The Truth About Cars » insight http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » insight http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 2001 Honda Insight http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-2001-honda-insight/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-2001-honda-insight/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=832057 09 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSince we started out this week with a relatively late-model Junkyard Find, I’m going to jump into the 21st century and share the first Honda Insight I’ve ever found in a high-inventory-turnover, self-service wrecking yard. I’ve seen a few thoroughly stripped early Priuses and didn’t think they were worth photographing, but the tiny two-seater first-gen Insight made the Prius look like a fuel-swilling pig and that makes it a much more interesting car to me. 61 highway miles per gallon, all sorts of advanced aluminum components, and a coefficient of drag of just 0.25… and yet this one couldn’t stay clear of The Crusher.

The Insight has started to catch on with the top-speed guys at Speed Week at Bonneville, but the fastest one of all wrecked in spectacular fashion at El Mirage last November (the driver survived, thanks to a serious roll cage). We’ll be sure to see more such LSR Insights in the future, which might push up the value of the handful of Insights that get scrapped.
03 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has been picked over pretty well. The battery packs in these cars have become old enough to need replacing in many cases, and that’s not a cheap repair.
01 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis Denver yard gets a lot of its merchandise from local police auctions, and it’s possible that this car was a DUI or unpaid-parking-tickets impound.
05 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou can pick up a running first-gen Insight in decent condition for $4000-$7000 these days, and we can expect that price to drop as fewer Americans become willing to drive a cramped, goofy-looking two-seater in the name of extreme fuel economy.

Here’s a JDM promotional film for the ’99 Insight.

Teach those polluting hippies with their ill-adjusted valves and 25-mpg VW Transporters a thing or two about saving the planet! Walk the walk, longhair!

01 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
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A Last Exit For the Honda Insight May Soon Appear http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/a-last-exit-for-the-honda-insight-may-soon-appear/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/a-last-exit-for-the-honda-insight-may-soon-appear/#comments Fri, 06 Dec 2013 15:31:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=672802 2014 Honda Insight

If you were ever interested in the second coming of the Honda Insight, now may be the time to pull the trigger on that lease, for there may not be a 2015 model in the showroom come next year.

Two signs point to a last exit for the hybrid: the lack of activity surrounding the marketing of a 2015 Insight, and the fact that the hybrid has become more and more redundant in Honda’s own lineup. Though the former could simply mean the Insight is going through a significant update that would merit such a delay, the latter speaks volumes about its bleak future.

In short, the Civic Hybrid is running circles around the Prius-shaped hybrid in the eco-friendly sales race — though the former costs nearly $25,000 to start over the Insight’s $19,000 base price — while the upcoming Fit Hybrid sedan may end up pulling potential owners towards its own offerings for the same price of admission as the Insight.

For their part, Honda can neither confirm nor deny the Insight’s last ride into the electric sunset. That said, the hybrid has already departed from Canadian showrooms, leaving the smaller CR-Z as the only analogue to the first generation and current Insight models.

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Hammer Time: Ramblings Of An Aspiring Kibbutznik http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/hammer-time-ramblings-of-an-aspiring-kibbutznik/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/hammer-time-ramblings-of-an-aspiring-kibbutznik/#comments Wed, 30 Jan 2013 15:47:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=475821  
I must have been a kibbutznik in a past life. Whenever I buy something of value, I never have the urge to keep it for myself.

Perhaps it’s due to too many bouts of suburbia. A neighborhood with twenty lawnmowers. Thirty The Lion King videos, and fifty to seventy vehicles. All this redundancy seems to be a bit much for a guy who hates to see things unused by my family 98+% of the time.

Yeah. I know that most folks aren’t willing to share their ride. Some won’t even loan you Simba. But if I lived in a place where we all put a smaller chunk of our change into a ride, I wouldn’t go cheap . . . except for possibly an old Volvo wagon.

These would be my top picks. All used of course!


1st Gen Honda Insight
: These things are amazingly overengineered. The ride is surprisingly nice, mpg’s are 55+, the rear hatch can house an amazing amount of materials, and let’s face it, many rides require little more than two people these days. Did I mention these things only require two and a half quarts per oil change? Gotta love that.

Ford S-Ma
x(Euro-Spec Version): There’s something about a small diesel with superb handling, seven seats, and a shape designed for the wind that’s hard to turn down. I’ve heard so many good things about the Ford 2.2L that I would have to at least test this one. For the greater good of my fellow kibbutzniks of course. I’ll just have to make sure Baruth never gets the keys.

Toyota Land Cruiser
: I’m not thinking of the nice cushy ones that make Lexus seem unnecessary. I’m thinking about the ones that help fight wars. Heck. While we’re at it let’s throw in a couple of Toyota Hilux diesels into the mix as well. I relish the idea of buying utilitarian vehicles and not worrying about replacing them for a quarter century. Plus, if my neighbors ever have the misfortune of getting attacked by a few stone throwers, I want something that can hold a gun turret. Perhaps we can sell it as a Farago edition.

1st Gen Mazda Miata: 
Every kibbutz deserves a fleet of convertibles that can be thrashed about during odd hours and Sunday afternoons. Chryslers are definitely not my cup of tea for that purpose. Fords? I like the Mustang. Since Sajeev is still in love with a long list of old Fords I guess we should spring for just one of those. But no more! As for the Miata, I’ll take three. Preferably a 95′ to 96′ model with a stick and a long list of Murilee modifications.
Hmmm… I truly wonder what can be jammed in that four square feet of trunk space? Maybe a nuclear powered roto-plooker?

1970′s Malaise Era Whachamacallit:
 The type that can hold enough beer in the trunk for 30 odd friends and their associates. The type that sounds like a Harley once you saw off the catalytic converter. The type with a crappy cheap top that’s easy to replace, and a hood big and flat enough to serve as a bed for two at a moment’s notice. Throw in some thick leather interior adornments and a quartz clock (for Murilee’s sake), and you would have one hell of a vehicle for beer runs and random hooning.

Then we should consider all manner of bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, airplanes, golf carts, buses and catapults. A nice pair of running shoes. A lake. A river. A rowboat. A canoe. A kayak. A catamaran. A schooner. A tugboat. A yacht. A battleship!

Perhaps it’s time to start my own country. What about you? What transportation aplenty strikes your fancy in that, “Nice to have around… but I don’t want to own one.” kinda way?
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Question Of The Day: Will There Ever Be A Successful Two Seat Commuter Car? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/question-of-the-day-will-there-ever-be-a-successful-two-seat-commuter-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/question-of-the-day-will-there-ever-be-a-successful-two-seat-commuter-car/#comments Fri, 07 Sep 2012 14:29:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=459280

The first generation Insight was a commercial failure. Eight years yielded fewer than 20,000 unit sold and a lingering doubt about the genuine interest in two seat commuter cars.

Honda tried again with the CR-Z, and apparently George Orwell’s early Animal Farm analogy about ‘four being better than two’ may be all too true for the American automotive marketplace.

Nobody wants an uber-frugal commuter car with two seats. It’s either four or no sale.

A lot of other two-seat vehicles have been unqualified failures as well. Chevette Scooters. Metro Convertibles. The Suzuki X-90 and the Pontiac Fiero. I’m sure that nearly every mainstream automaker has tried to sell some type of two seat commuter car with nary an Escort of sorts to be had.

This isn’t the only market where the fewer than four seat idea is struggling. Pickups have gone from three across as a near universal standard to an increasing exception. The Mazda Miata, a car that fetched price premiums and dozens of awards over the years, has experienced an avalanche of declining sales since the glory days of the early 90′s and now only averages about 10,000 units a year. In fact, last month it was one of the ten worst selling models in the United States… with the CR-Z performing even worse.

Even sporty icons like the Corvette and Nissan Z have little more than the crumbs of consumers past. The exotic and high end sports car markets may always have enough of a market to sustain themselves. But how about everyone else?

Is the two seat commuter car destined to be a historical footnote of automotive history? Will the Miata and Corvette ever be successful again? What says you?

 

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Hammer Time: And Now For Something Completely Different… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/hammer-time-and-now-for-something-completely-different/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/hammer-time-and-now-for-something-completely-different/#comments Mon, 23 Jul 2012 15:58:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453892  

This 2009 BMW 535i has 45,000 miles and looks absolutely drop dead gorgeous. It offers nearly the same acceleration as a 550i, and far more space than the 335i, which is more sought after in the enthusiast world.

To me, if you’re a true keeper, all of this is good news. The better news? It’s a lemon!

Specifically, this late model BMW is a lemon law buyback. It happened back in the first year of its existence, due to BMW’s chronic fuel pump issues when it was first released. The recall has since taken place. The part has been over-engineered and the problem solved and warrantied for the life of the vehicle.

As for the title, it will be branded as a ‘Lemon Law Buyback’ until either the end of the time or the moment it’s exported.

These common 5-series models are not particularly popular in the export market either. So the question now becomes, “What is it worth?” The rough book on this model came down at right around $22,500. With the branded title and the bad history of way back when, it sold for only $17,300 at this morning’s auction.

There were two other vehicles that I ended up finishing in a firm but profit vaporizing second place.

This 2010 Impala LS has the tried and true 3.5 Liter v6 and 28,000 miles. The bidding went all the way down to $9000 and I jumped in at $9100. Once the price hit $10,400, a few hundred below the rough book, that’s where it stood. The auction fee probably put it right around $10,650.

Then there was a 2010 Honda Insight LX, which I still kind of regret not holding on to the bidding. The unpopular hybrid had some dings and small scuffs, but only 9,700 miles and a perfect Carfax history. Rough book was $12,800. I jumped in at $11,000 and walked off at $11,900.

Part of the reason was because we are getting right near the model change and 1 to 2 year old vehicles can take some nasty hits during this time period.

The other issue is the vehicle in question.  Unpopular models can be hard to unload and experience has lead me to be more of  a hedger than perhaps I should be in my daily life. I am more willing to bid up a low cost car than a high cost one due to the fact that it’s easier to finance on the lower end.  There were a whole lot of second place finishes today and I deeply hate the fact that some potential deals slid right by my eyes.

However, the higher end of the used car world can be a tough market. Some folks try to wholesale the inventory and let that be that. But I’m always wanting to retail vehicles like the Impala and the Insight. My overhead is far lower than the new car dealers and I’m still of the persuasion that a good presentation can always beat up a big bowtie or giant H on the front of a building.

We’ll see. In the meantime, if you folks want to enjoy the sweet lemonade of a killer deal, you often have to throw some lemons into the mix. Branded titles and the unpopular ‘retail’ car are just two ingredients I try to throw into my personal recipe.

 

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Honda To Introduce Budget Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/honda-to-introduce-budget-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/honda-to-introduce-budget-hybrid/#comments Thu, 24 Jun 2010 10:48:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=359455

Hybrids are flying off the lots in Japan, with Toyota’s Prius leading the charts for the 12th month in a row. Before, that spot was taken by another hybrid, the Honda Insight. In the Battle of the Hybrids, Honda introduces a fighter that hits below the belt, at the wallet: Honda will launch a hybrid in Japan that will cost around $17,000 in today’s dollars, “making it the most affordable hybrid in Japan,” The Nikkei [sub] says. The Nikkei sees a hybrid price war erupting in Japan.

The so far unnamed Honda hybrid will be based on their Fit, and will share core components with the Insight. It will be priced around $4,500 below Honda’s Insight, and only around $2,200 above the gas-powered Fit.

Toyota’s Prius goes for around $23,000 in Japan. According to the Nikkei, Toyota is “planning to release a new hybrid next year for a comparable price but equipped with better batteries,” and “competition between Japan’s two leading automakers looks likely to intensify.”

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Honda Fights Back For Hybrid Relevance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/honda-fights-back-for-hybrid-relevance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/honda-fights-back-for-hybrid-relevance/#comments Tue, 26 Jan 2010 15:08:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=343061

Honda’s half-hearted approach to hybrids is about to be shaken up, possibly leading to the development of a hybrid system that goes beyond Honda’s traditional integrated motor assist (IMA) system. Automotive News [sub] reports that Honda CEO, Takanobu Ito has told his Research and Development staff to develop a hybrid which beats the Toyota Prius in fuel economy. Or else. This development probably has something to do the failure of the Honda Insight (Prius sales in 2009 were 139,682. Insight sales for the same period: 20,572); as Honda Executive VP, John Mendel said “Are we happy with how sales are going? No, we’re not happy.” Mr Ito made it clear that Honda’s hybrid line up is a top priority. “We want to develop and expand our hybrids,” said Ito. “We made some major sacrifices to shift people and resources to do that.”

TTAC has reported on some of the problems plaguing Honda’s hybrids, especially the recently-announced CR-Z, which was designed to be a sporty hybrid aimed at enthusiasts, and can be had with a manual transmission. However, choosing the manual transmission results in a major drop in fuel economy, which kind of defies the point of having a hybrid. The manual transmission gives 31/37mpg. Whereas, the CVT gearbox gives 36/38mpg. To give some extra perspective, a Mini Cooper with a manual transmission, gets 28/37mpg without any hybrid trickery. In a world where Toyota’s reliability is being called into question and Honda’s fuel economy is now looking rather suspect, it’s clear that nothing stands still in the world of cars. And with Hyundai poised to bring its own hybrids to the US market, Honda will have to scramble to stay ahead.

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Why The Honda CR-Z Is So Ugly And Should Never Have Been Built http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/why-the-honda-cr-z-is-so-ugly-and-should-never-have-been-built/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/why-the-honda-cr-z-is-so-ugly-and-should-never-have-been-built/#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2010 00:37:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=341484 lost in translation

Ok, it’s not exactly a new phenomena: car company shows a low and slick concept, and the final product looks like an obese baby seal. We took GM to task with its Volt bait-and-switch routine. And now we take on Honda, although probably not quite so ferociously; given that the gap between the CR-Z concept and production version is a tad bit narrower than the Volt Grand (Lie) Canyon. But the Volt was always intended to be a four-seater; not the CR-Z. Therein lies the Honda lie: it’s ok to just chop off the back of a sedan and call it…not good.

a little front heavy and just plain heavy

the cr-z's design inspiration?

The problem in both cases is one word: cowl; as in cowl height. There is no doubt in my mind that the CR-Z is essentially a shortened Insight, forced to share the same hard points (key chassis/body structure elements) as its bigger sedan brother. Blank out the CR-Z from the cowl back, and imagine an Insight body instead. All of a sudden, that big bulbous front end makes (some) sense. The problem is that the CR-Z is trying to be a sporty little coupe like its (almost) namesake, the immortal CR-X. Well, I’m not sure if the CR-X had to the Civic’s cowl structure or not, but if it did, Civic front ends back in the day were a hell of a lot lower than they are today, thanks to the double-wishbone front suspension and a different styling ethos at the time.

Update: Profile pictures also show the extreme front overhang in relation to the rest of the car. And specs reveal that the CR-Z weighs exactly 24 pounds less than the substantially longer Insight (CR-Z: 2720 lbs; Insight: 2744 lbs)

the good old low cowl days

But trying to force the Insight’s W. C. Fields schnoz on the front of a sporty little two seater just doesn’t cut it. Either spend the money to drop the cowl and build a proper sporty car, or…don’t. The whole question of what the CR-Z is trying to be, a sporty hybrid with mediocre fuel economy, or a hybrid sports car with mediocre performance is unfortunately as confused as its marriage of a sedan front end with a sports car middle. The result is a hybrid of a different sort; a mish-mash of styles and performance goals that reminds me painfully of another car with a similar problem: the Gremlin or the AMC Spirit/Eagle Coupe. Trying to serve too many masters, or being too cheap to do it right is not a recipe for success.

conflicting goals and limited resources at work

Or the Ford EXP, which suffered the same high-cowl problem (shared with the Escort) as the CR-Z. Note the black-out paint on the bottom of the side windows, to try to make them look deeper then the actually were, just like the Volt.

ford_exp_red_1985_c

2011 Chevrolet Volt Production Show Car

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