2019 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell vs. 2019 BMW i3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW i3 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The i3 doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

Both the Clarity Fuel Cell and the i3 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 and rearview cameras.

The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell weighs 856 to 1173 pounds more than the BMW i3. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

Honda’s powertrain warranty covers the Clarity Fuel Cell 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than BMW covers the i3. Any repair needed on the motor, fuel cell, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the i3 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 3 times as many Honda dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Clarity Fuel Cell’s warranty.

Engine

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s electric motor produces 4 more horsepower (174 vs. 170) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 184) than the i3’s standard electric motor. The Clarity Fuel Cell’s electric motor produces 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 199) than the i3s’ standard electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s maximum driving range is 360 miles, over twice as far as the i3’s 153-mile range. After it exhausts its pure electric range, the Clarity Fuel Cell can then refuel in minutes at a hydrogen station, while the i3 has to recharge for 42 minutes for only an 80% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas. A full recharge at a conventional (220 volt) charging station can take up to 5 hours.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Clarity Fuel Cell’s brake rotors are larger than those on the i3:

 

Clarity

i3

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Clarity Fuel Cell has larger tires than the i3 (235/45R18 vs. 155/70R19). The Clarity Fuel Cell’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the i3 (235/45R18 vs. 175/55R20).

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the i3’s standard 70 series tires. The Clarity Fuel Cell’s tires are lower profile than the i3s’ 55 series front and 50 series rear tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Clarity Fuel Cell has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Clarity Fuel Cell flat and controlled during cornering. The i3’s suspension doesn’t offer stabilizer bars.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Clarity Fuel Cell’s wheelbase is 7.1 inches longer than on the i3 (108.3 inches vs. 101.2 inches).

The Clarity Fuel Cell handles at .79 G’s, while the i3 pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Clarity Fuel Cell a Mid-size car, while the i3 is rated a Subcompact.

The Clarity Fuel Cell has standard seating for 5 passengers; the i3 can only carry 4.

The Clarity Fuel Cell has 17.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the i3 (101.5 vs. 83.6).

The Clarity Fuel Cell has 1.7 inches more front legroom, 6.1 inches more front shoulder room, 4.3 inches more rear legroom and 8.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the i3.

Ergonomics

The Clarity Fuel Cell has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The i3 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children from operating them. BMW does not offer a locking feature on the i3’s standard power windows.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Clarity Fuel Cell has standard extendable sun visors. The i3 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Both the Clarity Fuel Cell and the i3 have standard heated front seats. The Clarity Fuel Cell also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the i3.

The Clarity Fuel Cell has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The i3 doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The i3 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Recommendations

The Honda Clarity outsold the BMW i3 by over three to one during 2018.

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

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