2017 Honda Clarity Review

Pros & Cons

  • Refueling takes 3-5 minutes, much quicker than charging a battery EV
  • Its range of 366 miles is better than any battery EV and other fuel cells
  • Nicely appointed interior
  • seats up to five people
  • Honda gives you a $15,000 fuel allowance over three years
  • Currently only available to California residents
  • Hydrogen station infrastructure is still new
  • Hydrogen storage tank limits trunk space with no pass-through
  • Touchscreen infotainment system can be cumbersome to use
Other years
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List Price Estimate
$20,327 - $24,147

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Which Clarity does Edmunds recommend?

The 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is available in only one trim that checks all the feature boxes, and is offered solely as a three-year lease. A leather interior, touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, and a comprehensive suite of advanced driving aids are just some of the amenities included. One of the few options we'd consider adding are the rear parking sensors, which provide audible cues of objects behind you.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

3.5 / 5

The 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell is one of Honda's most advanced and environmentally minded vehicles to date. It's essentially a front-wheel-drive electric vehicle that generates its own power by combining oxygen from the ambient air and compressed hydrogen from its onboard hydrogen storage tanks. Within the fuel cell, electrons are exchanged and electricity is generated. The only byproduct of the process is water.

Using this technology, the Clarity can be fully refueled in just three to five minutes and boasts a range of 366 miles between fills. Both are significant advantages over the more established battery electric vehicles currently on the market. There are a couple caveats, though. The first is that hydrogen refueling infrastructure is new and limited to only certain parts of California. The second is that hydrogen used for transportation is largely produced from carbon-based fuels. A battery-powered EV charged purely from solar panels would still have the advantage from a reduced greenhouse gas standpoint.

The Clarity falls somewhere between a Honda Accord and Honda Civic in size, but has a more eccentric exterior styling and a slightly more styled and upscale interior. All Clarity fuel cell models come loaded with the latest active driving aids, touchscreen infotainment system and a $15,000 fuel stipend for the three-year lease period. Unlike Toyota's Mirai fuel cell car, which you can buy outright, the Clarity Fuel Cell is available for lease only. However, with all the benefits to leasing, we wouldn't recommend buying a fuel cell car at this point in time anyway.

Honda will be expanding the Clarity vehicle line with plug-in hybrid and battery electric models in the near future, both of which will be available for purchase.

What's it like to live with?

Want to know what it is like to own a Honda Clarity Fuel Cell EV? Check out our impressions from our long-term test of a 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell. How close is it to an EV or gas car? How much did we like the interior? Was the trunk sufficient for everyday use? How easy is it to actually fuel up? Learn this and more from our time with the Clarity.

2017 Honda Clarity models

The 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is a single-trim model generously equipped for the technology-minded individual. Honda typically bundles options within trims, but due to the Clarity's low production volume and unique market position as an advanced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, it makes sense for Honda to minimize the number of variations. All Clarity Fuel Cell models are powered by an electric motor (174 hp, 221 lb-ft) that drives the front wheels through a single reduction gear, and hold enough compressed hydrogen in their tanks for 366 miles of emission-free motoring (68 miles per gallon equivalent combined).

The Clarity Fuel Cell isn't lightweight by conventional vehicle standards, largely due to all the necessary fuel cell components, which include a lithium battery pack. But Honda was able to shave some pounds using aluminum for the hood, trunk, fenders and doors. Front and rear "air curtain" features direct airflow around the aerodynamic 18-inch wheels, and energy-efficient LED headlights, taillights and turn signals all help to reduce the amount of electricity the Clarity uses to roll down the road.

Energy-preserving measures aside, the Clarity has many other standard features that focus on everyday comfort and convenience, which is arguably just as critical for any machine designed for daily use. This includes automatic wipers, heated side mirrors, keyless entry and push-button start, dual-zone climate control with a Plasmacluster ion air quality management, an eight-way power driver seat, driver-seat memory settings, a four-way power passenger seat, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 12-speaker premium audio system, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a navigation system with hydrogen refueling station and traffic info, satellite radio, HD radio, Bluetooth, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and HondaLink telematics (remote app control).

Because the Clarity operates so silently, Honda fits it with what's called an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System that plays spacey tunes to alert pedestrians to know when it's approaching. Other safety-related features include a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping departure and intervention, a head-up display, and Honda LaneWatch, which turns on a side-view camera when making a lane change to the right.

There are sprinkling of add-on options such as exterior body moldings and illuminated door sills, but the most notable item has to be the rear parking sensors that alert you to objects behind if you don't want to rely solely on the cameras.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our Full test of the 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell.


The Clarity isn't an exciting car to drive, but it is innocuous and accessible in everyday driving. Acceleration and handling are adequate but nothing more.


Acceleration is quick enough for around-town driving, but that's about it. At higher speeds, there's not a whole lot more on tap. In our testing, the Clarity accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. We noticed appreciably slower times in additional back-to-back acceleration runs.


The brakes operate normally during casual driving but begin to feel unnaturally springy and disconnected under moderate to heavy braking. There isn't much regenerative braking effect when lifting off the accelerator. It needed 129 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is a middling result.


Its steering is direct and has tangible buildup of effort around center but is pretty numb overall. Quick inputs are met with a fairly muted reaction. Still, the Clarity is clearly better than its rival, the Toyota Mirai, when it comes to the tactility of its helm.


The Clarity feels heavy but not ponderous. There's reasonable composure when cornering at modest speeds. Handling is deliberate rather than spry. Its ultimate grip is respectable, but this isn't a car that will have you seeking canyon roads.


As it functions as an electric vehicle, this car is docile and very easy to live with. It accelerates smoothly from a stop without delay, and there aren't any gear changes to interrupt the power flow. Its cruise control, however, struggles to keep your set speed when going downhill.


Its electric propulsion is quiet. Operation of the fuel cell powertrain is more audible than a battery EV, but it's endearing rather than annoying. Its seats are soft, and the ride quality is acceptable.

Seat comfort

The front seats have very soft padding and perforated center sections but don't offer much in terms of lateral support. The backseat is reasonably comfortable, though the bottom cushion is somewhat short, so long-legged passengers may find them uncomfortable.

Ride comfort

The Clarity has a soft ride quality, bordering on floaty. It's comfortable most of the time but the suspension struggles to control the mass of the car when driving on bumpy roads. Its ride motions are exaggerated and require more of the available suspension travel.

Noise & vibration

Wind noise is barely heard, making for civilized freeway travel. A bevy of unusual powertrain whirs come and go but are muted, making them more of a curiosity. Road noise is the most prominent thing you hear, with a variety of sounds making their way to the cabin.

Climate control

The climate control interface consists of buttons and knobs with redundant controls through a touchscreen interface. The auto function works well, and the heated front seats have three levels. The backseat vents are located on back of the center console.


This is a car that can transport four people comfortably (and five in a pinch). Its sizable cabin provides ample room for occupants and is easy to access. Visibility is excellent for the most part, though the standard rearview will help when reversing.

Ease of use

Most of the control buttons are easy to reach and are clearly labeled. The push-button gear selector isn't as quick to use as a traditional one, though its location in the Clarity is better than in other Honda vehicle applications. The touchscreen is not the quickest-responding either.

Getting in/getting out

There's little trouble to be had when stepping into the Clarity, and the roof does not appreciably impede front or rear entry. The backseat is even easier to access. All four entry points have a grab handle.

Driving position

For those who like to feel ensconced in the driver's seat, the seating position will feel a bit high, even at the lowest setting. The steering wheel is sized right and feels good in your hands, though some drivers might wish the column telescoped out more.


There's ample headroom up front. In the back, only adults taller than 6 feet will find their heads brushing up against the headliner. There's a lot of shoulder room and decent legroom in back.


Forward visibility is great thanks to a low beltline and cowl. Sizable corner windows and slim roof pillars also help out, as does the LaneWatch right-side camera system. Rearward visibility suffers a bit due to a high tail, but a unique second back window that peers through the trunk helps.


The cabin design of simulated open-pore wood and suede accents suggests inspiration by high-end home theater systems. The muted tones look a little dour, though. But overall the interior quality is one step better than that of the Mirai.


Its cargo area is superior to the Mirai's but falls short of a conventional car's in size and versatility. The Clarity also follows the typical Honda approach to cabin space, providing a variety of storage locations for small items. Car seat LATCH points aren't too difficult to work with.

Small-item storage

With a good-size console bin, two big cupholders, door pockets, a glovebox plus storage area under floating console, there's room for nearly any item you'd typically use on a day-to-day basis. In back, there are small door pockets, smartphone pouches and a flip-down armrest with two cupholders.

Cargo space

Despite appearances, the Clarity has a trunk, not a hatch. The cargo area has a nice wide opening but is not very deep at all. Inside is a shelf with a soft floor. The rear seats do not fold because there's a big hydrogen tank in the way.

Child safety seat accommodation

LATCH points on outboard rear seats have obvious and easily accessed top anchors. The lower ones are tucked between the seat cushions. These are soft and easily manipulated to reach the lower anchors.


Smartphone integration and voice controls work well and are a convenient way to not have to use the touchscreen interface, which is a letdown. It's straight out of the Honda parts bin. Owners of this (much pricier) car deserve better than the system that's in Honda's entry-level sedan.

Audio & navigation

While the 8-inch touchscreen is sizable, its interface needs work. Basic functions are hard to use when moving. Graphics are a bit old-school and the screen flow could be quicker. Menu structure is reasonably straightforward, but touch targets are small and volume slider is irritating.

Smartphone integration

Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, a USB port that supports iPod and an auxiliary jack are standard. Supports Apple Carplay/Android Auto, but transitioning between their controls and those of the Honda-controlled systems could be smoother. Bluetooth pairing is easy for audio and phone.

Driver aids

The Clarity is flush with driver aids, most of which prove useful in keeping you out of trouble. They include a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, adaptive cruise control (comes to a full stop), forward collision warning/mitigation, lane keeping assist and Honda LaneWatch.

Voice control

The voice controls respond well to basic natural language and can control phone, nav and audio. For a more sophisticated system you can press and hold the voice button to bypass these and get to Siri or Google voice commands via your paired smartphone.


Overall3.5 / 5

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2017 Honda Clarity.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Mid-size electric car
Steven Ascher,01/04/2018
Electric 4dr Sedan (electric DD)
Very happy with the 2017 Honda Clarity Electric. The only other fully electric car with this much room is a Tesla. Car drives great . Very comfortable in city/highway driving. Love all the HondaSense technology just wish it had blind spot monitoring (Edmunds says it does?). Range of 89 Miles is on low side but have not an issue with mostly local driving. When ready to explore outside my city, will need to locate a Level 3 (DC Charger). Hopefully 30 minutes is all that will take to fully charge Car. This is my first Honda and first electric car and very satisfied with the lease.
Honda Clarity 17
Linda Lee,12/03/2017
Electric 4dr Sedan (electric DD)
The disadvantage from EV Clarity 17 as below: 1- E-power range 89 miles is shortage in 45-50 miles road drive. If driver on air/heat, play music or other device in car when driving or drive speed 65+ miles, power range down double faster. Driver be watchful, be alert power panel , be prepare accident anytime because they don't know when the power battery low suddenly stop on mid road or highway where is no place EV station nearby 2- EV supper charge station was disclose 30 minutes power battery up to 80% or 3 hours charge car for full battery is rare in public road station. E- express charge 30 minutes power up 15-18 miles range. E home charge 16-19 hours to full battery power range 89 miles. 3- Above disadvantages EV Clarity 17 power short range can't adaptable consumer minimum 50 miles road drive for work or shop in town event in leisured time. This EV will be a dead car in consumer emergency cause power charge take too long from 30 minutes to 3 hours -19 hours full battery while gasoline car just 5 minutes pump full tank and drive more than 300 miles to work or emergency without worry car engine problem. I AM SO SORRY THE BEAUTIFUL EV CLARITY 17 IS USELESS. I think most Electric Vehicle is same function power range.

Features & Specs

N/A city / N/A hwy
Seats 5
1-speed direct drive
Electric (fuel cell)
126 city / 103 hwy
EPA kWh/100 mi
EPA Electricity Range
89 mi.
EPA Time to Charge Battery (at 240V)
4.0 hr.
See all Used 2017 Honda Clarity features & specs


Our experts like the Clarity models:

Adaptive Cruise Control
Helps maintain a constant vehicle speed and a set following interval behind a vehicle ahead of you and can bring you to a complete stop.
Lane Keeping Assist/Departure Warning
Applies a steering torque to help keep your vehicle within the lane and will alert you if you cross over a lane line without signaling.
Honda LaneWatch
Displays live video of the passenger-adjacent lane using a small camera on the side mirror whenever the right turn signal is used.

More about the 2017 Honda Clarity

Used 2017 Honda Clarity Overview

The Used 2017 Honda Clarity is offered in the following submodels: Clarity Electric (fuel Cell), Clarity Sedan, Clarity Electric. Available styles include Fuel Cell 4dr Sedan (electric (fuel cell) DD), and Electric 4dr Sedan (electric DD).

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Which used 2017 Honda Clarities are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 2017 Honda Clarity?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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Check out Honda Clarity lease specials