Styled after the Honda FCX, the Insight is very futuristic. The crossbars in the front intake look like wings branching out from the Honda logo. Unfortunately for Honda, what I think about first when I see the side-profile of the Insight is the Toyota Prius; both of their shapes are too similar. I wish Honda had been a little more creative and bold in creating their own shape to distinguish it from its main competition. Secondly, I notice the smooth contour of the hood/windshield/roof/trunk almost as if a designer had taken a French curve from the tip to the tail to define the shape.
I’m not sold on the split rear glass on the hatch because the high rear end making it difficult to see out the back and leaving me longing for a rearview camera. When the CRX used this feature, it worked because the car was small and low to begin with. With the Insight, the window line above the doors rises as it approaches the rear. That fact, combined with the thick C-pillar, hindered visibility to the left rear. While at a campground in SLO, I was backing up checking both side mirrors and looking over my shoulder, but missed a post hidden on the left that was about the height of C-pillar. Luckily, I missed hitting it!
A few years ago, the Prius was the only hybrid that offered the functionality of a regular car, but now there are lots of choices:
|Vehicle||Base Price ($)||City MPG||Hwy MPG|
|2010 Honda Insight Hybrid||$21.3k||40||43|
|2010 Toyota Prius II Hybrid||$22.0k||51||48|
|2009 Honda Civic Hybrid||$26.8k||45||40|
|2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid||$26.1k||33||34|
|2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid||$26.6k||35||33|
|2009 Chevy Malibu Hybrid||$25.5k||26||34|
|2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid||$27.6k||41||36|
|2010 Ford Escape Hybrid||$31.5k||29||27|
|2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid||$41.0k||27||25|
This particular EX stickered at $21.3k, which by far, was the lowest and compared to the other vehicles, the savings shows in the lack of refinement in the Insight. Personally, I would spend a little more money and get a car that offered a quieter cabin, better acceleration, finer comfort, and more space.
For a brand new car, Honda cut some corners here and there in manufacturing costs and technology, but still is able to provide a car with admirable gas mileage and a cool streamlined look. If you’re wondering what kind of mileage I achieved, here is some data from my test drive:
- 110 miles of pan-flat highway driving on cruise: 47 mpg
- 264 miles driving (mostly highway on cruise w/ a/c) with some city: 43.3 mpg
- 211 miles returning from SLO to the SF Bay Area (all highway): 44.1 mpg
- 604 miles of total driving (mostly highway/some city): 41.9 mpg
Had I driven a bit slower than 70-75mph and not driven as hard, I would have been able to raise the averages. But looking at the data, these are real-world figures that many drivers should easily achieve which is pretty impressive. I found the cabin and driving position to be comfortable, and if Honda could add a bit more noise insulation in the 2011 version, it would be an awesome car for long trips or commuting. The rear seatbacks fold flat enhancing storage and should be plenty of space for two people and their stuff. Honda succeeds in making an inexpensive hybrid for the masses, but leaves you longing for (and expecting) a little more from Honda. Honda will continue to refine this model and I’d buy it in a few years after it evolves a bit.
|Honda Motor Company of America: Cars, Sedans, CUVs, Trucks – http://automobiles.honda.com/|