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Honda bets on luxury over range with the electric Clarity

Honda bets on luxury over range with the electric Clarity
From Engadget - July 9, 2017

Clarity is Honda's new line of green cars. Previously, the Clarity was just a fuel-cell vehicle with limited availability. Now it's three automobiles on a single platform: a fuel-cell version, plug-in hybrid and the pure electric car we drove. Honda says the entire line is about making a choice based on your driving habits. So before you throw down some cash, you have to decide, "How far will I really drive in this thing?"

For folks interested in the EV, it's not that far. The electric Honda Clarity has a range of 89 miles -- far fewer than a Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3, and Volkswagen e-Golf. But what it lacks in range it makes up for in luxury -- according to the Honda. To be fair, the company mostly delivers on that argument.

The interior feels more like an Acura than a Honda with plush seats, recycled Ultrasuede door accents, wood paneling and stitched materials. From the back seats to the dash, the car feels far fancier than other Hondas. Our videographer, Kyle, was especially smitten with the comfort of the rear seats. (We do not let him sit in the front. He knows why.) The front seats were equally cozy except for one thing: legroom. At 6-foot-3, I found the driver's side legroom to be wanting. I felt cramped and wondered if Honda's desire to make passengers in the back seat feel welcome was at the expense of the actual driver. At least if they are tall.

The rest of the of the interior was less anti-tall-person. The dash is neatly laid out and includes the requisite touchscreen in the center. Honda's infotainment center runs a version of Android. It's easy to navigate and includes buttons on the side of the display for quick access to high-level features.

A few times during our drive we ran into some latency issues, especially with the right-side blind-spot camera loading after we had already changed lanes. A nice safety feature, but not helpful if it takes five seconds to load, as it did about 15 percent of the time.

The dash cluster was equally easy to decipher and has just enough information about your driving style -- but not so much that it would confuse the driver with information overload. It's the less-is-more design rule, and here, well, it rules. The climate controls were knobs and buttons (rather than on-screen), which I am always a fan of, while the gear selector was a series of buttons. Your personal preference may vary, but I still prefer an actual lever.

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