Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

Editors' Review

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To geek or not to geek? That's the question I asked myself while driving the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Was it better to search the car's confounding number of drive modes and delve into its efficiency data, or just take the wheel and drive, leaving it all up to the car's own smarts?

In Honda's new plug-in hybrid, I could choose between Eco, Normal and Sport drive modes, and layer on top of any of those modes Hybrid Vehicle or Hybrid Vehicle Charging modes. Add the ability to choose from five brake-regeneration modes and, frankly, the math to calculate those permutations is beyond me.

If I wanted to strain my brain, I could, but the Clarity PHEV would happily make all these decisions for me. If it has any of its 47 miles of pure electric range available, it will drive as an electric car. When that range runs down, it seamlessly and quietly fires up its 1.5-liter engine, joining that motivation to whatever electrons it can gather to keep the car moving.

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The Good The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid operates seamlessly between electric and hybrid operation, such that it's difficult to tell when the engine is on. Forty-seven miles of purely electric range means no gasoline for a 20-mile commute. Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay make for excellent phone integration.

The Bad The 1.5-liter engine sounds strained at times, and the Clarity's collision warning system lights up even when adaptive cruise control is controlling braking.

The Bottom Line The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid can deliver excellent fuel economy, depending on how frequently you charge the battery, while offering comfort and refined road manners. A long list of standard features, such as driver assist systems, and a sizable federal tax credit make this car a real value.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 8
  • Features 8
  • Design 7
  • Media 8

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