and other special components result in a hefty curb weight of 4,134 pounds, making it over 1,000 lbs heavier than the base Accord.
Beneath the unorthodox skin of the 2021 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is a visionary piece of advanced technology. A 103 kW 33-liter Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell is used that intelligently converts hydrogen into nothing but clean water and electricity. This is then fed to a single AC electric motor with outputs of 174 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque; those specs are nothing sensational. A single-speed direct-drive transmission forwards outputs to the Clarity's front wheels. While the FWD Clarity's performance is availed with peppy and instantaneous electrified torque off the line and throughout the low-speed range, the powertrain's motivation slowly starts to taper off past the 60 mph mark. Highway performance becomes very humdrum, although merging and commencing highway overtaking maneuvers are still passable. However, it's the low-end city usability we like so much, combining the benefits of an electric powertrain with the cleanliness of hydrogen. No towing capacity has been provided for the Clarity Fuel Cell, just like many regular EVs.
With the front-wheel-drive Clarity Fuel Cell's considerable heft, don't expect it to exhibit any level of performance and spirited handling capability; it's not a vehicle that's going to get you anywhere with a massive smile on your face. The 114-pound fuel cell and electric motor are mounted to the front axle, creating a sense of heaviness over the front end, particularly when cornering. Adding to this is the Clarity's soft suspension, which tends to do a fairly subpar job of filtering out major imperfections when cornering.
The upside to the Clarity's weight is that it ensures the FCV always feels planted, lacking the floatiness of other eco-conscious hybrids and even the Clarity PHEV. Its steering is precise and responsive and nicely weighted for comfortable driving, though completely devoid of feedback. The brakes are consistently linear and easy to modulate and deliver suitable stopping power when called upon. The Clarity's throttle responses can be sharpened by engaging the Sport drive mode, which subsequently increases the effectiveness of its regenerative braking levels, but at the end of the day, this isn't a sporty car and should be driven with a heavy helping of restraint.
The core appeal of the new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is its eco-friendly ethos and relative efficiency compared with the gas mileage of conventionally-powered vehicles, which it's able to deliver along with the benefit of conveniently quick refueling times. This is in contrast to a regular EV, which can take hours to charge and often lacks a truly usable range. The EPA equates the Clarity Fuel Cell's mileage at 68/67/68 MPGe city/highway/combined, which is pretty good, with the Hyundai Nexo offering only 65/58/61 MPGe on those same cycles. However, the new Toyota Mirai XLE puts in a brilliant showing with figures of 76/71/74 MPGe. Along with the fuel cell, the Clarity also gets a 1.7kW lithium-ion battery, which together with its fuel tank capacity of 5.46 kg (12 lbs) avails the Clarity Fuel Cell with an impressive 360-mile range. However, the Toyota Mirai has an even better range of up to 402 miles.
Five average-sized adults will comfortably fit into the spacious interior of the Clarity Fuel Cell, with plenty of head- and legroom offered, and a general sensation of space throughout, thanks to a floating center console. The rearward sloping roofline only cuts into the rear headroom a little, affecting ingress and egress, but posing little threat once seated. The front and rear seats offer all-day comfort and just the right amount of support, and the front seats feature eight-way power adjustability, heating functionality, and memory settings. The cabin design is modern and the layout very intuitive and ergonomic, the overall build quality is excellent, and premium quality materials abound.
Competition is really tough for the Clarity Fuel Cell, considering that there are hardly any other hydrogen-powered vehicles available in the US for 2021. However, the all-new Toyota Mirai has arrived with better MPGe numbers and a superior range. There's no doubt that the Clarity Fuel Cell has a lot going for it though: its powertrain is sprightly, highly efficient, and ideal for routine urban commuting, its cabin is commodious, packed with creature comforts, and geared with all the driver-assist tech - and it can be refueled quickly too.
Unfortunately, there are many more areas where the Clarity Fuel Cell falls short, including in its infotainment system, which is infuriatingly difficult to use while driving, its limited trunk capacity, the fact that it's only available in the state of California, and the limited hydrogen fueling network. Besides the new Toyota, there's also the Hyundai Nexo to worry about; its SUV packaging makes it more practical and more appealing, and in truth, it's the better fuel cell vehicle.
There is no cash price for the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell as it can only be leased. At present, it's also only available at select dealerships within the state of California. Once an initial deposit of $2,878 is paid, a monthly installment of $379 is then required for a duration of 36 months. That ends up equating to a rather pricey fee, but Honda sweetens the deal with up to three years or $15,000 worth of complimentary hydrogen fuel. Moreover, as an emissions-free vehicle, the Clarity Fuel Cell is eligible for California's clean vehicle rebate of up to $4,500 and the state's HOV lane rights. The new Toyota Mirai is one of the Honda's biggest rivals for sale; the Mirai begins at a cost of $49,500 in the US.