How Quick is the 2018 Honda Clarity? [Video Review]

Roman tests Honda’s new Clarity in Calistoga, California

Nearly ten years ago, Honda created the first generation of its fuel-cell vehicle, the FCX Clarity. That version was based on the 2006 FCX Concept, and was only leased in Southern California. A lack of infrastructure – namely, hydrogen filling stations, stopped that car from achieving anything close to mainstream status. Over a period of 6 years (2008-2014), Honda leased just 46 FCX Clarity units to California drivers at $600 per month.

Now, Honda’s back with a new Clarity. There’s still a fuel-cell version – retail deliveries in Southern California began in December 2016 – but there are also two new ones. There’s a pure electric plug-in vehicle, and the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid. The plug-in version of the Clarity is the only one that Honda is going to sell in all 50 states. It competes mainly against plug-in versions of the Toyota Prius Prime, Ford Fusion, and Chevrolet Volt. How does the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, Fuel Cell and Electric stack up against its rivals? TFL’s Roman Mica heads to Calistoga, California to test all three models in this TFLcar video review.

Just how quick is each version of the new Honda Clarity?

Apart from just driving each version of the new Clarity, we test just how quickly each one accelerates to 60 MPH. They all use electric motors as their primary method of propulsion. Is any one version faster than the other? Check out the video above to find out! Or check below for the results:

Honda Clarity 0-60 times:

Plug-in Hybrid: 8.9 seconds

Fuel Cell: 8.8 seconds

EV: 8.9 seconds

The fuel-cell model nudges out the 0-60 test by a whisker. Remarkably, all the cars came in around the same mark. Below is more information on the car that is available nationwide: the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid.

Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid Model Overview

The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid is going to be the model’s volume leader, as it’s the only one going on sale in all 50 states. The Clarity represents Honda’s attempts to bring EV technology to the mainstream masses. By 2030, Honda wants electrified cars to comprise at least two-thirds of its global car sales. The plug-in hybrid model is on sale now and is manufactured at Honda’s Saitama factory in Japan.

Inside and Out: Exterior and Interior Features

On the outside, the front and rear end styling on the Clarity cribs other Honda models such as the Accord and the Civic. By convention, plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars aren’t stylish or sexy. Take the old Nissan LEAF or Chevrolet Bolt as examples. They’re practical, reasonable cars for your daily commute, but neither are visually enticing. Honda aims to change that with this car. The front end in particular is modern and a bit more sexy, if a bit contentious.

Inside all versions Honda Clarity are interior features you’d find in other Honda models. There’s no gear selector to shift this car around. Instead, there are buttons on the center console for Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive. It’s spacious, comfortable and an easy car in which to spend a lot of time, such as when you’re commuting.

Range and Performance Figures

If you think the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid functions like an ordinary hybrid with a CVT, you’d be wrong. In fact, there are no gears at all. The Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid uses a direct-drive, single speed setup. So it primarily relies on its electric motors for propulsion, but engages a clutch when it needs to bring in the 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine as a wingman.

When you put your foot down and use both the engine and the electric motors, you’ll get a combined output of 212 horsepower. Underneath the car, there’s a 17 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, which is good for an EV-only range of 47 miles. If you want to drive on electricity only, you can charge the batteries to 80% in 20 minutes, or 2.5 hours on a level-2, 240 volt charger.

Despite the power, a Type R this is not. Think of it more like a heavier Accord – it’s as competent as any other Honda on the road, but don’t expect a true canyon carver from this chassis. However, as a commuter car, this Clarity lives up to Honda’s reliability of comfortable, reliable transportation.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Honda Clarity Touring Plug-in Hybrid

On Sale Date: Now
Base MSRP: $34,290
As Tested: $36,600
Engine: 1.5-liter DOHC Atkinson-cycle inline-4 plus AC electric motor
Horsepower: Engine: 103 hp @ 5,500 RPM
Electric Motor:  181 hp @ 5,000-6,000 RPM
 212 hp
Torque: Engine: 99 lb-ft @ 5,000 RPM
Electric Motor: 232 lb-ft @ 0-2,000 RPM
Combined: 232 lb-ft
0-60 Acceleration: 8.9 seconds (tested)
Transmission: Single-speed; uses electric motors for propulsion
Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut w/ forged aluminum lower arms and hollow cast iron steering knuckles
Rear: Multi-link with forged aluminum arms
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs w/ paddles to control regenerative braking
Tires: Michelin Energy Saver A/S P235/45R18
Fuel economy (EPA): 44 City/40 Highway MPG; 110 MPGe


Wheelbase: 106.2 inches
Length:  192.7 inches
Width: 73.9 inches
Height:  58.2 inches
Turning Circle: 38.4 feet
Curb Weight: 4,052 – 4,059 pounds