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2018 Honda Clarity PHEV – Initial Review

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Overview

I recently purchased my second plug-in vehicle, a 2018 Honda Clarity PHEV Touring, trading in our family minivan.  My  first plug-in is a 2012 Volt that I bought used back in 2014, which I will write about another day.

There are plenty of light reading overviews on the Clarity around the Web, so I figured I would focus more on the drive, why we bought it, what we like and don’t like, and answer any questions you might have.

The Clarity is a large 4 door “midsize” sedan that has 3 different models of EV built on the same platform: Fuel Cell, Battery, and plug-in hybrid.  The fuel cell and battery electric are of little interest to me since they are not available in Iowa and I own the hybrid version so it will be the focus of the review.

With its hybrid powertrain, the Clarity runs primarily on electric power if battery charge is available but will switch to mixed mode if you exceed the threshold of power available from the battery.  Given most conditions it is easy to drive 100% electric for the first 47 miles of EPA rating, but I will discuss in further detail below why this number might not always be accurate.  It also offers a 44/40/42 City/Highway/Combined rating, which is incredibly impressive given the large dimensions of the car.

Impressions

 

 

The Honda Clarity has distinct styling that evokes a love/hate relationship with people. The body covers the rear wheels at the top and it also has functional “speed holes” in front of the rear wheels that serve to improve the aerodynamics of the car, but this makes the car look different than most other cars on the market.

The car uses LED lights for everything, except for the vanity mirrors, which use a 1.4 watt incandescent.  The headlights are all full automatic LED, and the running lights are as well giving a striking appearance from the front.  The turn indicators are nice and bright.  I must say I like how much flexibility LED bulbs give the designers in the appearance of the car.  Remember the old sealed beam halogen bulbs on every car in the 1980s? Even if you don’t like the design, you can’t argue the design isn’t unique and only possible with LED lighting.

 

The interior color is tied to the body color. White, green, and red come with beige, and silver, grey, and black come with a black interior.  Our silver model with its black interior looks very clean.  Not quite Tesla Model 3 clean, but you can see in photographs that it removes a lot of the clutter and replaces the radio interface with a large touch screen with climate controls down below.  The vents are hidden in the dash folds, and the shift console is elevate above a large storage area. There is no sunroof option at this time, I imagine to help keep costs down on a lower volume vehicle.  The power memory seats tied to individual driver’s keys is also nice.

The car makes ample use of soft touch plastics and nice materials.  Nice for the price class.  The car feels like what you would expect a mid 30’s luxury car to feel. I don’t feel like I am only paying extra for the electric aspect, but instead getting a nice luxury car.

The instrument cluster is targeted towards normal car drivers offering a simple battery gauge on the left, gas gauge on right, speedo in the middle, and a configurable cluster in the center that can show items like range, efficiency, turn by turn directions, etc.  I like this, it isn’t different for the sake of being different or electric.

The car comes standard with Honda Sensing, which is an impressive array of safety features that go as far as adaptive cruise with lane keeping, braking mitigation system, road departure warnings, and other safety features.  It is missing blind spot detection if that is important to you, but offers a blind spot camera on the right side.

So why did we test drive this car?  My wife wanted to replace the minivan with something more efficient, but still had plenty of space for 4 and would even comfortably fit 5 for some longer trips.  It had to have the adaptive cruise with lane keeping, and plug in hybrid was also a requirement.

Getting Started

Initial impressions are everything in many situations, and unfortunately the Honda dealers are not trained to sell this car.  They didn’t have it charged, the dealer knew nothing about it specifically, but was able to help with general Honda controls.  I appreciated the sales person was honest and stated he knew little about it right up front and would only be able to answer questions about the user interface and other Honda specific features.  I highly recommend you call the Honda dealer and ask them to plug it in before you drive it as that makes a large difference.  Like my Volt, it doesn’t drive as nice around town once the battery is depleted.  On the highway it does just fine.  More on that later.

The seats are all very comfortable except the middle back is best suited for kids.  I am 6’1″ but have short legs (32″ inseem) and tall torso (38-39″ to top of head sitting) so need a lot of headroom in a vehicle.  The clarity doesn’t disappoint leaving plenty of space for me in the front and my head just rubbing in the rear, it is better than most vehicles.  The lack of sunroof really helps me in this regard.

Legroom is impressive both front and back.  With the seat adjusted for me in the front, I still had 4″ of legroom sitting comfortably in the rear.  The floating console might bump your knee, so you will want to sit in the car and see if it is a problem for you.  It is not an issue at all for me, although my leg does rest on it at times.  It is rounded on the edge so it isn’t uncomfortable for me.

The lack of shift lever will bother some people, but all the buttons are in logical spots and I found them easy to use.  Instead of sliding the lever, I press the button, and the buttons are laid out in roughly the same order as an automatic.  The one issue is finding a button by feel is a bit more difficult than finding a lever, so I generally glance at the console to select my gear, at least until it is more familiar.

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Visibility is fairly good.  The porthole window helps in the back, but the camera is great too.  The front A pillars block the view to some extent as is common on modern cars due to safety constraints, but they are generally positioned to minimize this effect.

Drive

Step on the brake and press the start button and the car springs to life.  As with other EVs, absent any engine noise. Press the gear select button, let off the brake and step on the accelerator pedal and you are on your way.  Silently.

Before we talk about acceleration, we need to talk about the hybrid operation of this car.  Think of the accelerator pedal (or “go” pedal) as a request for how much power you want.  The battery can only provide so much power, up to 120 hp.  If you request more power than that with the go pedal, the engine will start to provide up to 180 hp of electrical power (120 from the battery, and 60 hp from the generator on the engine).

That sounds complicated, but thankfully the car makes this easy to understand.  There is dial around the speedometer with a white needle and a blue bar and a green bar (battery charging from regen braking, etc).  If the white needle moves past the end of the blue bar, the car starts.  The blue bar has a dithered region on it where it might be unclear whether the engine will start or not, but that depends on driving mode.

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Secondly, there is a detent, or a stopping point that is very noticeable, in the go pedal travel.  If you hit that and push past it until you feel the click in the pedal, the engine will start no matter what.  It isn’t difficult to push past on purpose, but it is also easy to stop before pushing past as it feels like the end of the pedal movement.

On either side of the dash board are efficiency indicator LEDs.  These are green if you are driving carefully and turn white if you are driving aggressively.  They turn red in sports mode.

Next, we need to talk modes.  There are Eco, Normal, Sport, HV, and HV Charge. By default the car will start in normal mode (or eco if it was used when the car was shut off).  Sport or HV/HV Charge mode needs to be selected every drive.  These modes control how the car drives, and in the case of eco, also adjust climate control settings.  Mode selection appears to the left of the speed on the instrument cluster.

Eco mode reduces climate system power, and also makes the car stay in EV mode until you push past the detent in the go pedal.  This mode is saved between starts.  Go pedal mapping seems fairly slugish and climate system might feel a bit weak, but probably the mode you want to drive in if you want the best efficiency.

Sport mode increases gasoline engine utilization for better performance.  It also holds the regen brake setting between stops.  Sport mode and regen setting are reset between power cycles of the car.  This is not really a sporty car, but this will help acceleration.

HV mode is similar to hold mode on some other PHEVs.  It runs in parallel hybrid mode so will run the engine much more.  This will result in maintaining battery charge for later use.  The button can be pressed and held for a couple seconds to enter HV Charge mode, where the engine will run more aggressively when power isn’t needed for moving the vehicle and the extra charge will go to the battery.  This mode is capable of recharging the car to around 60% in an hour. I notice it didn’t add much or any charge on my test drive, I think it is mostly designed to be used on the highway.

Depending on how hard you step on the go pedal, acceleration is anywhere from leisurely to brisk.  If you stomp the pedal to the floor the engine will rev to high RPM and accelerate like a CVT (constant engine RPM), which is always a bit different feeling if you aren’t used to CVTs.  I haven’t conducted instrumented tests, but I imagine it is about the same as the Gen 1 Volt at around 9 seconds to 60, but a bit slower in EV only mode.

Overall, the car is very quiet and refined feeling.  It emits a melodious hum at low speeds to warn pedestrians, which is all but inaudible in the cabin.  When the engine starts at stop lights it produces a small shake and you can feel it rumble to life, but when driving it is nearly imperceptible unless under hard acceleration. I have to look at the energy info screen to tell if the engine is running at times.

Handling.  What do you really expect from a 4000 lb car on energy efficient tires?  It is safe and secure, but nothing really exciting about it.  McPherson strut up front and multilink in the rear.  I honestly haven’t pushed it hard at all.  The rear is definitely more planted feeling while turning on rough roads than some cars with torsion bar in the rear, like the Volt 😉

Braking is also what I would expect.  Pedal feel is a little vague at the beginning, where I assume it is using regen braking before shifting to friction braking. However, I think it might shift a little earlier than the Volt as the charge needle on the dash hits a point and stops fairly early in pedal travel.

I do have a complaint about regen braking.  In all modes and even at the strongest setting, it is too weak.  Less than the Gen 1 Volt provides in L gear selection. I basically don’t use it at all as it doesn’t seem strong enough to make it worth while.  Since the brake pedal blends some in I just go that route instead.

Honda Sensing.  This is one of the main reasons I looked at this particular hybrid.  A requirement for me in my next car was that it have adaptive cruise control (ACC), lane departure warning, and emergency braking.  This takes it a step further and adds low speed follow for traffic jams (down to 0 mph), lane keeping (LKAS), road departure mitigation, but it lacks blind spot detection.  It partially makes up for that by having a camera on the right side of the car that activates when you turn on your right blinker (yes you can turn this off).  It can also be activated by pressing a button on the end of the turn signal stock.

These features work very well.  I was surprised that when ACC and LKAS were activated, the car will actually steer itself as long as you keep your hands on the steering wheel.  It works from 45 to 90 mph and will work on any type of highway as long as lane markings are easily visible.  The driver needs to be alert at all times.  I notice Honda is careful not to overly advertise the self steering aspect of this feature.

I have triggered the brake mitigation system a few times, and I must say I am impressed.  It is important to note that this system is designed to work at mid to low speeds, I think 62 mph and lower.  Also, it is meant to reduce the severity of an accident, not avoid one completely.  However, it will provide warnings and gentle braking reminders early so that the driver can avoid a collision.  It activated for me when a driver in front was turning right, and they slowed down more than I expected and took them longer to clear the roadway.  The car gently braked, but I would have avoided by nudging the car slight to the left out of the path of the car.

I am glad I opted for a vehicle with ACC.  I haven’t tried the low speed follow yet, but overall these systems are quickly becoming standard on modern cars, bit unfortunately some cars don’t even offer all these safety features. I am glad Honda makes the same package standard on both the base and Touring models of the Clarity.

The instrument cluster is the only part I don’t really like.  It is slow to respond to touch inputs, and lacks any sort of direct volume control.  The built in Navigation system (Touring only) is just a Garmin app for the infotainment system.  However, I have always liked Garmin GNSS mapping software.  It offers visible and easy to follow directions.

The saving grace is they don’t force me to use the Honda Apps, and I can use Android Auto (Apple car play is also there).  This allows me to use Google Maps and other Android Auto Apps like my Amazon Music streaming service.  Just plug your phone into the driver side port under the floating console.

I think the infotainment center could warrant its own review.  It takes up a large portion of the manual, offers some customizable controls, has tons of voice features I will probably never make use of and will take a lot longer to learn.

Charging is relatively fast for a PHEV having a 7.2 kwh charger built in, I generally get a full charge after about 2 hours, although temperature and battery condition might change that.  I have defended 3.6 kwh chargers for a long time as being adequate for PHEVs, but after using this one I don’t think I will do so any longer.

I haven’t had enough time with the car to gather range performance in all conditions, but currently in winter I am showing right around 35 miles on a full charge.  This is reasonable given my Gen 1 Volt is getting around 25 in similar driving. Heaters in electric cars always draw significant power in cold weather, as well as Li-ion batteries aren’t as efficient at low temperatures. I fully expect to easily exceed the 47 mile range in warm weather without climate control active.

Conclusion

Comparing the car to the Volt and a few things stand out. This car is a much bigger car, over a foot longer and far more interior space and rear seat room make the Clarity PHEV a much better choice as a people hauler (for more than 2 people).  The Volt offers a slightly sportier EV only drive and also provides more information about vehicle efficiency to the driver, offering MPGe ratings, etc.  The Honda was clearly designed to just be driven and not to make the driver think about the details.

The other vehicle I considered was the Pacifica Hybrid model, but honestly I was trying to get away from a van as my 3 kids are getting older and I don’t need the extra space.  The Pacifica Hybrid now starts at about $40k for a base model, but it is high 40s to get the safety equipment that is standard in the Honda for $10k less.

The car is a very refined and modern plug in hybrid electric vehicle.  It offers a comfortable ride with the latest safety and convenience features.  Ample trunk and interior space make it a great purchase for a family or for hauling coworkers since it easily seats 5 people. The all electric 47 mile EPA combined range combined with over 40 mpg on gas make this an incredibly efficient and low operational cost car.

I have been very pleased with my purchase of the car, and look forward to driving it for many years. It checked the boxes I wanted in a car, space for 5 with some storage, ability to drive many EV only miles, and good gas efficiency as well.  This vehicle will be driven 15 to 20k miles a year, so efficiency was important to me.

 

 

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224 thoughts on “2018 Honda Clarity PHEV – Initial Review Leave a comment

  1. So we got our Clarity a week ago and are having the same issue of rattling noise from the fan. Yesterday, when we took it to the dealership, they were reluctant to fix it. Taking it to another service center today thinking that I might come across a nicer service rep who will acknowledge the issue and fix it. Just curious to know if dealerships are charging you for this service. Thanks in advance.

      • I agree: there should be no charge for the replacement. I did not pay anything. Fortunately, the salesman helped me with the problem. He was in the car with me during the quiet test drive . . . and then, after I took possession, we drove together again, and he could hear the noise very clearly. The terrific service manager was right on the problem and said the dealership would just replace the motor.

  2. Thank you both. At the second dealership, the service rep was really helpful, he got it checked and confirmed that it was the blower motor issue causing the noise. He ordered the part as they don’t have it in stock and we were asked to bring the car back next week.

  3. I am planning to buy a Clarity within the week. I am torn on two things.
    Is Touring worth the extra 3k? My wife wants leather saying it is easier to clean if the kids make a mess.

    What interior color do you prefer. The dark or light interior?

    Have you had any concerns about the service techs knowing the vehicle?

    I agree the sales folks do not know much about the Clarity. On the test drive I was explaining everything to him.

    Thanks for the help.

    • You should sit in the driver’s seat on both versions. I felt that the Touring model was a much more comfortable seat than the base. I think that the difference is more than fabric vs. leather. We took a 600 mile trip last weekend and I can honestly say my butt felt better than the same trip in the Lexus RX400h that I traded. Color is personal opinion. I chose the black (really a very dark gray).
      I do have some concerns about service techs knowing the vehicle. I am counting on it being as reliable as other Hondas.

      • I agree on both the seat comfort and the relative durability of leather when there are kids involved.

        If you’re going to keep the car I think you will appreciate those features.

        The head unit is not great, but neither is the head unit in my Honda HR-V in the top trim spec.

        No opinion on the interior color, though darker colors hid a multitude of spills…

        On Wednesday, February 21, 2018, Cars with Plugs wrote:

        > Barry Silver commented: “You should sit in the driver’s seat on both > versions. I felt that the Touring model was a much more comfortable seat > than the base. I think that the difference is more than fabric vs. leather. > We took a 600 mile trip last weekend and I can honestly say” >

  4. Thanks. I bought the White Touring. It is great.

    I noticed this morning though that the battery started only around 37 mile range after charging all night. It also seemed to drain faster. I got to work with about 13 mile range left. My drive in is only 19 miles. In contrast the prior two days I drove with full range of 47 miles and completed the round trip with 8+ miles left.
    The temp today was 38 F vs 50+ on the prior days which does not seem that cold to impact the battery.

      • Thank you. My car switched to gas on the way home. I have to say the motor sound is a little annoying. Sounds like a scooter/choppy whir like noise not like a normal engine. Hard to describe.

    • Congratulations! I like the white, and would have bought one if it had been available when we purchased.

      • I spent an hour going back and forth between black and white cars. I went with the light interior even though I am worried about stains on the beige leather. I do like the look though. Thanks

    • FWIW temp affects all battery powered car ranges. Our Volt goes from ~36mi to 25mi when temps drop below about 45º.

      • I should clarify @ 75º range is 36-37mi, @ 55º range is around 30 miles, @ 40º range is more like 25 miles. A lot of this is because we have the heat on and heated seats too, but battery capacity also decreases in colder weather.

  5. Regen setting/paddles. I saw a comment that someone said they enjoyed driving in sport mode with the regen at four. I tried to drive the car this way and from what I can tell when I release the Accelerator the car slows down faster. I do see that the battery is recharging. My question is what is the value of the regen setting at four when you seem to be losing acceleration or speed because the car slows down when you release the accelerator? Thanks for any education you can share with me on how to get the benefit of these regen paddles/settings.

    • Great question. Some folks, particularly those who have electric vehicles with very aggressive regen capacities use them to drive with one foot, slowing down for curves for traffic without taking their foot off of the accelerator.

      I imagine it takes a little more attention at first, but some folks seem to really like that.

      There may be other experiences and rationales that others can share.

  6. 2 items.
    1. I noticed the fuel door does not close completely flush with the car panel compared to the plug in door which shuts flush. It is not very noticeable. I think it is a design issue with the fuel door release.
    2. I realized the vehicle does not come with a donut spare which I knew but it also has no Jack. I did see the inflator with the flat fix stuff. would it be sensible to get a donut and jack and secure in the trunk somehow? I have not looked closely at the air pump device. How do you get the fix a flat stuff refilled?

    • I don’t see any alignment problem with the fuel door on mine, but maybe it is too subtle for my old eyes. It looks really flush all the way around.

  7. Hello everyone! I’m new to the forum, as I’m a new Clarity owner (Touring model), from Toronto, Ontario (Canada).

    We received our car on Feb. 15, and 9 days later, I ran into a charging error when plugged into a 240V public charger. The green charging light on the car’s plug-in port was blinking rapidly, then would eventually go out. Charger did not show a fault (I tried multiple chargers in various locations to see if this would be different, thinking, maybe it was a charger error).

    This happened on a Saturday, so I anxiously waited until Monday morning to take the car to the Honda dealer. They hadn’t seen this problem (car’s too new on the market!). They did a “system reset”, which basically means they removed the negative terminal on the battery (under the hood, not the main battery on the bottom of the car) to restore factory defaults.

    The error went away, and they were able to charge normally. They release the car to me and said “let us know if there are any more problems”.

    Fast forward 4 days, and the error pops up again! Both times, I was a 240V public charging station (we don’t have charging at home yet, as we live in a condo, and it’s an uphill battle to get charging installed there).

    So, I take the car back to the dealer, and they immediately get the Service Manager to talk to me. It seems that after my initial report, Honda Canada contacted the dealer the next day, to let them know this is a known problem.

    Honda’s explanation:

    This not an error with the car. The car has a built-in protection mechanism in its software that trips if there is current fluctuation during charging. So if the current changes (even slightly, or momentarily) during the plug-in charge, the system shuts down to protect itself, throws the error, and the error message must be reset.

    In other words, the power source must be “clean” (pure, uninterrupted, etc.). Honda recommends using Honda-installed 240V charging (ie. at dealerships).

    HAH! That’s crazy!

    So, the Service Manager says, yes, that is crazy. No one can charge at the dealerships on a consistent basis. It’s not practical and that’s not a solution.

    So, Honda is now apparently working on a “software fix” which essentially will change/remove this shutdown feature, allowing “unclean” power to charge the car. Not sure how it will work (how severe can the fluctuation be? will there still be some type of protection available?).

    Apparently this is not supposed to be an issue if you are charging on a standard 120V plug-in, using the supplied cable/charger device that came with the car.

    Timeline is April/May 2018 for the software update implementation, and probably will be done on a recall basis. I will be getting a call from my dealer, as I am the only one who has reported this so far.

    Anyone else in this boat?

      • No, so far I’ve been rock solid with Chargepoint. They were a variety of other chargers (some installations at Ikea, public parking with multiple chargers, etc.)

    • I have used free Chargepoint chargers here in NC without an error. Though, the vast majority of my charging is done at home on 110V.

    • Hi, Eva. Thank you for letting us know.

      I get a default error on my home 240 V charger pretty regularly.

      It wouldn’t surprise me to know that my home power fluctuates.

      I’ll be glad if a software update can fix that.

      • Hi Eric. When you get those default errors, does it require the extreme “reset” by the dealer, as Eva described, or does it recover itself?

      • I flip the switch on the bottom of the charger to turn it off, flip the switch on the bottom of the charger to turn it on, and we’re good to go.

        But it will be nice if a software fix to the car stops that.

      • I’ve been having issue charging my clarity at work on an Eaton charger. it cuts out within a few minutes. a couple miles from work i go to the gym and there is another free Eaton 240V charger that is in the parking lot of the power companies building and it charges just fine. so the power fluctuation issue makes sense as I’m sure the power companies building has very stable power. I also noticed that at night the charger at work will last a bit longer before it errors out probably because there is less power demand at night to cause fluctuations. But a Tesla and Leaf have no issues charging there so Honda needs to update its software.

    • Thanks for reporting the problem, so that we are all aware. Sorry that you have been victim to it.

      I’ve been charging almost every night at home for almost two months on a Siemens VersiCharge 240v unit, and thankfully have not encountered this problem so far.

      I have even removed and then restored power from the input to the Siemens AC circuit on several occasions while charging was in progress, and the charger went through a brief recovery cycle, after which the car continued to charge, without a problem. That behavior seems inconsistent with the Honda position to you that the car will require a “reset” after encountering just a minor power/current fluctuation.

      Is it possible that the programming for the car charging operation is a bit different in Canada? I can understand that it would terminate charging upon encountering an abnormality, but it should at least attempt to retry if it establishes that the abnormal condition is longer present. If what Honda says is accurate, they definitely need to get that corrected and recalled ASAP.

      • I don’t know if the Canadian implementation of the software is different than the US. I do know that the Canadian version has a built-in battery warming system (which I think starts with a lower current at the beginning of charging, if the ambient temperature is below a certain threshold – don’t know what that threshold is though).

        The error pops a screen on the driver’s console “Plug-in Charging System Problem. Range Limited.” and also the Power System light, as well as the Check Engine light.

        This screen will not clear (and charging will not start) until the system reset is performed. I can still drive, but it will deplete my battery completely and I cannot plug-in charge with this error (though it appears that HV Charge still works and will charge up to the ~60% default level). But who wants to use gas if they don’t have to?!?

        The Service Manager at my dealership told me that a “simple” system reset can be accomplished by pulling a specific fuse under the hood (left side of engine bay, near the washer fluid port – 10 amp fuse), and I have done that once successfully.

        Not ideal (especially when it’s cold, raining, snowing, or you’re dressed for a night out or a business meeting!)

        If this persists or gets worse, and I don’t hear from Honda within a reasonable timeframe (a month?!?), I will aggressively pursue a solution with Honda Canada.

        I’ll try to keep you guys in the loop. I’ve been posting on multiple Clarity Forums, to try to spread the word.

        🙂

        Cheers!

      • Thanks for the clarification. I found that message on page 108 of the Owners Manual, with a description that matches your experience, No mention of any difference in Canada, though.

    • Yep. I have the same issue when using public ChargePoint chargers. I live in Mississauga and charging with ChargePoint chargers is a hit or miss. However, I don’t have this problem with other charges (at home and work) which are clipper creek derivatives.

      • Very interesting, as my problems seem to consistently be with non-Chargepoint chargers! I’m becoming more and more convinced it’s an issue with the pilot connection on the car (some have specifically mentioned the diodes on the pilot). There just can’t be that many chargers out there that are so flaky!

  8. @Viking79 – Sorry, I made a garbled entry that was time-stamped as 1:14AM March 6, 2018, which shows it as awaiting Moderator action. That post can be deleted in total.

    My post was intended to ask if anyone else has been successful, or not successful getting their Clarity PHEV registered on the Honda Owner’s Site . I’ve been struggling with an inability to accomplish that since mid-January, and Honda has not yet been able to provide a resolution to the problem.

    • I’ve just entered mine successfully.

      I took a screenshot as it populated the details of the vehicle based on the VIN I entered.

      I can send it to you if you like.

      • That’s the problem I have been fighting. Honda actually confirmed that my data had been inputted to the site, numerous times, but they also sawthe same problem when they used my login, and promised to try to fix it, but nothing has changed since.

        I just noticed a small footnote in the Service Records page of the site:

        “Environmental Vehicle Owners: To register and manage your vehicle, visit ev.owners.honda.com”

        however, if I go that site, I don’t see any provision to login or register the car, except for a link that pushes me back to

      • Sorry about that, well not totally – at least I know it’s not just me. I have an open ticket with Honda on this, and I plan to call them again tomorrow to continue to try to get a resolution.

        What puzzles me most, is that I haven’t seen anyone else complain about the problem, and Honda seems a bit oblivious to it so far. If they are able to help, I’ll be sure to post an update.

  9. I bought my base model white Clarity two weeks ago and have been very pleased so far. With Apple CarPlay I didn’t see the need for the navigation since I get that with my iPhone. I bought a maxGreen level 2 16A charger and that is leaving me with a 55 mile range after a full charge. I hope that I am not overcharging the battery to obtain this, or if that is even possible. One cold day trip with the heat on limited me to 31 miles on EV. Drove home in charge mode and had 50% battery after a 35 minute trip. Have made several 40+ mile trips in EV mode exclusively. Would the charge limit be controlled by the car or the charger?

    • My understanding is that the car controls demand for charging, and the charger just provides the power available for the car to draw from.

      Since the car controls whether to charge or not, it shouldn’t be possible for the charger to overcharge the car.

    • The car will manage the charge. Your Clarity will fluctuate its full charge miles based on the temperature of the surrounding area. Park in the sun or have a warm day, easily get over 50 miles. Winter and cold…it drops to around 40 or less miles. If you set the timer on the car to charge (level 2 only), then the car can be warmed up and make more miles…and I use this in the mornings to stretch my miles. The most I have gotten is about 59 miles on a full charge. BTW, I use a 16 amp charger, too.

  10. Thank you very much for posting about your experiences.
    Just got the “Plug-in charging system problem. Range Limited” message on my week-old base Clarity after trying a public ChargePoint station in NC. The charger kept losing connection with the car during about 15 minutes of connection. For now, I will assume it’s the charger’s fault.
    Of course this was my first time trying to charge away from home, where I just use 120v. Sigh. I guess I have to go visit the dealer tomorrow so they can reset.

    • I am wondering why someone with a PHEV would ever need to use a ChargePoint station, doesn’t it cost quite a bit more than what you pay for electricity at home? I would think even running the Clarity on gasoline would be cheaper than using ChargePoint electricity. Of course using less fossil fuel is nice, but the time, effort and money to use ChargePoint seems a bit much. I thought it was only useful for BEV owners as a way to extend their range when needed.

      I know there are also some free public charging stations, but unless there happened to be one at a place that you were already going to, it doesn’t seem like even a free charging station would be worth the time driving to it and then hanging around while you charge. I would also think the free stations are more likely to be in use by someone else when you want to use it.

      • I am from Toronto Canada, there are free charging stations at my work places (government buildings and airport). At this moment, it is still possible to find free EV parking space during office hours. Or the property management will call and ask the owner to move their cars.

  11. I just purchased a 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Touring in Steel (gray) color (black interior), near Worcester, MA.
    I paid $4300 below MSRP: that’s a pretty great price, yes?

    The whole car buying experience was SO easy that I thought I was being ripped off somehow.

    I haven’t had a new car in 14 years… there is so much to learn about my new Clarity!

    Any place other than the dealership to get molded all season floor mats?

    Thanks,
    Amanda

  12. With warmer weather here in the Rocky Mountain West, I’m starting to see how the battery responds to higher outdoor temperatures. All winter, my Clarity stayed in a garage overnight — at 46-53 degrees F. A full overnight charge (on a basic 120 line — that’s not dedicated) regularly gave me 34-36 miles of electric power by the morning. Now with the outside air and the garage hitting the 60s F, the overnight charge has slowly gone up to 42 miles. Great to see the change!

    • Hello Dan, Not sure if you will see this or not but I am in the Rocky Mountain West area, Colorado to be specific and I was wondering if you don’t mind sharing what kind of price where you able to get. All of the CO dealers seem to be pricing it very close to MSRP. I am assuming that has a bit to do with the large tax credit the state gets.

      • Matt, I believe I managed to get about $300 off the list. Very minor discount.

      • In Seattle in February, I had to pay list price (but not the $850 delivery charge), but I did get the first $32K ta free and am looking forward to the $7500 tax credit next year. No other discount for me!

  13. I have had my dark gray Clarity for two months…and we live in the Seattle area. We had a new problem show up this weekend on our very first fueling. After gassing up with 4 gallons to get it full, the computer showed gas full at 1,000 miles range and had the words “mecha error” on the top of the screen. The car functioned properly, but we need to get that looked at. We have 2500 miles on the car.

    Also, we had cold weather full miles on battery showing up in the upper 30’s, but with a hot spell this week, it was showing up in the high 50’s, which was way over the 47 miles Honda said. After a quick 450 mile road trip, we averaged 58 mpg with two full charges mixed in. NICE!

    • I had almost exactly the same experience after driving the Clarity for about 3 months. After my first fill up of 2 gallons of gas,the HV range immediately jumped up to 999 miles, and has stayed there for the last month, or so, but I never saw the “mecha error” that you observed.

      It’s just now starting to show a small decline to 993 miles so far. Turns out, quite a few other Clarity owners are experiencing the same problem. There is a large thread on this problem on the insideevs forum, titled Wrong HV Range.

      I suspect that those of us who rarely use our gas engine are most vulnerable to this problem. I haven’t seen a solution in sight, yet. I won’t be asking my local dealer to “fix” this problem. I’m convinced that it’s a programming issue that only Honda can fix. In the meantime, for me at least, it’s a minor annoyance, since I rarely drive more than 40 miles on any given day, and I charge the car just about every night.

      I force the engine to run every 4 weeks, just to keep it from drying out, and I’ve added some gas preservative to the tank, to reduce degradation of the fuel.

      • I have an appointment this week to get the computer looked at…let’s see if the mecha error and the weird gas mileage gets fixed.

      • FWIW, I experienced the gas range problem after my first fill up. Then I went on a 1400 mile road trip to Big Bend Texas. After each tankful the range kept shrinking. I’m on my fifth tank now and the range appears to be accurate.

      • @Andy – I hope the dealer is able to locate and resolve the problem for you, but it might be helpful for you to let them know that you don’t want a full reset of the car as a resolution.

        I think they will be tempted to do that – which might show a momentary “fix”, but will do nothing to prevent it from happening next time, and you would have to enter all of your personal settings once again.

        I believe that the problem is probably an underlying programming/firmware issue that only they can resolve. If Honda has that available, and provides it via the dealer for you, that would be great news.

    • After a few days from taking it in, here is the report. This was my local Honda dealer’s first Clarity in their service center. They were helpful and understandably still trying to learn the car. Whatever they did (or just a coincidence), the “mecha error” is no longer appearing. I am watching for it. The big tip was to take a picture of it next time it appears. So far so good! The other part was the odd HV mode on the screen shows way more miles that we could drive than is reality, which I don’t really understand. They could not get a clear answer. The HV “range” shows something like 800 miles (full tank of gas) plus whatever the battery has in it (50ish miles) for a combined total of 850 miles. I think the car should show the total battery and the total gas miles’ range, not an average from all the electric driving I do. There is no way I can drive for 850 miles, and we can’t reset this to show the actual gas miles. Anyway, we are at 3000 miles on the car with 10 gallons of gas purchased so far over the last 2.5 months, thanks to a trip to the Oregon Coast one weekend. We love it!

      PS – The little magic sound at low speeds sure brings smiles on people. I guess it is to warn people of a car. My kids think it sounds like a unicorn.

  14. Just picked up my touring edition last night. Really like the car and this site helped solidify my choice. Thanks to all who have posted.

    • I was going to buy a high level charger for the garage, but after trying a simple level 2 charger that is rated around 16 amps, I am totally happy with that. It charges in a couple hours, and my dad (an electrical engineer) says the lower amps is actually better for batteries than what a 32 amp charger would do.

  15. Hi everyone!

    I also love my Clarity PHEV, bought a couple of months ago. I’ve encountered the public charger error a few times and am wondering if any of you have heard from Honda about when the software fix will be depolyed? I hope they also include a fix on the HV range error. Thanks!

  16. How does the iOS app communicate with the car? I’ve been playing with turning on the AC in the car as I finish up in a store and sometimes it works and sometimes not. Is there a proximity requirement?

    • Yes, you can turn it on from the HondaLink app or from the key fob, as I recall. I haven’t used that feature since mid-winter, though. It will turn off automatically, if the car isn’t started within 30 minutes. That capability allows you to pre-heat or cool the cabin without depleting the battery charge.

      • It stays set to the previous manual setting. You can set it to a schedule from the HondaLink app.

      • I haven’t seen that 4 inputs comment, but I expect it is including the HV Charge Mode.There are only three buttons, but if you are in HV Mode and hold down that button for 2 seconds it enables HV Charge Mode. That is a very important capability.

        In HV mode it will sustain the existing battery level. which could be as low as about 10%, but In HV Charge Mode, it will charge the EV batteries up to 58% of full charge, and sustain that level. Also, If you had run down the batteries in Econ, it will switch over to HV Mode by itself when the batteries are down to about 10% (2 segments on the dash indicator). If you were in that state, and
        didn’t have the ability to engage HV Charge Mode while on a long trip, and anticipating an extended uphill drive ahead, you would not be able to use the combined power of EV and ICE to handle those hills.

        As an aside, you might enjoy the InsideEVS.com Clarity forum. It’s very active, and there are some very expert and helpful participants, far beyond my capabilities. There is a lot to learn about the Clarity. While it isn’t mandatory, and you can just drive the thin, it’s great fun and helpful to discover all of the special features of the car.

      • If the battery has 50 percent and you hold the HV for 2 seconds, will it charge up to another 50 55 percent or does it have to be lower to charge aprox 56 percent?

      • I just read that the Clarity has 4 inputs, Normal ECO SPORT AND HV, what is the normal, I just see 3 eco sport and HV. if this is correct what is the difference between normal and eco. Thank you.

      • I believe you can turn Eco mode on and off by pressing the Eco-button when the car is already in Eco mode. Or if the car is not in Eco-mode by pressing the eco-button.

      • I never heard of that one. I’m not sure where that would take you mode-wise.

      • The Manual in your link is the 2017 model, not the 2018 PHEV version. You can download each of the new manuals directly from the Honda website, at no cost.

      • I believe that paragraph is mistaken. The car defaults to Econ operation upon starting. You don’t turn them ON and OFf, you just continue driving in Econ, or you can select Sport, HV or HV Charge as alternatives. I’ll confirm that on mine today, but if the author is right, and if, as he says, you can switch the ON and OFF, which I presume means to repeatedly press them, I will have learned a surprising lesson.

      • The Clarity PHEV will start in Econ or Normal. If it was in Econ when you turned it off it will start in Econ. If it was in any other mode it starts in Normal. There is no BEV mode on the Clarity, although it is easy to drive electric with only an occasional engine start in Normal or Econ.

      • Yes, econ makes go pedal response muted and makes it more difficult to start the gas engine. Full pedal acceleration is the same 0-60 in any mode. Once the engine starts it will run until it is warm, especially from full throttle acceleration, in which case it might run 5 or 10 minutes.

  17. LED lights: are the LED lights supposed to appear as a swath of light with two slightly brighter spots in the middle front viewing area with some spotty uneven darker areas ? Or is the lighting effect so supposed to be a smooth even swath of white light?

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