2017 Honda Clarity: Monthly Update for June 2017
by Will Kaufman, Associate Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
This month, our 2017 Honda Clarity handled commuter duty. Maybe someday we'll be brave enough to try a road trip, but we haven't gotten there yet. So far, the Hondanburg is proving itself a comfortable, competent and thoughtfully designed alternative to battery electric cars. Then again, we've had it for a few months, so some of the shine is starting to wear off.
Longtime readers might remember our 2016 Toyota Mirai, the only other hydrogen car on the market. In June, we published a head-to-head comparison of the two cars' track test results. It's always interesting to see how vehicles that weren't meant for track driving fare in our vehicle testers' hands.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Because of all the commuter miles, we managed a new record. Our best fill in June was 69.8 miles per kilogram (mpkg), handily beating the EPA estimate. Remember, the Clarity is rated higher for city driving than highway driving, so all of that time it spent slowly inching along Los Angeles freeways paid off.
Of course, our lifetime average was bumped up less than 1 mpkg. At 60.6 mpkg it still falls substantially short of EPA estimates. Personally, I blame the awesome whooshing noises brought on by full throttle (noted in April's update and in the Mirai head-to-head mentioned above).
Average lifetime mpkg: 60.6
EPA mpkg rating: 67 combined (68 city/66 highway)
Best fill mpkg: 69.8
Best range: 269.9 miles
Current odometer: 3,610 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"Hmm. I remember liking this car the first time I drove it a month ago. I thought it had decent dynamics. But this time it feels heavy and — sloppy is too strong a word — unkempt? Out of sorts? Nothing is wrong, but it steers and moves like overcooked spaghetti. I like my cars to be al dente. Terrible metaphor, but you get the idea. And now I'm hungry." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"The low-end electric torque on the Clarity is so nice to live with on a day-to-day basis. It's such a great daily driver in city traffic (much like our long-term Bolt) because of how well it gets off the line." — Travis Langness, automotive editor
"I love the little 'seats' that flip down for the cupholders in the front seat. If I order a short cappuccino from Starbucks (it's a thing, look it up), my cup doesn't disappear into the deep cupholder. The shortened cupholder is also great for my cellphone (if I put it in the tray under the center console, it slides around)." — Bryn MacKinnon, manager of content operations
"While I don't love the gear selector on the center console (borrowed from Acura), I really do enjoy the Clarity's interior. Especially the nearly matte surfaces near the center console. The dashboard and driver (TFT) display are simple, without extravagant extras or flashy chrome. This is an interior that's easy to live with from first glance." — Travis Langness
"Fueling this thing is weird. It's easy, but you have to take the pump's word for it when it says the tank's full. On two consecutive tanks the fuel economy was the same on the car's meter — as it should have been — but wildly different when I did the math myself. That's because the car didn't really fill all the way on the first tank (even though the pump said as much), so on the next tank the car took a lot more than it should have considering the lowish number of miles I drove. It was underfilled the first time.
"'Underfilled' isn't quite the right term; instead it's better to say that the tank filled to a lower pressure than it should have. Anyway, it amounts to the same thing." — Dan Edmunds
"The fact that you can fill the Clarity up just as quickly as you can a gasoline-powered car is a really big plus. If you live in an apartment or somewhere you can't install a Level 2 charger, this is the clear alternative to battery EV power. I might take a Sawzall to those rear fender overhangs, but otherwise I'm really starting to like this one." — Travis Langness
"Can we stop with the it-has-to-look-different-because-it-is-different styling already? This thing is horrid-looking. How does this approach get people interested in buying one? Right! It doesn't." — Dan Edmunds