2010 Honda Insight EX: Freeway Flyer
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