2019 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell vs. 2019 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

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 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Clarity Fuel Cell has a standard Collision Mitigation Braking System, which uses forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The ForTwo Electric Drive offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s blind spot mirrors use wide-angle convex mirrors mounted in the corner of each side view mirror to reveal objects that may be in the driver’s blind spots. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

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 ForTwo Electric Drive 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 ForTwo Electric Drive have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee 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 1751 to 1771 pounds more than the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

Warranty

Honda’s powertrain warranty covers the Clarity Fuel Cell 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Smart covers the ForTwo Electric Drive. 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 ForTwo Electric Drive ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s corrosion warranty is 1 year and unlimited miles longer than the ForTwo Electric Drive’s (5/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).

There are over 40 times as many Honda dealers as there are Smart 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 94 more horsepower (174 vs. 80) and 103 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 118) than the ForTwo Electric Drive’s electric motor.

As tested in Motor Trend the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is faster than the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive:

 

Clarity

ForTwo

Zero to 60 MPH

7.8 sec

9 sec

Quarter Mile

16.2 sec

17 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

85.8 MPH

77.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s maximum driving range is 360 miles, over 6 times as far as the ForTwo Electric Drive’s 58-mile range. After it exhausts its pure electric range, the Clarity Fuel Cell can then refuel in minutes at a hydrogen station, while the ForTwo Electric Drive has to recharge for 3 hours. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 16 hours and 30 minutes.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

Clarity

ForTwo

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

10.2 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

9” drums

The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the ForTwo Electric Drive. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The Clarity Fuel Cell has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Clarity Fuel Cell has larger tires than the ForTwo Electric Drive (235/45R18 vs. 165/65R15). The Clarity Fuel Cell’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the ForTwo Electric Drive (235/45R18 vs. 185/50R16).

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 ForTwo Electric Drive’s standard 65 series front and 60 series rear tires. The Clarity Fuel Cell’s tires are lower profile than the ForTwo Electric Drive’s optional 50 series front tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Clarity Fuel Cell has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the ForTwo Electric Drive. The ForTwo Electric Drive’s largest wheels are only 16-inches.

The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

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 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

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

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Clarity Fuel Cell’s wheelbase is 34.6 inches longer than on the ForTwo Electric Drive (108.3 inches vs. 73.7 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Clarity Fuel Cell is 4.4 inches wider in the front and 6.2 inches wider in the rear than on the ForTwo Electric Drive.

The Clarity Fuel Cell handles at .81 G’s, while the ForTwo Electric Drive Passion Coupe pulls only .71 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Passenger Space

The Clarity Fuel Cell has standard seating for 5 passengers; the ForTwo Electric Drive can only carry 2.

The Clarity Fuel Cell has 56.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the ForTwo Electric Drive (101.5 vs. 45.4).

The Clarity Fuel Cell has 1 inch more front legroom, 10.4 inches more front hip room and 11.7 inches more front shoulder room than the ForTwo Electric Drive Coupe.

Cargo Capacity

The Clarity Fuel Cell has a much larger trunk than the ForTwo Electric Drive Coupe (11.8 vs. 9.2 cubic feet).

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 ForTwo Electric Drive 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 ForTwo Electric Drive 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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

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

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 ForTwo Electric Drive’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

Smart Entry standard on the Clarity Fuel Cell allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

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 ForTwo Electric Drive’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

The Clarity Fuel Cell has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The ForTwo Electric Drive only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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

The Clarity Fuel Cell’s standard rear view mirror has an automatic dimming feature. This mirror can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on it, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer the luxury of an automatic dimming rear view mirror.

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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Clarity Fuel Cell has a standard Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Recommendations

The Honda Clarity outsold the Smart ForTwo by almost 16 to one during 2018.

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

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