Honda Clarity Electric and Plug-in Hybrid: Elec-Trifecta

At 366 miles, the Clarity Fuel Cell has the highest EPA driving range rating of any zero-emission vehicle in America, including fuel cell and battery electric vehicles, and an EPA fuel economy rating of 68 MPGe combined. Pricing for the new versions has not been announced. I'm guessing the differences in model years - 2017 for the Electric and 2018 for the Plug-in Hybrid - indicates the order the two models will reach dealerships.

The original Honda to wear the Clarity badge was a fuel-cell-only vehicle with USA availability limited to hand-picked lessees in California.

The U.S. Department of Energy lists just 34 public hydrogen fueling stations in the country; all but three are in California.

The Clarity Electric will come with a fast charging dock, which Honda assures will be able to charge the battery to 80 percent within half an hour.

While the versions are basically the same auto, Honda says each Clarity variant will have some distinguishing appearance touches, including an exclusive color, its own wheel design and some variations on lighting and front ends.

Those with more green ambitions can opt for the 2017 Clarity Electric, however. The EPA rating of 105 MPGe combined suggests the vehicle has been geared towards maximum efficiency, so just like the fuel-cell model, it's aimed at geeks like us. Being a hybrid, it will offer drivers greater flexibility in fuel choices.

The PHEV comes in two trim levels, standard and Touring, while the EV has one grade.

The four-door has four selectable modes - Normal, Econ, Sport, and HV - which change the vehicle's dynamics depending on how adventurous or efficient you want to drive. There's a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine on board as well, but that (as you might have guessed from its orientation) is there mostly to generate electricity and extend its range. It will get the Electric to market later this year, beginning with lease programs in California and Oregon. The Honda lineup includes the Fit, Civic, Accord and Clarity Fuel Cell passenger cars, along with the HR-V, CR-V and Pilot sport/utility vehicles, the Ridgeline pickup and the Odyssey minivan.

We liked the idea of a single platform with multiple electrified powertrain options when Hyundai introduced the IONIQ lineup past year, and we had a feeling it might be something we'd see repeated by other automakers. Lease includes Roadside Assistance, up to $15,000 of hydrogen fuel, and up to 21 days Avis luxury rental vehicle.

The Japanese automaker sold a dedicated hybrid in the form of its first- and second-generation Insight cars.

Indeed, Honda says the Clarity PHEV will be good enough for more than 330 miles on a full battery and a full tank of gas. It will be available to lease in California and OR later in 2017.

  • Fernando Stephens