Honda introduced the Clarity nameplate back in 2008 with the FCX Clarity, a mid-size, five-passenger, four-door sedan equipped with a hydrogen-powered electric motor. Based on the FCX Concept vehicle from 2006, the initial Clarity was the first hydrogen fuel cell passenger car ever provided for public intake. Production of the initial Clarity ended in 2014 with just a handful of units offered, but now it’s back, with Honda reestablishing the nameplate in December of 2016. The fundamentals are the same, including the four-door sedan body design bristling with unpopular cuts and information, while under the hood you’ll discover a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain. Joining the H2-powered model now is two other powertrains, including an all-electric and plug-in hybrid variation, both of which were unveiled earlier this year at the New York International Auto Show.
Like lots of green alternative kinds of transport these days, the 2018 Honda Clarity gets an unique, standout exterior style that’s difficult to miss out on. The main motivation behind the Clarity’s styling is functional in nature, with the body panels lowering the overall drag coefficient and making the most of the miles possible from each of the models’ particular power sources. And while aesthetics are secondary, the distinct appearance also helps sell the idea that this car is “various” from a more standard internal combustion-only sedan. It’s a controversial, polarizing design, that’s for sure, but considering the success of competitors like the Toyota Prius, a vehicle with a similarly odd approach to styling, it’s uncertain Honda will lose sales by taking chances with the Clarity’s look.
While not quite as “out there” as the exterior styling, the 2018 Honda Clarity interior does continue some of the spacey ambiance initially seen in the body panels. The main tunnel in specific gets the sci-fi treatment thanks to a geometric, angular cut, and center stripe of buttons. Behind the three-spoke, multifunction steering wheel is a set of digital gauges, while the central dash is equipped with a touchscreen display screen to relay information like navigation and different other infotainment bits. Handling the infotainment tasks is Honda’s Display Audio platform, which uses expanded mobile phone support via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, including smartphone-esque operation like tap, pinch, and swipe commands.
Finally, there’s the Clarity Fuel Cell, which gets many powertrain enhancements and upgrades compared with the previous model year of the hydrogen-powered Clarity. For 2018, Honda gave the Clarity a more compact fuel cell stack, down by around 33 percent in size, while also enhancing power density by 66 percent. Honda says the fuel cell and hydrogen powertrain are now roughly equivalent in dimensions to a contemporary V-6 internal combustion engine, offering higher cabin space as a result. Overall range with a full tank of hydrogen is 366 miles, which Honda says is the highest EPA-rated owning series of a zero-emission vehicle on the U.S. market.
Honda will produce the 2018 Honda Clarity in the United States, with Plug-in Hybrid and Electric variants provided in dealerships later on in 2017. Main rates numbers have yet to be revealed, but expect figures around the $35,000 mark.
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