2017 Honda Clarity Review

Fuel Type
City MPG
Highway MPG
  • Performance
    3.6 of 5.0
  • Cost of Ownership
    4.5 of 5.0
  • Interior
    3.9 of 5.0
  • Reliability
    3.0 of 5.0
09 Dec 2016

The 2017 Honda Clarity FCV is Honda’s first mass-production Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle. The car runs solely on hydrogen, resulting in zero emissions while driving. Obviously, this is another step in the environmentally friendly car manufacturing that has been underway since the late 1990s.

The experimental Clarity model took a long time to make it to the mass-production line. The first model was released in 1999. The first small-sale Clarity FCX was produced in 2008. Finally, the Clarity concept was unveiled at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. As a result, the hydrogen-powered car was finally released for international markets in 2017, with Japan being the first.

The Clarity will also be available in Europe, albeit in limited quantities and only through the HyFIVE project. BMW, Daimler, Hyundai, Honda, and Toyota are collaborating to test hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. This project will also lobby to increase the availability of hydrogen for refueling.

Exterior design

The exterior of the 2017 Honda Clarity FCV is unique, yet functional. It has most of the same features as the 2015 concept, but has been scaled back for mass production. Furthermore, the overall shape and size are similar to the advanced and best-selling Honda Accord.

The front fascia is distinct in that an additional lower grille part has been added. Then there’s a thinner chrome strip to allow for more airflow. Furthermore, the chrome strip still connects the headlights and the angular, boomerang-shaped foglights nicely. Finally, Daytime Running Lights complete the front end.

Because of the rounded off roof that flows nicely into the trunklid, the side of the car looks sleek and shiny. Furthermore, the car’s side profile is identical to that of a standard sedan, with some nice body lines and an expressive window group. The lower body line terminates in an air vent, as seen on powerful supercars such as the Bugatti Veyron. Overall, it’s a nice touch to see it on a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Finally, the skirts over the rear wheels are the most eye-catching detail on the side. Instead of leaving the entire wheel bare, the straight lined side skirt covers the top. This feature also calls to mind a much faster and more aggressive supercar. The flirtation with these features works well and is quite daring; we like it!

Finally, the rear of the car nicely ties the car together. The 2017 Honda Clarity FCV appears a little wide and almost identical to the eco-friendly hybrid, the Toyota Prius Prime, which is explained by the presence of hydrogen tanks inside. They certainly take up a lot of room.

Interior design

There will be no interior that looks exactly like the one on the concept car; this is a rule we’ve established over the last few years of car production. The interiors are always fantastic and futuristic, but they are always too much of a hassle to carry over to the mass-production vehicle. That’s why we were pleasantly surprised when we first saw the final interior, which incorporates many design elements from the concept.

First and foremost, the racing game steering wheel has been replaced with a standard steering wheel. The infotainment screen is slightly smaller and more integrated with the dashboard. Some necessary buttons, as well as the gear shifting platform, are added beneath it. The rest of the dashboard, like the concept car’s, is clean and clutter-free. Then there’s the sleek, high-tech color scheme of dark grey and white.

Engine specs

In essence, the Honda Clarity is an electric vehicle that generates electricity using hydrogen rather than electric batteries. The hydrogen tanks can hold 141 liters of hydrogen, and the hydrogen is released at 700 bars of pressure, which is extremely high. When hydrogen collides with oxygen, it generates kinetic energy, which is converted into electricity and used to power the Clarity’s electric motor.

The electric motor is a 173bhp e-motor with a 134bhp fuel cell stack and a lithium ion battery to power it. Total engine output is 174 horsepower, which is 22 more than the Clarity’s main rival, the Toyota Mirai. Honda claims that the 2017 Honda Clarity FCV will be able to travel more than 700 kilometers on a single tank before needing to be refueled.

This is obviously excellent performance, and it may persuade the first trailblazers to purchase a Clarity. However, logistics are currently lacking, with only a few hydrogen refueling stations per country.

Furthermore, the Clarity provides the driver with a choice of five different driving modes, including one labeled Sport. A sport mode of transportation on a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle? It’s better to accept that the new Clarity FCV isn’t here to confirm our prejudices about environmentally friendly automobiles.

Tech specs

Since Tesla raised the bar for eco-friendly vehicles by including a plethora of safety and convenience features. So much so that any newly released eco-friendly car follows in this trend; if the car has to compete with that, there is simply no choice. The 2017 Honda Clarity FCV is clearly outfitted with a slew of features for semi-autonomous driving. Honda even created a fully autonomous Clarity FCV for the G7 summit in Japan next year.

Price and sale date

The 2017 Honda Clarity FCV is starts at $36,620. The Clarity is only available in a few countries, with Europe receiving approximately ten of these vehicles, primarily for testing and paving the way for hydrogen refueling stations. The car is already on the market in Japan, but it only arrived in Europe in late November and will be available soon.  In the United States sales are limited to California customers and hydrogen stations are scarce.