Talk with anyone about hybrids and the Toyota Prius will be mentioned within the first minute. Try it sometime. Bring your stopwatch. See? We just did it in the opening sentence. It's almost to the point where the non-word "Prius" has achieved synonym status alongside Kleenex and Xerox.
So when the first official photos of the new 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid were released, cries of "They've copied the Prius!" began almost immediately. It's the high rear hatchback paired with a vertical glass window between the taillights that does it. The Prius had that back in 2004. Case closed.
Doesn't anyone recall that the original 2000 Honda Insight and the 1988 Honda CRX had that hatch arrangement first? Who copied whom, here?
That's the Insight's problem. No one remembers that it was the first hybrid sold in North America because its two-seat layout was weird-looking and impractical. Sales were dreadful — only 18,000 worldwide over six years. Changing the 2010 Insight into a four-door hatchback isn't another example of copying; it's just good business sense. After all, Honda wants to sell 90,000 new Insights per year.
To ensure those sales, Honda aims to keep the price low and keep hybrid eccentricities to a minimum. Official prices are not yet available, but we estimate that our 2010 Honda EX with Navigation, the most loaded configuration there is, will sell for less than $22,500. That's about $5,000 less than a comparably equipped 2009 Toyota Prius. Better still, the starter Insight LX, well-equipped in its own right, is expected to debut for less than $18,000.
In order to keep the price low, Honda stuck with its simple, tried-and-true Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. Basic propulsion here comes from an efficient 1.3-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that makes 88 horsepower and 88 pound-feet of torque. Sandwiched between that and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is a thin electric motor that produces another 13 hp and 58 lb-ft of torque. It's fed by a 108V battery pack that uses familiar nickel-metal hydride cells.
Under braking, this motor acts as a generator and feeds electrons back into the battery. Total system output when you mash the throttle is 98 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque. At our test track, the Insight scooted to 60 mph in 10.9 seconds — a tenth quicker than the last Honda Fit Sport we tested and about 2.5 seconds better than a Honda Civic Hybrid. It's no speed demon, but the new Insight is no slug, either.
When you're in less of a hurry, there's enough electric motivation to propel the 2010 Insight at city speeds up to 30 mph with the engine off. This transition is utterly seamless because the always-connected nature of the system means the engine is still spinning and the tachometer still registers whenever the car moves. In this fuel-cut electric mode, the Insight's VTEC system switches to a lobe-less round cam that keeps the valves shut to reduce pumping losses.
EPA fuel economy figures have not been released, but Honda says they'll come in at 40 mpg city, 43 mpg highway and 41 mpg combined. Yes, the 2009 Prius is rated higher at 46 mpg combined. But the non-linear nature of the mpg unit means a 5-mpg difference in this rarified region is less meaningful. In a 15,000-mile driving year, it amounts to 40 gallons — $80 at current fuel prices. We ran our Insight EX against a 2009 Prius in a 197-mile suburban fuel economy loop near Phoenix, and the Insight returned 51.5 mpg to the Prius' 54.4 mpg. Not too shabby.
From the firewall forward, the new Insight borrows its chassis and strut suspension from the 2009 Honda Fit. It features a twist-beam rear axle like the Fit, too. The ABS brakes are ventilated discs in front and drums out back. The result is a nimble-handling compact in the Honda tradition. It goes where it's pointed, feels lively and stops smartly. There's no hybrid weirdness, either. The regenerative braking operates transparently and the electronic power steering (EPS) weights up nicely in corners.
The Fit-based Honda Insight rides like a lot of other small Hondas, too. The ride isn't overly firm, but it isn't squishy, either. It stays flat and composed. Wind noise isn't an issue, but there's some coarse road noise. This is a common trait in Honda's smaller cars, the result of a preference for low weight at the expense of sound-deadening materials.
The seating position and seat design impart a feeling of relaxed comfort. You sit lower here than in a Prius, and there's more apparent front legroom. The tilt steering wheel also telescopes out to meet the hands of taller drivers, and the EX has a height-adjustable driver seat for a custom fit. The picture isn't as rosy in back, where the compact nature of the Insight becomes apparent. The Insight's 100.4-inch wheelbase (compared to 106.3 for the larger Prius) equates to a lack of leg- and headroom for rear-seat passengers of above-average height.
A new Eco-Assist driver coaching system is the key interior feature of the new Insight. It takes advantage of the Civic-style split-level dash by altering the background color of the high-mounted speedometer from blue to green to indicate efficient driving. The default page of the comprehensive trip computer houses a bar graph that encourages gentle use of throttle and brakes, and it awards leaf icons for sustained thrift over a trip and over the life of the car.
If it sounds like a rolling videogame, you're right. But it manages to be compelling without distracting. Want to improve your score? An "ECON" button desensitizes the throttle pedal and alters the CVT and IMA software for increased economy. It also cycles the A/C compressor off more often and makes the EX-only cruise control less aggressive. The Insight becomes a bit more sluggish in this frugal mode, but will earn you more eco-laurels.
Traditional controls are well laid out and easy to operate. Single-zone automatic air-conditioning is standard, and its controls are particularly close to the driver. The CVT shift lever has a "Sport" position, and EX models have steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. All Insights have an aux jack, and the EX adds an iPod-friendly USB port. The audio system is simple to use, but at the end of the day, even our top-level stereo needs a speaker upgrade.
The Insight's standard luggage capacity is 15.9 cubic feet — a bit more than the Prius. Folding the 60/40 seats down together opens things up to 31.5 cubes.
The Insight provides impressive visibility around the A-pillars and an excellent rearward view due to the rear hatch's lower window. We didn't find the headlights particularly illuminating, however. Stability control is standard on the EX and all trim levels carry a host of airbags, including side curtains.
Design/Fit and Finish
We found the long and low look of the new Insight sleek and attractive, resembling a stretched early-'90s Honda CRX with two more doors. The new corporate grille and headlight treatment that look a little odd on the CR-V are particularly effective here. We're not as smitten with the inside, however. It's well put together, the pieces are attractively grained and the gaps are small, but the overriding nodular design theme is busy to look at. The wealth of hard plastic is forgivable in an economy car, and should hold up well.
Who should consider this vehicle
The new Insight is affordable enough to be on the shopping list of any recent college grad. It has enough space for small families and empty-nesters alike. But this is a compact. The lack of a roomy backseat, a hallmark of the Prius, makes it less desirable for those who plan to transport adults in back on a regular basis. Bottom line: The Insight might be the first high-mileage hybrid that is affordable enough for the purchase price to pencil out.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, and the manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
2010 Honda Insight Overview
The 2010 Honda Insight is offered in the following submodels: Hatchback. Available styles include EX 4dr Hatchback (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), EX 4dr Hatchback w/Navigation (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), and LX 4dr Hatchback (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT). Insight models are available with a 1.3 l-liter hybrid engine, with output up to 98 hp, depending on engine type. The 2010 Insight comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: continuously variable-speed automatic. The 2010 Insight comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a used 2010 Honda Insight?
Save up to $151.2 on one of 21 used 2010 Honda Insights for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, Virginia with prices as low as $4983 as of Dec 16, 2017, based on data from 18 dealers and 33 consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from 3.8 to 5 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for used 2010 Honda Insight trim styles:
The 2010 Honda Insight EX is priced around $6954 with average odometer reading of 96453 miles.
The 2010 Honda Insight LX is priced around $7583 with average odometer reading of 74728 miles.
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Vehicle EX 4dr Hatchback (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
Review Update - still a solid little car. I need to preface everything I say next with this, the Insight is the cheapest hybrid out there. If you're going for MPGs and utility at bottom dollar, and don't mind a few quirks, it's an awesome car. Driving quality is... weird. Car rolls backwards on hills very readily. Hybrid drive is the slightest bit balky when it triggers. Pedals feel loose and floaty, in a minor way. I call this car "The Gadget" because a few elements of the drive train feel like they're still just prototypes. The flip side is, strangely, car has plenty of pickup. Gets on the highway very comfortably, can accelerate into small gaps in traffic no problem. All that combines with an average of about 40-41MPGs in good weather, 30-31MPGs in very cold weather. No major mechanicals after one year. I hear Honda's are famously reliable, and I believe it. I replaced the tires, the OEM tires were shot after 75K miles. Replacement tires have some issues, not sure if that is the wheels or the tires. My fault if it's the tires, Honda's if it's the wheels. --- So, I should start with the positive - bought a 2010 Insight EX in 2015. On the used market, they're going for sub 10K, and that means that entry level combustion engine cars are the same price as entry level hybrids. I had to give the hybrid a shot! In all the classic measurements of a car, the Insight excels. Acceleration is solid, it gets on the highway comfortably and can speed up to avoid hazards. Food for thought here, this car does 0-60 in 11.9 seconds. That compares to the gasoline Lancer of the same year at 11.4 seconds. The difference in fuel economy is a staggering 26MPG vs 43MPG. I'll leave you to do the cost/benefit analysis there. The interior is very comfortable, I love the seats. Safety features are cool (I'm upgrading from a cromagnon car with 1 airbag, so I'm excited to see 5 obvious airbags). The headlights on the EX are dazzlingly bright. For issues, there are 2 minor design flaws. Cabin view is not great - rearward visibility could be better with better pylon placement. The hatchback could also be roomier, it gets pretty tight back there. These are minor flaws - the view is most of the way there, and the hatchback is a great feature decently executed. The most perplexing issue with this overall great car is the winter performance. I am a Chicagoan. Sometimes, Chicago winter is colder than the dark side of the moon (and that is factual truth, google it). This winter has been average. The Insight's electric engine does not engage below a given temperature, usually below 20-30. The gasoline engine provides decent to good driving performance, but a much lower fuel efficiency. I'm averaging 31MPG in January. Also, the A/C unit is relatively weak, so it takes a significant amount of time to get the car hot. Maybe it's attempting to route heat to the hybrid drive's battery, I'm not sure - in either case, winter performance is out of line with general performance.
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What options are available on the 2010 Honda Insight?
Available Honda Insight 2010 Submodel Types: Hatchback
Available Trims: EX, Base, LX, EX w/Navigation
Exterior Colors: Crystal Black Pearl, Clear Sky Blue Metallic, Mediterranean Blue Pearl, Alabaster Silver Metallic, Milano Red, Spectrum White Silver Pearl, Taffeta White, Tango Red Pearl, Truffle Pearl, Atomic Blue Metallic, Crimson Pearl, Polished Metal Metallic
Interior Colors: Pale Warm Gray cloth, Gray leatherette/cloth, Gray cloth, Gray premium cloth, Black leatherette/cloth
Popular Features: Alarm, Auto Climate Control, Aux Audio Inputs, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Stability Control, USB Inputs, Bluetooth, Back-up camera, Navigation