2019 Honda Clarity

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
March 7, 2019

Buying tip

A new Clarity without incentives isn’t a good deal. Ask for financing offers before driving one home.

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The 2019 Honda Clarity is a hybrid or electric vehicle with a bold exterior that ultimately fails to make a statement.

The 2019 Honda Clarity is a plug-in hybrid, electric, or fuel-cell mid-size car that struggles to find its niche.

Most commonly found as a plug-in hybrid, the Clarity is extroverted in its efficiency, apparent by its outward style. It’s the anti-Accord Hybrid, which is less expensive and more efficient with a gallon of gasoline—even though the Accord lacks a plug. (The compact Honda Insight, too, is more efficient with a gallon of gas than the Clarity.)

As an electric car, the Clarity suffers from a comparatively short, 89-mile range due to its small battery. Smaller still is the number of Clarity fuel-cell vehicles, which are limited to Southern California.

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Still, the Clarity scores a 6.0 on our overall scale, buoyed by its fuel efficiency and standard features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Clarity plug-in hybrid costs more than $34,000 to start and is offered in two trims: base and Touring. The 2019 versions are identical to the 2018 versions, which are covered in-depth here.

We’ll hit the highlights instead, here. The plug-in hybrid rates at 42 mpg combined when operating as a conventional hybrid and its battery can power the Clarity for more than 40 miles on a full charge. The Clarity drives the front wheels only, and acceleration is adequate in all versions.

Four adults will fit in the Clarity—both Accord and Insight have better space for passengers and cargo.  

The Clarity offers standard active safety features such as automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control.

Every Clarity is equipped with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility, 18-inch wheels, and dual-zone climate control. Top trims add leather upholstery and navigation.


2019 Honda Clarity


If conspicuous constraint is calling, the 2019 Honda Clarity answers.

Efficiency on its shirtsleeves, the 2019 Honda Clarity is a green car for the rest of the world to notice. Although it’s roughly the same size as an Accord, the two couldn’t be further apart. The Clarity’s tall tail and mish-mash of lines don’t appeal much to us. We give it a 4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Clarity’s portly rear end somewhat hides its small, but functional, rear window that makes rearward vision from inside the car better. The front of the car grafts on the now-familiar Honda grille, just not all that well. When combined with the daytime running lights and headlights, the wide chrome strip looks like night-time head gear that we’ve worked hard to forget from adolescence.

Inside, things are better—the familial Honda ties wear well. The lighter colors are complemented by a smart layout (although it’s lacking a volume knob) and only a few odd shapes are ported over from the exterior.  

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2019 Honda Clarity


Performance is relative in the 2019 Honda Clarity.

Performance isn’t the 2019 Honda Clarity’s first priority. All three versions available—fuel cell, plug-in hybrid, all-electric—prioritize energy efficiency rather than expenditure.

Among new cars, the Clarity is average. It’s a 5 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

We covered performance in-depth last year here. The 2019 Honda Clarity’s powertrains are unchanged from 2018.

Want the short of the long? The plug-in hybrid is most common and powers the front wheels only via Honda’s two-motor hybrid system, which is also used in the Accord Hybrid.

The 17-kwh battery in the plug-in hybrid can power the car for more than 40 miles on electricity alone before the gas-powered engine kicks it.

The all-electric Clarity similarly powers its front wheels only, and its 25.5-kwh battery pack powers the car for nearly 90 miles. It lacks a gas-powered engine. Among new electric cars, that’s very low.

The fuel-cell Clarity is a rarity and uses compressed hydrogen to drive its front wheels. It’s only available in limited areas in California.

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2019 Honda Clarity

Comfort & Quality

Comfort isn’t sacrificed for efficiency much in the 2019 Honda Clarity.

The 2019 Honda Clarity is a comfortable small car for four adults, or five if needs must.

In all versions, the ride is calm and quiet—only the plug-in hybrid version squirms when pressed up a hill. Compared to the Accord Hybrid that’s across showroom floors, the Clarity is less spacious—but the Accord Hybrid lacks a plug, which may be the point for Clarity buyers.

We give the Clarity an average score for its accommodations. It’s a 5. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Power-adjustable seats are available on Clarity Plug-In Touring and Clarity Electric variants, but not the base car. Rear-seat riders get a little more than 36 inches of leg room, which is about average. The Accord Hybrid offers more than 40 inches.

The Clarity plug-in hybrid offers 15.5 cubic feet of cargo room, the all-electric version cuts that down to 14.3 cubes.

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2019 Honda Clarity


The 2019 Honda Clarity lacks official crash-test data.

The 2019 Honda Clarity hasn’t been tested by either major safety rating organizations.We can’t score it here without that data. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Crash-test data aside, every Clarity is equipped as standard with forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control.

Outward vision is limited in the Clarity’s rear three-quarter view. Despite the tall tail, rear vision is relatively good.


2019 Honda Clarity


Every 2019 Honda Clarity is well-equipped.

The 2019 Honda Clarity is well-equipped among new cars.

Plug-in models, which are more common and more widely available, are offered in two trims: base and Touring. Base versions cost $34,320, including destination. Electric versions are mono spec, and roughly equivalent to Touring plug-in hybrid models.

Base cars are equipped with 18-inch wheels, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, dual-zone climate control, keyless ignition, and active safety features that we cover above. Starting from average, the Clarity gets points for good base features and good infotainment. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Touring trims add navigation, power-adjustable seats, and leather upholstery for $3,200 more.

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2019 Honda Clarity

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Honda Clarity is among the most efficient cars on the road.

Efficiency is why we’re here, the 2019 Honda Clarity has it in droves.

The plug-in hybrid, which is most common among Clarity variants, is rated by the EPA at 42 mpg combined when operating as a conventional hybrid, and has a 48-mile all-electric range when fully charged. That earns a 9 out of 10 on our efficiency scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The electric-only Clarity, which is sold in very small numbers, has a comparatively disappointing range among electric vehicles. On a full charge, the electric Clarity is EPA rated for 89 miles of range. Among electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt EV, and Tesla Model 3, that’s very low.

The fuel-cell Clarity is sold in fewer numbers than the electric version, only available in select parts of California, and manages 365 miles on a tank of compressed hydrogen.

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Styling 4
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety N/A
Features 7
Fuel Economy 9
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