By on May 19, 2009

From the 1970s to the 1990s, Honda earned a reputation as the most technically innovative and ecologically sensitive Japanese automaker. Honda introduced the first hybrid to the American market. Unfortunately, its rep for green tech leadership took a big hit when the original Insight, an EV1ish tear-drop-shaped two-seater, was totally eclipsed by Toyota’s Prius. Hybrid versions of the Civic and Accord did little to stem Toyota’s PR gains. For 2010, Honda has introduced an all-new Insight hybrid. Does this car have a shot at ending Toyota’s dominance of the green car mindscape?

The success of the Toyota Prius, and relative failure of all other hybrids, suggested that people didn’t want a hybrid that looked like any other car. Honda appears to have learned this lesson—sort of. Although based on the Honda Fit, the new Insight looks like no other Honda. What it does strongly resemble: the 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, only with even more ungainly proportions.

Inside the Insight, the hyper-plastic sci-fi theme of other recent Honda interiors has advanced even deeper into the absurd. If any attempt was made at a clean, cohesive, rational design, it’s not evident. From the bi-level instruments to the bifurcated HVAC controls, a team of acid-tripping designers and bean counters appears to have completely routed the human factors folks. This from the “keep it simple” company. One small win: unlike in Toyota’s hybrids, there’s a tach.

Human bodies come in many different shapes and sizes. So there’s a chance that some people will find the Insight’s front seats comfortable, or at least bearable. This tester couldn’t wait to escape from the prominent, non-adjustable lumbar bulge and head-prodding headrests. Visibility, another traditional Honda strength, is good ahead but awful to the rear.

One more lesson learned from the first round of Insight vs. Prius: hybrid buyers want a back seat. So the new Insight has one. But not much of one; unlike in the Prius, adults barely fit. Cargo room is more competitive.

Like past Honda hybrids, the 2010 Insight employs a much simpler powertrain than Toyota’s HSD. The relatively puny electric motor, while theoretically capable of powering the car at low speeds, rarely does so in typical driving. Instead, it provides a mild assist to the engine-for a total of 98 horsepower—and enables the engine to nap at traffic lights.

While the electric assist makes the Insight feel sufficiently energetic off the line and in casual driving, the more you push, the weaker the engine feels, and the raspier it sounds. (Didn’t Honda used to be known for the most refined small fours?) A contributing factor: the engine/motor is connected to the wheels by a conventional belt-and-pulley CVT (as opposed to the planetary gearset sort employed by Toyota). This CVT typifies the reasons many people hate the entire concept. When pushed, it sounds and feels as if the clutch is slipping. Noise levels increase dramatically; thrust not nearly so much.

I drove the LX. Upgrade to the EX and you get paddle shifters to select from seven simulated “gears.” Someone at Honda clearly has a sense of humor.

The point of the Insight’s otherwise awful powertrain: fuel economy, of course. The EPA’s numbers are 40/43. That’s inferior to a Prius, but perhaps ten MPG better than a Fit. Hit a big green “ECON” button for optimum results. Honda’s chief innovation is an “Eco Assist” feedback system that’ll bring out the hypermiler in your mom (in case the underhood racket isn’t sufficient incentive to tread lightly on the throttle). This driver appears to have passed-the little green tree remained lit despite a few attempts to discover whether the Insight could, if necessary, get out of its own way (yes, barely).

In turns, the Insight leans less and feels less bobbly than the non-Touring second-generation Prius. But that’s a low hurdle. Compared to conventional compacts, handling is average at best. Despite some reports to the contrary, the Insight is not fun to drive in any conventional sense of the words “drive” or “fun.” The price of mere handling parity? When traversing patchy pavement, the underdamped, overly firm rear suspension gets the jitters and incites tin-can reverb in the cargo area.

Honda’s strategy with the Insight: offer a car nearly as good as the Prius for substantially less money. With a $20,570 base price, the Insight lists for a couple grand less than the more stylish, quicker, more economical, and more comfortable 2010 Prius. (Or opt for a leftover 2009, and incentives will considerably narrow the gap.) This is one of those cases where spending a little more money on the “real thing” will get you a lot more car.

Copycat exterior, cheap interior, uncomfortable seats, cacaphonous engine, nervous ride, competes on price . . . the Honda Insight sounds like a Prius knock-off from China. Except it’s from Honda. What happened to the company that gave us the 1984 Civic?

[read Michael Martineck's review of the Honda Insight here]

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64 Comments on “Review: 2010 Honda Insight Take Two...”


  • avatar
    energetik9

    So basically if you’re in the market for this type of car, there really is no comparison. I would have thought that the insight would have better gas milage. I think I remember from a new Prius commerical that the 2010 Prius will get 50 city. That’s a big difference compared to the Insight. Even the civic hybrid gets 40/45.

    On another note, it’s cars like this that force competition and bring improvements in alternate systems. So overall a win-win. if only American car companies could figure this out. Oh wait, we have the Volt coming…….

  • avatar
    Jeff Puthuff

    Between this and Clarkson’s review, the Insight is off to an inauspicious start.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Offer this powertrain in the Fit as an option. The generally quoted $ 2000 premium for a hybrid system would result in a price of somewhere less than $17,000. That would be very attractve. $19,800 for the Insight ? Lost my interest.
    One man’s “awkward proportions” is another man’s beautifully streamlined sleek form. Save for a few elements in the front end I find this car quite visually attractive

  • avatar

    The new Civic looks like the size of the previous Accord. Bring back a real CRX, and I don’t mean another DelSol.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    BlueBrat, the CRX as I recall had a high fatality rate, which is probably why it went away.

    Back on topic, I am amazed that Honda thought the Prius was a good looking car and had copy it? Eek!

  • avatar
    GS650G

    This is a convoluted car on many levels. Style is strange, the dash looks like a giant car stereo and rather than inspire it intimidates.

    The rear shares body parts with the Prius, no question about it. Shame on Honda for this.

    Since the first or second priority is fuel economy I don’t think those numbers are that great. My 91 Saturn got 43 on the highway, my 94 escort gets 41 even with 200K on the clock. It could be the car is laden with safety and electrical gizmos that weigh it down but in the end aerodynamics and fuel management technology should win the day.

    There is a lot of energy in a drop of gasoline, 2/3 of which is largely wasted as heat. Honda would do well to stiffen the electrical motor and get the city numbers up a bit.

    “It’s a Honda” will only get them so far.

  • avatar
    mocktard

    I like the looks a lot better than the Fit, especially in person. Drop the silly hybrid drive-train and drop in the Si motor! Glee!

  • avatar
    morbo

    So as a dedicated hybrid, this thing gets worse city MPG then the Fusion hybrid? It may be an apples to oranges comparison, but if your smaller, dedicated hybrid is getting worse mileage then a competitor’s near full-size car, something’s wrong.

    But then again, most folks buying these could care less about actual mileage, it’s an image/projection vehicle.

    Now I go back to the F-350 Turbo Diesel for daily commuting which absolutely does not compensate for any part of my anatomy.

  • avatar

    Jeff Puthuff: For the record, I wrote this review over a month ago, well before Clarkson’s review. Hence the use of 2009 rather than 2010 prices. Need to get a note to RF…

    I must grant that he does describe the underhood din more colorfully. And it appears we had similar reactions to the seats. Worst out of the 550 or so cars I’ve driven in the past decade–my drive could not end a minute too soon. I’ve been told they’re the same as the Civic’s seats, but don’t remember the Civic’s seats being this bad.

    ttacgreg: The new Insight is heavily based on the Fit.

  • avatar

    Will the new Insight prove to be reliable, or not? Even Hondas these days can have first-year glitches.

    TrueDelta would like to have a quick initial reliability stat for the Insight. All we need is enough participants.

    Details about our research and enrollement form here:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

    Updated results for 224 models this week.

  • avatar
    John R

    Long story short…either get the real thing or just get a Fit.

  • avatar
    fallout11

    Side note: The Insight is the best selling vehicle in Japan today, something the Prius never has been.
    Wonder what they see in it that the reviewers do not.

  • avatar
    TRL

    The thing Honda got right is it looks like a Hybrid. If the base car was engine driven with a Hybrid option, it would die a quick death Ala Camry Hybrid. The Civic isn’t much better. At least the little spoiler helps differentiate somewhat.

    Everything else they obviously got wrong.

    This will be a huge seller in spite of that. This is going to be bought by people that don’t like, don’t care about cars. The fact that it is a lousy car will not deter them at all. They may get rid of it quickly if the seats are really that bad, but they will buy it. For their second Hybrid they will actually look at it as a car.

    Now if the Fusion Hybrid, an actual good car, looked like a Hybrid, Ford would have a real winner. Too bad they can’t afford it right now. Maybe Ford can quickly/cheaply resurrect the old original Taurus “grill-less” front end to help.

  • avatar
    Michael.Martineck

    fallout11 wrote: Side wrote: “The Insight is the best selling vehicle in Japan today, something the Prius never has been.
    Wonder what they see in it that the reviewers do not.”

    Don’t lump us all together. I gave the car four stars last month and stick by it. I think this car’s performance measures are non-traditional. With the Prius, we saw a new player, with the Insight we have a new game: getting great mileage. Not comfort or speed. In that context, the car is pretty good. Especially is price is a component. The Prius is 3 Gs more, the Fusion 6 large up.

  • avatar
    tedward

    fallout11
    “Wonder what they see in it that the reviewers do not.”

    marketing hype and the new hotness. That’s it.

    This thing is such a dissapointment. What’s worse is realizing that the early reviewers were completely full of shit, and can’t be trusted anymore. I should probably wait until I drive one to get all dramatic about it, but I’m no longer optimistic.

    It bothers me that it’s becoming nearly impossible to root for upcoming hybrid models. Way to kill interest in the entire technology (at least among enthusiast drivers) by only pairing it with worst-in-the-world drivetrains and indifferent suspension setups.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Michael.Martineck

    Just read your old review. You certainly do mention the crap tranny. So why 4 stars? Is the target audience for this car widely considered too stupid to notice?

    Oddly enough, now that I’ve read the thread and remember it, I realize that your review was the first honest one I came across re: the Insight. I also just saw my comment on that one and it basically mirrors exactly the sentiments I expressed above. I need to stop discussing this car until I drive it.

  • avatar
    tony-e30

    A compromise between drag coefficient and federal safety requirements dictate the exterior styling, and, to minimize the overall selling price, I’m willing to bet they went with as little wind tunnel testing as necessary (uneducated guess). This is probably why the Insight looks similar to the Prius.
    As for the interior, there’s no excuse for that.

    And now Edward Niedermeyer’s just posted “Hybrid Theory” editorial just rendered my above comments redundant…

    Did Honda source this CVT from Chrysler?

  • avatar
    ConejoZing

    “Inside the Insight, the hyper-plastic sci-fi theme of other recent Honda interiors has advanced even deeper into the absurd.”

    Agree. It is really gimmicky and nerdy. Like non-cool nerdy sci fi not *** kicking sci fi. That steering wheel is … somehow icky.

    “When traversing patchy pavement, the underdamped, overly firm rear suspension gets the jitters and incites tin-can reverb in the cargo area.”

    Hmm… really? That is stock without anything done to it?

    “The thing Honda got right is it looks like a Hybrid. If the base car was engine driven with a Hybrid option, it would die a quick death Ala Camry Hybrid. The Civic isn’t much better. At least the little spoiler helps differentiate somewhat.

    Everything else they obviously got wrong.

    This will be a huge seller in spite of that. This is going to be bought by people that don’t like, don’t care about cars. The fact that it is a lousy car will not deter them at all.”

    It would seem so. What happened to Honda? I mean, really, I had an old, used 92 Accord and it was ok to look at and drive. Interior was ok, despite the color. Maybe not the fastest car ever, yet it got around with some sense of driving dynamic.

    Is it just Honda? I mean, is it other things? Like anime? Just watch a classic 80′s/90′s episode of Ranma 1/2 or something. Or classic Miyazaki. Hmm. Well, whatever, I’d much rather drive a Mazda Miata than this Insight thing.

  • avatar
    tedward

    “Did Honda source this CVT from Chrysler?”

    Honda sourced their CVT from Borat’s retarded brother Bilo. The one who lives in a cage and bangs his whore sister. Total fail.

  • avatar

    fallout11: I commented on the “best-selling in Japan” bit in the “rating summary.” Three hypotheses that are not mutually exclusive:

    1. Japanese car buyers are not as picky as we’ve been told.

    2. They’re picky, but only about how well the various pieces fit together.

    3. Most Japanese cars spend most of their lives stuck in traffic gridlock. So performance and handling don’t really matter. The seats? Maybe they get different seats in Japan?

  • avatar
    improvement_needed

    how’s it compare (drive) to the civic hybrid…

    apparently, this can be had for 21.5k + tax these days…
    much better equipment package than the insight lx…

  • avatar
    DearS

    My sister had an 84 Civic hatch, with 5 speed. My god was that a great car. I’m angry, I feel like choking her for selling it. Its such a tragedy. I dunno how safe it was in a crash, but it was fun in ways even my BMWs could only dream of. Maybe will we see such cars again in the not to distant CAFE future.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    That’s the ugliest interior in any car I’ve seen in recent memory. I didn’t think anyone could make a worse interior than GM or Chrysler.

    Between the turmoil at Acura and now this POS, I suspect there is a larger systemic problem at Honda.

    -ted

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Quote: Inside the Insight, the hyper-plastic sci-fi theme of other recent Honda interiors has advanced even deeper into the absurd. If any attempt was made at a clean, cohesive, rational design, it’s not evident. From the bi-level instruments to the bifurcated HVAC controls, a team of acid-tripping designers and bean counters appears to have completely routed the human factors folks. This from the “keep it simple” company. One small win: unlike in Toyota’s hybrids, there’s a tach.

    I agree 100%! The other thing Honda did right was to place the instruments in the right place- in front of the driver where they can actually see them unlike the Prius with it’s tiny centrally located pod. Too bad they made them look so childish and silly.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Re: The dash.

    Last time I saw a boom box like that it was blasting MC Hammer’s ‘Can’t Touch This’.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    This is another example of what consumers get when real competition among auto manufacturers is lacking. ‘Just vote no purchase’ to overpriced decontented products. Stop being a victim and send a powerfull message to the decision makers.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    For those of you who haven’t read Jeremy Clarkson’s review here are some excerpts and a link, RTWT.

    “Honda Insight 1.3 IMA SE Hybrid” by Jeremy Clarkson in The Sunday Times on May 17, 2009:

    * * *

    It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more.

    The biggest problem, and it’s taken me a while to work this out, because all the other problems are so vast and so cancerous, is the gearbox. For reasons known only to itself, Honda has fitted the Insight with something called constantly variable transmission (CVT). It doesn’t work. Put your foot down in a normal car and the revs climb in tandem with the speed. In a CVT car, the revs spool up quickly and then the speed rises to match them. It feels like the clutch is slipping. It feels horrid.

    And the sound is worse. The Honda’s petrol engine is a much-shaved, built-for-economy, low-friction 1.3 that, at full chat, makes a noise worse than someone else’s crying baby on an airliner. It’s worse than the sound of your parachute failing to open. Really, to get an idea of how awful it is, you’d have to sit a dog on a ham slicer. So you’re sitting there with the engine screaming its head off, and your ears bleeding, and you’re doing only 23mph because that’s about the top speed, and you’re thinking things can’t get any worse, and then they do because you run over a small piece of grit.

    * * *

    There’s more. Normally, Hondas feel as though they have been screwed together by eye surgeons. This one, however, feels as if it’s been made from steel so thin, you could read through it. And the seats, finished in pleblon, are designed specifically, it seems, to ruin your skeleton. This is hairy-shirted eco-ism at its very worst.

    * * *

    But let me be clear that hybrid cars are designed solely to milk the guilt genes of the smug and the foolish. And that pure electric cars, such as the G-Wiz and the Tesla, don’t work at all because they are just too inconvenient.

    * * *

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    That’s unfortunate. I was hoping Honda would show us that hybrids didn’t have to drive miserably.

    Michael, I gotta disagree with your take on the styling: “What it does strongly resemble: the 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, only with even more ungainly proportions.”

    Without making any judgment calls about whether it’s good or not, I’d say the Insight looks much more similar to the new Prius. The ’04-’09 Prius had truly ungainly proportions, with a noticeable peak in the roof that neither new hybrid has, and all those vertical styling elements (I mean the lights). The Insight and ’10 Prius appear to have a roofline that doesn’t slope down as much towards the back, for a sportier look, similar character lines down the sides (which the old Prius lacked), and horizontal styling features that make the cars look lower and wider.

    Subjectively, I think the 2nd gen Prius was ugly because of the detailing, and both of the new cars are much better. Between them I think the Insight looks the best.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    I feel the same way about the CVT vs the Toyotas much more robust (and versatile) Orbital Gears.

    The ONLY saving grace of the Honda setup is that if they ever decide to do the right thing, they could swap the CVT for a proper manual transmission.

    It won’t make it a great car, but it might make it more tolerable for some of us.

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    The relatively puny electric motor, while theoretically capable of powering the car at low speeds, rarely does so in typical driving. Instead, it provides a mild assist to the engine-for a total of 98 horsepower—and enables the engine to nap at traffic lights.

    So the electric motor is a real lazy douchebag.

  • avatar

    Usually I think that Clarkson engages in hyperbole for the sake of shock value. But in this case the powertrain and seats are just about as bad as he suggests.

    FWIW, as noted earlier I submitted this review on April 13th.

  • avatar
    erics4

    “I think I remember from a new Prius commerical that the 2010 Prius will get 50 city. That’s a big difference compared to the Insight. Even the civic hybrid gets 40/45.”

    I think this is a good time to make the case that MPG is no longer a proper measurement. Since we’re becoming more conscious of the amount of gas we use, and the amount of money we spend on it, then gas should be the measured quantity rather than miles traveled. I know many other nations already use this metric, and I think it’s about time we adopt it.

    Here’s why it becomes misleading:
    10MPG = 10 Gallons / 100 miles
    20MPG = 5 Gallons / 100 miles
    A 10MPG increase in this case equals difference of 5 gallons of gas per 100 miles.
    The price difference in a 400 mile trip (~ a tank of gas) @ $3/gal:
    (40 Gal * 3) – (20 Gal * 3) = $60

    However,
    40MPG = 2.5 Gallons / 100 miles
    50MPG = 2 Gallons / 100 miles
    In this case, a 10MPG increase equals only half a gallon of gas per 100 miles.
    The price difference in a 400 mile trip here @ $3/gal:
    (10 Gal * 3) – (8 Gal * 3) = $6, or a factor of 10 less than the above example.

    So it really isn’t as big of a cost or gas consumption difference as it looks to be, especially over the life of the car.

    This is why people trading in their Suburbans for Escapes (or, gasp! Escape Hybrids) are going to have a far greater impact on gas consumption than people moving from a Corolla/Camry (or a Prius) to a (newer) Prius ever will.

    There are enough bright commenters here that I’m sure this argument has been made somewhere on TTAC before, but I’m going to repeat it anyway!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I actually like the seats. Of course, I have a formerly-broken neck and no spinal curvature to speak of, so my physiology is not exactly normal.

  • avatar

    I see no compelling reason to get this over a Civic Hybrid other than price.

  • avatar
    chris724

    What the hell is going on with Honda’s dashboards these days? I test drove an ’09 Civic EX, and it’s just about the perfect car for me. Except I cannot stand that stupid digital speedo up on top, blocking my view of the road. I may still end up getting the Civic, but it would be in spite of the dashboard. This Insight’s dash looks even more ridiculous. My dad’s ’99 Civic’s dash is totally basic and normal and functional. What happened to Honda in the last 10 years?

  • avatar
    Bytor

    “This is why people trading in their Suburbans for Escapes (or, gasp! Escape Hybrids) are going to have a far greater impact on gas consumption than people moving from a Corolla/Camry (or a Prius) to a (newer) Prius ever will.”

    I think this is only common sense. Obviously You save more gas if you switch from an Abrams tank to a Suburban as well. That doesn’t mean the Suburban is efficient transportation.

    The best result is obtained by going to the smallest class of vehicle you can live with and then the most efficient in that class. In this case a Prius is a winner because it is roomier and could serve a wider swath of the public at dynamite fuel economy.

  • avatar
    erics4

    “Obviously You save more gas if you switch from an Abrams tank to a Suburban as well. That doesn’t mean the Suburban is efficient transportation.

    The best result is obtained by going to the smallest class of vehicle you can live with and then the most efficient in that class. In this case a Prius is a winner because it is roomier and could serve a wider swath of the public at dynamite fuel economy.”

    Of course I can agree with that, but that wasn’t the point of my prior comment. Perhaps I should’ve simply left that statement out. The real point of my rant is that a MPG discrepancy isn’t the same at all points on the scale, and the data could be more clearly represented using a different scale.

  • avatar
    NoSubstitute

    What is it with Honda seats? A lot of people must think they’re OK, but personally I’ve never sat in one that seemed to be designed for humans. And as to that lumbar bulge, at least design the seat so there’s a non-bulge option. I rented a Mazda5 last weekend and it was like having a rock in my back, even in the least “bulge-y” setting. Ugh.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    This is the future of CAFE. Prius-clones. You wanted it, Obama made it happen. Embrace the Insight. There’s plenty more where that came from.

  • avatar
    A is A

    Inside the Insight, the hyper-plastic sci-fi theme of other recent Honda interiors has advanced even deeper into the absurd. If any attempt was made at a clean, cohesive, rational design, it’s not evident

    It is. There are no controls placed in front of the gear stick. All controls are in the same horizontal plane. Like in 1980s ergonomy conscious Saabs.

    One of the (few) things I hate about my Toyota Avensis are the rather complex heating/AC/fan controls placed in front of the gear stick. A place you must look at while you are driving.

    This tester couldn’t wait to escape from the prominent, non-adjustable lumbar bulge and head-prodding headrests

    The head-prodding headrests is the best design. Volvo has been using that design since late 1990s.

    It takes some time, but you really get accustomed to those headrests.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    @erics4

    I think this whole thing about gallons per mile doesn’t really change anything besides being less intuitive to most people.

    I know in Canada where we are heavily metric, many people still have issues with l/100km not because of the units but because of the less intuitive arrangement.

    40mpg to 50mpg is still a 25% difference in fuel usage whether it is in mpg or gpm.

    The main thing I see people use GPM is to highlight the difference in a paired comparison. as in: “You save more gas moving from a Hummer to a Enclave you “save” more more gas than moving from a Prius to a Camry.”

    But those kinds of comparison are pointless. The guy in the Prius is still using much less gas than the guy in the Enclave.

    If you are just comparing between two cars. MPG or GPM is just about irrelevant.

  • avatar

    The Prius still wins to me, but the Insight looks gorgeous.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Up next:

    The Mazda Miatus

  • avatar
    Joel

    Two things: the exterior feels derivative in relation to the Prius, and this thing really doesn’t get the same millage as other, albeit non-American options, such as Diesel, in the Blu-Motion flavor or not.

  • avatar
    V6

    has anyone made a diesel hybrid yet? diesels get amazing mileage at highway speeds and with an electric motor to save diesel around town would be the best of both worlds i’d think.

    regardless, i’d take a diesel over a regular gas hybrid. hybrids are pretty much a massive wank-fest imo

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @V6:
    A diesel hybrid as a production model? In fact yes, Audi had one. It went in production in 1997, was based on the A4 wagon and had a 1.9 TDI, a 29hp electric motor. a manual gearbox and lead acid batteries.
    Here’s the interesting part: It was a plug-in.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I see no compelling reason to get this over a Civic Hybrid other than price.

    Cargo space. The Civic hybrid has about as much as the Pontiac Solstice and a little less than the Smart Fortwo, where the Insight can fit actual stuff.

    The Camry and Prius are similar: the Camry has 10 awkwardly-shaped cubic feet, or about enough for a small grocery run or an overnight stay for one. The Prius can take a family for the weekend.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    has anyone made a diesel hybrid yet? diesels get amazing mileage at highway speeds and with an electric motor to save diesel around town would be the best of both worlds i’d think.

    The problem is multifold:
    * A turbodiesel is really expensive, rather heavy and quite complex next to a gas engine. A normal diesel is slightly less expensive and significantly more gutless.
    * A diesel doesn’t handle stop/start as easy or as seamlessly as a small gas engine
    * Fuel efficiency and power of a small gas engine versus a similarly small diesel isn’t significant, especially when paired to a system like Toyota’s HSD, which keeps the gas engine running at it’s most efficient.

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense to hybridize a passenger car diesel. It’s more sensible to hybridize a rotary or turbine.

  • avatar
    Dave Donley

    The bias repoted here is among blasphemy. The 2010 Honda Insight is a great car. I agree that it is slow, it’s not meant to be a race car. It is meant to get great mileage and it does. If you follow the tutorial this machine can get upwards of 55 MPG. As for the CVT transmission, obviously the writer of this review has never had the chance or the willingness to learn how to use one. When you drive a CVT, you don’t mash the gas down. You gradually add more pressure and it slowly increases the speed of the car. I have not read alot of reviews from this author, but chances are really good that he is a novice of how to drive a new technology. Nissan has had a CVT in their cars for a few years and there is one thing that can be said for them. They don’t seem to break down very much. Of course, when you are looking for a race car, then a HYBRID is definately out of the running. They are not meant to be fast, they are meant to get outstanding fuel economy

    I have driven both the new Insight and the 2010 Toyota Prius. They are both really good cars for what they are designed to do. Efficiently move around town and keep away from the gas pump. I do tend to like the Insight a little better in the fact that it’s dash is in front of the driver instead of being in the middle of the dash where you have to take your eyes off the road to see how fast or slow you are going.

    One thing is for certian, the US. automakers need to get their head out of the sand and smell the coffee before it’s too late and come up with something that people want instead of giving us what they want us to buy. OOPS, too late they are already dying and are going to hold on to the same philosophy that has them where they are now. The concept that the auto industry is too big to fail is wrong. They need to fail if they are going to keep putting crappy cars out and expect us to buy them just because they are made here. They need to cut back on production of monster trucks and start building smaller more efficient vehicles before gas hits $4.00 again. Follow the Japaneese into lower fuel efficient cars with a few trucks as a bonus. Build them with the upmost care and use the highest quality materials. And for goodness sakes, stop using the cheapest plastic that can be found for the dasboards of the cars.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    If you think CVT is reliable. Google Honda CVT problems. Or just google Mini CVT failure for a real horror show.

    Nissan seems to be doing a good job. For everyone else it seems to be the least reliable solution available.

    Toyotas Orbital gear power couple is bullet proof in comparison (not to mention being much more versatile).

    If I was in this market, it would be the 2010 prius all the way.

  • avatar
    skysharad

    I test drove this car—shittiest car ever made.

  • avatar
    jmo

    skysharad,

    Worse than a Vega or a Trabant?

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Seen a few of these on the road now. The proportions are just hideous. I hate to say it, but even the current Prius, much less the next one, look way better.

    And get used to reviews like this. With the latest CAFE standards, these things should be polluting our dealers over the coming years. Whether or not anyone actually buys them is anyone’s guess.

    And so what about it being the best selling car in Japan. They’re notorious for wanting the latest “gadget” and this is the biggest right now. Same thing we saw with the Prius a few years ago in the US…It was the “cool” car to have. That’s why only the Prius seems to have taken off while no other hybrids did. And somehow the Prius wasn’t the exception, it was the hybrid rule in this country.

    I tell ya, I grew up in the 90′s with Hondas. Civics and early 90′s accords (before they blew up into Crown Vics), friends had Integras. We LOVED our cars. They were cheap as hell to run, didn’t break, got great mileage, were zippy handling and light on their feet with sharp reflexes, and the engines were a ton of fun to wind out (even though the power wasn’t so amazing). Then the 2000′s hit and Honda started going downhill. The Civic got fat and out of proportion and lost its zippy handling. The Integra became the RSX, which actually wasn’t too bad, but it just didn’t have nearly the feel of the old GSR. The Accord got huge and ugly and lost its zippy feel. I started driving Mazdas and VWs. Other friends moved on too, mostly to Mazda and those who bought Hondas because they were bulletproof commuter cars got Toyotas.

    Maybe they know something I don’t, but Honda got where it is by offering fun, cheap, bulletproof cars with decent styling and what they’re turning into is about as far from that as they could possibly get. I suspect my future days as a car owner are likely to be Honda-less. Its a shame. Alienating your customer base is a dangerous gamble…..look what the domestics did in the 70′s and 80s….

  • avatar
    PukaDog

    I’ve had the car for about a month and a half…
    Here’s my two cents:

    I do hate cars in general, and I have been riding around in and sometimes driving a 2nd gen Prius for a little over 3 years. The car seats in the Prius hurt my tail bone. While they may be soft to the touch and cushy feeling, there is no support.

    My Insight seating is not cushy at all, but has way more support than other cars I’ve test driven including the Fit. So far my passengers have commented that it was “comfortable”. IMHO it is quite fun to drive. It handles well around corners& U-turns quite well. As an added bonus I have been able to achieve better gas mileage than its EPA estimates. I’ve gone to the gas station a total of three times since I’ve owned it (about $18 per tank) and have averaged about 47-52 mpg per tank.

    The only two complaints so far are the tiny back seat and the plastic like feel of the dash. One or two cleanings from the car wash and it already has swirl-like scratches :(
    Since I mostly only transport my dog in the back seat, the fact that it doesn’t have any headroom doesn’t bother me that much.

    I was originally going to purchase a Fit since I couldn’t afford a Prius. When the Insight became available I jumped at the chance to own it and I am still quite happy with my purchase.

  • avatar
    finderskeepers

    Thanks for making this car Honda, it proves that the engineers at Ford can still make a better all around product with the fusion hybrid.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    Just a comment about the Honda’s Insite marketing…

    There is an Insite billboard on my way home that I have noticed over the last week. The billboard is a clean design and has a simple message, but the message’s font is narrow, small, and light colored on a white background, and so it’s rather hard to read without taking my eyes off the road more then I should (so much so that after looking at it three or four times I can’t tell you what it says?).

    I understand branding and all (as I use to work in corporate marketing), but didn’t their marketing group consider making the billboard message easy to read for drivers? IMHO the billboard is not as effective as it could be and therefore wasted marketing dollars.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    My friend and I test drove one of these last weekend. We couldn’t wait to bring it back. From the mail slot rear window you can’t see out to the wafer thin out door carpeting to the pathetic seats, sloth slow acceleration and the Star Trek to the second power dash it was one of the worst most forgettable new cars we have ever driven. We were actually glad to get back in his 2009 Cobalt LT XFE which routinely sees over 40 MPG on the open road and has a far superior drivetrain, dash, seats and performance to this turd.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    I’d like to see a lot more cars get the XFE treatment. I am no fan of the Cobalt but with a much bigger engine and much more weight is get’s better highway MPG than Hondas tiny Fit.

    On top of which I am sure the manual in the Cobalt cruises at a nice low RPM on the highway at real highway speeds, while the FIT is in the high 3K rpm range (close 4K rpm?) at real highway speeds (75 mph).

  • avatar
    Toyster

    I just purchased the Insight and I love it. I am not into how fast a car goes but how well it drives. So far I have averaged 47 to 48 mpg on the Streets of Chicago even though it is advertised to go up 40 mpg in the city.

    It is a fun car to drive, I do not have any complaints. I have received great compliments and people inquiring about it at the gas station.

    I use to have the 2006 Civic Hybrid and I do like the Insight better.

  • avatar
    karn

    I’m driving the Insight in Japan and the fuel economy is around 19-20km per liter (45-48 mpg).
    The Prius is more popular like in the States, though.
    I can say, “So far, so good,” for my new vehicle, and yet, I am also interested in the Fusion Hybrid, which is not yet available here.

  • avatar
    bebaziled

    I have test driven the 2010 Prius and 2010 Insight 2 times.

    To me the Prius has the worst visibility not only from the rear but the front and side. The “velvet” fabric reminds me of the horrible American car fabrics of the late 90′s (or the velvet ceiling material that always seemed to be falling down on my friends cars back when I was in college (late 80′s early 90′s)). I ignored the dash area- too much info to glance through to find what you wanted, felt the nav system had way too many menus and screens- thank goodness my passenger was fiddling with it so we could find radio functions, etc.. I do like the extra space in the rear seating, extra glove box, under floor storage in the hatch area and thought the solar/ sunroof was a neat gadget, however, I was really uncomfortable driving this vehicle. Both times I felt like I wasn’t connected to my surroundings. I had the road noise and bumps but honestly couldn’t feel the road in the steering. I truly want to love the Prius but don’t.

    When I drove the Insight I felt like I was in a car. That’s the best way I can describe it. It didn’t have the get-up-and-go of a normal Honda, but it’s a hybrid and I was prepared for this. The fabric reminds me of my old Element (sort of), I love the steering wheel – did I mention I could feel the road while steering? It is laking a few items and the nav looks like it was just shoved in, but overall it’s a good little car. I like the grill, the alloy wheels and the ipod/phone connection.

    I may be a bit biased toward Honda as I did grow up in a Honda household – my mom’s 1st was in ’76 – and I have owned my fair share… ’83 Accord hatchback, ’94 Civic 5-speed, (’96 4-runner), ’05 Pilot (for 6 months-yuck!), ’03 Element (loved it!). I currently own an ’06 Infinit FX35- it’s nice with loads of power but not nearly as fun as my old Element. Most people think I’m a bit crazy for wanting a hybrid over my current car but I’m sick of $45 fill-ups and sending so much money to OPEC. I normally never buy a car unless it is used but I am seriously considering the Insight.

  • avatar
    stompper

    I purchased the new Insight when my 2000 Insight with 250,000 miles died on me while traveling home from vacation. I was traveling with my 3 year old and loaded with luggage.

    After spending the night in a hotel I picked up a new Insight the next day in what was a very stressful situation. So I did not even test drive the car.

    I noticed the poor seat comfort immediately. Hard on the rear! A big difference from the great comfort of my old Insight.

    Sci Fi instrumentation that bested the older version. The controls are not as “simple” as before and take some getting used to. The old Insight showed battery charge as a permanent fixture on the dash. Also the split tach and speedometer will also take getting used to. I can only see the speedometer with the wheel positioning in my lap. Not much motion in the wheel adjustment, but better than the old Insight with none.

    This new version has a separate economy mode where the old was built into the AC. A bit more confusing, but overall similar AC and heat workings.

    The standard radio is nothing much, but neither was the old Insight radio.

    As far as space, with the two of us and all the luggage, there were only two seats in both cars. At least in the old Insight I could move my larger piece to the side and have enough room for my child to lay down. Having more space means nothing if it is not usable.

    What really shocked me was the awful gas mileage of the new Insight with the crazy CVT engine. I’m an expert at driving these things having averaged 62 mpg over 250000 miles in the old Insight. The reason for the low average is that for thousands of miles I drove the car without the assist engines as a new battery was about $5000. When the car would not die, I broke down and bought a new battery. MPG went back up to 70-80mpg at best. My best in the old Insight was 81 mpg over a 100 mile distance. The new car with my best driving techniques managed to get up to 43 mpg over a 600 mile journey. I was very disappointed, but know that a Honda will usually increase in mpg over time.

    I did not like that there is only one 12V outlet in this car. There are plenty of nooks for small things. The key fob does not have a trunk pop.

    The paddle shifters are a joke. Shifting gears on a CVT? Also the electric assist was so much weaker than on the old Insight. In my opinion, these cars function so much better with a manual transmission.

    This car is a bit larger than the old Insight, but the difference in mpg is stunning. My old Insight was a stick and I know that the old Insights with CVT did not get as good mpg. Why not a stick shift with similar efficiency to the old Insight? A regular civic will get 40mpg on the highway. A brand new Sonata with all the bells whistles and comfort gets at least 35 mpg highway. You end up giving up so much for 10 mpg. I’m not seeing the value in this car….. yet.


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