2019 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell vs. 2019 Nissan Leaf

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Clarity Fuel Cell has standard HondaLink Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Leaf doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Clarity Fuel Cell and the Leaf have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes and rearview cameras.

The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell weighs 626 to 701 pounds more than the Nissan Leaf. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Engine

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s electric motor produces 27 more horsepower (174 vs. 147) than the Leaf’s standard electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s maximum driving range is 360 miles, 59% further than the Leaf PLUS’ 226-mile range and over twice as far as the Leaf’s standard 151-mile range. After it exhausts its pure electric range, the Clarity Fuel Cell can then refuel in minutes at a hydrogen station, while the Leaf has to recharge for 40 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 35 hours.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

Clarity

Leaf

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

11.1 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.5 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Clarity Fuel Cell has larger tires than the Leaf (235/45R18 vs. 205/55R16). The Clarity Fuel Cell’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Leaf (235/45R18 vs. 215/50R17).

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 Leaf S’ standard 55 series tires. The Clarity Fuel Cell’s tires are lower profile than the Leaf SV/SL’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Clarity Fuel Cell has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Leaf S. The Leaf’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Nissan Leaf has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Clarity Fuel Cell’s wheelbase is 2 inches longer than on the Leaf (108.3 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Clarity Fuel Cell is 1.8 inches wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the Leaf.

The Clarity Fuel Cell handles at .81 G’s, while the Leaf SL pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Passenger Space

The Clarity Fuel Cell has 9.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Leaf (101.5 vs. 92.4).

The Clarity Fuel Cell has .1 inches more front legroom, 4.1 inches more front hip room, 5.4 inches more front shoulder room, 2.7 inches more rear legroom, 5.6 inches more rear hip room and 4.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the Leaf.

Ergonomics

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Clarity Fuel Cell has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The Leaf doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

When two different drivers share the Clarity Fuel Cell, the memory seats make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position. The Leaf doesn’t offer memory seats.

The Clarity Fuel Cell has a standard heads-up display that projects speed readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Leaf doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Leaf’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Clarity Fuel Cell the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Leaf can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Clarity Fuel Cell’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 Leaf’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan charges extra for heated mirrors on the Leaf.

The Clarity Fuel Cell has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Leaf 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 Leaf doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the Clarity Fuel Cell and the Leaf offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Clarity Fuel Cell has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Leaf doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

A built-in pollen filter removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the Clarity Fuel Cell’s passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation, which can trigger allergies or asthma. The Leaf doesn’t offer a filtration system.

Recommendations

The Honda Clarity outsold the Nissan Leaf by 37% during 2018.

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

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