I've had a mixed experience with the Clifton line from Hoka One One. The first edition was exciting and promising - I loved the super light cushioned feel of the shoe apart from the flimsy tongue which made it hard for me to get a proper locked down upper.
The second edition was better on the tongue - they padded it properly - but the combination of the shoddy build quality (the overlays started peeling away within weeks) and the slightly cramped toebox compared to the similar but more comfy Challenger ATR 2s made it a no go for me.
The Clifton 3 just hit the streets, and the third time is the proverbial charm here. The biggest change is the substitution of the upper material - it went from a tighter nylon weave to a stretchy mesh. Look here - how when I flex my toe you can actually see it through the mesh.
This material is very similar to what Skechers used for their excellent GOrun Ride 3 shoe - which was quite comfortable but a little too loose for faster running. The Clifton 3 does a better job of holding your foot in place but still allowing enough give in the upper to prevent rubbing/hotspots. Much more give than the upper material on the Challenger ATR 2, a good thing for non-trail running imo.
The lacing system is Goldilocks perfect for me. Easy to get a good fit without having to over- or under-cinch.
The toebox is great - even more roomy and comfortable than the Challenger ATR 2s that I love.
The midsole is a little more squishy and has more rebound at the same time than the 2. The 2 felt more like an inert foam - the three combines a bit of a rubber ball feel with some sponginess. I'd still give it a 7.5 (with 10 being the softest).
The outer seems unchanged to me - it remains great. A big footprint, nice traction, rubber reinforcement on the right spots.
I'll report back if anything changes, but this is a super update. I've done two runs on them with no issues. Hopefully the overlays will stay in place and I won't experience the iffy quality I've seen in past Hokas. As of now: If you are a fan, go for it.
100+ mile update