Driving for Quiet - 2018 Honda Clarity Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-17-2019, 09:58 AM Thread Starter
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Driving for Quiet

I’m thinking about buying a Clarity PHEV because it is now the only car on the market with an engine and the ev range I want. One big question mark exists. Due to an ear condition, noise level is perhaps the most crucial car quality for me. I’ve read so many reviews and forum posts about how quiet the Clarity is AND so many about horrendous engine noise (swarm of bees etc.).

The opinions are at such variance that I figure this must have to do with geography, temperature, battery state, driving style and modes. I live at 7000 feet in the mountains of Northern Arizona. There are few flat roads and always greatly reduced engine power. A lot of my driving will be local and within the ev range. That will be very quiet. But what about road trips? For example, Phoenix to Flagstaff is a two-hour drive with a 6000 foot vertical climb, including a couple of downhill stretches, all at 75 mph.

My question is: what combination of battery state of charge and modes will get me not the most economy but the least obtrusive engine noise under varying cross-country conditions? In your expert opinions, is this the car for me?
Tom
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-17-2019, 02:03 PM
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Is it noise or absence of ???

Tom, it sort of sounds like the Clarity might be ideal for you but only you can decide.
Noise-There have been many posts regarding a 'weak' horn, buzzy engine, and very quite car. Starting with the 'weak horn', it's really not and you can only tell by hitting the horn with your window down. It's loud and shrill and will get the attention of all but deaf nearby drivers, however--- the car is quite enough that with the windows up it is hard to hear. Buzzy engine---It's only a 1.5L engine. Unlike cars you've owned in the past, the RPM's do not necessarily equate to car speed or throttle, the engine drives the motor generator nearly all the time it's running. Normally it's charging the traction batteries and/or providing extra power for a steep grade. On occasion when traveling on a flat road at moderate speeds when the car is in EV mode you may see a 'gear' icon on the display that shows how power is being used or generated. When you see that is the only time the engine is actually directly connected through the tranny to the front wheels. Most of the time it's just being powered by the electric motor and whisper quite. When it's that quite, if the engine cuts on to drive the generator you may hear it especially if it gets up around (my estimate) 3000 RPM. IMHO it's not that loud actually, it's just noticeable because you didn't hear it moments before. The car has a very high level of sound deadening material. It took me a short while to get used to the engine running at speeds needed to generate juice to the batteries and electric motor as apposed to generating power to the wheels it was just strange for the 1st couple of months.

I have about 7700 miles on mine now since driving it home last May. It has been trouble free. A road spike that destroyed my right front tire at 200 miles had nothing to do with the car, just bad karma that day LOL. IMHO, the majority of registering a 'diss-like' of some type are because it's Honda's concept of a PHEV and it will take some time getting used to it. BTW, there are so many computers in the car that are tied together and monitoring everything in the car, I named mine 'Watson'.

Being retired and driving mostly in a local area I buy very little gas. There are even places such as Whole Foods that have free Level II charging stations I even top off while shopping or eating lunch there . I would guess I've used maybe 25 or so gallons since getting it. But on your trips to Flagstaff you'll enjoy a comfortable and roomy sedan that should average somewhere in the mid to upper 40's on long trips. Anything over 70mph is going to degrade the MPG's on any car but you know that already. It's actually better in city driving.

By nature most people will generally recommend the model they bought, however the car in either base or Touring trim is such a bargain I got the Touring which gives a lot more seating control on the drivers side plus the leather and suede trim. I've played with the Honda navigation which is part of the touring trim as well as Waze and Google maps. If I'm traveling a distance the or just around town I just let it default to the Honda/Garmin Nav that offers updates and traffic. I almost never use one of the other ones. You can program the Nav to a destination from your home or office by using the Honda app on your phone.

Either Level 1 with standard supplied cord or Level II if you install one will suffice but the difference in time for a charge from near empty to full goes from around 2 hours on Level II up to around 12 hours on Level I. The state of GA offered a cash incentive upon proof I installed a Level II with a permit I just did it and now I'm happy as a clam. Also this car meets the federal requirement for the $7500 tax incentive as well as HOV lane driving in many states.

Another 'buy now' incentive is many people who should be making the change to PHEV just can't seem to get away from what they know so a lot of these are on the dealer lots making a good opportunity for you to bargain. But gas is starting to go up now so high inventories may start to dwindle.

Good luck

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Originally Posted by Tom Kirshbaum View Post
I’m thinking about buying a Clarity PHEV because it is now the only car on the market with an engine and the ev range I want. One big question mark exists. Due to an ear condition, noise level is perhaps the most crucial car quality for me. I’ve read so many reviews and forum posts about how quiet the Clarity is AND so many about horrendous engine noise (swarm of bees etc.).

The opinions are at such variance that I figure this must have to do with geography, temperature, battery state, driving style and modes. I live at 7000 feet in the mountains of Northern Arizona. There are few flat roads and always greatly reduced engine power. A lot of my driving will be local and within the ev range. That will be very quiet. But what about road trips? For example, Phoenix to Flagstaff is a two-hour drive with a 6000 foot vertical climb, including a couple of downhill stretches, all at 75 mph.

My question is: what combination of battery state of charge and modes will get me not the most economy but the least obtrusive engine noise under varying cross-country conditions? In your expert opinions, is this the car for me?
Tom

Jim Myers
2018 Clarity
White Touring
Windows tinted rear doors, rear quarter glass, & back window

Last edited by Cruiter; 03-17-2019 at 02:09 PM.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-17-2019, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Kirshbaum View Post
But what about road trips? For example, Phoenix to Flagstaff is a two-hour drive with a 6000 foot vertical climb, including a couple of downhill stretches, all at 75 mph.

My question is: what combination of battery state of charge and modes will get me not the most economy but the least obtrusive engine noise under varying cross-country conditions? In your expert opinions, is this the car for me?
Tom
Tom, I agree with the advice of Cruiter, above, with respect to local driving. You will be very happy with the smooth quiet ride. But the trip from Phoenix to Flagstaff, though, may require more research. To do it in 2 hours will probably require you to be driving 72-73 mph up 6000 feet. I noticed a report on the internet of someone in Phoenix doing it in a Tesla with cruise control set at 78 mph, and the trip ate up 63kWh of battery. This is more than three times the capacity of the Clarity's EV quota. So, you would probably find yourself going very much up slope for an extended period of time strictly on the modest power of the ICE at a very high velocity.

I think you are wise to try to get further information from those who may have had this experience. (Of course, you can always, before your trips, buy a tesla online, test drive it from Flagstaff to Phoenix and back, and return it 7 days later, but I don't think you will be able to do this more than once ...)
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-17-2019, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Kirshbaum View Post
But what about road trips? For example, Phoenix to Flagstaff is a two-hour drive with a 6000 foot vertical climb, including a couple of downhill stretches, all at 75 mph.

My question is: what combination of battery state of charge and modes will get me not the most economy but the least obtrusive engine noise under varying cross-country conditions? In your expert opinions, is this the car for me?
Tom
If I'm driving to work and back, it's normally all EV. But I do make longer drives a few times a month. My experience is that you never want to let the battery run out. The engine alone will not power you up a 6000 foot climb very well. Power will be weak and the engine will be screaming. If I'm doing a long drive, I do it almost entirely in HV mode. It's not as whisper quiet as EV, but I don't find it really noisy either. Actually when I had my brother in the car, he couldn't tell the difference. I just drove the 140 miles to my brothers house, starting with the bars on both sides of the display maxed out. When I got there, I was 1/3 down on both the gas and the battery side.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-18-2019, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the informative posts. All the good information now enables me to narrow down my question.

Let’s say I’m starting in Phoenix with 1/2 ev charge. I’m heading up to Flagstaff, 150 miles away and 6,000 feet higher. Temperature is 50 in Phoenix but it will be 30 by the time I get up the hill. Speed limit will mostly be 75, which is the speed I want to drive. I’m assuming I’ll be in hv the whole time. No dealer is going to allow me to road test a new car for 300 miles, so I’ll have to rely on the experience of others. Help me imagine how this trip will go:

Scenario 1: After 50 miles the ev miles will be down to two bars. The tiny engine will start screaming to pull the heavy car up the hill while trying and failing to recharge the battery. speed will decrease to 40 while other cars are racing by me. Unacceptable.

Scenario 2: There are, of course, level, nearly level or even downhill parts of the road. The battery will help maintain speed and quiet on the steep uphills and recharge on the level and downhill parts. The engine will never need to race. (remember: keeping that engine quiet is the main goal of this exercise. My current car, a 2010 VW Golf Sportswsgen diesel, will do the entire trip at eighty without my ever hearing the engine—but that’s partly because of loud tire and wind noise).

Scenario 3: some combination of the above or something else entirely. In what percentage?
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-18-2019, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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The information about the Tesla was very interesting. The Tesla doesn’t have a motor to help out or to recharge en route. Does it come down to what can the engine do to keep the battery charged using the flat spots and downhills?
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-18-2019, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Kirshbaum View Post
Thanks so much for the informative posts. All the good information now enables me to narrow down my question.

Letís say Iím starting in Phoenix with 1/2 ev charge. Iím heading up to Flagstaff, 150 miles away and 6,000 feet higher. Temperature is 50 in Phoenix but it will be 30 by the time I get up the hill. Speed limit will mostly be 75, which is the speed I want to drive. Iím assuming Iíll be in hv the whole time. No dealer is going to allow me to road test a new car for 300 miles, so Iíll have to rely on the experience of others. Help me imagine how this trip will go:
You drive in HV mode the entire time. Use Sport mode only when you need to pass someone. You will end up with 1/2 EV charge and will have had a great ride. I did this from LA to Vegas. Only when I was 35 miles from home I put it in EV mode to use the rest of the battery. I think the car just runs better on HV than on the ICE when there is no EV range left.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-18-2019, 03:43 PM
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The information about the Tesla was very interesting. The Tesla doesnít have a motor to help out or to recharge en route. Does it come down to what can the engine do to keep the battery charged using the flat spots and downhills?
Tesla is strictly EV: battery all the way. I believe the driver was happy to have made the trip of 150 miles using only about 225 miles worth of battery charge. That is, the trip required 50% more battery than the estimated amount. This was probably due to high speed (78 mph), high A/C (don't know the setting) , and the extra work required to gain 6000'. He was happy because he did not have to stop for the time-consuming refueling,

I should like to offer scenario 3a: Leave Phoenix with full gas tank and full charge. Drive leisurely in the truck lane no more than 60+ mph. At each extensive downhill switch to HV Charge mode. Wear hot weather clothing and ease off the A/C. You will get in Flagstaff in 2.5 hrs instead of 2 hrs, calm and refreshed.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-18-2019, 04:25 PM
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Tesla is strictly EV: battery all the way. I believe the driver was happy to have made the trip of 150 miles using only about 225 miles worth of battery charge. That is, the trip required 50% more battery than the estimated amount. This was probably due to high speed (78 mph), high A/C (don't know the setting) , and the extra work required to gain 6000'. He was happy because he did not have to stop for the time-consuming refueling,

I should like to offer scenario 3a: Leave Phoenix with full gas tank and full charge. Drive leisurely in the truck lane no more than 60+ mph. At each extensive downhill switch to HV Charge mode. Wear hot weather clothing and ease off the A/C. You will get in Flagstaff in 2.5 hrs instead of 2 hrs, calm and refreshed.
I am of the opinion that it will never make economic sense to use charge mode. I believe it is much more efficient to just use HV mode and to never charge your battery with gas (i.e., charge mode).
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-18-2019, 05:08 PM
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I am of the opinion that it will never make economic sense to use charge mode. I believe it is much more efficient to just use HV mode and to never charge your battery with gas (i.e., charge mode).
,
I agree with you, that there is a greater $/mile using HV Charge than HV. And, I appreciate your detailed clarity power experience going from LA to Vegas strictly on HV. If I drive from LA to Vegas I will follow your advice. Thank you.

But we have slightly different requirements here? We are to gain 6000' not 1700'. And we have a requirement that it be done as quietly as possible. As EV goes to 0 there will definitely be a greater strain on the ICE. So the question becomes what are our chances of this happening with HV vs HV+HVCharge on the downhills?

It would be nice to get a definite answer from someone who has actually done it. But until then?
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