2010 Honda Insight EX: How's the Stereo?
July 24, 2009
Granted, the Insight EX is built primarily for getting great fuel economy and not as a rolling sound studio. Still, Honda's latest hybrid will likely see plenty of commuting miles and nothing helps blunt the tedium of a long trip home every night like a good sound system. Here's what you get and how it stacks up.
Opting for the EX version of the Insight means a single CD player with MP3 capability. Sound runs through six-speakers and the system is good for 160 watts. An aux input and iPod specific connection are part of the package and you can even play music from a PC card if you still have any of those. Since our long termer has the optional navigation system, that means audio functions such as tone and balance adjustment move to the nav's touch screen. Gettting the nav means Bluetooth as well.
How it Sounds -
Sound quality is good but not great. When the bass and treble adjustments are flat (right in the middle) the sound is rather thin and even a little tinny. You have to bump both up quite a bit for the sound to even approach well-rounded. After that bass is audible but not nearly deep or sharp enough for an audiophile. Highs are clear but that's were a little distortion starts to creep in even at moderate volume. There's a definite bias toward highs and in some cases downloaded songs were accompanied by hiss. Sadly, there's no midrange adjustment. Overall sound quality earns a B-
How it Works -
Most controls are easy to use and figure out even without cracking the manual. The graphic display that comes up when adjusting bass, treble, tone and balance communicates basic information in a simple format but you do have to pay for the navigation system to get this and the touchscreen feature. While it's nice to an iPod specific connection, the inter face is a little clunky. Unless you have that certain song you're just dying to hear in a playlist, good luck finding it. You'll have to arrow down five tracks (or albums or artists) at a time - this is incredibly frustrating. It may be easier to just switch to the aux jack and use the iPod's interface (provided the car's not moving). Redundant steering wheel controls mean you never have to take your eyes off the road to adjust volume or advance tracks. In terms of the interface, this system gets a C-
Brian Moody, Automotive Editor