2017 Honda Clarity: Monthly Update for January 2018
by Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations
Where Did We Drive It?
Where we go in our 2017 Honda Clarity is still limited by the refueling network. There is a dense network of hydrogen stations near our Santa Monica offices and up to 40 miles south of us. Too far beyond that requires range-calculated planning. So we tend to keep the car in the hands of those living near headquarters.
Since our last update, we drove the Clarity over 1,700 miles and we learned a few things about the car. For one, don't count on all filling stations being open when you drive up. They are down for maintenance with some regularity. We also experienced a wiper failure and an oil change. But this car doesn't have any oil, you say. Read on for an explanation.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
So, to be exact, we drove 1,742 miles since our last update in November, a big enough tally to impact some of our lifetime stats. On the downside, our average fell 0.4 mile per kilogram (mpkg). But thanks to a 40-mile commute in each direction, Manager of Content Production Kelly Hellwig smashed the previous range record of 269.9 miles.
Average lifetime mpkg: 58.8
EPA mpkg rating: 67 combined (68 city/66 highway)
Best fill mpkg: 69.8
Best range: 309.8 miles
Current odometer: 8,135 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"The Clarity windshield wipers aren't working," read the email in my inbox. A quick look confirmed that the wipers operated fine but there wasn't much fluid coming out. The reservoir was full, so it wasn't for a lack of juice. I checked for debris next. This wiper design does not have spray nozzles. Instead, the fluid lines run right up through the wiper housing, and the liquid essentially drools across the windshield when the driver pulls the lever. Of the eight openings, five were clogged with some sort of goop. I couldn't decide what it was, but my fingernail cleared it out just fine. Wipers fixed.
Just before sitting down to write this update, the Clarity asked for an A1 service. This is funny because in Honda-speak "A" is an oil change and "1" is a tire rotation. Considering the Honda is a fuel cell vehicle and there is no oil, we're curious to hear what the dealer says. But we imagine this is just the same system used in the combustion engine cars, so when it sees 7,500 miles on the odometer it calls for A1 service. We'll get the tires rotated at our next opportunity.
"The lack of range anxiety in this car is a huge plus over most EVs. Not only does it have substantial range, but the ability to pull into a station, top it off in 10 minutes and have all that range back again is a huge plus. Granted, there aren't many places to do that, but for those who live near a station, it's way less aggravating than dealing with overnight charging." — Kelly Hellwig, manager, content production
"Using the H2 Station Finder app for live updates is key when it comes to knowing whether pumps are available or being serviced. There aren't many options out there. So pulling up to a pump to learn it's broken and now you have to drive across town, or several towns, to fill up is frustrating to say the least." — Bryn MacKinnon, manager, content operations
"My wife really dislikes the Clarity's center console because the storage shelf and USB ports are kind of hidden, and you can't really see what's going on with that shelf from either front seat. I appreciate the open-pore wood console, and I like how much storage space the shelf underneath it offers, even if it's a pain to get my USB cable plugged in. But for my wife — especially after seeing the excellent storage in the new Accord — that console is a deal-breaker." — Will Kaufman, associate staff writer
"As nice as the Clarity is in so many ways, it's still not as refined as most cars in its price range. It can be bumpy and loud in the cabin depending on the condition of the road you're on, and even when the road is smooth, it's not always quite as buttoned-down as your average Accord. Maybe it's just loosening up as the miles roll up, but either way, owners should expect a slightly different driving experience." — Kelly Hellwig
"I'll be honest, I don't stand by the filler when the Clarity is fueling. I lock it into place and then step around to the other side of the vehicle. I do this because the pressures at work are ... well ... explosive, and I'm convinced that if there's going to be a failure point it won't be the Honda's ridiculously over-armored tank, but the third-party pump. And I don't want to be standing near it when it goes. Of course this is irrational, and of course I stand by gas tanks filling with volatile chemicals that (as anyone who has watched YouTube knows) are prone to bursting into flames. So what's the problem? Am I a Luddite? Am I just old and frightened of new things? Whatever it is, the Clarity has thus far failed to confirm my fears, but the psychological block remains." — Will Kaufman