Top 10 Car Reviews of 2019: SUVs Aim to Please, But Honda Clarity Is Clear Fave | NewsJuly 12, 2019
Hybrids and electric vehicles make up only a small percentage of overall car sales in the U.S. each year, and plug-in hybrids — a combo of the two often using an all-electric motor to propel the car on electricity until the charge runs out, at which point a gasoline engine kicks in — is an even more exotic bird.
That’s why it’s confounding that Cars.com’s most read review of the 2019 model year is a bird of this esoteric feather: the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybridsedan. It just lends credence to something we’re fond of saying facetiously: People like reading about electric cars a lot more than they like buying ’em.
Related: 2020 Kia Telluride Review: The New Big SUV Benchmark
Despite the ostensible lack of massive consumer interest in plug-in hybrids, automakers seem confident in an increasingly electric future. As Cars.com’s Joe Wiesenfelder notes in his review of the Clarity, nearly two-dozen plug-in hybrids already are available, with many more on the way.
“To be frank, most of them aren’t very appealing. … They’re a great idea — drive a set distance on cheap, potentially clean electric power, then have gasoline power at the ready to allow for longer trips,” Wiesenfelder writes. “To my way of thinking, if you’re going to the trouble of producing a car that can be plugged in and charged — or you’re a consumer willing to invest in such a vehicle and a parking arrangement to support it — you want generous electric-only range and few trade-offs. Unfortunately, though it’s roughly the ninth anniversary of modern plug-in hybrids, few yet have met this description. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid does.”
Wiesenfelder lauds the Clarity’s 47-mile electric-only range before the gas engine kicks in (meaning the average American can complete their round-trip commute with charge to spare); serviceable driving experience; roomy, comfortable interior; and competitive starting price of as low as $26,820, including a destination chargeand factoring in the $7,500 federal tax credit. And all the while, it requires a scant few of the trade-offs typically associated with market…