2021 Honda Clarity

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
January 12, 2021

Buying tip

The Clarity Fuel Cell is only offered for lease, and that’s the only way we’d advise getting the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid. Sticker prices are high, and Honda has offered some great lease deals that could give the PHEV a lower monthly cost than some models costing half as much.

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The 2021 Honda Clarity lineup offers two quirky-looking ways to embrace the cleaner future—with all the comfort and features to forget that you’re treading lightly.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Honda Clarity? What does it compare to?

The Clarity is an efficiency-focused vehicle that aims to provide several options for environmentally conscious car shoppers. The lineup currently includes the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid and the hydrogen-powered Clarity Fuel Cell, while the Clarity Electric has been discontinued. 

Is the 2021 Honda Clarity a good car?

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Although not everyone will appreciate the look, or find the Clarity models to be as engaging as they might want, both the Clarity Fuel Cell and Clarity Plug-In Hybrid are well-designed sedans that have inviting, spacious cabins, a refined ride, and an impressive list of features. We give the Clarity lineup a 6.0 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Honda Clarity?

The Clarity carries over to 2021 with no changes.

The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid comes with a 1.5-liter inline-4 and a version of Honda’s two-motor hybrid system, making 171 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque altogether. With it, electric motor torque powers the front wheels the vast majority of the time, but it can clutch in the engine in some cruising conditions for better efficiency. 

Charging the Plug-In Hybrid takes just 2.2 hours on a Level 2 (240V) charge point. 

The other model, the Clarity Fuel Cell, is powered by a 174-hp electric motor system, fed by a 103-kw hydrogen fuel-cell stack, with a 1.7-kwh battery buffer between the two. 

How much does the 2021 Honda Clarity cost?

The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid starts at $34,355 (including $955 destination), while the top model in the lineup is the Clarity Fuel Cell, at $59,445 (although Honda normally leases this model). An 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is included on all versions, as are dual-zone climate control and keyless ignition. Top Touring trims add leather upholstery, power seats, and navigation. 

There’s a significant asterisk. The Clarity Fuel Cell is only offered through a limited number of California dealerships that are close enough to roughly 40 hydrogen fuel-cell fueling stations—mostly in the LA region, the San Francisco Bay area, and Sacramento. And while the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is only stocked by dealerships in California, it’s for order in all 50 states. 

Where is the 2021 Honda Clarity made?

In Takanezawa, Japan.


2021 Honda Clarity


The 2021 Honda Clarity plays a confusing mix of conservative and flamboyant on the outside, although a straightforward cabin design beckons.

Is the 2021 Honda Clarity a good-looking car?

How much you like the 2021 Honda Clarity will depend largely on your initial feelings about its exterior styling. From the outside, the design can be polarizing. While the front of the Clarity looks like other current Hondas, the teardrop roofline and shape, plus the partial rear wheel spats and the small but functional rear window, together make clear that aerodynamics is the priority. Mashed up with this, there’s a hard-to-place formality to the Clarity’s styling that also stands as a juxtaposition next to the extreme aero look. 

On the inside, the look of the Clarity models is much more in line with the rest of the current Honda lineup, with a pleasant mix of soft materials and lighter colors—and a two-tone look—together feeling upscale and well-coordinated. 

Review continues below

2021 Honda Clarity


The 2021 Clarity lineup isn’t all that perky, but it has a lot of poise.

Whether you opt for the plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell version, the Clarity is just responsive enough, but it by no means prioritizes performance. 

The soft, almost bouncy ride of the Clarity means its handling isn’t anywhere close to that of the Accord (or the somewhat more sophisticated-handling Insight), but those decisions give it the settled feel of a luxury car on jittery road surfaces. Regenerative braking is well-calibrated, too, and in everyday driving the Clarity has a level of grace you won’t find in the Prius or Ioniq. 

Is the Clarity 4WD?

The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid and Clarity Fuel Cell are both front-wheel drive, and there’s no option for all-wheel drive. 

How fast is the Honda Clarity?

The Clarity Fuel Cell can scoot to 60 mph in about eight seconds—or a little less than that, by some tests, for the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid. For the most part this is a driving experience that’s refined but not particularly sharp or perky. 

Between the two models, the Fuel Cell is the best-driving in the lineup; it’s quiet and responsive, and its 174-hp electric motor system delivers an electric-car punch from low speeds and a swoosh of impressive passing power at higher speeds. 

Review continues below

2021 Honda Clarity

Comfort & Quality

The 2021 Honda Clarity shows that efficiency and clean air don’t require giving up cabin comfort.

The Clarity juggles a lot of priorities. It’s configured the way that it is to yield great aerodynamics and to allow the flexible space for a range of advanced powertrains. So it’s quite surprising that both the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid and the Clarity Fuel Cell manage to provide so much good passenger and cargo space. 

Both versions have a very spacious cabin feel, with seating for five in what feels like a mid-size sedan cabin at first look. Back-seat space isn’t quite Accord-like, but it’s close. The Fuel Cell has less cargo space—because of the cylindrical hydrogen tanks that are stored under the back seat and the fore area of the cargo floor—and there’s not even a pass-through for long items. 

The Clarity Fuel Cell has the most settled ride of the two and has a somewhat more plush-feeling interior in the trims and materials; it feels like it could bear Honda’s Acura luxury badge. Either way, these are tight, comfortable, quiet sedans that don’t ride like they’re aiming to be hypermile champs.

Review continues below

2021 Honda Clarity


There are no official crash-test results for the 2021 Clarity lineup, but it eases concerns with a robust feature list.

How safe is the Honda Clarity?

What you won’t find for the Clarity lineup are any official crash-test results from either of the U.S. testing programs.

But you will find a robust list of safety features, all standard. Automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control are all included, as are a pedestrian warning system and adaptive cruise control. The Clarity also includes LaneWatch, which flips a wide camera view of the side of the vehicle on the center screen when you use the turn signal, and the Clarity Fuel Cell adds a head-up display. 

Review continues below

2021 Honda Clarity


The 2021 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid comes better-equipped than other affordable hybrids.

There are essentially two trim levels of the Clarity lineup. Clarity Plug-In Hybrid models are offered in base and Touring levels, while the Clarity Fuel Cell is offered in a single model that parallels the Touring level. 

Power seats, leather upholstery, and navigation are the big feature adds for Touring models, and all models in the lineup include an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus satellite radio, HD radio, and built-in Pandora compatibility. Dual-zone climate control and heated front seats are also included across the model line.

Which Honda Clarity should I buy?

The base 2021 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid costs $34,355 (including $955 destination), and it qualifies buyers for the full $7,500 federal EV tax credit. At that effective price, it offers a strong value in a very well-equipped, luxurious-feeling model that pairs long-distance hybrid flexibility with enough electric range for most commutes.  

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Honda Clarity?

The top model in the lineup is the Clarity Fuel Cell, at $59,445. But Honda primarily leases this model, under an arrangement that includes fuel, making it a great deal if you’re near a hydrogen station.

Review continues below

2021 Honda Clarity

Fuel Economy

Both versions of the 2021 Honda Clarity are highly efficient and cut tailpipe emissions.

The 2021 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid has some of the advantages of an electric car and a hybrid, together. It’s rated for 48 miles of all-electric range on a charge, and then 42 mpg combined in its hybrid mode, after using up any plug-in charge. Because the fuel tank is only 7.0 gallons, that leaves you with a 340-mile range, by the EPA’s tally, if you start out with a full charge. 

Review continues below
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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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