2010 Honda Insight: Driver's Information Panel, Low Tech Meets High Tech
August 03, 2009
I just spent a weekend in our long-term Honda Insight, but it was the first time I really took a look at the driver's infomation panel. This is the little window between the two primary gauges on the dashboard, a screen you can scroll through by hitting the "i" button on the steering wheel to see various vehicle statistics like distance-to-empty, running time, average speed and average MPG numbers.
I've typically left this window in the "Eco Guide" mode to see how many "leaves" I can establish through my frugal use of non-renewable resources. I also find it interesting to ponder exactly what driving statistics the Insight considers "leaf worthy." I know you're supposed to keep that center bar as small as possible through light throttle and brake application to earn leaves, but I'm betting (hoping?) some honest-to-goodness mathematical equations are happeing somewhere behind that display panel.
For what it's worth, I seem to be a "two-leaf" kind of driver, meaning I can get a line of two leaves on every plant in the display without trying too hard (as pictured above on the left), but I've never gotten a third leaf on any of the plants. I would describe my driving style as roughly 80/20 (in the Honda Insight as well as just about any other car). This means 80 percent of the time I'm driving pretty casually with minimal throttle input and a stable rate of speed. However, when I see a hole in traffic I want, or a car I need to beat off the line to get into a specific lane, I don't hesitate to use all of the throttle spring's travel. Driving this way earns me the above level of leafage, and that's fine with me.
The other display I took a specific look at was the energy management display (on the right above). This one tells you where the energy is flowing in the powertrain, whether from the engine to the wheels, the battery to the wheels, the wheels to the battery, or any other combination possible.
I found this information in this small driver's information panel after searching for it on the LCD display in the center stack. But I quickly realized there is no energy management display on the LCD screen, which makes sense because you only get that display if you order the navigation system. The upside is that it makes the Insight's starting price cheaper than the Prius (because every version of the Prius has the LCD screen), but the downside is this somewhat rudimentary form of graphical energy management information.
Sure, it gets the job done. However, if you're used to the pretty Prius display that shows animated wheels turning and multi-color energy flows, this screen looks a little 1998 (think early navigation systems on German luxury cars).
Still, I'll take the Insight's superior driving dynamics, superior seating position and ergonmics, and lower price tag over the Prius, even if it means a "Pong" version of energy management information.
Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 2745 miles