June 24, 2010
There seems to be a lot of negativity around these parts towards the 2010 Honda Insight. It's not the most solid riding car and it's slow --slower than the Traverse-- and the fuel economy isn't as good as the Prius.
But you know what? If I were in the market for a new car tomorrow, the Honda Insight would be high on my list. Keep reading for the why....
Let's do this bullet-point style for simplicity on both my end, and when you inevitably disagree with whatever it is I'm saying.
1) Fuel economy. I drove the Insight for 4 days, put some 300 mostly-city miles on the car and averaged about 37 mpg. That's great! When I drive my car-- a Mazda 3-- I get about 18.
2) On my way into the office this morning my top speed was 41 mph. If I had a Vbox hooked up, you would have seen that I hit that speed in approximately 6.5-6.7 minutes. I walk to the grocery store, I take surface streets to work. For my life, I could deal with fewer horsepower than the Insight offers.
3) iPod and Nav are easy and let you use them while moving. In this day and age, that's an epic win.
4) It's not a Prius. Nothing against the Prius, except that I can't tolerate the switches/buttons/navigation system. It's a maddengly restrictive system that barely works while moving and is generally designed for people just landing on Earth stepping into a car for the first time. No thanks. Not for me. Plus the steering. And the big flat seats.
5) They don't make a Ford Fusion Hybrid wagon. I won't buy a sedan. Never have, never will. I need the space/flexibility of a hatch/wagon. Plus, hatches look better.
6) The steering wheel in the Insight is inarguably the second best steering wheel in the world. (Current M3, of course, being the best.) And it steers the car well. There is no accounting for being comfortable holding the steering wheel. That can make-or-break a car. If you don't like the one thing you HAVE to touch, what's the point?
7) It looks cool. Shut up. It does.
Now the negatives that I'd have to consider
-1) Air conditioning is WEAK.
-2) No sunroof.
-3) No truly keyless entry/ignition. It's a convenience I really value and will absolutely pay for on my next car.
And while those aren't the things I'd put weight on in a review, when I'm buying a car, those are the things I want. And those, above, are the things I want. And it's why, come December, I'll be trolling Honda lots alongside Ford (Fiesta?!) Mazda (2) and others looking for my next car.
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assitant @ 20,400 miles
May 17, 2010
I have a new cup. At a stoplight this morning, as I was pulling it out of the cupholder in our long-term Honda Insight to take a swig, the cup's silicone sleeve stuck slightly to the cupholder, and I ended up discovering that the cupholder/middle storage compartment section of the center console is removable. Granted, cupholder and console inserts are often removable to facilitate cleaning, but the proximity of the removable piece to other storage areas in the center console turns this area into a bigger storage spot for those who are anti-in-car-beverage.
May 05, 2010
I always like the little things Honda does, and there are plenty of well executed details in our 2010 Honda Insight. Take the floor in the backseat. It's not perfectly flat, with the way Honda has packaged the exhaust, but there's still not much of a lump.
As a result, the rear-seat area feels more spacious than it otherwise would and you could easily accommodate three elementary-schoolers. Or, if you just have 2 adults back here, they'll have more space for their feet and likely find the modest 33.5 inches of legroom more bearable.
Of course, Honda managed to execute a perfectly flat floor in the Fit and Civic, so if you want to get picky, maybe Honda's five-door hybrid still doesn't quite measure up.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor
April 15, 2010
Our long-term 2010 Honda Insight has good HVAC controls, grouped just to the left of the Navi screen. But they're a bit different than other Honda HVAC controls.
There are several HMI (Human Machine Interface) principles on grouping controls:
Group by: 1. Frequency of use, 2. What is standardized convention, 3. Function
(There may be a few others I forgot.)
Our Insight's HVAC controls are grouped function, which is good of course.
But it is also better to have a control in close proximity to the display. That way it's obvious that the control is related to the display, for example, the hard buttons around the radio/Navi display.
But on our Insight, the fan speed is adjacent to the temp display. I kept adjusting the fan speed when I wanted temp adjust. The temp adjust is the rotary knob below, with the small labeling. And this is different than other Honda HVAC setups like our Crosstour shown below with its toggle-type temp switch.
If I was on the Insight Eval team, I would have suggested switching the fan and temp controls.
It's a small point, and I suppose you would get used to it. But you shouldn't have to.
Albert Austria, Senior Vehicle Eval Engineer @ 15,990 miles
April 12, 2010
This weekend I had our 2010 Honda Insight for a long trek up to Northern California so I had the chance to get acquainted with the cruise control. Turns out, not a huge fan. It's no surprise that it's not responsive when you press the "Accel" button on the steering wheel since this car doesn't have that much power to begin with but when you press "Decel" and have to wait seconds for it to react? Not good. Plus you have to basically hold it down firmly, no quick jabs lasting less than 2 seconds, it seemed. Because of this I found it more effective to downshift with the paddle shifters when I wanted to slow down without pressing the brakes.
Sure, I did appreciate cruise when there weren't any other cars around, but as soon as I saw a car getting on the freeway from the on-ramp, I'd just hit "Cancel" which slows the Insight down faster than if I had just pressed the decelerate button a bunch of times. Eh, maybe it's technique and getting accustomed to the way it works. But just saying, compared to other cruise control systems I've encountered this one isn't all that responsive.
I did like the paddle shifters, though. And I think that "S" on the gearshifter that Donna had mentioned on a previous post is meant for, don't laugh, "sport" mode or manual since it allows for you to solely use the paddle shifters to upshift and downshift. You can still use the paddles for the regular "D" mode, too, but as soon as you press the accelerator or brakes, it clears the gear you initially selected. I do like that.
POST EDIT: Fuel economy for the trip which consisted mostly of highway miles was about 37.6 mpg. Last month the Insight had an average of 38.9 mpg. You caught me; I suffer from lead foot.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 15,808 miles
March 29, 2010
Technically, I guess the elbow rest on the Insight's door is a soft-touch surface. It's marginally softer than than the hard plastic found elsewhere on the door, so relative to other surfaces found in the car, yeah -- it makes the cut.
But my elbow didn't see it in quite those terms when I banged it on the elbow rest over the weekend. More padding, please! The "padding" feels like little more than some velvety fabric thrown over brutally unyielding plastic. Ouch.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 14,634 miles
March 25, 2010
I don't mind the way the Honda Insight looks. I like its interior features, mostly (not crazy about the seats).
But I don't like its choppy ride. I can't get a smooth start. Honda hybrids have the most awkward transition from electric motor to gasoline engine. Our Honda Accord Hybrid was choppy, the Civic Hybrid was choppy, and the Insight is the choppiest of all. It's especially annoying when caught in stop-and-go traffic. Trying to inch forward from a standing stop is quite comical.
Toyota's Prius and Camry Hybrids are smoother as is the Ford Fusion Hybrid.
What's up, Honda? Is it designed that way to keep me awake?
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
March 19, 2010
When you first put on the A/C in the Insight you get that same moldy stench as in the Mini. It clears up after a few minutes but what's up with that? Pew.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
February 25, 2010
I drove our long-term 2010 Honda Insight last night, maybe for the second or third time.
But it was my first time to notice the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
Odd, I thought, because this thing has a CVT. So of course, there's little shift shock when you use them.
The display above the odo (not lit in the pic) indicates the "gear," which goes up to 7.
Just like an F1 car!
So perhaps Honda included the paddles to remind you that this is the Sporty Hybrid, not that boring thing from the Nagoya-based company.
You know, the company with a news update every 15 seconds.
Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 13,810 miles
February 24, 2010
I'm talking about the instrument panel. I know a number of you have written about how silly you think it looks. But I like it and here is why.
It puts the info I want right in front of my face in colors that are cool and soothing. I particularly like this design when driving at night. My eyes don't tire of the blue and green glow. I find cars that have red or orange can bother my eyes on long trips.
I like that my traveling speed is positioned higher than the steering wheel so I don't have to look down. I like that the background color changes from blue to green depending on how economically I am driving. I don't have to take my eyes off the road at all. My peripheral vision picks up on the color change.
All of these things may seem odd at first. But it doesn't make the instrument panel bad, just different.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
January 28, 2010
Anytime I'm retrieving something from the Honda Insight's back seat I'm reminded about its lack of headroom. We're written about this before, with one notable entry being Mike Magrath's post back in July of last year. My initial reaction to the lack of headroom is: "Jeez, this is pretty bad." I'm 5-foot 10-inches and even my head rubs up against the headliner. Plus, the sloping outer curve to the roof makes it easy to bump your head when getting in and out.
But I've also thought about how I've had our long-term Insight in my possession for a total of about three weeks now, and the number of times I've had an adult riding in the back is zero. The only person to ever ride in the back is my two-year-old daughter. That sloping roof does make it harder to get her in and out of her car seat without bopping her head. But once she's in, she's fine.
So the question is: Does it really matter that the Insight's rear seat is small? I suppose in the absolute it does. If everything's equal, who wouldn't want more rear headroom in their sedan/hatchback? But given that most people aren't using cars like this to frequently carry adult rear passengers, maybe it's not that big of an issue after all. In the end, I think it mostly just reinforces my opinion that the Insight is a capable commuter car. But asking much more out of it than that gets you into trouble.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
December 21, 2009
The electric engine isn't the only thing that's quiet on the Prius -- the cabin is also pretty tranquil. Can't say the same for the Insight. Excessive cabin noise is a problem with most Hondas, and the Insight isn't an exception.
Is cabin noise a factor that you consider when shopping for a vehicle?
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 10,490 miles
December 15, 2009
Over the weekend we took our Girl Scout troop to the local police station for a scared-straight tour. Not that these good girls really need it, but it's best to get out in front of these things, I think.
Three nine-year-olds hopped in the back seat of our 2010 Honda Insight, and immediately began to squabble over who got to sit on the "high hump" in the middle.
"You can see everything from up here!," one girl bragged to the other two.
Until then, I didn't realize the Insight had such sporty rear seats. Good for keeping two rear passengers from sliding around, but hard on a third person over four feet tall.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 20,231 miles
October 28, 2009
When the Honda Insight meter moves from CHRG to ASST and back, the color surrounding the digital speedometer also changes.
What I find surprising is how often it goes green, even at higher speeds.
Here's a video because I love making videos.
In the last bit (the part in the daylight) you'll see an illustration of what Bryn mentioned in her last post when autostop switches off.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
July 29, 2009
After getting comfy in our 2010 Honda Prius Insight, I noticed that I didn't notice the speedometer. That's because my chosen driving position (as is deftly illustrated above) put the top of the steering wheel right in front of the speedometer. And since I didn't want to accidentally cruise at 162 miles an hour, I figured I should move the steering wheel down and out of the way. That solved the problem, but it made the driving position way less than ideal.
I should note that I did not have this problem when I last drove a 2009 Civic Si, which also utilizes a stacked dash.
Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 2,431 miles
July 14, 2009
For those of you who fairly guessed, congratulations. For those of you who cheated by looking at the photo name, I'll try better next time. For those of you who insulted me, your mother's cooking sucks and your father is a descendant of gypsies.
But yes, the Honda Insight lacks the gas door release pull of every Honda product I can remember.* Pulling into the gas station, I opened the door and by instinct leaned down to the floor to pull (or push as is the case in many Honda products that split the lever between gas door and trunk). Instead, there was nothing but carpet.
Confused, I got out and walked to the gas door itself. There was no pull indentation like on a Ford. Therefore, I pushed the door like I would with a BMW, GM or many others -- out it popped. Unlike other such designs, though, the door doesn't lock along with the doors. There's nothing to prevent someone from sticking a garden hose or something worse in your gas tank (like the sugar some idiots put in my dad's '69 Cougar), which is what I've always assumed was the point of the remote gas door release.
How do you chalk this up to anything but cost cutting?
James Riswick, Automotive Editor
* Update: Guess who's never filled up our long-term Fit? That would be me, who went down to the garage last night and popped open the Fit's gas cap by pressing it. Make it 2 Hondas.
July 13, 2009
When Erin posted that she thought Consumer Reports was wrong in their confusing bashing of a pretty OK car, I was with her. (C'mon, it's not even close to as bad as a Caliber.) And then I talked to James Riswick, "Let me show you the rear headroom. It's unbelievably bad. I'l show you." I insisted that I wasn't interested, I don't carry rear seat passengers enough to care. But he was more insistent and I was bored. Oh, and we happened to have a 2010 Prius right next to it.
Follow the jump for a head-to-headroom comparison between our Long Term 2010 Honda Insight, and a 2010 Toyota Prius.
Instrument for Testing: James Riswick. Height: 6'3" Both front seats were set to mimic his driving position.
Vehicle 1: Toyta Prius
July 07, 2009
These are the 2010 Honda Insight gauges, which like the Civic, features the controversial split decked design with an analog tach and digital speedo. Unlike the Civic, though, the Insight has a lot more going on. As you can see in the photo, the digital speedo readout seems to hover in the middle of the display like a hologram while the light blue background actually changes to green when you're light on the throttle and darker blue when you're lead footed. It's something that looks pulled straight from a concept car.
The analog stuff is less fancy, but its color and sharpness are striking. Although not in the picture, the center digital display can show how many little trees you've accrued in your ongoing green crusade. There's also a little bar that increases to the left and right underneath your wee forest, but I'm still trying to figure out what it does.
Basically, you have to try hard not to be mesmerized by your nifty gauges.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 895 miles
July 03, 2009
Our 2010 Honda Insight EX has one very important thing that our 2009 Honda Fit EX does not: seat-height adjustment for the driver.
The ability to move the seat up and down goes some distance in making the Insight a more comfortable place to sit. I road-tripped an earlier 2010 Insight test car and found the driver seat adequate for 7 hours of driving.
That said, I think the lower-mounted seat and extra seat-track travel made possible by the Insight's longer wheelbase (100.4 inches versus 98.4 for the '09 Fit) also contribute to a more natural seating position.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 913 miles