2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Review

Clarity Fuel Cell

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2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Overview

For 2017, Honda gives us the Clarity—one car platform powered by three very different fuel types. The Clarity midsize sedan is the first car in the world to be offered as either a plug-in hybrid, battery electric, or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle (FCV). This flexibility is possible thanks to its modular design and electric motor. No matter which fuel source you choose—batteries, a small gasoline engine paired with batteries, or a hydrogen-powered fuel cell—each version is essentially the same car.

The first Clarity to hit the market will be the Clarity Fuel Cell. It features a 174-hp electric motor powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. You can learn more about this technology by reading CarGuru’s guide to alternative fuels.

The Clarity Fuel Cell is Honda’s second attempt at a mass-produced FCV. Its first, the FCX Clarity, was available from 2008 to 2014. As with the FCX Clarity, the new Clarity Fuel Cell will be available only via lease to customers in California who live or work within 10 miles of a hydrogen fueling station, with pricing starting at around $400 per month. Thanks to the new fuel-cell design that’s one-third smaller but 60 percent more powerful than the old FCX Clarity’s, the Clarity Fuel Cell can seat up to 5 passengers. Drivers can expect a range of 300 miles between fill-ups.

Although the Clarity Fuel Cell will undoubtedly get the most press, Honda expects the plug-in hybrid Clarity to be the best seller. The plug-in hybrid will be available in all 50 states and boasts a 40-mile all-electric range in addition to unlimited mileage from the gasoline engine. The all-electric Clarity will be sold alongside the hybrid and fuel-cell variants and is expected to hit U.S. markets in the summer of 2017.

The Clarity Fuel Cell will be fitted with what Honda calls “premium, environmentally-responsible materials.” The Display Audio infotainment system is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and the center console features a push-button shifter like that in the Acura TLX. The Clarity comes outfitted with LED head- and taillights, a head-up display, and soft-touch upholstery. The Honda Sensing active-safety suite is standard and includes lane-departure warning, collision-mitigating braking, and forward-collision warning.


A member of the New England Motor Press Association who has owned everything from a Town Car to a Prius, Keith has contributed automotive coverage to outlets including Wired, Car & Driver, and USA Today.

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