May 25, 2010
It's been a week in the Insight and oddly, I haven't gotten sick of it. That can probably be chalked up to only commuting 18.4 total miles daily through heavy traffic and only briefly getting to "enjoy" the brittle ride coupled to excessive high-speed wind noise. I also haven't been chauffeuring around anyone, so the lack of back seat headroom hasn't been an issue.
As a strictly commuter appliance, then, I've found the Insight to be pleasant. Its stereo has actually been the most surprising element of the car this week, as it exhibits relatively strong bass and crisp sound quality even through the iPod interface. I figure if you're going to be stuck in traffic, that's a pretty good attribute to have.
I'll be turning over the Insight to John DiPietro for a few days so he can put some long-distance miles on it, and in the meantime, I'll be heading into Ye Olde Prius. It'll be interesting to see how commuting life is in Toyota hybrid land. Hopefully I don't career wildly into a tree.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor on the DL @ 18,359 miles
May 19, 2010
I injured myself last Thursday, and as such it's left me incapable of driving a manual-equipped car. That means I cannot drive seven of the 15 long-term cars available during the week and I also cannot drive my own car. As such, keeper of the keys Mike Schmidt was kind enough to set me up with an automatic-equipped ride for the next few weeks while I'm on the DL.
I'm certainly lucky to be in the car situation I am, but after one night in the Mini E, I politely asked for something else as the stiff steering made it rather difficult for me to maneuver at low speeds. The big side bolsters were also a detriment. With my head hung low, I had to do what months ago I swore I would never do: I requested to drive the Insight. Its low-effort steering, wide seats and light doors were indeed a big help last night.
So over the next few weeks I'll have the unique opportunity to report about a single car over an extended period of time as well as what it's like to drive with limited physical abilities.
And yes, you'll note I haven't said what I've done to myself. I prefer to let wild rumors run rampant for a while.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor on the DL @ 18,267 miles
March 25, 2010
I don't mind the way the Honda Insight looks. I like its interior features, mostly (not crazy about the seats).
But I don't like its choppy ride. I can't get a smooth start. Honda hybrids have the most awkward transition from electric motor to gasoline engine. Our Honda Accord Hybrid was choppy, the Civic Hybrid was choppy, and the Insight is the choppiest of all. It's especially annoying when caught in stop-and-go traffic. Trying to inch forward from a standing stop is quite comical.
Toyota's Prius and Camry Hybrids are smoother as is the Ford Fusion Hybrid.
What's up, Honda? Is it designed that way to keep me awake?
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
February 15, 2010
I had our 2010 Honda Insight for an 800-mile roundtrip roadtrip I was taking up north this holiday weekend with my brother and editor Jay. Jay was the driver, I was the front-seat passenger and my bro was in the backseat by himself. I present our thoughts about the Insight as a road trip car.
Jay: "The road noise didn't get out of control at freeway speeds as expected, not as big of an issue as I thought but there was wind noise at the A-pillars at freeway speeds. The Insight has a sports car ride but not sports car handling, choppy ride, with short travel. Most prominent thing on a long freeway trip is its directional stability, steering response around center. It's a subtle thing, a lot of drivers probably wouldn't notice that they're making constant corrections but I did. It's a mental drain on a long trip, requiring more concentration than otherwise. We had some crosswinds on the way up and that wasn't helping."
My brother (who's 5'9"): "I didn't mind the legroom when sitting behind Caroline [5'5"]. And the road noise didn't bother me. It was decently comfortable back there and I liked resting my head in that space between the headrests."
As for myself, I was so uncomfortable! The front-passenger seat was shaped in such a way that it felt like it was pushing into the center of my back while the headrest was angled pushing my head forward. I didn't want to tilt my seat too far back since I wanted my brother, who was sitting behind me, to have enough room. I took the couple times we stopped for food, gas, bathroom break as an opportunity to stretch my legs and my back. Even though the car required only one fuel-up each way, the extra stops were mandatory. As for the wind noise initially it was pretty irritating but over the long road trip I was able to block it out.
I did appreciate the extra storage space on the side door for holding my snacks, extra water bottle and my iPhone. And I liked being able to easily scroll through the playlists and songs on my iPod from the car's audio/nav screen. Interestingly enough, the recirc button was effective during drivebys of most of the cattle farms along I-5; all except the huge one near Coalinga. Blech.
Fuel economy for our trip (mostly highway miles) was 36.2 mpg; EPA estimate for highway mpg is 41.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 12,943 miles
December 02, 2009
This is where the long-term 2010 Honda Insight will live today while we're all at the convention center covering the 2009 LA Auto Show. I've been driving our hybrid hatchback around the city for the last 24 hours, and like virtually every other editor on staff, the ride quality is beginning to wear on me a bit.
Earlier this year, I drove another 2010 Insight from Napa to Los Angeles, and I didn't really mind the firmness of the ride. That's not to say I thought the car had a great ride. But considering the car's economy roots (Fit platform architecture) and dynamic challenges (heavy batteries on-board), I was prepared to accept it.
But it's clear Honda didn't tune the suspension to cope with LA freeways, which is rather odd, given that greater LA will end up with one the highest percentages of 2nd-gen Insights per capita.
Nevertheless, I still kind of enjoy using it as a commuter car, because the seating position suits me perfectly, all the controls are easy to use, and the basic-grade Honda navigation system works well.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 9,545 miles
November 17, 2009
It just ain't a road trip on the 5 unless you stop at Anderson's Pea Soup.
Here's the rest of the story of my 800-mile trek with our 2,700-pound hybrid.
I'm sure it's no surprise to hear that there was a good deal of road noise in the Insight, given Honda's reputation for road noise. And it's not just the noise. I think it's the frequency of the sound that makes it really noticeable. At highway speeds for long stretches, that kind of noise can be quite fatiguing. And it was annoying having to turn the volume up on the audio system in order to combat the road noise. Audiobooks were particularly difficult to hear. I'd say the road noise was my biggest complaint on the trip.
For the first tank (L.A. to Morro Bay to Berkeley on the 101 freeway with moderate-heavy traffic in the big city areas) we got 41.52 mpg. For this leg, we didn't drive any differently than we normally would have, except that we kept our speed under 75 miles per hour because, to us, the Insight just started feeling jittery above that. We also had ECON mode engaged.
The second tank was from Berkeley to L.A. on the 5 freeway with lots of traffic leaving Berkeley. We used cruise control (usually set between 72 and 76 mph) a lot more on this leg than on the south to north leg and had ECON mode turned off. We averaged 41.13 mpg on that leg.
Because the two legs of the trip were completely different route-wise, I can't really make any judgments on ECON mode, but it is interesting that both legs were over 41 mpg (which is the EPA's combined estimate for the Insight's fuel economy).
Average fuel economy for the whole trip was 41.35 mpg.
Both my husband and I found the front seats to be quite comfortable for the long legs of the trip. My husband wished for a little more adjustability, particularly so he could dial in a little less lumbar support, but we both felt well supported overall. No dead butt like last year.
Contrary to everyone's anticipation, the Insight's performance on inclines wasn't horrible. We didn't push it hard, just kind of let it do its thing and crossed our fingers. And not once did we accumulate a long line of angry travelers behind us. I'm not saying it tore up the hills, but it wasn't a nailbiter either.
Overall, I think a lot has to do with your expectations. If you drive a strong highway cruiser/climber already, you're not going to be happy with the Insight on a road trip. But my husband's daily driver is a 2003 Honda Civic GX (with the CVT), and while he wasn't thrilled by the Insight, he wasn't thoroughly disappointed with its performance either. We weren't wishing the Insight was anything other than what it is: a fuel economy-focused, four-door hatchback with a nav system from Honda.
I wouldn't volunteer for another road trip in the Insight right away, but if it were my daily driver and I wanted to take the family on a little jaunt up the coast, I'd be fine with it.
Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com
October 23, 2009
This car nearly rattled what's left of my brains out coming back from from East Nowhere. What was I doing in East Nowhere, you ask? This.
It took two and a half hours to get back to the office and during that trip I thought the rearview mirror on our (not so) little Insight was going to fall off and wind up in my lap. I couldn't even see anything with the mirror it was vibrating so badly. The freeway ride in this thing is absolutely punishing. Why? What's point, awesome handling? Oh I'm sure around town it's firm and that helps to mask the utter lack of performance from the wheezy engine, but on a freeway, you know, the things you drive on every day in LA, it's terrible.
Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 7,392 miles
August 13, 2009
The Honda Insight is a terrific car. Few companies are dedicated to transportation in the way that Honda is. It believes in the liberation of personal mobility, which is a lot more important thing than just snappy styling, lap times at the Nurburgring, or corporate profits. That's why Honda really does cheap cars better than it does expensive ones.
The Honda Insight could easily become one of my favorite cheap cars. It strips the whole hybrid concept down to its bare essentials. It passes by gas stations, it goes down the freeway, it carries a family (whining about headroom for six-footers in the back seat is ridiculous, really), and it looks dramatic. In every way, the Honda Insight seems to represent what Honda does best.
So why doesn't the Insight go down the road better? It's as if hamsters had tuned the ride and handling. Actually that's probably not true, as the Kia Soul goes down the road better than the Insight.
July 21, 2009
In today's open thread for COTW, our 2010 Honda Insight EX, sealclubb3r asked, "How noisy is it really? I remember reading somewhere that it was much louder and less refined than a Prius. Is there as much interior noise as in y'alls 370Z?"
Well, here are a few excerpts from my personal notes when I drove a 2010 Honda Insight back-to-back with a 2010 Toyota Prius for a comparison test. I logged 400 highway miles in the Insight.
"Small gas engine isn't quiet, but it's fairly free-revving and not unpleasant to the ear... Insight has moderate wind noise, especially noticeable compared to the 2010 Prius, which doesn't have much at all... Insight has more road noise, but it's hardly what I'd call excessive."
But no need to rely on my possibly inaccurate notes -- I have actual decibel readings to back up my haphazard statements. Join me after the jump.
First, a qualifier: Due to extenuating circumstances on test day, we don't yet have decibel readings for the 2010 Prius. We'll get them for you, just not today.
So our 2010 Honda Insight is quieter than a 370Z. It's also a touch quieter at a 70-mph cruise than a 2009 Prius.
And it's quieter at full throttle than a Civic Hybrid -- probably because you don't have to work its engine as hard. The Insight takes 10.9 seconds to hit 60 mph and does the quarter-mile in 17.9 at 78.2 mph, versus a 13.5-second 0-60 and a 19.3-second quarter at 72.5 mph in the Civic Hybrid.
2010 Honda Insight
Db @ Idle: 44.2
Db @ Full Throttle: 72.5
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 68.8
2009 Nissan 370Z
Db @ Idle: 47.4
Db @ Full Throttle: 83.1
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 71.0
2009 Toyota Prius
Db @ Idle: 39.8
Db @ Full Throttle: 70.7
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 69.7
2009 Honda Civic Hybrid
Db @ Idle: 45.9
Db @ Full Throttle: 76.0
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 68.0
Erin Riches, Senior Editor
July 06, 2009
Drove the Insight for the first time this weekend. It's only natural, of course, to want to compare it to the Prius, and I won't resist the urge to do so. I was struck by two things:
1) The Insight's ride is choppier than that of the Prius. Road imperfections make their way to the cabin. I suspect that the average hybrid buyer favors a more forgiving ride.
2) The Honda's acceleration is less brisk than the Toyota's. In this respect, the Insight feels like a Prius that neglected to drink its morning cup of java. I knew that the Prius has the edge in acceleration testing; I just didn't expect the difference to be so noticeable in everyday driving.
Even given the cost difference between the two (the Insight is cheaper), my initial feeling is that I'd choose the Prius over the Insight if I were shopping in this segment.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 875 miles
July 02, 2009
I read about Consumer Reports' dislike of the 2010 Honda Insight with some surprise: Among hybrids, the Mk II Insight simply is not a bad car.
Does it drive like other Hondas? Absolutely not. But I thought by now we all knew, that until we find a smaller, lighter solution than nickel-metal hydride (and even lithium-ion) batteries, hybrids will be weird, awkward things to drive. CR noted, "The Insight... is nothing like the [Honda] Fit on which it is based." No, of course it isn't.
But among all the hybrids I've driven in the last 5 years, the 2010 Honda Insight comes the closest to being a car I could stand to drive every day. It has something resembling steering feel as you add input going into a corner, and that's rare for a hybrid. I also happen to like the firm-ish suspension tuning, which lets you imagine that you are connected to what the tires are doing.
It's a stiff ride, mind you. And not a quiet one. But the Fit's not plush or quiet, either. If you want plush and quiet, you want a 2010 Prius though you'll still have the "clumsy handling" problem.
So, judged as a hybrid, the 2010 Honda Insight is a likable car. Ask it to play like a Fit, and well, it might disappoint you.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 882 miles