2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell
With battery powered EV’s now well on their way to being mainstream, you might wonder if hydrogen fuel cell powered electrics are still being pursued. Well, yes they are with Toyota, Hyundai, and now Honda fielding new showroom models. In Honda’s case, it’s the 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan, and it’s sure to make our look down the road ahead a lot clearer.
Back in 2008, we drove Honda’s vision for the hydrogen fuel-cell powered automotive future, the FCX Clarity. And, while everyone knew it was still a work in progress, it impressed us with its easy manners and effortless appeal.
The 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is clearly an evolution of the FCX; with the biggest improvement being the shrinking of the fuel cell stack itself, now small enough to be placed in the engine bay, along with the electric drive motor.
That leaves just two hydrogen tanks to find space for. A small one is located under the rear seats, while a larger one sits just behind them.
Output is 174-horsepower and 221 lb-ft. of torque. But best be frugal with it, as unless you live near one of the few hydrogen refueling stations in California, you don’t want to exhaust the still impressive 366-mile range too quickly. For the record, that’s more range than any battery powered EV you can buy today.
Indeed, Honda claims it’s the longest driving range of any zero-emission vehicle. Plus, fueling doesn’t take hours, but approximately five minutes.
The Clarity comes with Government Fuel Economy MPGe ratings of 69-City, 67-Highway, and 68-Combined.
During our early drive time around Santa Barbara, California; the Clarity Fuel Cell drove mostly like a pure-EV, but with power delivery that feels more linear, more like a traditional combustion powertrain. Likewise, the regen braking is not as aggressive as a battery electric, even when dialed up in sport mode. Yes, there is a sport mode.
And you can definitely detect Clarity’s 4,134–lbs. through corners, but it never feels sloppy. Rather, Honda smooth and mostly quiet, save for a few awkward whirring and air-flow noises you haven’t heard before. Honda claims to have quieted down the drive motor significantly from the FCX Clarity.
The cabin is quite nice looking; not too futuristic or even that much different from say… a Civic. But things do feel a little tighter inside, mostly because of the wide and protruding center console.
Not so in the rear seats where, with no big battery to hide, there’s plenty of both leg and head room and true 3-across seating.
Even with a hydrogen tank eating up some trunk space, there’s still a good 11.8 cubic-ft. of it.
Safety systems are also typical Honda; including Lane Keeping Assist, and Collision Mitigation braking. There’s even a Head-Up Display and Honda’s LaneWatch side view camera.
Also helping the driver keep track is an innovative Digital Graphic meter; while Apple Car Play and Android Auto are a part of the new 8.0-inch HD touchscreen display audio system.
The exterior may not appear as far into the future as it once did, but it’s clearly not your everyday sedan either.
Along with the usual LED headlights and daytime runners, the Clarity has a host of air cheating elements such as rear “air curtains”, keeping wind off the wheels, and the world’s first “air curtain ducts” on the rear doors.
Body panels are mostly aluminum. Wheels are 18-inch alloys, wearing Michelin Energy Saver tires.
As for size, its 108.3-inch wheelbase is exactly 2.0-inches longer than a Civic Sedan.
And just in case you don’t live near a hydrogen pump, Honda has announced that a plug-in hybrid, as well as their first pure-EV will soon join the Clarity lineup.
If you could buy the Clarity Fuel Cell, pricing would be $59,365; but for now, Honda is still going with a leasing only plan at $369 a month. Act now, and Honda will even throw in up to $15,000 of free fuel during your 3-year lease.
We know the current market for the 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is tiny, and only in California. But in a larger sense, we’re not convinced that this wave of the future will ever crash upon our shores, as we are much further along a pure-EV path. But, Honda is not concerned with such trivialities, they’ve got innovating to do, and if we ever do get that “Hydrogen highway”, Honda, and the Clarity Fuel Cell, will be at the head of the lane.
- Horsepower: 174
- Torque: 221 lb-ft.
- EPA: 69 MPGe city / 67 MPGe highway,
2023 BMW X7
Should Keep The BMW Faithful Coming Back For More
While BMW got serious about their SUV game around the same time as most other luxury brands, it took them until just a few years ago to deliver a 3-row example. This year, that X7 is updated with new style and new tech. So, let’s see if that makes it the ultimate premium 3-row family machine.
When it comes to utility vehicles, bigger seems to be better for a lot of people. So, for BMW, there’s none bigger or better than the X7 3-row utility, which for 2023 gets a comprehensive update after just 4-years on the market. That includes a facelift to bring it more in line with the new 7-series carline, which is to say joins the more vertical, aggressive grille party. Also, the actual headlights have been moved lower in the front fascia, with squinty DRLs above for the first time on a BMW. In back, taillights take on a 3D posture, with a new chrome bar connecting them.
There are also multiple new M Sport packages to choose from to spice up the exterior, with larger air intakes up front, high-gloss black trim, upgraded exhaust, cascade grille lighting, and 22-inch wheels, as well as M Sport brakes…
…and the interior too, with aluminum trim and exclusive steering wheel. But, by far the biggest change inside for ‘23 is a new dashtop curved display that eliminates the typical BMW well-hooded gauge pod and blends 12-inch Live Cockpit Pro into the 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now features iDrive8. Both a Head-Up Display and a large panoramic sunroof are standard.
Whether set up for 2 or 3 passengers, 2nd row seat room remains plentiful, and though the X7 doesn’t look ungainly large like many of its competitors, access to the 3rd row is quite good. Cargo space is reached through a fairly unique, Range Rover-style, split tailgate, which is quite oddly satisfying to watch unfold. There’s room for 48.6 cubic-ft. of goods behind the 2nd row, with a max of 90.4 cu.-ft.
The base xDrive40i has always been the sensible choice, even more so now with a new inline-6 turbo getting a significant bump in horsepower from 335 to 375, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that results in a total of 398 lb-ft. of torque.
At our Mason Dixon test track, there was enough to blast this big beast to 60 in just 5.4-seconds. That’s only about half a second slower than the V8 did the deed back in 2019. Making that optional 523-horsepower V8 simply overkill at this point. Our best ¼-mile pass was 13.9-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. All X7s get a quick shifting sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, which adds a new Sprint Function that finds the lowest usable gear instantly and maxes electric boost with a hold of the left shift paddle. What fun!
New looks and updated tech are cool, but BMW has also addressed dynamics as well, with a retuning of all chassis systems, including the optional Dynamic Handling Package which adds adaptive suspension with roll stabilization and uses GPS and camera data to prepare for what’s coming. We’re not sure if our slalom course was anticipated, but the X7 sure felt well-equipped to handle it. All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s, along with comprehensive drive modes.
In our braking runs, the pads bit down hard quickly, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet with very little nosedive.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 6-cylinder are 21-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged just 21.0 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
There’s an average Energy Impact Score; 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.5-tons.
Pricing starts at $78,845, and it’s a significant step up from there to $104,095 if you want the V8. Even more reason to stick with the 6-cylinder as far as we’re concerned.
It took the ultimate driving machine folks quite a bit of time to enter the 3-row family crossover segment, but when they did, they were able to create their largest utility ever and keep it consistent with their values. For 2023, the BMW X7 gets even more dynamic, embraces new tech, and looks better too. All things that should keep the BMW faithful coming back for more.
- Engine: I-6
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 21.0 MPG
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 398 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.9-seconds at 100 mph
- EPA: 21 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined