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
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 04, 2010
Probably you remember all those early road tests of hybrid cars in which some bright spark would test one by driving it across the country, hoping to make a point about its indifferent fuel economy. And of course the stories were stupid, really, since all but the congenitally witless knew that the stop-start mechanism of a hybrid is its primary asset in the fuel economy sweepstakes.
So unless you're crawling though awful urban traffic, you're not really making the best use of the Honda Insight. That moment of golden silence at a stoplight when the engine is resting (dead parrot-like) is your reward for being a hybrid owner. Driving the Insight on the freeway is simply a sign of dumbness, neither good for the machine nor good for you.
At least that's what I thought before I drove our Honda Insight to San Diego and back. Left on a Sunday afternoon, came back on a Monday during the evening commute, traveling 75 - 80 mph with traffic. A total of 273.7 miles there and back. Then filled it up with 6.161 gallons of regular. If you're keeping score at home, this is 44.4 mpg.
This seems pretty good to me. Of course, the rap on the Insight is its Honda-style hybrid technology, which really is little more than an extra small displacement engine that shuts down at stoplights to give you the golden moment of silence thing (though the moment doesn't last as long as that in a Prius, which is a big deal for some people), and then gives you a little electric boost at speed as a kind of band-aid for the engine's limp power output.
But still, 44.4 mpg. Maybe the Honda guys are right, and what you want is a car that makes it okay to have a small engine on the freeway where Americans do most of their driving, rather than give you a large engine on city streets so you can keep up with the Ford F-150s.
You know, 44.4 mpg adds up to a cruising range of 471 miles in the Honda Insight. That's enough miles to get a lot of places -- and back. Then again, you can get a lot of places much faster in cars other than the Honda Insight. A friend of mine recently drove the 330 miles from Los Angeles to Laguna Seca on an early Sunday morning in a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and made it in three and a half hours.
Of course, he had to stop for gas -- twice.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 13,650 miles
February 05, 2010
The EPA's estimates for a 2010 Honda Insight are 40 mpg city, 43 mpg highway and 41 mpg combined. After about 12,000 miles with our long-termer, we're averaging 38.7 mpg. Knowing that driving style has a huge impact on fuel economy, I decided to see how good of fuel economy I could get this week.
My goal was to improve on the best tank so far, which was 43.9 mpg from last July. I wasn't planning on doing any extreme hyper-miling techniques or anything, but I was going to drive conservatively and take advantage of the regenerative brakes as much as possible. For the latter, I've noticed by watching the charge/assist gauge for the Insight's electric motor that just slightly applying pressure to the Insight's brake pedal brings up full electric charging for the hybrid battery pack without getting into the actual brakes. It's like our Mini E's regenerative braking, just not as strong.
So for about 100 miles of city driving, I tried to be as gentle as possible on the brake pedal to maximize recharging and minimize the use of the brakes. This also meant I was paying more attention to traffic lights ahead; if one was definitely going to be red, there was no point on rushing up to it and then subsequently have to jam on the brakes (which is what most other motorists do, I noticed.)
November 17, 2009
It just ain't a road trip on the 5 unless you stop at Anderson's Pea Soup.
Here's the rest of the story of my 800-mile trek with our 2,700-pound hybrid.
I'm sure it's no surprise to hear that there was a good deal of road noise in the Insight, given Honda's reputation for road noise. And it's not just the noise. I think it's the frequency of the sound that makes it really noticeable. At highway speeds for long stretches, that kind of noise can be quite fatiguing. And it was annoying having to turn the volume up on the audio system in order to combat the road noise. Audiobooks were particularly difficult to hear. I'd say the road noise was my biggest complaint on the trip.
For the first tank (L.A. to Morro Bay to Berkeley on the 101 freeway with moderate-heavy traffic in the big city areas) we got 41.52 mpg. For this leg, we didn't drive any differently than we normally would have, except that we kept our speed under 75 miles per hour because, to us, the Insight just started feeling jittery above that. We also had ECON mode engaged.
The second tank was from Berkeley to L.A. on the 5 freeway with lots of traffic leaving Berkeley. We used cruise control (usually set between 72 and 76 mph) a lot more on this leg than on the south to north leg and had ECON mode turned off. We averaged 41.13 mpg on that leg.
Because the two legs of the trip were completely different route-wise, I can't really make any judgments on ECON mode, but it is interesting that both legs were over 41 mpg (which is the EPA's combined estimate for the Insight's fuel economy).
Average fuel economy for the whole trip was 41.35 mpg.
Both my husband and I found the front seats to be quite comfortable for the long legs of the trip. My husband wished for a little more adjustability, particularly so he could dial in a little less lumbar support, but we both felt well supported overall. No dead butt like last year.
Contrary to everyone's anticipation, the Insight's performance on inclines wasn't horrible. We didn't push it hard, just kind of let it do its thing and crossed our fingers. And not once did we accumulate a long line of angry travelers behind us. I'm not saying it tore up the hills, but it wasn't a nailbiter either.
Overall, I think a lot has to do with your expectations. If you drive a strong highway cruiser/climber already, you're not going to be happy with the Insight on a road trip. But my husband's daily driver is a 2003 Honda Civic GX (with the CVT), and while he wasn't thrilled by the Insight, he wasn't thoroughly disappointed with its performance either. We weren't wishing the Insight was anything other than what it is: a fuel economy-focused, four-door hatchback with a nav system from Honda.
I wouldn't volunteer for another road trip in the Insight right away, but if it were my daily driver and I wanted to take the family on a little jaunt up the coast, I'd be fine with it.
Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com
August 18, 2009
I was fueling up our 2010 Honda Insight yesterday and had a brief moment of annoyance when the gas pump seemingly shut off just a few moments after I started it. The auto-stop must have kicked in before the tank was actually full, I thought. Nope. I was just used to heavy drinkers like our long-term M3 and Challenger. After 200 miles of driving in the Insight, the car only needed about five gallons of fuel.
Certainly, it can take years to reap any sort of significant savings via a hybrid's reduced fuel consumption. But only having to spend $15 or so for a half-tank of fuel is a pretty nice feeling nonetheless.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
August 06, 2009
Last month we hit the highway for the second-annual Fuel Sipper Smackdown. Last year's selection of cars was a little sad sack, not providing many appealing choices for those in search of a fuel-sipping car. This year was a lot different.
We plucked the Honda Insight and VW Jetta TDI from our long-term fleet and pitted them against a Ford Fusion Hybrid, Mini Cooper and 2010 Toyota Prius. Since each was very different, the goal wasn't necessarily to declare a winner. Instead, we would find how each did in different driving environments and compare our real-world results to the EPA estimates and on-board fuel economy meters.
Check out the Fuel Sipper Smackdown 2 article and video for the full results
James Riswick, Automotive Editor