For the 2018 model year, the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid midsize sedan joined Honda’s growing list of electric vehicles. Offering the spaciousness of its Honda siblings, with all the efficiency of the smallest EVs, the Clarity quickly won over hearts.
A few years have passed since and there are newer Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrids to choose from. But has the Clarity changed enough to out-impress the original? Or are you better off just buying the still-relatively-new 2018 Honda Clarity?
The Honda Clarity Hybrid: should you buy new or used?
The Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid debuted in 2018, as one of Honda’s new electric-focused lineup. But even with more than two years under its belt, Honda’s latest Clarity sedans haven’t changed much since then.
According to Inside EVs, even Honda admits that the newest 2020 Honda Clarity isn’t much different from its 2018 predecessor. But that seems to be a deliberate choice of Honda, claiming that the Clarity simply offers “interior space and comfort, and unmatched driving refinement in its class.”
The biggest changes from the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid to its younger sibling are only subtle ones. The total range for the newest Honda Clarity is only around 30 miles more than the 2018 model, even though both still return an EPA-estimated 110 MPGe and 42 MPG combined. The Clarity’s all-electric range hasn’t budged, still rated at around 47 miles on a full charge.
But a few extra miles in battery range may just not be worth the new-car price. The current 2020 Honda Clarity has a starting price of just under $35,000; a competitive price in the new EV segment. The U.S. federal tax credit for buying new EV or hybrid vehicles does apply to new Clarity models, which means you can get $7,500 back from the government for an ending cost of about $27,500 — if you can wait until the following tax season to receive that money. If you don’t want to mess with a tax credit and want the savings when you’re purchasing the car, it seems more logical to invest in a 2018 Honda Clarity, which is virtually the same car at a much lower sticker price.
As the 2018 Clarity is only a few years old, it’s a used car that is as close to new as you can get, without having to pay new-car prices.
The 2018 Honda Clarity: same great features for a lower price tag
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According to U.S. News experts, the average price for a 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is around $28,000, but buyers can often find models for as low as $24,000.
That’s around $10,000 less than the cost of a brand-new Clarity (not counting that tax credit), for many of the same great features. The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid comes standard with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, paired with an electric motor, for a combined 174 hp.
It offers impressive fuel-efficiency, with a range of around 300 miles on a single charge. Using a charging station, the Clarity only takes 2.5 hours to charge fully.
As expected by Honda, the 2018 Clarity offers a “plush ride,” “posh cabin,” “comfortable, spacious front seats,” and a “comprehensive list of standard driver assistance features,” according to U.S. News.
Standard features on base-trim Clarity Plug-In Hybrids include heated front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and push-button start.
Drivers can also take advantage of Honda’s suite of standard safety tech, which includes a rearview camera, automatic high beams, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and Honda’s LaneWatch.
Things to consider before driving away in this used Honda
The biggest drawback to the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is its lack of power and so-so handling. The same U.S. News experts say that the Clarity’s acceleration and handling are “lackluster,” even “sluggish when climbing to highway speeds.”
But as many EVs have proven, this loss of power is almost inevitable, as the Clarity sacrifices some power for efficiency. Although the Clarity might not see drivers winning at the racetrack, “transitions between gas and electric power are seamless” and everyday driving with the Clarity is smooth, composed, and comfortable.
According to Kelley Blue Book, the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid should be at the top of your shortlist “if you’re looking for an ultra-efficient sedan that’s easy to drive, packs commendable value and features a slew of technology and safety features.”