2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

Episode 3635
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

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.

Specifications

  • Horsepower: 174
  • Torque: 221 lb-ft.
  • EPA: 69 MPGe city / 67 MPGe highway,
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 1

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Still A Miata, And That’s A Great Thing

Episode 4340
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When the cool little Mazda MX-5 Miata arrived for 1990, it immediately triggered a host of imitators and sparked a genuine global roadster revival. While that fad has faded, America’s love affair with the MX-5 has stayed strong. And, we’re pretty sure we know why!

The 2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata is probably one of the most recognizable cars on the road, and it has a way of putting a smile on our face every time we see one, not to mention any time we get a chance to hop behind the wheel. The Miata concept really hasn’t changed drastically over the last three decades, proof that Mazda got the formula right from the beginning.

Rear-wheel drive, minimal weight, tight suspension, willing engine, superb manual shifter, simple folding top, and just enough creature comforts to make long drives as pleasant as carving up backroad twisties.
An overload of power has never been part of that equation, and many may still decry the lack of horsepower, but just a reminder, this car was meant to rekindle the spirit of British roadsters from the 1960s that were a pure joy to drive, and had engines half as powerful as what the Miata works with today, which is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4 with 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque.

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Front
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Profile
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Rear
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front Detail
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear Detail
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Front2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Profile2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Rear2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front Detail2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear Detail

A six-speed manual transmission remains the standard; you must upgrade to top Grand Touring trim to even get the available six-speed automatic. And it all works together to deliver a joyful driving experience that few other vehicles can match.

The exterior design has gotten more purposeful and less cartoonish over the years; new for this year is updated lighting which now incorporates the LED DRLs into the headlight assembly, as well as a more cohesive design for the full LED taillights, plus some fresh wheel choices.

Continual upgrades under the skin too, with a new asymmetric limited-slip differential for all manual-equipped Miatas. Its purpose is to minimize oversteer, and if you think that means it’s less fun, you’d be wrong.

The perfect feel and action of the shifter keeps you looking for reasons to shift gears.

It was still a blast to dart through the handling course at our Mason Dixon test track and on the autocross circuit at Summit Point Motorsports Park. Minimal body roll and perfectly neutral handling had us scooting through the turns with ease. Kinematic Posture Control was added back in ’22, using selective braking to tighten up cornering. Adding to it for ’24 is a new steering rack and updated software for the Electric Power Assisted Steering that provides better on-center feel and more precise control.

7.0 seconds to 60 mph won’t exactly get your blood pumping, but it’s plenty adequate for the Miata’s mission and the engine sounds great for a four-cylinder. The perfect feel and action of the shifter keeps you looking for reasons to shift gears. But keep those engine revs above 6,000 for the most power. We did and our best quarter-mile was 15.4 at 92 mph.

Our average braking distance of 118 feet from 60 mph may have been a little longer than we’re accustomed to from a performance car these days, but their predictable and fade-free nature will give you plenty of confidence at your next track day.

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Dashboard
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Seats
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Instrument Cluster
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Central Display
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Shifter
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trunk
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Engine
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Dashboard2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Seats2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Instrument Cluster2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Central Display2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Shifter2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trunk2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Engine

Things remain all business in the cockpit, with everything falling readily to hand, and comfortable seats locking you in place. The most notable change in here for ’24 is a bigger infotainment screen, growing from 7.0 to 8.8 inches.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings with the manual are 26 City, 34 Highway, and 29 Combined. That’s a slightly better than average Energy Impact Score of 10.3 barrels of annual oil use, with 5.0 tons of CO2 emissions.
Starting price is only $30,170; top Grand Touring goes for $35,470.

It’s true that the Mazda MX-5 Miata has barely evolved over the years; but fortunately for all of us, virtually all of the ways that it has changed have been for the better, yet even in 2024, it remains incredibly affordable. It has been such a constant presence and passion for so many of our MotorWeek staffers over the years it seems like it has been around for a lot longer than just three decades, and thankfully, it looks like there’s no slowing the Miata down.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Engine: 2.0-liter I4
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Horsepower: 181
  • Torque: 151 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.4 seconds at 92 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
  • EPA: 26 City | 34 Highway | 29 Combined