2010 Honda Insight Long Term Road Test - Performance Updates

2010 Honda Insight Long Term Road Test - Performance Updates

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (2)
  • Comparison (2)
  • Long-Term

2010 Honda Insight Takes on Highway 198

June 01, 2010

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For this holiday weekend I took our 2010 Honda Insight to San Francisco. Since this would be the third time I've had to take our Insight on a long road trip up north, I decided to switch things up and take a fun road: Highway 198 through Coalinga from the 5 to the 101. And true, this hybrid is not a driver's car, so all those cool switchbacks and off-camber corners would be lost on it, but I just wanted to do something different with it and break up the monotony of the 400-mile trip.

Fortunately, even though this was Memorial Day weekend, the 198 was pretty clear. I didn't drive the Insight like I'd drive, say, a Mini S and it was still enjoyable. Maybe it was the curves, the beautiful scenery, the sunny day, regardless, that hybrid technology didn't dampen my drive. And those paddle shifters really came in handy. I was even able to pass several pickup trucks and even a convertible 3 Series.

By the way, I was a little concerned when the "Service Due Soon" warning message came on to signal that oil life is at 15%, but after reading the owner's manual, I was assured that I'd only have to really worry when that message changes to "Service Due Now," which it didn't and still hasn't.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 19,478 miles

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2010 Honda Insight: Hey Insight, Can We Talk?

May 10, 2010


I drove our Honda Insight over the weekend and I didn't like it. To borrow the old break up line, my dear Insight, it's not you, it's me.

You're perfectly fine for who you are. We had a great time over the weekend driving up to the Bay Area and taking Mom out for a Dim Sum Mothers Day brunch. Sure you got great mileage driving down the coast (41mpg), a bunch of cargo space for my photo gear and I really appreciated that, but overall I find you annoying.

The reason I think you're annoying wasn't because I found your regenerative brakes grabby and jerky, nor your hybrid system that hesitated a lot when I hit the gas or even the weak gas engine you've got. I didn't like you because you didn't mold to my driving style and I wasn't willing to change. Driving you is killing who I am.

I'm sure there are a lot of fish out there that really get who you are and can really appreciate just how special you are on the inside, but that person isn't me. Maybe other people are willing to change their driving style to get the most out of you, but I like who I am.

Besides, I don't want to be mean but the new Mustang has got over 300 hp and is getting 30 mpg. Take care and have a good life.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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2010 Honda Insight: Paddle Shifters Perfect for Gridlock

May 03, 2010

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OK, so our 2010 Honda Insight isn't a fun car to drive but I do love, love, love those paddle shifters for around-town driving, especially in L.A. traffic. Since I had to drive from Santa Monica to Pasadena to Long Beach this weekend, and most of that involved sitting in gridlock, I appreciated being able to slow down without having to press the brakes all the time. I don't put the gearshift in "S" since the paddle shifters still work without my having to do that. Plus it clears the gear automatically as soon as you accelerate or brake. Makes it really easy to just sit back and relax, foot hovering over the brake pedal of course. Might as well since we're not going anywhere any time soon.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 16,922 miles

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2010 Honda Insight: Give Me Some Feedback

March 09, 2010


Maybe IL's Executive Editor Michael Jordan was right about the 2010 Honda Insight being a worthwhile long-haul car because of its fuel economy. High mpg and infrequent fuel stops are a bonus, to be sure.

But over 70 mph, it feels like the Insight loses contact with the road. Everything feels too light. And I hate that.

I'll take more feedback and an additional gas stop, please.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 14,141 miles

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2010 Honda Insight EX: Realistic Expectations

December 07, 2009

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I had the Insight over the weekend and was a bit suprised: it's competent. The electric power steering lacks feel, but it's okay. And yeah, it's not a Mini, but the handling isn't that bad. I took a couple of freeway on ramps at a quick pace and the car held its line without any low-rolling resistance tire howl.

The Insight may be the best economy car under $20K out there. The interior has good space (except for the rear headroom) and it gets around 39 mpg real-world. Most other cars that achieve that figure are smaller, or are Priuses. I like the Insight a lot more than any of the other dink cars in our fleet: Fit, SX4, and Mini-E.

However, compare it straight up to the Prius and it will lose in the log book of everyone except the most diehard Honda fanboi.

Compare the Insight to other economy cars under $20K and it's on top of the pile.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 9750 miles

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2010 Honda Insight EX: Goofy Steering

November 30, 2009


I can accept our long-term 2010 Honda Insight's busy ride and thin sound insulation and weaksauce acceleration as natural consequences of its fuel-sipping, low-costing, battery-hefting mission.

What I can't stand, though, is its crummy on-center steering behavior. For this there is simply no excuse.

The steering response as you cross juuust over center seems to go dead, like there's inertia or stiction or hysteresis. As a result, driving it in a straight line at freeway speeds involves constant, minute corrections around center.

It's not tramlining or crosswinds, it's the electric steering. And it's irritating. Behaves just like the Fit's steering, in fact, which isn't that surprising since the two cars share a lot of DNA from the firewall forward.

I'll say this, though -- I flung the Insight onto a freeway on-ramp yesterday and the thing didn't understeer like a bad bus. On the contrary, it was completely neutral, even requiring a bit of countersteering. I was floored. Oversteer in an economy car, yee-haa!

I think this last bit will be lost on Insight buyers.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 9,521 miles.

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2010 Honda Insight: Better on Surface Streets

November 23, 2009

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If the Insight were a wild animal, surface streets would be its natural habitat. This weekend, I logged zero freeway miles, and the things that have bothered me most about the Insight in the past -- its stiff ride, its tepid acceleration -- were a lot less noticeable.

And of course, the car's also right at home at the pump. With half a tank left and nearly 200 miles logged, the Insight was due for a refill. The cost? Just 15 bucks.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 9,100 miles

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2010 Honda Insight EX: Noise, Hills and MPGs

November 17, 2009

insight loves pea soup

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.

Road Noise
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.

Fuel Economy
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.

Seat Comfort
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.

Elevation Gains
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

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2010 Honda Insight EX: 5,000 Miles

August 31, 2009


As if on cue, our 2010 Honda Insight hit the 5,000-mile mark just as I turned onto my street to complete a 1,000-mile weekend trip to Northern California. The Insight has averaged 52 miles a day and 38.05 mpg since entering our long-term fleet in June, and on this trip comprised mostly of long straight lines of asphalt, it averaged 39.44 mpg.

Its 98-horsepower inline-4 engine strained to keep pace with posted speed limits while climbing the southbound I-5 Grapevine grade. The little hybrid made the climb, but its engine was loudly protesting with a continuous whine at 4,800 rpm.

However cute and functional around town, the Insight is clearly a flatlander's car.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 5,034 miles

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2010 Honda Insight EX: Track Tested!

August 13, 2009


Yes, that's oversteer. Yes, it's a 2010 Honda Insight. These are the things that happen during track days.

Honda's newest entry-level hybrid may be made for glorified golf-cart duty shuffling around city streets, but that didn't stop us from rigging it up with, essentially, it's worth in test gear and evaluating what kind of driver's car they managed to build. Oh, and we made it oversteer like that a few times.

Follow the jump for results and a video!

Vehicle: 2010 Honda Insight EX

Odometer: 2,424
Date: 07/28/09
Driver: Josh Jacquot

Price: $23,810

Drive Type: Front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: CVT with sport mode and paddle shifters
Engine Type: Inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,339 (82 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,200
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 98 @ 5,800 (includes electric motor assist of 13 hp @ 1,500 rpm)
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 123 @ 1,000 - 1,500 (includes electric motor assist of 58 lb-ft @ 100 rpm)
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc
Brake Type (rear): Drum
Steering System: Electric speed-proportional power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Semi-independent, torsion beam, coil springs and integrated stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 175/65R15 84S
Tire Size (rear): 175/65R15 84S

Tire Brand: Dunlop
Tire Model: SP37
Tire Type: Summer
Wheel Material (front/rear): Alloy/alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 2,730

Test Results:
0-30 (sec): 4.0
0-45 (sec): 6.9
0-60 (sec): 10.9
0-75 (sec): 16.6
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 17.9 @ 77.8
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 10.5
30-0 (ft): 31.3
60-0 (ft): 126.07
Braking Rating: Average
Slalom (mph): 62.4
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): .77
Handling Rating: Good
Db @ Idle: 44.6
Db @ Full Throttle: 77.3
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 68.6

Acceleration Comments: Best run is first run probably due to full battery power. "Sport" shift mode does nothing for acceleration. Paddles don't help, either.

Braking Comments: No noticeable pedal fade this test. Relatively consistent distances. Awkward pedal feel matters little in emergency stop like this.

Handling Comments: Slalom: Quite a ride w/stability control off. Will easily swap ends with a quick throttle drop during steering input. Otherwise, with system on, all is well. Skid pad: Smooth skidpad helps Insight's manners quite a bit. Still lots of body roll and not much grip. But, despite hard tires, limits are reasonably easy to perceive.

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2010 Honda Insight EX: Consumer Reports Is Wrong... IMHO

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

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Past Long-Term Road Tests