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The new Honda plug-in provides a lot of Clarity

The 2018 Honda Clarity is a midsize plug-in hybrid sedan that can travel 48 miles per electric charge; a gasoline engine kicks in once the range is used up. COURTESY PHOTOThe 2018 Honda Clarity is a midsize plug-in hybrid sedan that can travel 48 miles per electric charge; a gasoline engine kicks in once the range is used up. COURTESY PHOTO  If you’re interested in a compact fuel-saving car, it’s not hard to find one that looks the part. Models like the Toyota Prius hybrid, Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and Nissan Leaf electric car are easily recognizable. They don’t share their styling with ordinary gas-powered vehicles, and are often sculpted to maximize their fuel-saving aerodynamics.
But perhaps you want the extra interior space or smooth, quiet ride of a midsize car. For a number of years, you’ve been able to buy a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata or Kia Optima sedan. These PHEV vehicles can be charged up with electricity from the grid to deliver some all-electric driving range, and then a gasoline engine kicks in until you’re able to charge up again.
But you’d have to pay close attention to recognize anything special about the PHEV versions of the Fusion, Sonata, or Optima — some subtle badging, and a car-charger port on the front fender. And the all-electric ranges of these models linger in the 20s, meaning, that longer commutes will regularly rely on gasoline.
The new 2018 Honda Clarity solves both problems. This new midsize sedan features aggressively futuristic looks, an aerodynamic body, a spacious and well-finished interior, and an EPA-estimated 48 miles per all-electric charge. And, as with other plug-in vehicles, drivers are eligible for a federal tax credit and can travel solo in Maryland HOV lanes.

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Electrified Hyundai and Kia allow eco-friendly commutes

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is an electric-only hatchback that’s efficient and fun to drive but sold only in California so far. Marylanders can still buy a hybrid or plug-in hybrid Ioniq, though. COURTESY PHOTOThe Hyundai Ioniq Electric is an electric-only hatchback that’s efficient and fun to drive but sold only in California so far. Marylanders can still buy a hybrid or plug-in hybrid Ioniq, though. COURTESY PHOTO  If you’re looking to add some electricity to your car, Korea’s Hyundai and Kia are offering a large and steadily growing lineup of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric models.
These corporate cousins collectively offer two pure electric vehicles (EVs, which have no gas engine); four plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs, which can run on electricity from the grid but also have engines); and four gas-electric hybrids that save fuel without needing to be plugged in. At least one more EV is due this fall.
The heart of this fuel-saving lineup is the Hyundai Ioniq, a compact hatchback, and its mechanical twin the Kia Niro, which blurs the line between a small station wagon and a crossover. Both are sold both as hybrids and PHEVs, and there’s also an all-electric Ioniq that’s so far sold only in California.
Recent tests of the Ioniq Electric and Niro PHEV, along with drives of both cars’ hybrid variants last year, reveal a pair of comfortable, user-friendly, affordable fuel savers. For better or for worse, they lack the strong personality of a Toyota Prius — instead, they feel like everyday economy cars even as they achieve exceptional fuel efficiency.

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