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2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid Overview

Andrew Davis
Automotive Editor - March 27, 2018

While offering the pure electric and hydrogen-powered fuel cell Claritys looks good on Honda’s resume, their limited availability and lease-only status do little for the company’s bottom line. But with the introduction of the everybody, everywhere 2018 Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, Honda’s able to go beyond the boutique alt-fueler market and into the high-volume big leagues without losing valuable federal and state incentives.

What's New for 2018

The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid has just sparked to life.

Honda Clarity

Choosing Your Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

The Clarity PHEV utilizes a 1.5-liter, 16-valve, Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine with 103 horsepower and 99 pound-feet of torque and a 181-hp, 232-lb-ft electric motor. The pair sends its power to the front wheels via a multi-mode electronic continuously variable transmission.

As the engine can be used to charge the 17-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and power the front wheels directly, on gasoline alone the Clarity earns a flip-flopped EPA rating of 44 miles per gallon city, 40 highway, and 42 combined. When fully charged, a task that takes 12 hours via a standard Level 1 household outlet and 2.5 hours with a 240-volt Level 2 charger, the Clarity’s battery offers an electric-only range of 47 miles. Add all seven gallons of gas it can carry into the mix, and the combo can go a total of 340 miles between top-ups.

Those who prefer performance over parsimony can configure their Clarity to taste via its various system settings. The transmission offers Eco, Normal, and Sport modes, four levels of regenerative braking are selectable via steering wheel paddle controls, and there are a trio of available battery usage settings.

No combination can trump physics, however, and despite Honda’s use of aluminum doors, fenders, hoods, and trunk lids, their mid-size five-seater weighs in at 4,050 pounds. This means sub-eight-second zero-to-60 mph sprints and a top speed of 110 mph; not electrifying, but not embarrassing, either.

Keeping all that Clarity on track is the job of its Honda Sensing suite of electronic safety and assist systems, including adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, automatic emergency braking, and road departure mitigation and lane keeping alert, an electronic parking brake with automatic hold, and hill start assist.

The Clarity PHEV comes in two trims:


The $34,290 (prices include the $890 destination charge) “base” Clarity PHEV defies the term, as it comes with all but a handful of the available equipment as standard, including all-LED exterior lighting, automatic headlights, body-colored power exterior mirrors, and 18-inch two-tone aerodynamic alloy wheels.

Regardless of trim, there are six paints to choose from, including two metallics and four pearls, paired here with cloth upholstery in either black or beige. Heated manual front seats and a three-place rear bench with a 60/40-split-folding rear seat back and center armrest are standard model-wide as well, the latter adding area and access to the Clarity’s 16 cubic feet of trunk space.

Infotainment equipment includes an 8.0-inch high-resolution WVGA touchscreen with customizable feature settings, and a 180-watt, eight-speaker audio system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, Pandora compatibility, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and Streaming Audio, SiriusXM Radio, HD Radio, HondaLink, SMS text message function, and USB Smartphone and USB Audio interfaces.

Rounding out the features list are dual-zone automatic climate controls, a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic line guidance, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto up/down power windows with illuminated switches, power programmable locks, a tilting and telescoping steering column, multifunction steering wheel with illuminated controls, perimeter locking with push-button start, and a security system with remote entry.


The $37,490 Touring trim adds leather-trimmed seating in either black or beige depending on exterior color, an eight-way power driver’s seat with memory, a four-way power passenger’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with multifunction controls, voice recognition, a Garmin Satellite-Linked Navigation System with 3D rendering, HD Digital Traffic, lane guidance, predictive search function, and simplified voice recognition, and an additional HondaLink app that lets users set and control the car’s cabin temperature from their smartphone.

On either trim, apart from a $514 set of back-up sensors and a more aggressive-looking set of 18-inch alloys ($1,800), all that’s left is to select from Honda’s usual list of interior and exterior accessories, including a decklid spoiler ($299), illuminated door sill trim ($290), chrome door trim ($285), all-weather floor mats ($155), and a $30 first-aid kit.

CarsDirect Tip

If you want leather upholstery, integrated navigation, or both, the Touring Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is clearly the only way to go. But with smartphone integration that can handle navigation duties among the Clarity PHEV's standard features, the Touring’s $3,200 ask is a lot of money to spend for little more than power seats and upgraded upholstery.

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