Hybrids & Electrics

Does the Honda Clarity Deserve More Respect Than You Think?

As nearly every sector of society makes a shift toward sustainability, hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), battery-electric (BEV), and fuel-cell electric (FCEV) vehicles have become a major focus for carmakers. Though hybrids have gained a lot of ground in the market, many hybrids like the Honda Clarity remain unnoticed or fail to receive the respect they merit within their prospective vehicle classes.

Though it struggles to compete with traditional midsize sedans, the Honda Clarity represents an eco-friendly option that satisfies the needs of its owners. Since owner satisfaction seems to contradict auto critic reviews, you have to wonder if the Honda Clarity deserves more respect than you think.

What’s new with the 2020 Honda Clarity?

The Clarity nameplate began in 2008 and progressed as Honda’s answer to alternative fuel vehicles. The 2020 Honda Clarity is exclusively PHEV or FCEV as the automaker discontinued the production of a BEV option. Honda’s multi-year electrical motor partnership with General Motors is among the reasons for this focused approach.

Though discontinuing BEV represents the most drastic change in the 2020 Honda Clarity, there are a few others of note including an updated the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS), an 8-inch touchscreen (with Android Auto and Apple Car Play) and heated front seats and heated side mirrors as standard features on both PHEV and FCEV variations. The Clarity’s FCEV models also include improved cold-starting performance.

The Clarity receives mixed reviews from auto critics

Because the Accord continues as Honda’s golden child and the Insight remains competitive in the midsize hybrid market, the Clarity often takes a backseat to its oft-admired siblings. Critics typically leave the Clarity off of their top-10 lists, labeling it as pricey and underpowered with limited cargo space and a fussy infotainment system.

While many critics continue to put Honda Clarity down with ratings between 6.0 and 7.8 out of 10, Kelley Blue Book has taken notice by giving the 2020 Clarity a 4.7/5.0 rating and their Best Buy Award for PHEVs for the third year in a row.

KBB cites excellent driving dynamics, adequate cargo space, great interior utility, and a minimal owner compromise. What is KBB seeing that others are missing? The auto’s owner feedback rating of 4.4/5.0 could provide some clarity in answering this question.

The Honda Clarity satisfies its owners

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Because of the mixed reviews given by auto critics to the 2020 Honda Clarity, feedback from actual owners might be the best measure of the true value and potential of this underrated PHEV. Although owners were somewhat demoralized by the price, its more spacious, big car feel won many of them over.

A smooth ride and extensive battery life were among some of the most positive remarks listed on a Reddit thread comparing the Honda Clarity with the Chevy Volt as well. The price of the 2020 Volt hovering between $38,000 and $42,000 compared to the Clarity’s $34,000 to $38,000 sticker price range was another justification owners used for giving the nod to the 2020 Clarity, coinciding with KBB’s Best Buy Award.

Worthy of your respect

Mixed reviews of the 2020 Clarity, leaning mostly toward the car’s mediocrity, continue to keep it in the shadows of the Honda Accord and Honda Insight among midsize sedans and midsize hybrid sedans. However, the Honda Clarity is meeting the needs of its owners and beginning to attract critical attention of its own from Kelley Blue Book.

As every sector of society shifts its focus to more sustainable solutions, it appears that Honda, partnered with GM, in the production of alternatively powered automobiles is moving in the right direction. Did the Honda Clarity arrive before its time? Only the future can answer that question, but for the time being, the 2020 Honda Clarity deserves your respect.