MPG-o-Matic Honda Insight Review Summary: The 2010 Honda Insight is the least expensive, and arguably, the most sporty hybrid car currently available in the United States. The Insight delivers the goods for cost-conscious drivers with a focus on overall cost of ownership and driver engagement.
The 2010 Honda Insight is fitted with a 1.3-liter four cylinder engine and a DC brushless electric motor, mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The Insight’s inline four, produces 98 horsepower (HP) and 123 foot pounds of torque, while the electric motor adds 13 HP and 58 foot pounds of torque.
The crisply designed exterior harkens back to the original Honda Insight (sans side skirts) and the CRX which inspired the first generation hybrids.
The EPA’s fuel economy estimates for the 2010 Honda Insight are 40 city / 43 highway miles per gallon (MPG)
We rolled up more than five hundred miles on the odometer of our Clear Sky Blue Insight EX review unit and had no problem trumping the official mileage estimates with an average of 50.8 MPG on the Interstate highway and 46.5 MPG combined.
Overall test period temperatures ranged from the seventies to the high-eighties, with Interstate highway testing temperatures running into the the high eighty degree range. All tests were run in ECON mode.
The Insight scored significantly higher with cruise control off on the highway. There was insignificant difference when running the air conditioner at highway speeds over our test period.
Interstate Mileage Testing:
Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows up (1-inch gap): 48.9 MPG
Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows up (1-inch gap): 54.8 MPG
Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C on, windows closed: 48.7 MPG
The Insight’s hybrid power train gets the 2734 pound (curb weight with Navigation system) up to highway speeds in a reasonable amount of time. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters (courtesy of the Honda Fit), provide access to seven simulated speeds, for those times when you feel the need to indulge your sporting self.
The Insight delivers crisp handling and a 36.1 foot curb-to-curb turning diameter. Some folks may consider the ride to be taught. Our only beef was with the feel of the regenerative brakes.
When driving the Insight, you’re constantly aware of gasoline consumption. The Ambient Meter surrounds the digital speedometer with glowing color that changes from green – when driving in a fuel-efficient manner, to a blue-green – for the times when the engine is under moderate load, to dark blue – when you’re really on the pedal. The speedometer’s placement keeps your eyes centered and on the road.
When you come to a full stop, the Insight’s gasoline engine may shut down, depending on conditions. This can save a considerable amount of fuel in city traffic.
Pressing the ECON button optimizes the drive train for economical driving. This function delivers more MPGs with a bit less performance. The Assist/Charge meter lets you know when the electric motor is providing power or in recharge mode.
The Multi-Information Display (MID) provides instant and average fuel economy data, along with an Eco Guide and the fuel economy results for previous trips. There’s even an “Eco Scoring” feature that turns saving gas into a game.
MPGomatic Note: While the Insight’s glowing Ambient Meter is wicked cool (and quite effective), we always recommend driving with the instant fuel economy or Eco Guide display active, in order to develop a light-footed driving technique to ensure the greatest amount of mileage from every gallon of fuel.
The Insight’s 10.6 gallon gas tank allows for very generous range, with the fill ups few and far between.
The Insight EX features a six-speaker 160-watt audio system that provides a handy USB interface, along with a standard audio input jack. (The base LX model has four speakers.) Our test unit was equipped with the satellite-linked Navigation package with voice recognition and hands-free Bluetooth. Steering wheel controls are excellent. The Insight’s iPod and USB flash drive integration is comprehensive. The USB interface allows for access to playlists, artists, albums, and songs from the Navigation system’s touchscreen display and steering wheel controls.
Note: The 2010 Prius may deliver higher gas mileage, but it does not provide an USB interface.
The rear 60/40 fold down bench seat allows for flexible cargo arrangement, with 15.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity when the rear seats are up and 31.5 cubic feet of capacity when the rear seats down.
Headroom in the back seat is tight for taller folks.
The Insight EX includes a number of welcome safety features, including Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and heated side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals.
All-in-all, the 2010 Honda Insight is an extremely thrifty ride for the budget conscious. While its pure fuel economy numbers may fall a bit short of the Toyota Prius, the Insight’s lower sticker price make it a more economical choice. With crisp handling and tight lines, the Insight seeks to widen the niche.
2010 Honda Insight EX Navi Specs at a Glance:
Engine: 1.3-liter inline SOHC i-VTEC four cylinder with Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system.
Fuel: Regular Unleaded Gasoline
Tank Capacity: 10.6 gallons
Brakes: Front-Disc / Rear-Drum (Anti-Lock)
Curb Weight: 2734 pounds with navigation (2727 without)
CARB Emissions Rating: ULEV/AT-PZEV
– by Daniel Gray