2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Sedan Drive Review

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Sedan Drive Review
- 2017 Honda Clarity fuel cell drives just like a battery-powered electric car, will spawn a battery-electric version and a plug-in hybrid later this year, press the accelerator moderately and the response is instantaneous and confidence inspiring sprightliness fades somewhat above 60 mph or so

- just a single AC motor that delivers its peak 221 lb-ft right from the start

- a turbulent whoosh of air from an electrically driven air compressor, force-feeding fresh air into this electric car’s onboard generator, the fuel-cell stack, supplies air at up to 70 percent greater pressure, quieter than the Toyota Mirai, and ride quality isn’t bad either

- drives like a very heavy Accord, 4000 pounds, despite an aluminum hood, doors, fenders, and trunklid

- center of mass is slightly lower than that of the Accord hybrid, claimed 57/43 front/rear weight distribution

- steering is precise, select Sport mode, signaled by red highlighting for the gauge cluster for sharper accelerator response and more regenerative braking, brakes are precise and easy to modulate

- don’t hear wind turbulence around the cowl and side glass at fast cruising speeds as found in the Chevrolet Bolt EV

- fuel-cell stack consists of many waferlike layers, each of which harnesses a chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen, producing some waste heat, water vapor, and electricity, pushed the efficiency of the stack over the 60 percent mark, increasing power to 103 kW

- Honda put the suitcase-sized fuel-cell stack between the front seats, cutting into interior space and making that vehicle a four-seater

- excellent space for four adults, decent legroom, reasonable headroom in back

- hydrogen is stored in two aluminum-lined, composite-reinforced cylindrical tanks, the larger of them (31 gallons) sits just behind the rear seatbacks and the smaller one (6 gallons) lies under the rear seats

- large hydrogen claimed 366-mile range, at the expense of cargo space

- trunk’s meager 12-cubic-foot volume is even worse than it sounds

- an air-cooled, 1.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack ensures that full power is always on tap

- once the fuel cell has been whooshing away and you ease off the accelerator, the battery recovers rapidly, fed both from the stacks and from regenerative braking

- design surely has more grace than that of the Toyota Mirai, design and styling are polarizing from the outside, it could be a future-generation Accord

- cabin with high-quality finishes, as found in an Acura, a reduced environmental footprint have been used for nearly 80 percent of interior surface areas

- 10,000-psi tanks take just three to five minutes to fill, with full support from SAE’s J2601 protocol and its two-way communication to compensate for ambient air conditions

- gauge cluster indicated 221 miles to empty far less than the claimed 366-mile range

- an EPA-rated 69 MPGe city and 67 MPGe highway

- Honda officials are pragmatic about the prospects for fuel cells and wants to sell the fuel-cell Clarity in the thousands

Starting Price $369/month, $2868 down payment
Vehicle Type 4 door sedan, front motor, front wheel drive
Engine -- permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 174 hp, 221 lb-ft -- 1.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission 1-speed direct drive
Horsepower fuel cell type: proton-exchange membrane, 103 kW
Wheelbase 108.3 in
Length 192.7 in
Width 73.9 in
Height 58.2 in
Curb weight 4150 lb
Passenger volume 102 cu ft
Cargo volume 12 cu ft
0-60 mph 8.3 sec
0-100 mph 27.0 sec
Top speed 105 mph
Fuel economy (city/highway) 69/67 MPGe
Pros comfort seat, electric-car zip, quiet interior
Cons limited cargo space, gawky exterior