2017 Honda Clarity: Monthly Update for October 2017
by Jason Kavanagh, Senior Road Test Engineer
Where Did We Drive It?
There's a pattern here, and that pattern is that the Clarity is the last car to be chosen when the car list circulates among our editors. Our 2017 Honda Clarity has some idiosyncrasies associated with refueling, of course, which inherently limits its appeal. But I suspect that even if it was a conventional car, Honda's fuel-cell science project wouldn't fare much better. For all its innovation, the Clarity is relentlessly humdrum.
Nobody said that a vision of the future would be enthralling. Whether that future comes to pass is another question entirely, but it certainly couldn't hurt to attempt to cultivate genuine enthusiasm by creating desirable future-y vehicles in the first place. Could it?
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Despite its relative unpopularity, the Clarity covered 694 miles in October. In the process, it delivered 59 miles per kilogram of hydrogen (mpkg), which is a far cry from its EPA combined rating of 67 mpkg.
I'll use this space to remind new readers (because you, the loyal Edmunds reader, already know this) that "miles per" metrics are inherently poor measures of fuel economy. Mpkg doesn't escape this criticism, though it is far less offensive than miles per gallon equivalent (mpge), which is almost completely useless.
Average lifetime mpkg: 59.2
EPA mpkg rating: 67 combined (68 city/66 highway)
Best fill mpkg: 69.8
Best range: 269.9 miles
Current odometer: 6,069 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"While there is little for me to say about the Clarity, well, there is little to say about it. I do like that it has good pickup and acceleration. There is that electric, Prius-y 'wind-down' sound as you're braking, which is a good reminder of the reason it exists. I enjoyed the space inside and the interior overall, but it's nothing to write home about. I think Honda has good intentions here; [it] just needs to do some refining on the infotainment (distracting to use while driving) and certainly the appearance." — Sarah Johnston, community manager, content
"Again, the hydrogen nozzle froze to the car. I futilely yanked, jostled and jiggled the handle (what is this, a toilet?) to dislodge it and when none of that worked, it eventually, mysteriously, came free. I'm still not certain exactly what I did to make it relinquish its grasp on the Honda, so I'll probably have to go all primate on the thing again next time I refuel it. Sigh." — Jason Kavanagh, senior road test engineer
"I have many car-crazed friends that appreciate all manner of vehicles. Yet they are consistently befuddled by the Clarity. Their frustration in attempting — and failing — to understand its raison d'être is clearly evident. They stammer, point, furrow their brows and puzzle vocally. It's not that they can't appreciate the Clarity's innovative powertrain (on the contrary, they understand how huge a feat it is to produce such a beast). It's that they simply can't compute why it exists. The underlying question is: 'What is the problem this car attempts to solve?' All I can really come up with is, well, it's a zero-emission vehicle that edges out every EV's range and demolishes their refueling time. That's about all I can come up with." — Jason Kavanagh
"Starting this thing up in my garage makes me feel like I've been teleported into the dry cleaning basement of a large hotel. Complete with hissing and assorted whirring, it's surprisingly loud and makes the Clarity feel more like a science experiment/test bed than a vehicle you're supposed to buy." — Kurt Niebuhr, photo editor