4.7 Overall Score
Performance 4.6 Comfort 4.6 Styling 4.2 Value 4.7

Editor's Overview

The 2018 Honda Clarity isn't one car, but the name for a trio of sedans that includes a hydrogen-powered fuel-cell version, an all-electric, and a plug-in hybrid. While the fuel cell and all-electric models are limited in scope, the new Plug-in Hybrid has quickly proven to be best-in-class against rivals like the Toyota Prius Prime and Chevrolet Volt.

You'll Like The 2018 Honda Clarity If...

If you’re looking for an ultra-efficient sedan that’s easy to drive, packs commendable value and features a slew of technology and safety features, the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in is at the top of the pack. For a small niche of eco-conscious drivers, the Clarity Electric and Clarity Fuel Cell can also make sense.

You May Not Like The 2018 Honda Clarity If...

Marks against the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid are few, but one of the biggest nits we’re aware of is its exterior design. Those rear-wheel skirts may help this Honda sedan’s efficiency, but they do no favors to its style. The Clarity Fuel Cell battles a limited hydrogen infrastructure issue, while the all-electric Clarity’s 89-mile range pales against the 238-mile range of the Chevrolet Bolt.

What's New

The Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid is all-new for 2018, completing the lineup’s trio that started with the hydrogen fuel-cell and all-electric models. The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid features both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, making it the best choice for a majority of shoppers and the easiest to live with.

Interior Features

One big trait that sets the Honda Clarity apart from rivals like the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in and Toyota Mirai fuel cell is seat count: All Clarity models have room for five passengers instead of the four in those rivals. We don’t suggest long trips with three passengers in back, but it’s possible when needed. The rest of the Clarity’s cabin is also quite practical yet futuristic, with excellent fit and finish. Instead of a traditional gear lever, there are a series of buttons for Drive, Reverse, Neutral, etc., running in a spine down the center. Above is an 8-inch touch-screen display and infotainment system that is CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. The Clarity Plug-in and Clarity all-electric have sizable, 14.3-cubic-foot trunks, but the fuel-cell model’s is more limited at 11.8 cubic feet to accommodate the hydrogen tank housing.

Exterior Features

The 2018 Honda Clarity lineup of green vehicles definitely has a futuristic element going for it. This sleek 4-door sedan is a bevy of angles, curves and unique aesthetics, some of which work better than others. We like the sloped roof that almost appears to float, while the rear reminds of the sleek, latest-gen Civic. Up front, it's hard to miss the massive boomerang-shaped light treatments. While it may bring better aerodynamics, we aren't fans of the body panels that drip beyond the top of the rear wheels.

Driving Impressions

The Clarity’s propulsion systems are certainly advanced, but the beauty of this Honda is that it’s so easy to drive. Whether it’s running on hydrogen, electricity or a powertrain that has both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, the experience is seamless. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were in a Honda Accord sedan. Giveaways that you’re not is often in what you don’t experience, namely noise. The Clarity Fuel Cell and Clarity all-electric sedan glide along in near silence since there’s no internal-combustion engine. The Clarity Plug-in, the model most buyers will choose, grants up to 47 miles in all-electric driving before the gasoline engine switches on to act as a generator or power the wheels directly. Transition between the gasoline and electric powertrain is seamless. While none of these vehicles have the blazing acceleration of a Tesla, you needn’t fear being the slowest on the freeway. Acceleration is acceptable, and the Clarity’s dynamics are more than respectable for a car so focused on efficiency.

Pricing Notes

The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $34,290 for the standard model and $37,490 for the Touring trim. The Clarity Plug-in is eligible for a $7,500 federal income-tax credit, plus other local and state incentives. The Honda Clarity Electric is available in California and Oregon for lease only. The terms are $269 a month (plus tax) for three years with $1,730 plus first month’s lease due at signing. The mileage is capped at 20,000 a year. Lessees of this zero-emissions Honda also qualify for a $2,500 state rebate. The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is only available in select regions of California, and is for lease only. For those who qualify, it's a sweet deal. The terms are a 3-year lease at $369 per month (plus tax), with $2,499 down plus the first month's payment. Included is $15,000 worth of fuel over the 3-year period, and the car is also eligible for a $5,000 rebate via the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price for the latest in pricing information. As the Clarity lineup is all-new, and the Plug-in is the only one you can buy, our number crunchers have yet to predict its residual value. Traditionally, though, plug-in hybrids have fared far better than all-electric vehicles.

Notable Equipment

The new Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, the most widely available model in the lineup by far, comes in two main trims: standard and Touring. Even the standard trim brings a strong stable of features that includes 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, LED headlights and taillights, rain-sensing windshield wipers and LaneWatch, which provides real-time video of the right-side blind spot. Like more and more new Honda cars, the Clarity comes with HondaSensing, a commendable suite of safety and driver-assistance features. It bundles lane-departure warning and lane-keeping systems, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. The limited Clarity Fuel Cell and Clarity Electric are mono-spec models that are also well-equipped with these features and more, including navigation and power driver’s seat.

Notable Options

Stepping up to the Honda Clarity Plug-in Touring model adds navigation, power front seats (with 2-position memory for the driver’s seat), leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, and Ultrasuede interior. From there, options are mostly limited to dealer accessories.

Favorite Features

PLUG-IN HYBRID

The beauty of this system is it offers the best of both worlds: the ability to drive on electricity alone, or via a gasoline engine like a traditional car. That means none of the “range anxiety” that can come with an all-electric car, nor the wait times required for recharging.

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES

No matter which flavor of Clarity you go with, you'll get the Honda Sensing roster of safety and driver-assistance features that include lane-departure warning and lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control and Collision Mitigation Braking.

Under the Hood

Though all electrified, each 2018 Honda Clarity sedan is powered in its own way. The Plug-in Hybrid model uses the combination of a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and a battery-fed electric motor. The pair works seamlessly and intuitively. And while there are selectable drive modes -- Normal, Econ, Sport and HV to maintain the battery’s state of charge -- we think the simplest way to operate is just get in and drive. With a full charge and tank full of gasoline, the Clarity Plug-in has a range of 340 miles. The Clarity Electric is powered solely by an electric motor fed by a lithium-ion battery that can be recharged in roughly three hours on a 240-volt line. Its range is rated at only 89 miles. The Clarity Fuel Cell uses hydrogen gas, and through a chemical reaction creates electricity on demand. It's a futuristic application, but ultimately feels familiar. Similar to filling a car with gasoline, you use a nozzle, fill the tank in three to five minutes, then go on your way. It also benefits from a longer range -- up to 366 miles.

Clarity Plug-in Hybrid

1.5-liter 4-cylinder + Electric motor

Total horsepower: 212 horsepower

Total torque: 331 lb-ft

EPA combined rating: 42 mpg, 110 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent, electric only)

Clarity Electric

120-kilowatt electric motor

161 horsepower

221 lb-ft of torque

EPA city/highway mpg equivalent: 126/103 MPGe

Clarity Fuel Cell

Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell/AC Permanent-Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor

174 horsepower @ 4,501-9,028 rpm

221 lb-ft of torque @ 0-3,500 rpm

EPA city/highway mpg equivalent: 69/67 mpg

Editors' Notes

The 2018 Honda Clarity isn’t just one car model, but the name for a trio of ultra-efficient sedans, each powered in a different way. Honda’s Clarity lineup launched last year with a hydrogen fuel-cell model only available for lease in California, then an all-electric model for lease to California and Oregon residents. The last variant to arrive is the Clarity with the broadest appeal – a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid that is sold or leased nationwide. Boasting one of the most efficient powertrains available, the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid was named the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award winner among electric and hybrid vehicles, bettering rivals such as the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Prime and Hyundai Ioniq.

Road Test Video Reviews

2018 Honda Clarity Owner Reviews

2.81
16 Reviews
50% 6% 3 star 0% 2 star 0% 6%
Leave your review Would you recommend this vehicle?
(Select your rating)

Great Value

2018 Honda Clarity

Honda is giving these things away, so I bought one for my wife. The Good: This car gets great mpgs on long trips. Going from San Diego to San Luis Obispo was extremely pleasant, the ride was superb. And it's so great being in EV mode in an LA traffic jam while all the other hammerheads are burning gas while sitting still. Haha. Also, the interior is fantastic, the radio blasts wonderfully, and the rear seat room is at the level of limo. The Bad: The stupid adaptive cruise control is just stupid. Anyone stupid enough to not be able to + and - and "old fashioned" cruise control should not be driving. What problem was Honda trying to solve with this idiotically frustrating idea? I'm in cruise control, a car safely changes into my lane twenty feet in front of me (i.e. plenty of room) but my ACC slams my brakes on, creating a hazard to the guy behind me (who could not have appreciated it). Oh, and the driver's seatbelt latch was designed by an idiot. Reach down quickly and start pressing to release your belt... except you're not pressing on the release button, it's the body of the latch; the button is another inch or two down. The Ugly: This car's styling is so similar to the Accord (which is awesome looking) but something happened around the back wheels that take away from its presentation. But hey, the car looks way better than a Prius, Leaf, or any other green car. Overall, I am extremely pleased with this car. I'm the kind of guy who keeps a car twenty years, and this car will be for calm touring, not spirited charging around corners.

- Victor M

Not only saves by using the electric battery but also great on gas.

2018 Honda Clarity

I love my 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In. Purchased January 1, 2019 and because I generally drive short distances on the highway and in the city (10 to 25 miles one way) and keep it charged regularly, I have used less than $40.00 in gas during the first six months. I can plug it in at a local dealership, walk to the mall or movies and it's fully charged when I return. I live in the Northeast and now that the weather has warmed up, I'm getting better mileage on the battery resulting on a minimal increase in my electric utility bill. I can also charge it at home in 4.5 hours on my 240V electric outlet, vs.the 12 hours it takes with the 120V. It's stylish, rides good and quite roomy.

- Caraline

More than just a electric car

2018 Honda Clarity

I've had mine for about 10 months and so far I put over 8000 miles and used 22 gal. of gas. Most of my mileage is in the electric range and on a good weather day I can go about 60 miles on electric. During a snow storm last winter my house power was out for 9 days. I hooked up an inverter to the 12 volt battery and it ran my TV, satellite receiver, internet, cell phone booster, and a led lamp and I still had 40% power left after 9 days. Great car.

- Mike Berg

Leave your review