. . . We first drove the plug-in Clarity in December, and now we've had a chance to spend four days with it, covering 570 miles.
By and large, our impressions of the Clarity Plug-In remain those we registered after our first drive event. Honda also thinks it's figured out how to explain the virtues of its plug-in hybrid; let's hope it's right.
It's a large mid-size four-door sedan with a very pleasant and quiet interior, the range rating is fairly realistic, and its plug-in hybrid powertrain delivers a remarkable mix of electric smoothness and low fuel consumption for a car this big.
We're not fans of the exterior styling, which stems from its origins as a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. That led to its high, bulbous tail, which had to accommodate large, transverse high-pressure hydrogen fuel tanks. . . .
While December's first drive was in the temperate Napa Valley wine country, our four days with a white plug-in Clarity saw temperatures from 30 degrees F into the mid-50s F, including two unexpected snowstorms.
We were still able to get 30 to 48 miles out of a fully charged battery, depending on temperature but even more on speed, with highway speeds chewing up miles far faster than indicated range. . . .
Miscellaneous impressions from the drive included these:
We continue to love the tan Ultrasuede interior fabric; we don't know how it'll age, but it's great to see and touch
The big sedan suffers in handling and roadholding against its Accord sibling; it wallows and floats occasionally, while the Accord has sport-sedan handling
While the engine will switch on if you floor it on an uphill road (then stay on for 10 minutes), it's easy to keep the Clarity in all-electric mode if the battery's got charge
Under full power, the motorboat sound of the engine up front somewhere can get loud, but that was rare
The regen paddles (left to increase, right to decrease) didn't seem as aggressive as the Volt's
The charging door switch is almost invisible, on the lower dash at the height of the driver's knee
We did get used to the looks, or learned to ignore them
Overall, we covered almost exactly 40 percent of our 507.4 miles on grid power, despite having not one but two 115-mile highway runs. . . .