Payne review honda clarity plug-in and toyota camry hybrid electricity in india first time

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But what if you didn’t want to shout your moral intentions to the world? What if you didn’t need to show off your green chic at the Academy Awards? What if you simply wanted an affordable, family hybrid with the utility of a best-selling sedan?

It sold modestly compared to the Prius, but it was part of Toyota’s strategy to leverage the halo status of the Prius and hybridize everything in its lineup from sedans to sport utilities to Lexus premium vehicles. Other brands followed the Camry hybrid — notably the Ford Fusion Hybrid and plug-in Energi, and Honda Accord Hybrid — with only moderate success compared to their gas-only counterparts.

But here comes Honda with a new strategy. Determined to electrify its entire lineup just like Toyota (Honda says two-thirds of vehicles it sells in 2030 globally will be electrified), Toyota’s Japanese rival has introduced its own green-geek halo: the plug-in hybrid Clarity.

In fact the Camry and Clarity in my driveway are as closely matched as Ali vs. Frazier: They’re the meat of the U.S. sedan market at $37,000 (before incentives — more on that later) with similar dimensions, leather interior, heated seats, automatic headlights, automatic braking and blind-spot assist.

First impressions favor the handsome Camry. No, that’s not a misprint. The eight-generation sedan is a quantum leap from the last wallflower. Remade from the ground up, it is visually sleek with sculpted rocker panels and strong rear shoulders. Unlike its sporty, mascara-caked XSE V-6 stablemate whose face deserves an episode on “Botched,” my XLE hybrid tastefully presents Camry’s new look with subtle, chrome grille lines artfully echoed in the headlamp LED signature.

The Clarity is no boat — especially with 17-kWh of battery lowering its center of gravity — but neither is it an Accord. The Accord is a handling sensation (North American Car of the Year, take a bow), eclipsing even the improved Camry. The Clarity is built on its own separate platform to handle multiple model trims from plug-in to EV to the expensive California-only hydrogen chariot. Want all-wheel drive? Move up to an SUV.

Honda hopes you’ll warm up to the Clarity’s unique styling. The front end (particularly in white) is a dead ringer for a “Star Wars” stormtrooper, its jewel-eye LED headlights surrounded by a black mask. Aft of the mask the Clarity geeks out with a long front overhang (complete with aerodynamic front-wheel air curtains), partially covered rear tire-wells, and aforementioned Prius-like dual rear window.

The split window aids visibility to overcome the Honda’s tall, roomy rear trunk. Cargo space is cavernous compared to the hydrogen car I tested a year ago (no hydrogen fuel tank, natch). The Camry, too, has gained trunk space over its predecessor thanks to cleverly packaging the battery under the seat instead of the trunk. Alas, neither car is a hatchback, meaning that — despite lay-flat second-row seats — the pass-through opening is too narrow to be bicycle-friendly.

Clarity goes nerd with an Acura-borrowed trigger shifter bridging cavernous sub-console space (great for purse storage). A knob-less infotainment screen will annoy in the middle of a white suede dash (now, that will dirty easily!), though some will find Camry’s lack of smartphone app connectivity less forgivable.

I never visited a pump during my week-long date with the Clarity. After a round-trip 65-mile airport run, I dipped into the gas engine briefly, then recharged at home on a pathetic, 4-miles-per-hour-charging, 110-volt wall plug. Still, that was enough to get back to full-charge overnight.

The driveline is optimized for efficiency, so stoplight burnouts are brief (despite its bigger battery, the Clarity barely beats the Camry Hybrid zero-60 in 7.6 seconds versus 7.9). The gas engine will even come to the rescue over 50 mph to keep the battery from over-exerting itself.

The Honda also has a clever, steering wheel-mounted, regen paddle like the Chevy Volt plug-in to recharge the battery under braking. In Ecomode (Sport mode is also available, but lord knows why, given the Clarity’s conservative nature) and generous use of regen paddle, I managed 55 miles on a single charge — out-performing the system’s advertised 41 mpg.

Clarity offers other useful Easter eggs like the HRV button which switches the system exclusively to the gas engine on long 80-mph highway trips to preserve the battery for when you want it around town. All of this information can be watched on the Clarity’s colorful, digital instrument display.