Electric/Hybrid Car Best Buy of 2019
- A plug-in hybrid that drives like Honda's best
- Comes loaded with features, safety and comfort
- Represents value from start to finish
- Pricing starts at just over $34,000 | See Clarity models for sale near you
Have a seat -- it's time to read about the 2019 Honda Clarity. Which is to say, it's time to read about a masterpiece of timing. Two years ago, Honda created the first two of its three 4-door 5-passenger Clarity sedans -- the Clarity Fuel Cell and the Clarity Electric. But it wasn't until last year that Honda's poster child for alternative-powered transportation options really started to get some well-deserved attention. 2018 was the year that the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) entered the frame and took home its first Best Buy Award in its freshman year.
Starting at just over $34,000, the newest Clarity serves as one car that could please electric-car fans and old-school long-distance road-trippers alike. With a 48-mile pure-electric range, the Clarity is great for average daily commutes to work, with a 2.5-hour recharge at the end of the day using a Level 2 (240-volt) charger. And then, when the need for a driving-vacation car comes up -- or if you just miss out on a recharge opportunity -- the Clarity PHEV's 1.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine picks up the slack and you fill it and forget it just like you would a normal car.
One Car is Really All That You Need
Historically, gasoline-only-powered vehicles have been running into controversy because they run, well, on gasoline only. In the long run, fossil fuels are limited, and in the short run, gasoline prices seem to go capriciously in one direction over time. That's why carmakers live in search of alternatives. Electric vehicles on the other hand still need to wrestle with the dual issues of range anxiety and charge time. As we found in our PHEV Comparison Test, plug-in gas/electric hybrids -- cars capable of pure-electric power or a combination of electric motors and a gasoline engine working together -- represent the best current-world solution.
That comparison test shined a very positive light on the Honda Clarity PHEV. It's rare, almost unheard of, for an electric car to be a household's only vehicle. The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid solves that issue, allowing you to run on pure electric power for nearly 50 miles (or more, if traffic is stop-and-go enough) and supply and range of 340 miles on a single charge/fill-up.
How Could One Car Give me All This Stuff?
Best of all, the 2019 Clarity is pure Honda. Imagine your favorite Honda sedan, Accord or Civic for instance, and rest assured that the Clarity driving experience is just as easy. It gives you a total output of 212 horsepower (and 331 lb-ft of torque) virtually on demand, which isn't going to give you street-racer cred, but it'll more than lift you to freeway speeds and let you pass slower traffic pretty much at will. It's also got selectable drive modes -- Normal, Econ, Sport -- to fit your driving mood of the moment, or "EV" when you want to insist on electric-only operation. Oh yeah, the Clarity also delivers 42 mpg.
Power comes on cleanly, evenly and carries the Clarity smoothly to its destination, and the brake feel is natural. Push past the detent in the accelerator pedal and you can force the engine to kick to help the electric motor. On any road, the last thing you'll complain about is the ride quality -- this is another case where Honda = comfortable.
The exterior styling is a definite gray area depending on your personal taste, but the interior -- simple, stylish quality -- uses good materials and comes with an 8-inch touch screen and 21st-century infotainment choices. The second row does its best to accommodate three adults, and the wide-mouth trunk will carry a decent amount of cargo.
Another strong point that tips in the Clarity PHEV's favor is the exceptional standard protection of Honda Sensing. In the Clarity, this driver-assistance set includes forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.
A Lifetime of Value in One Car
As a KBB Best Buys winner, inherent value is key. In true Honda style, value is also a given for the 2019 Clarity PHEV. In addition to earning our last year's Best Buy award and a superb 5-Year Cost to Own figure, the Clarity was also one of the top finishers in our Best Resale Value Awards, holding on to its value over time better than any of its direct competition (and burying electric cars). Our ratings for the 2019 model give a 9.3 on a scale of 10 for Value and a 9.4 for overall Recommendability. You want more: The Clarity PHEV still qualifies for a full $7,500 in federal tax credit.
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