2017 Honda Clarity: Monthly Update for April 2017
by Calvin Kim, Road Test Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
With limited hydrogen fueling stations beyond the immediate Southern California area, we've been hesitant to push the road-tripping capability of the 2017 Honda Clarity. Therefore, most of the driving during the month of April has been around town, with a few shorter cross-town trips mixed in. This also gave many staffers an opportunity to take a turn at the "fueling" station to literally gas up.
With all the shorter trips, we haven't had a chance to really test out the effectiveness of the rear cargo volume or true long-distance seat comfort. And many of the Clarity's parts are from Honda's parts bin, so some of the pros and cons will sound vaguely like those from our recently departed 2016 Honda Civic. See how many you can match up.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Average lifetime mpkg: 58.6
EPA mpkg rating: 67 combined (68 city/66 highway)
Best fill miles/kg: 62.6
Best range: 216.4 miles
Current odometer: 1,976 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"The Clarity doesn't have the immediate torque of an electric car, especially starting from a stop. Its mid-8-second zero-60 time puts it solidly in economy car territory, but without any of the issues that come with an economy car transmission. So even though it's not quick, it's smooth and always responds right away to input. It also has well-tuned brakes, which never feel grabby. The smooth driving experience actually adds to the upscale feel of the car.
"There are certainly highs and lows. For me, the low is the handling. This is a heavy car that doesn't look or feel heavy until you try throwing it into a turn. You learn very quickly to brake early. The high has to be the sound. This car finally sounds like the future I always expected. Braking and accelerating are accompanied by whines and whooshes that are straight out of Blade Runner." — Will Kaufman, associate automotive editor
"Feels quite spacious inside. Cabin feels broad, there's lots of rear legroom even after I've adjusted the driver seat, and there are three seats back there. Superior to the Mirai, which felt like a narrow Avalon with only two rear buckets. Also, the Clarity's interior design is somewhat normal compared to the Mirai, which seemed weirdly styled to remind passengers the car is unique. My main gripe has to do with the angled sides of the center console, which manages to place a corner right where my splayed knee wants to rest.
"Ergonomically, it's fine except for three issues: the lack of telescopic range on the steering column, that loathsome push-button shifter borrowed from Honda's nine-speed products, and a touchscreen audio faceplate that lacks a volume knob — which has already been improved in the new CR-V, but not here." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"Honda did a nice job with the Clarity's interior. The textured wood trim and leather all feel upscale. Really only the switchgear felt like regular old Honda plastics. I'm more willing to forgive the sort of cheap-feeling transmission push buttons because they don't feel out of place in the car where, for example, they do in our Lincoln Continental." — Will Kaufman
"It's odd for a car that feels this upscale to lack things like parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring. I do appreciate the automatic cruise control, which, while not the best implementation, works well. The real downer in the Clarity is Honda's simply awful voice control system, which basically forces you to navigate through a series of menus from the same root menu every time you use it. You still have to pay attention to the screen to get what you want, so it doesn't make navigating the infotainment system any less distracting. There really was zero effort made to implement any sort of natural language comprehension. Luckily, the car has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which I wound up using 100 percent of the time." — Will Kaufman