I purchased the CVT and have not regretted the purchase at all. I get an average of 52 mpg in LA with stop/go/AC. The car had 80,000 existing miles but Honda's extended warranty (150K) for the battery as well as the Honda Care extended warranty (7yr/100K) has taken care of any concerns. I enjoy the car so much that I will be selling my other car because I no longer drive it. Looking forward to the release of the 2009 Insight.
I owned one for 5 years, servicing every 3 months.
In that time:
1. Need to replace cat converter ($1,200).
2. Need to replace IMA ($2,700).
3. Need to replace transmission ($2,200).
4. Need to replace flywheel.
5. Wheels randomly seize up almost causing an accident.
Dealer doesn't know why ($100 diagnostic).
6. Need to replace engine ($3,800).
7. Need to replace transmission ($2,200).
8. Need to replace IMA again ($2,800).
9. Need to replace wiring ($550).
Used/aftermarket parts are hard or impossible to find.
2 of 3 dealers had extremely poor workmanship (I was a mechanic).
Car never lasted more than 3 months w/o something breaking, and every part on it is EXPENSIVE.
I drive mainly on interstate highway. My commute to work is about 96 miles round trip, all but 10miles are super highway. The vehicle has nearly 115,000 miles with an overall average mpg of 64.3. I haven't had any problems with the car and have replaced 4 tires once, and the front brakes just once. Because of the conditions of our Mass highways, I have had to replace the windshield twice and will need to replace it a third time before the next inspection. My Insight is a 5 speed manual with air conditioning.
After driving the Insight over 22,000 miles, I feel that Honda is the best car company on the planet. They are about the only car company to put their money where their mouth is. They've "walked their talk", in that they've created a major evolution in the automotive industry, taking 100 year-old combustion technology and brought it into the 21st century.
That 3 cylinder engine sounds like a V12 purring under the hood. I'll be darned if I can figure out how Honda did it. Only the best engineering can make a 3 cylinder engine purr like that.
I tell you that the Insight IS fun to drive, with it's strong torque at the low end and electric steering.
Hope you decide to walk your talk.