Has anyone driven A Clarity Phoenix to Flagstaff?

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by tom kirshbaum, Apr 15, 2019 at 6:00 AM.

  1. tom kirshbaum

    tom kirshbaum New Member Subscriber

    I live in Flagstaff, Arizona. I’m one of probably many potential Clarity buyers waiting on the fence for a resolution to the angry bees dilemma and related power management issues in the Clarity on PHEV-challenging roads. Not for Clarities with problems, but for the many owners in this forum whose experience with their cars has been problem-free.

    Phoenix-Flagstaff is a 150-mile trip (south to north) which climbs from 1,000 feet to 7,000 feet above sea level. It’s all Interstate highway; the predominant speed limit is 75. Up the hill the air temperature is typically 20 degrees cooler and the air is much thinner, which is why international athletes come here to train. Both factors, plus of course the climb itself, rob engines and batteries of capacity.

    I’ve read approximately a thousand posts on the modes, battery capacity, angry
    bees, and so on. I’m not asking for yet another rehash of the issues that have been very well discussed and explained in this and the Clarity Forum pages.

    What I’d really appreciate would be as much data as you can provide about YOUR experience with this drive: what speeds, what modes, what engine noise, what power problems, what temperatures, and so on. I’d love to make this drive myself, but what dealer will let me make a thee-hundred mile test drive?

    Many thanks for any responses.
  2. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member

    Based on Honda's lack of response so far, I don't believe there will be a resolution, so you will likely not become a Clarity buyer if you continue to wait. It's clear to me that Honda doesn't believe these reports represent a problem.

    If I lived in Flagstaff instead of Ann Arbor, I'd offer you a ride to Phoenix and back. Of course, it would the "back" part of the trip that would be the interesting experience because that would involve the climb. I'd have you keep the car in HV Mode to Phoenix and use some EV on the steep hills on the way back to Flagstaff just to show off. I don't have an OBDII scanner, but I'd get one for this trip to demonstrate how the RPMs never actually get anywhere near what you'd see in a typical economy car climbing those hills back to Flagstaff. Our Clarity PHEV is a great car and I love to show it off.
    Mowcowbell likes this.
  3. Mowcowbell

    Mowcowbell Member

  4. tom kirshbaum

    tom kirshbaum New Member Subscriber

    Thanks for the helpful answers, Mow and Insight. I started the thread on clarity forum.com. That has produced some great information, but so far neither forum has produced an actual driver who has experienced the drive in a Clarity.

    Being a Clarity virgin myself, I can't picture or imagine what would happen. In HV, will the car maintain battery by slowing down, racing the engine, or both? At how many bars will this happen? At what speed will I actually be able to go up the hill? If I start at the bottom with a full SOC, running in hz, when will it run out down to 0 miles? What modes should I use? When? If I added the requirement that I want to maintain 75 mph or that I want the quietest possible trip, how would I drive it then? Would either of these even be possible? What would happen? What does "turning off hv" do? Does ev mode replace it? (not for long!). Would hv-charge play any part in the strategy? And so on. Perhaps as experienced Clarity owners you can't get a sense of what I don't know! With zero experience, anything I can imagine is meaningless.

    Beethoven became deaf, but he had a lifetime of experience listening to, playing and creating music -- not to mention that he was a genius. Imagine him as an ordinary person who had never heard a note.

    Insight, as a personal note, I envy you living in Ann Arbor. I spent four happy years there very long ago, as did my father, my brother, my wife-to-be, my uncle, several cousins, a nephew and a niece. And we were all out of state! That meant a horrendous tuition, as I recall, of around $530 a year in my day.
  5. sniwallof

    sniwallof Member

    Post #10 over there? Defenderman - "So as promised I made the drive this past weekend and it went well."

    Defenderman was driving a Clarity, wasn't he?

    OH, I see, that was Portland, OR. Nevermind :)
  6. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member

    When the Clarity PHEV is running in HV Mode, it runs the engine to maintain the SoC of the battery when you pressed the HV button. However, sometimes HV Mode switches to EV travel, such when going down a hill, because the engine is not needed to maintain the battery's SoC. Also in HV Mode, when you are not accelerating or going up a significant hill, the magic brain of the Clarity PHEV can switch to its most economical mode: Engine drive mode. In Engine drive mode, a clutch connects the engine to a single-speed gearbox that is like 6th gear in a multi-speed transmission.

    Some people (me) see the SoC of the battery degrade while traveling in HV Mode, but it degrades slowly. Others see no degradation at all. So, by the time you get up a big hill, it's possible that you may have used up the available SoC and be down to the minimum of 2 bars. Usually, when you go up a big climb, there's a descent on the other side. That's when you can either select strong regeneration with the left paddle behind the steering wheel, or you select a maximum speed with the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). ACC will use the Clarity's traction motor as a generator to slow the car and restore SoC just like the regen paddle does.

    If you know you're going to be hitting a significant climb, you can use HV CHARGE Mode ahead of time to sacrifice some gasoline to increase the SoC to nearly 58%. That's the maximum Honda allows HV CHARGE to charge the battery. Then you'll be ready to climb the hill with the battery to help the 103-hp engine get up the hill.

    The worst-case scenario is when you have no charge and you're still climbing. In that case, expect to hear the 103-hp engine working hard to drag the 2-ton Clarity PHEV up the hill. Still, many claim that the engine will not rev more than 4,500 RPM or, possibly 5,000 RPM. Ann Arbor is pretty flat so I cannot comment from experience on this aspect of Clarity PHEV hill-climbing.
  7. Dan Albrich

    Dan Albrich Active Member

    I'm just back from a 2700 mile round trip from Eugene, OR to Tucson, AZ. Multiple passes involved. The car did fine. I was worried about keeping some state of charge (SOC) over rolling hills where the EV range kept going down and did long-press HV more than once, including in the hills themselves. The car takes longer to get to its 58% or max EV range under these conditions, but keeps trucking along. I never really came close to 0 EV range (very intentionally) and made liberal use of long-press HV as needed to be sure.

    I think I may of even made it EV range without the long press HV but didn't want to chance hitting 0 EV-- which I know from experience sucks rocks in my car. i.e. any value above 0 for the EV value is fine. If I really let it go to 0, then I get what has been dubbed angry bees. Hate it. Very different and very much louder than any time in HV mode (even over a mountain) and very different than HV charge mode over a mountain too. On my car it sounds like I'm hurting the car (to my ears) so I simply avoid ever doing it. And yes, long press HV negatively impacts gas mileage so I don't use unless I see EV range slip to say 30% of total EV range-- but when it does, I press away.

    Riding with non-zero EV, and over multiple passes, never an angry bee. Very nice trip, and very comfortable car.
  8. stacey burke

    stacey burke Member

    I live in Colorado and I go over the passes to denver... No problems at all just drive in HV on the hwy. That will keep the EV up for any hills and passes. The trip to denver is 250 miles and again NO problems and the noise is far less than my 2015 Accord made on the same roads.
  9. Kailani

    Kailani Member

    I now live in Connecticut and own a Clarity (which I love), but I am very familiar with the Phoenix to Flagstaff route. I grew up overlooking the Verde Valley which, as you know, is about two hours north of Phoenix and an hour shy of Flagstaff via Interstate 17. My only experience driving my Clarity through mountains is in Vermont and Pennsylvania at speeds up to 65 mph. There were several times when the car strained to maintain that speed uphill, especially on the days I drove 300+ miles without the benefit of much recharge (other than using the HV Charge mode).

    Based on that experience, I cannot recommend a Clarity for the AZ route if you travel it routinely. Trying to do 75 mph up to Sunset Pass, through the Black Canyon... it ain’t gonna happen. At least not without some serious attention to battery management.

    If you drive primarily in HV out of Phoenix, with at least 80% battery, you’d be okay making it up the canyon. You could use Sport mode for extra get-up-and-go, which you’d need for passing slower moving vehicles. Once on the mesa I’d switch back to straight HV until the road again steepens as the road leaves the Verde Valley.

    You’ll need that extra battery reserve for the climb to the Mogollon Rim. In the summer and fall you’d need your AC, which would put additional demand on your battery supply.

    So, on reflection, I’d say it can be done without the angry bees, if you consciously practiced good battery power management. For that occasional drive you’d be fine but if this were a weekly, extended commute I’d have to say you’d need to be willing to put up with the occasional whhhhhzzz that will occur. With gas back at $3 in AZ the Clarity is definitely worth considering—I really like the car. The 2019 has a few refinements that make it an even more appealing pick.

    Sent from my iPhone using Inside EVs
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019 at 6:53 PM
  10. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member

    What refinements are those?
  11. Mowcowbell

    Mowcowbell Member

    There's probably only a handful of Clarity owners living in Phoenix or Flagstaff, and the chances of one of those owners being a member of this forum and regularly checking it for messages are even slimmer.
  12. tom kirshbaum

    tom kirshbaum New Member Subscriber

    I guess so. But I am getting a lot of great information! Many thanks to all for that.
    Mowcowbell likes this.
  13. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member

    I'm a huge Clarity advocate and love mine. However, once in a while I get concerned about posts from potential new owners that make me wonder if it's the right car for him/her. Your post #4 is like that. If you are really that concerned about a PHEV on that drive, I suspect you would be much happier with a Honda Accord Hybrid for your use.
  14. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Let’s keep it simple for your trip.

    Charge car.
    Get in car.
    Switch to HV.
    Take trip.
    Charge car.

    Lather, rinse and repeat as needed.
    For the vast majority of Claritys this will work fine. Try this first. You may find you don’t need to use any of the excellent advice given above.
    (I’ve never had a loss of power or angry bees as long as I had a full or nearly full charge on the battery to start with.)
    MPower, Kailani, Mark W and 2 others like this.
  15. tom kirshbaum

    tom kirshbaum New Member Subscriber

    Sounds like a good plan. From the beginning of my research on this forum I have appreciated your calm, reasoned approach. You would have made a good flight instructor, I'll bet.

    I need to ask a follow up: It's about the "charge car" part. I drive down to Phoenix, run around town doing errands, and return home. There's no time there to charge the car up to full. The best I can do is use HV charging mode and fill it up to 58 %. Does your advice still hold?

    Sandroad: don't worry. At the moment this is the only car I would consider for two reasons: 1) Very quiet operation most of the time is crucial to me -- even medically necessary. 2) It's the only car that will let me operate on ev most of the time, which is a little something I can do for the planet and for myself.

    If this car doesn't work out, I'll continue to drive my current car, which has many good miles on it to go.

    Mowcowbell: the population of Flagstaff is 1% of the population of Arizona. My local Honda dealer claims to have sold three Clarities (no, he won't bother them, he says). I know he has sold one for sure. At the least, then, there are 100 of them in the state!

    Thanks for all the great info and advice I've been getting.
    Mowcowbell likes this.
  16. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    First of all, you are too kind, but thank you none the less. That’s one of the nicest compliments I had since a friend said I was a “good man in a storm” which is considered a very big compliment if you’re in the Navy, Coast Guard, or Merchant Marine.
    I have learned so much from all the helpful posters on this forum and am happy to pass on as much of the accumulated wisdom on the Clarity as I can. I won’t claim to have added more than a smidgen to the forum but I am trying my best to pass on the collective wisdom since there are so many threads and the forum software doesn’t organize it all very well.

    As to your question.
    A lot depends on your particular Clarity’s personality and the length and severity of the climb.
    I avoid HV Charge due to its lower efficiency and consider it a mode of last resort. IMHO, it’s only saving grace is for when you don’t have sufficient SOC (for whatever reason) to make it up a climb that you know your Clarity can’t handle with a fully depleted battery. Then it makes sense to sacrifice some efficiency for the better driving experience (more power/less angry bees) on the climb. However one person posted their Clarity made it up a hill fine with 0 EV showing. Others have had problems in this scenario. On my Clarity when it depletes and auto switches to HV, I do fine but that is on rolling hills and speeds 55 to 65 mph. I don’t think I would want to try high speeds, high altitude, long steep hills, and/or heavy loading with a depleted battery based on the majority of posts. But I have no direct experience in such scenarios.

    Note that some have posted that they use it at the end of a long trip to have enough charge to go EV in town at the end. However my Clarity is so quiet in town in HV that it doesn’t bother me in that scenario.

    So you pays yo’ money and you takes yo’ chances. I’d try to hit your hill climbing with as much SOC as possible and if that’s not in the cards then try it once and see what happens. Your speedometer and your ear will tell you if you ever want to try that again!
    And if it doesn’t work, then use HV Charge next time so you can hit the hill with the 58% or so that HV Charge will get you up to.
    Let us know what works (and what doesn’t) and we’ll add it to the collective wisdom.
  17. Geor99

    Geor99 Active Member

    It's a commuter car designed for trips of under 50 miles between charges.

    If you can charge the car within 50 miles of the last time you charged it; it is an awesome car.

    If this describes 80-90% of the miles that you will drive; buy this car!!!

    If your number is less than this; I would not recommend the Clarity.

    And for sure, if your number is under 50%; there are many cars better suited for your situation.

    I can charge at work and I drive 90% of my miles on all electric. For me, the Clarity is incredible.
  18. Dan Albrich

    Dan Albrich Active Member

    Minor nuance touched on in this thread. It seems that 90+% of Clarity owners do just fine in HV mode. While they may lose a few EV miles when stopping, on the whole they retain EV range when in HV mode even on long trips, and even through hills and valleys. So the solution to driving is simple, (as Kentucky Ken says) you charge you car, hit HV and go. [Of course if short trip and one can do EV only, just do that]

    I agree completely with this advice overall. If you happen to lose EV range for some reason (including forgetting to press HV), then the long-press HV is an option to regain EV charge.

    So my only perhaps "add" here is that the car performs best with non-zero EV range. I'd also add that it isn't complicated to retain some EV charge on long trips. As others on this forum have taught me, one can put a sticky note "HV?" on the D button. i.e. as a help to remember to hit HV as one heads out.
    MPower likes this.
  19. Mowcowbell

    Mowcowbell Member

    I know the Clarity has been an awesome car for me so far. I drive only about 25 miles a day, so I rarely have the engine starting up unless the computer thinks it has been too long since the last cycle. Have only used HV mode for a single highway trip that was a 200 mile round trip. At a little under 900 miles on the odometer, I have put 4 gallons of 100% 87 octane in the tank.

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