There are hybrids that do their best to blend in, sharing bodywork with conventional gasoline-powered cars. And then, there's the Honda Clarity, a plug-in hybrid that looks, well, pretty weird.
Introduced last year, the Clarity was Honda Canada's first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model, and remains the company's only electrified vehicle that can be charged while parked.
For 2019, the Clarity carries over with no major changes.
Clarity comes two ways. There's an entry trim, and a Touring model that brings a few more niceties, which we'll detail shortly.
First, a little context for the Clarity's place in the market. Straddling the line between compact and mid-size, it primarily competes with models like the Hyundai Ioniq Electric Plus and Toyota Prius Prime. However, it's more expensive than either of those. Another curiosity is the Clarity's traditional trunk, where those other cars are hatchbacks.
Both Clarity trims use a 1.5L four-cylinder engine that works with an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to make a total of 212 hp. Honda doesn't cite a combined torque figure, but tells us the engine makes 99 lb-ft and the electric motor 232. Our guess at a total is something like 250 lb-ft. Honda says the Clarity's battery is good for 77 km of driving when fully charged. Like most current PHEV and electric cars, the Clarity has a one-pedal driving function that uses the powertrain's regenerative function to handle most braking duties.
Perhaps the Clarity's performance is Honda's reason for the higher price: Toyota says the Prius Prime is good for 121 hp, and the Ioniq PHEV boasts 164 hp.
Clarity standard features include an eight-speaker stereo, 8.0-inch infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, multi-angle backup camera, passive keyless entry, 18-inch wheels, LED exterior lighting and smart wipers. Advanced safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, road departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow.
Touring trim brings navigation, garage door opener, leather seating and steering wheel and satellite radio. HondaLink app connectivity is included too, letting you link car and smartphone for parking location reminders, remote access to vehicle status data and various other functions.
Honda's energy consumption estimates for the Clarity are 5.3/5.9 L/100 km (city/higway) when running in gas-electric mode, and 2.0 Le/100 km when using battery power.