Stick Shift: 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

I know the first thing I look for in an over-the-top, next-level hybrid sedan is the miles per gallon rating. In this mark, the almost sci-fi and most appropriately named Honda Clarity will draw applause. What makes it all the more enticing though is that, unlike its compact sedan competitors like the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius Prime, and others, the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid has much more user-friendly midsize sedan proportions. Add that to an electric plus gas mpg rating of 110, and you’ll start to feel eco-friendly tears burning at the corners of your eyes. All said, this might be one of the best things to come from the ‘House of Honda’ in a long time.

This is wonderful news for anyone looking to transition from the Honda Accord or other midsize sedan, to a super-eco conscious hybrid. Where stepping down to a smaller plug-in would leave too much space and overall quality on the sacrificial alter, the Clarity lets you have it all. Keep the legroom in the back. Hold on to all your cubic feet of trunk space. In Touring trim, you’ll even enjoy all your favorite creature comforts like leather-trimmed and heated seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a push-button shifter on Hondas gravity defying floating center console. The plastic look and feel of the steering wheel mounted controls are an unfortunate choice. Overall though, a nice mix of convincing faux wood trim, suede, leather, open stitching and neatly arranged controls really give the Honda Clarity Touring an upscale look and feel that its competitors can’t match. 

Photo via: Honda

An impressive list of driving aides make the cut. You’ll find Honda Lane Watch for those pesky blind spots out the passenger side, quickly displayed on the infotainment screen when your right turn signal is clicked on. There’s mitigated road departure, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and emergency braking as well. Unfortunately, you will find some previous generation tech in the new Clarity, like the clumsy and knob-less touchscreen from the Civic. 

The combined output from both gas engine and electric motor is 212 hp. Everything gets funneled through an eCVT transmission. A Sport mode will help get you up to speed in an acceptable amount of time, but you certainly wont be ‘burning rubber’ anytime soon. When driving around town, once the all-electric range is taped out, its transition to hybrid mode is barely noticeable. This is largely due to the fact that the electric motor continues to power the car and the gas engine goes to work as a generator for it. This is very similar to the Accord Hybrid set-up.

The Honda Clarity rarely stops feeling like an electric car to drive, no matter where the bulk of the power is flowing from, and that seamless switch-over is great. Thanks to ample acoustic materials, the engine even performs all its earth-friendly magic in a manner far less noisy and noticeable than its competitors.

While you’ll find a higher price tag than rival plug-in hybrids, you can take comfort in the reminder that the 2018 Honda Clarity Touring brings more quality, refinement and most importantly, space than you’d find elsewhere. It should cost a little more. You’ll find the extra you pay going to the most important things on many peoples list though, like comfort, quality and a great driving experience. 

Price as tested: $37,490.00

By: Brandon Randall  

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