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2017 Honda Clarity: 11 Things to Know About This Eco-Friendly Car of the Future

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by James Riswick June 2017

More people are buying electric and part-electric vehicles these days, and for those considering a new alternative fuel vehicle, the new 2017 Honda Clarity is yet another new entry. It's also one of the most distinctive, and will be available in the most variations. Here are 11 things to know about Honda's new environmentally friendly car.

2017 Honda Clarity

 1) There Are 3 Different Honda Clarity Models.

The Honda Clarity isn't the only alternative fuel vehicle -- there are three. There was actually an extremely low-volume Clarity powered by hydrogen before, and indeed, the 2017 Clarity already launched in select California markets represents an all-new, completely redesigned car. In short, it's more advanced, more practical and more normal. However, it will soon be joined by the 2017 Clarity Electric and the 2018 Clarity Plug-In Hybrid.

2017 Honda Clarity

2) It Drives Like it's a Futuristic Honda Accord.

Regardless of the Clarity version, expect a car that feels quite normal to drive. Although each version accelerates in the smooth and quiet manner of an electric car, its sharp steering and comfortable ride are indicative of a midsize sedan. So, too, is the seating position. Whereas other alternative fuel vehicles -- especially the Toyota Mirai fuel-cell car -- can feel a bit sci-fi at times, the Clarity just feels like a car ... and a very nice, refined one at that.

2017 Honda Clarity

3) It Has a Normal Car Interior, Too.

While most electric vehicles are small and often compact hatchbacks of some sort, the Clarity is a spacious, midsize sedan that can seat five people. There is therefore less of a lifestyle sacrifice associated with going green and unlike many other eco cars, you may not need to own a second, more practical car. The interior's design itself is also quite normal, with a handsome-yet-modern look and superior materials to what's found in every other Honda. In fact, it's better than most Acura cars.

2017 Honda Clarity

4) The Fuel-Cell Hydrogen Version Emits Only Water.

So what exactly is a Fuel-Cell car? Well, it's pretty complicated, but in short, the Clarity has a stack of fuel cells under its hood where a gasoline engine would normally be. Those cells chemically combine hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity that powers the car. And, as you might recall from chemistry class, combining hydrogen and oxygen produces only one byproduct: water. There are no harmful emissions. Much like a regular hybrid car, an electric motor, a lithium-ion battery pack and regenerative braking assist the fuel cell with acceleration and recouping otherwise lost energy. You also have 366 miles of range and can quickly refill the hydrogen tank in a few minutes -- just like a gasoline car. No need to wait around at least a half hour for your electric car to fast charge.

2017 Honda Clarity

5) You Can Only Lease the Clarity Fuel Cell ... and In California.

As intriguing as the Fuel Cell may sound, there is the major problem of filling up with hydrogen: Although there are just enough fill-up stations in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area (plus a strategically placed one in between), those are the only places in the country where you could own a Clarity Fuel Cell. Not surprisingly, you can only get a Clarity in those markets, and even then only as a lease. The terms are $369 per month with $2,868 due at signing. You get 20,000 miles per year, access to HOV lanes, a $5,000 California state tax credit, 21 days of luxury rental and $15,000 worth of free hydrogen. So really, it's a pretty good deal if you live in the right place.

2017 Honda Clarity

6) Hydrogen is Clean, but Inherently Inefficient.

In order to produce hydrogen, one must use a lot of energy splitting it from another source -- say natural gas or water. In the latter case, you are essentially using energy sourced elsewhere to split water into H2 and O, then using that same H2 to create electricity and water again. It's inherently inefficient.

2017 Honda Clarity

7) The 2017 Honda Clarity EV Goes Only 80 Miles.

The Fuel-Cell variant obviously won't be for everyone, and it certainly makes an electric car seem commonplace. As such, the Clarity EV could certainly make sense -- especially given its size advantage over most other EVs. Unfortunately, it can only go 80 miles on a single charge, which is, quite frankly, pretty pathetic these days. Most EVs cross the 100-mile barrier, with the Chevrolet Volt capable of better than 200.

2017 Honda Clarity

8) The Clarity EV is Available Outside California!

Literally, in that you can also get it in Oregon. That's it, at least for now. It, too, is lease-only for now, with $269 per month on a 36-month lease with $1,999 due at signing. It hits dealers August 1, 2017.

2017 Honda Clarity

9) The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is Probably the Most Appealing.

Whereas the EV's range underwhelms, the Plug-In Hybrid offers one of the lengthiest all-electric ranges among like-powered vehicles. Really, only the Chevrolet Volt can better the Clarity's estimated 42-mile range. That should be more than enough for most owners' daily commutes, though once depleted, the car essentially works like a regular gasoline-electric hybrid courtesy its 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that allows for a total range of 340 miles.

2017 Honda Clarity

 10) Look for the Plug-In Hybrid This fall.

The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid will be the last in the family to arrive. Its on-sale date wasn't officially announced at the time of this writing, but given its 2018 model year, we would expect September or October are likely. We would also assume that you'd be able to both lease and purchase the Plug-In Hybrid, and although an initial launch in California emissions states seems likely, nationwide sales could be possible.

2017 Honda Clarity

11) Just About Everything is Standard.

Every Clarity comes packed with an impressive array of luxury, convenience and safety features. These include the Honda Sensing suite of accident-avoidance technologies, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, a navigation system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Honda's touchscreen interface (though sadly not the latest, updated version found in the CR-V). These are on top of expected feature content for a car, which if purchased, would be $58,490 in Fuel-Cell guise. This includes heated leather seats, automatic climate control, an 8-way power driver seat, push-button start, a head-up display and a 12-speaker audio system.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Honda Clarity: 11 Things to Know About This Eco-Friendly Car of the Future - Autotrader