Honda Clarity PHEV vs Accord

2020 Honda Clarity PHEV vs Accord

Honda introduced the Clarity in 2018 with three different flavors–a BEV (battery electric vehicle or “all-electric”), a PHEV (plug-in hybrid), and a hydrogen fuel cell. Since the discontinuation of the Chevy Volt in 2019, the Honda Clarity PHEV took the crown of the longest range PHEV. All around the Clarity PHEV is a great EV (electric vehicle) with gas for trips beyond the regular commute. However, shoppers may face a dilemma when looking at the ICE (gas) comparable vehicle, the Honda Accord.

In this article, let’s review the Honda Clarity PHEV vs Accord. The review will be comprised of three categories: specifications, pricing, and cost of ownership. Let’s begin. 


The Honda Accord is one of Honda’s best selling vehicles. In fact, it is one of the best selling vehicles amongst all other manufacturers. With a release in 1976, the Accord has remained one of Honda’s flagship vehicles in the United States. Per CarSalesBase, Honda sold over 267,000 in 2019.

Honda Clarity PHEV vs Accord: Accord
Honda Accord
Image credit: Honda

On the other hand, Honda introduced the Clarity trio in 2018. Per InsideEVs, Honda sold just under 11,000 of the PHEV variant in 2019. In other words, for every Clarity that was sold Honda sold 24 Accords. 

Regardless, the Clarity may prove to be the superior vehicle. 

Honda Clarity PHEV vs Accord

Round 1: Efficiency

The Accord is available in the following trims: LX, Hybrid, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring. The Clarity is available in two trims: base and Touring. For the sake of simplicity, the review will compare the EX and Hybrid EX trim for the Accord and the base trim for the Clarity as these trims were found to be the most similar

The Accord EX comes with 1.5 L 4 cylinder engine that kicks out 192 horsepower. The Accord EX Hybrid has a 2.0 L 4 cylinder engine that provides 212 horsepower. The Clarity comes with a 1.5 L 4 cylinder engine with an electric motor that provides 212 horsepower. 

The Accord EX has a combined EPA rating of 33 MPG, the Accord Hybrid EX has a combined EPA rating of 48 MPG, and the Clarity has a rating of 110 MPGe (Miles per Gallon Equivalent). In addition, the Clarity can travel 47 miles on electric power alone before the battery is depleted and the gas kicks in for another 300+ miles. 

Accord EX33
Accord Hybrid EX48
Clarity PHEV110

Winner of Round 1 goes to the Clarity. When looking at the comparable trims, the Clarity completely destroys the Accord in total efficiency. Even when the battery is depleted, the Clarity has a MPG of 42, which is nearly 10 more miles per gallon than the Accord. Electric mode or not, the Clarity offers the better specs. 

Round 1 Winner: Clarity

Round 2: Pricing

The Accord EX starts at $27,920. The Hybrid EX starts at $29,520. The Clarity PHEV starts at $33,400. However, it is not as simple as just looking at the MSRP with EVs. The Clarity is available for the federal electric vehicle tax credit of $7,500. Therefore, after tax season, the Clarity really starts at $25,900. 

Honda Clarity PHEV vs Accord
Honda Clarity
Image credit: Honda

But wait, there’s more! If you live in states like California, Colorado, or New York, there are additional incentives for electric cars. Even more, sometimes local jurisdictions, utility providers, or air districts offer rebates for EVs too. Again, for the sake of simplicity, lets just use the federal tax credit since that applies to everyone in the U.S. that have the necessary tax liability. 

This round is fairly straightforward, the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid is the winner as it is $2,020 cheaper than the Accord EX and $3,620 cheaper than the Accord Hybrid EX after figuring the federal tax credit. 

VehicleMSRPFederal Tax CreditNet Purchase Price
Accord EX $27,920 $0 $27,920
Accord Hybrid EX$29,520$0$29,520
Honda Clarity PHEV$33,400-$7,500$25,900

Round 2 Winner: Clarity

Round 3: Cost of Ownership

Using the Plugstar and Edmunds cost of ownership calculators (15,000 miles/year, 60% PHEV mode, California gas/electricity rates, cash purchase), the results remain clear that the Clarity is the superior vehicle. 

Over five years of ownership, the Accord EX costs $37,635 and the Accord Hybrid EX costs $31,726 while the Clarity costs $31,106. In other words, the Clarity is $6,529 cheaper than the Accord EX and $620 cheaper than the Accord Hybrid EX over five years of ownership. 

Honda Clarity PHEV vs Accord

Given the Clarity’s superior efficiency and cheaper purchase price, it only makes sense the Clarity is a better buy after five years of ownership. In addition, the Clarity uses less of it’s gas components thanks to its 47 miles of electric range. Since the electric components have much less maintenance, overall maintenance on the Clarity is also less than the Accord. Altogether, the Clarity is by far the better vehicle than the iconic Accord

Round 3 Winner: Clarity

Crowned Champion:

With an easy decision, the Clarity outshines both Accords in every category. Car shoppers looking between the two should have absolutely no problem selecting the Clarity if given the correct information. Even if car shoppers cannot charge the Clarity at home, the buyers should still get the Clarity since it is cheaper to purchase. Nevertheless, there are thousands of Level 2 charging stations across the U.S. Feel free to check out Plugshare to find ones near you. 

Closing Thoughts:

Similar to the Prius standard vs. Prius Prime, the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid outshines the comparable ICE vehicle, the Accord. In this case, it is not even close. 

Unfortunately, Honda only produced/sold a mere fraction of the Clarity compared to the Accord. If Honda increased its battery supply and focused its marketing and sales efforts, car shoppers would easily lean towards the Clarity rather than the Accord. 

Sadly, Honda, like Toyota, are dragging their feet into the EV market. It is a shame because both Toyota and Honda can make really good vehicles with great value, including EVs like the Prius Prime and the Clarity PHEV. 

Surprised by the results? Did you think this Honda Clarity PHEV vs Accord would go differently? Feel free to comment or send me an email on your thoughts or questions. 

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