Car of the Year Car Reviews

Honda Clarity: 2019 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

Driving Honda's test bed for next-gen fuel economy solutions

Driving Honda's test bed for next-gen fuel economy solutions

WE LIKE Battery-engine integration, good ride, luxe interior

WE DON’T LIKE Questionable exterior styling, body roll

The Clarity, Honda’s test bed for next-gen fuel economy solutions, is about the same size as an Accord but rides on a bespoke platform. Although it’s offered in fuel cell, battery-electric, and plug-in hybrid variants, Honda only provided us with the latter.

Honda seems to follow Toyota’s design aesthetic for alternative fuels: If you want to save the world, we’re going to make sure you stand out. As we found, though, it’s not always in a good way.

“It may have the profile of a Citroen SM, but none of the lines or surfaces make sense,” Chris Theodore said, adding this caveat: “The interior trim is light, airy, and somewhat futuristic. Rear-seat legroom is generous, and there’s plenty of storage.”

Angus MacKenzie described the interior as “restrained, upscale, almost elegant, with well-considered materials choices.” The sweet Alcantara suede inlay on the center console sweeps into the detailing for both front and rear doors. Neat touches include phone pockets for back-seat occupants. But the lack of lumbar support and a last-gen infotainment interface (good luck finding the USB port, and why no volume knob?) hold it back.

While a plug-in hybrid isn’t meant for hard driving, Frank Markus gibed, “Having a ‘sport’ button leads me to believe that the car might be able to go around a turn without screaming in agony.”

During more routine driving, this plug-in hybrid fares well against the Chevrolet Volt—though its 47 miles (76 km) of battery range falls short against its Detroit foe. “Ride is spectacular,” Zach Gale said. “It feels quicker than 7.5 seconds to 60. And at $37,495 USD, this one is not much more than loaded midsize sedans.”

READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

2018 Honda Clarity (PHEV)
Base Price/As tested $34,295/$37,495
Power (SAE net) 103 hp @ 5,500 rpm (gas)/181 hp (elec)/212 hp (comb)
Torque (SAE net) 99 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm (gas)/232 lb-ft (elec)
Accel, 0-60 mph 7.5 sec
Quarter-mile 15.9 sec @ 87.9 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 131 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.78 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 27.9 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 44/40/42 mpg, 110 mpg-e
Vehicle Layout Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
Engine/Transmission 1.5L Atkinson-cycle DOHC 16-valve I-4 plus front electric motor/Cont variable auto
Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 4,043 lb (57/43%)
Wheelbase 108.3 in
Length x Width x Height 192.7 x 58.2 x 73.9 in
Energy Cons, City/Hwy 77/84 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.46 lb/mile