I just bought a new car. Yes, another one — a Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid. Regulars to the blog might remember that I just purchased a Subaru Impreza, less than a year ago. I’m keeping the Subaru and this is all part of the grand plan, more or less.
The Subaru’s been great and I’ve enjoyed driving it for the last 11 months. The family even made the road trip to New Orleans with it. In almost every respect, it’s superior to the previous car I owned, “the appliance”, a 10-year-old Toyota Prius. Understandably, the Prius had better fuel economy, but there was another thing I missed. The quiet whir of an electric engine, at least part of the time.
I realize many people love the deep rumble of a powerful V8, but not me. Fundamentally, I like new technology. When I imagine the future or think about SciFi shows, the quiet propulsion of electric cars comes to mind, not the archaic 130-year-old internal combustion engine. I really like the quiet and smooth acceleration with the instant torque of electric.
Of course, Tesla gets a lot of press these days as a poster child for an electric future. They are certainly neat cars and I have the utmost respect for Elon Musk and wish him much success. However, with not much of a track record and very little data on reliability or the costs of long-term ownership, I’m wary. Not to mention that all of Tesla’s models are really expensive. More money than I want to spend.
After looking at the available electric and plug-in hybrids, and there aren’t many options right now, I settled on the Clarity. What’s a plug-in hybrid? Well, with the Clarity I get about 50 miles of pure electric propulsion. If I run out of electric power, the car automatically switches to gasoline, where I get another 350 miles of range. In hybrid mode I should get about 42 miles per gallon.
I can make my daily commute to work and back on pure electric. In fact, I’ve driven around 350 miles so far, and I haven’t used a lick of gasoline. And unlike my old Prius, with pure electric in my Clarity , I don’t hear a gasoline engine. Just the almost nonexistent sound of the electric motor.
There are a few downsides, features that the Subaru has that I wish were available on the Clarity. I don’t have blind spot monitoring, just a camera that shows the right side of the car when making right turns, called Honda Lane Watch. I don’t have rear cross-traffic alert either. The backup and side cameras and center LCD are not as bright or as high-resolution as the Impreza. Finally the stereo is decent but not outstanding. Surprisingly, the upgraded Harman/Kardon stereo on the Subaru is delightful.
My likes with the Clarity? It as large and roomy, well-appointed vehicle. It’s about the size of a Honda Accord length and width wise, but it’s a lot taller. It’s kind of like a puffed up Accord. You can see my Clarity next to the Accord in the photo above. While the Subaru Impreza is the sportiest car I ever owned, the Honda Clarity is the most luxurious. It’s not quite Lexus level, but very nice to be sure. At 4,000 pounds, It’s also heavy. Nearly 500 pounds more than an Accord. As a result, it has a comfortable highway cruiser feel.
My original plans called for another car in about 1/2 year or so but I moved up the time-table based on a limited time deal. Texas just started a $2,500 rebate on certain electric and plug-in electric cars and the Clarity qualifies. But, it’s only for a limited time and for a limited number of cars. I wanted to make sure I got in on the deal.
Plus, the Clarity qualifies for a $7,500 Federal Tax credit too. So effectively, I can get this near luxury $37,000 car for $27,000. That’s quite the deal for a car comparable, and better in some ways, to a loaded Honda Accord. Electricity is also about 1/2 the cost of gasoline so I also save in its operation. I get to be eco-friendly and save money too. A win-win, I figure.
As planned, the Subaru goes to my older son. His 12-year-old Honda CR-V goes to my younger son, who is just starting the driving process. All in all, not a bad deal. Everyone is happy and I get to play with a big gadget. I have to admit that I get an incredible amount of pleasure running on electric and not having to visit the gasoline station very often. I’m keeping my figures crossed that this Honda will last a long time and with low long-term ownership costs.
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