2017-2021 Honda Clarity
Upgrading the stereo system in your Clarity
2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Clarity's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your Honda.
Overview of the Honda Clarity
The future of the automobile is arriving in a hurry, and it might look a lot like the Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid — which, interestingly enough, looks a lot like a "Car of the Future" concept drawing from 40 years ago.
But other than the gee-whiz looks, the Clarity is clearly designed to function like a normal car right up until you plug it in for the night and tell your electronic assistant to turn on the LED porch lights. The interior looks normal, the handling feels normal, and you can do most of the normal car things you used to do in your old fuel-burner. You'll just do them in a quieter, greener, more efficient way.
A hybrid's gas-electric hybrid powertrain makes replacing the stereo a little more complicated. As you might expect, the Clarity hybrid contains some very sensitive electronics, so here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Be sure to only use a multi-meter when testing wires, and NEVER use a test light to test wires in this vehicle. Doing so could cause some serious (by which we mean dangerous and expensive) damage.
- A hybrid is not the car to choose if you want to build a massively powerful audio system. The thirsty current draw of a high-powered stereo is not a good thing for the hybrid system, so don't exceed a 30-amp current draw or 350-watt RMS power rating.
The gas-electric hybrid Clarity is available for purchase in most states, and that’s the version we’ll focus on in this article. California and Oregon EV enthusiasts can opt to lease the all-electric version*, and the Californians can also lease a hydrogen-powered Clarity that might be the car to buy if you’re really serious about quitting smoking this time. Just kidding – no one in California smokes anymore….
When the electric motor is handling the propulsion tasks (which is most of the time), the Clarity is a very quiet place to enjoy music. Replacing the receiver isn’t possible, but upgraded speakers will make your music sound even better.
*The electric lease program was discontinued for the 2020 model year
The factory receiver is much more than a radio. Replacing it is pretty much impossible, so enjoy its many, many nifty functions. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Factory stereo system
The stock stereo system isn’t that bad, really. In addition to handling pretty much everything else you can imagine, the touchscreen lets you control the AM/FM/HDRadio/SiriusXM receiver, along with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto. There are eight factory speakers, too, so even if the car weren’t so quiet, you’d still hear your music pretty well with this system.
Considering all it does and the fact that it’s more on the dash than in it, it’s likely no surprise that we don’t recommend replacing the stock receiver. There’s no dash kit available for a situation like this, and there’s also no wiring harness adapter, so the job’s pretty much impossible at this point unless you’re planning to do some extensive custom fabrication, wiring, and programming.
You probably aren’t, so we’d suggest upgrading the factory speakers. The Clarity’s electronics are very complex and sensitive, so a high-powered audio system isn’t going to work in this car. You can, however, improve your sound quality by simply upgrading your speakers and getting the most out of the stock receiver.
The front (and rear) woofers are pretty easy to deal with in the Clarity (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing your Clarity's factory speakers
The Clarity’s 8-speaker audio system features woofers and tweeters in the doors. Each set of door speakers is wired in parallel, so component speakers are a great choice for this car.
The front pillar tweeter grilles are permanantly attached, so look for replacements that come with grilles (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front pillar tweeters
To remove the factory front pillar tweeters, use a panel tool to pry out the pillar retainer clip. Don’t remove it, though. Next, starting at the top edge, pry out the pillar trim panel to release one clip, then disconnect the harness and remove the pillar trim panel. Pry the tweeter out of the pillar panel mount to release the clips, then remove the tweeter.
The tweeter grille is permanently attached to the tweeter itself, so you’ll need to look for tweeters that come with grilles or purchase grilles separately. You’ll also need a set of our universal backstraps to secure the new tweeters in place. And, since there’s no wiring harness available for these speakers, you’ll need to use Posi-Products speaker connectors to connect them to the factory wiring.
Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver
You'll need mounting brackets for your new speakers, and we'll include them with your Crutchfield speaker purchase (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front door speakers
Replacing the front door woofers is also an easy job for the car audio DIY-er. Use that handy panel tool to pry up the power switch panel to release ten clips, then disconnect the harnesses and remove the switch panel. Remove the exposed Phillips screw.
Pry out all sides of the door panel to release nineteen retaining clips, then disconnect those harnesses, remove the door panel, and store it someplace safe while you continue working.
The stock speaker is held in place by one Phillips screw. Remove it, use your panel tool to pry out the top of speaker, then disconnect the speaker and set it aside.
You’ll need a mounting bracket to install your new 6-1/2” or 6-3/4” aftermarket speaker. We’ll include that, plus the wiring harness you’ll need to connect it, along with your Crutchfield speaker purchase.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver
Replacing the rear door speakers means removing the rear door panel. It's not hard to do. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear door speakers
You’ll need to remove the rear door panels to get to those woofer/tweeter combos, too. Start by prying up the power switch panel to release eight clips, then disconnect the harnesses and remove the switch panel. Remove the exposed Phillips screw. Pry out the door panel side to release nineteen retaining clips, then disconnect those harnesses, remove the panel, and store it safely.
To remove the tweeter, just pry it out of the door panel mount to release the retaining clips. The rear woofer is also held in place by one Phillips screw. Remove it, pry out the top of speaker, then disconnect the woofer and set it aside.
You’ll also need a set of our universal backstraps to secure these tweeters, and you’ll also need another set of Posi-Products connectors to connect them to the factory wiring. As for the woofers, we’ll include the mounting brackets and wiring harnesses you’ll need to connect them to the car’s wiring.
Tools needed (tweeters): Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver
Tools needed (woofers): Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver
You could put a sub enclosure back here, but we don't recommend it (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Bass in your Clarity
As noted above, this is not the car to start with if you want to build a stereo system with window-rattling, neighborhood-annoying levels of bass power. A compact powered subwoofer can bring a pleasing amount of bottom-end presence to your music, though. Talk to a Crutchfield advisor to see what might be a good fit for your Clarity.
WeatherTech floor liners will look as good in your Clarity as they do in the Lexus used for this photo shoot.
Other options for your Honda Clarity
There are plenty of other ways to improve the sound, safety, and comfort of your Clarity. Here are some of the ways Crutchfield can help.
Protect your car's interior
Everyday life can be a bit much for factory floor mats. A set of custom floor liners from WeatherTech will help protect your Clarity's carpeting from dirt and damage.
Remote start and security systems
Adding remote start capability to your vehicle lets you warm it up in the winter or cool it down in the summer. Ask a Crutchfield Advisor about adding remote start to your Clarity.
You can also talk to your Crutchfield Advisor about a security system. They’re not as easy to install (we suggest letting a professional do the job), but we can help you shop for a system that’ll work in your vehicle.
Find the audio gear that fits your car or truck
Visit our Outfit My Car page and enter your vehicle information to see stereos, speakers, subs, and other audio accessories that will work in your vehicle.