The Honda Clarity, in all its forms and powertrain configurations, was named the 2018 Green Car of the Year. Green Car Journal made the announcement at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.
The editors of the journal liked that the Honda Clarity comes on three flavors: plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), electric (EV), and hydrogen fuel cell. They also liked that people don’t have to compromise to enjoy cleaner emissions; the Clarity is identically roomy, comfy, and high-tech in all three versions. Sure, Clarity is good for you like broccoli, but Honda adds some delicious cheese sauce in the form of an upscale interior so you don’t feel deprived.
I’ve driven all three of these cars back to back myself. They were made available to journalists for short test drives at the 2017 Drive Revolution event in Portland, Oregon. (Full disclosure: The event is held by the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Not only am I a member, but I co-chaired the event this year.) All three look exactly the same from the outside, but they have some badging so you know which one is which.
The Claritys (Is that the plural? Let’s go with it for now) are pretty much identical on the inside too. There’s some different technical information available depending on which version you’re driving. The PHEV, for example, tells you what mix of engine and motor you’re using, while the EV puts range information front and center. Their driving dynamics are very similar, and their advanced safety technology is all the same.
Drive Revolution is also a competition, and it says something that the Claritys (still going with that plural) did not win an award this summer. It doesn’t say the Honda Clarity is a bad car—not at all. It does point out that there are more electrified vehicles than ever available, and they’re very competitive. The Northwest Green Vehicle of the Year was the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, and it had to beat the largest field of test-drive vehicles Drive Revolution has ever had to get that title.
The Honda is also not the only vehicle to make different drivetrains available in one shell. The Hyundai Ioniq, a new model for 2017, is available as a hybrid, PHEV, or pure EV. The Volkswagen Golf has a few gasoline-powered versions and an e-Golf electric version. (There used to be a diesel version, but, well, you know. Criminal investigations and whatnot.)
There are plenty of others on the way. Almost every major manufacturer has promised to have electrified versions of their vehicles on the market within the next five or so years. There’s a good chance that your next new car, whatever it might be, will share battery technology with your phone instead of your riding lawn mower.—KHG