With electrified vehicles having been on the road for more than a decade, there are plenty of used choices available for consumers looking for value. As an ongoing series, we’ll look back at various generations of battery electrics, PHEVs and hybrids to give you the information you need to make an educated choice. And check out The Charge’s Browse EVs for Sale page to find what you’re looking for.
The Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid was Honda’s first (and, so far, only) plug-in vehicle in Canada. It shared its underpinnings with BEV and fuel-cell electric Clarity variants that were sold in the US but which never made it to the Canadian marketplace.
All Clarity Plug-In Hybrid models used a 1.5L four-cylinder gas engine, an electric motor, and a continuously variable transmission to make 212 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque.
At its 2018 introduction, the Clarity promised 77 km of electric driving range on a full charge of its battery, the third-best figure in the PHEV class after the BMW i3 REx and Chevrolet Volt from the same model year. By 2021, the Clarity’s final year, it still ranked third behind the i3 REx and the megabucks Polestar 1 (by this point, Chevrolet had discontinued the Volt). It also boasted more range than a few newer PHEVs, including the Toyota RAV4 Prime and Ford Escape PHEV.
Through its four-year run, the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s energy consumption estimates remained the same, at 2.1 Le/100 km in electric mode and 5.3/5.9 L/100 km (city/highway) when running as a gas-electric hybrid.
According to Carfax Canada, Clarity Plug-In Hybrid used values start at $23,384 for a 2018 base model and run to $32,856 for a 2020 in Touring trim. Carfax doesn’t have values yet for 2021.
Trim levels and features
Honda offered the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid in Base and Touring trim levels. In all model years, the base model came with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, eight-speaker stereo, 8.0-inch touchscreen, dual-zone A/C, heated front seats, and passive keyless entry. Touring trim added navigation, leather upholstery, and satellite radio.
Watch for charging problems
If you experience charging problems in an early Clarity model (2018 and some 2019 versions), be aware that Honda issued a service bulletin that instructs its service departments to install new software for the charging system.
Here, a couple of Clarity owners discuss the problem of their cars suddenly losing power and slowing down to a near crawl while the gas engine revs quite high and sounds like it’s working hard. This doesn’t seem to be a particularly common complaint, but regular posters at ClarityForum.com seem to think it happens more frequently in early versions of the Clarity.
Get the battery capacity checked before you buy
Some Clarity owners say their cars’ batteries have lost a notable amount of charging capacity, resulting in a loss of electric driving range. If you’re testing a used Clarity and the EV range shows less than 70 km on a full charge, get the battery tested by a Honda dealer before you buy the car.
In this chat, Clarity drivers discuss the accuracy of the car’s driving range indicator.
If you drive a Clarity almost exclusively in electric mode, it’s normal for the gas engine to come on periodically even when the battery has plenty of charge remaining. This is to keep the engine’s internals lubricated and prevent seals from drying out due to a lack of oil circulation. It may also run in cold weather to help provide heat for the cabin.
Does the A/C work? If not, it may be covered under warranty
If you turn on a Clarity’s A/C and it doesn’t blow cold, get the HVAC system checked out by a Honda dealer. In 2021, Honda Canada extended warranty coverage on the A/C system’s condenser for certain models, and that extra coverage applies to all model years of the Clarity. The condenser looks like a second radiator located in front of the engine’s rad and is equivalent to the outdoor unit in a residential central air system.
In this thread, Clarity Plug-In Hybrid owners discuss their experiences with drained 12-volt batteries.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has crash-tested the Honda Clarity.
Honda equipped the Clarity with a suite of driver safety assists comprising forward collision mitigation, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and a blind-spot camera on the car’s right-hand side.
Transport Canada has issued no recall notices for the Honda Clarity.