2019 BMW i3 vs. 2019 Honda Clarity Electric

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the i3 and the Clarity Electric have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available crash mitigating brakes.

Warranty

The i3 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Clarity Electric’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The i3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Clarity Electric’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the i3 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Honda doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Clarity Electric.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Honda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Honda is ranked 23rd, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Honda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Honda is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Honda vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 7 places higher in reliability than Honda.

Engine

The i3 REx’s standard electric motor produces 9 more horsepower (170 vs. 161) than the Clarity Electric’s electric motor. The i3s REx’s standard electric motor produces 20 more horsepower (181 vs. 161) than the Clarity Electric’s electric motor. The i3s’ standard electric motor produces 23 more horsepower (184 vs. 161) than the Clarity Electric’s electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

The i3 REx’s maximum driving range in pure electric mode is 126 miles, 42% further than the Clarity Electric’s 89-mile range. After it exhausts its pure electric range, the i3s REx can then continue for 200.1 more miles on its internal combustion engine, while the Clarity Electric has to recharge for 30 minutes for only an 80% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 19 hours.

The i3’s maximum driving range is 153 miles, 72% further than the Clarity Electric’s 89-mile range.

Brakes and Stopping

The i3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Clarity Electric are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the i3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Only 18-inch wheels are available on the Clarity Electric. The i3 offers optional 20-inch wheels.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the i3’s turning circle is 6 feet tighter than the Clarity Electric’s (32.4 feet vs. 38.4 feet). The i3s’ turning circle is 4.6 feet tighter than the Clarity Electric’s (33.8 feet vs. 38.4 feet).

Chassis

The BMW i3 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 750 to 1050 pounds less than the Honda Clarity Electric.

The i3s is 2 feet, 10.6 inches shorter than the Clarity Electric, making the i3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The i3 has .5 inches more front headroom and .1 inches more rear headroom than the Clarity Electric.

Cargo Capacity

The i3 has a larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Clarity Electric (15.1 vs. 14.5 cubic feet).

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the i3’s hatch uses gas strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Clarity Electric’s useful trunk space.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Honda. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 48% lower rating, Honda is ranked 25th.

Ergonomics

The i3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Clarity Electric’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the i3 has a standard rear wiper. The Clarity Electric doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the i3 has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Clarity Electric doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The i3 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Clarity Electric has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The i3’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Clarity Electric doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the BMW i3, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the i3 third among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Clarity Electric isn’t in the top three.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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