By KBB.com Editors
Honda was the first brand to bring a hybrid to the American market, so the fact that the Toyota Prius from the company's arch-rival has come to represent all hybrids in the minds of many American consumers caused no small amount of irritation within the halls of Honda. Now Honda is re-engaging in combat over hybrid supremacy with its all-new 2010 Insight, a vehicle designed to bring the advantages of a hybrid powertrain to a new, less-affluent set of buyers. The new model combines a 1.3-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 10-kilowatt electric motor plus serious computer power to create a reasonably simple but still very effective hybrid drive system. Called Integrated Motor Assist, the hybrid system works well while keeping costs down and it offers the additional advantage of being packaged in the four-door hatchback so efficiently that the Insight offers foldable rear seats.
If you want the world to know you are committed to being "green" without breaking the bank, the Honda Insight is more than worthy of serious consideration.
If you routinely have adults ride with you in the rear seats, they might find the accommodations both difficult to enter and confining.
With a starting suggested retail price right around $20,000, the 2010 Honda Insight is designed to make hybrid technology affordable to buyers who otherwise would not be able to purchase a hybrid.
Driving Impressions Knowing that they'd like the Insight to appeal to a young and presumably active audience, Honda execs talked up the Insight's sport-driving aspects, and one could say that in comparison...to other hybrid offerings it does deliver that to some degree. But with low-rolling resistance tires and a 98-horsepower gasoline engine (that's boosted by a 13-horsepower electric motor in strategic instances), the Insight is much more suited to hyper-miling than autocross. Acceleration in normal mode is adequate enough, but while ECON keeps you in the "green" more often, it makes the car seem awfully slow. As an around-town commuter, though, the Insight is quiet, comfortable and accommodating.
Although we have a slight sense of Big Brother, we have to applaud the Insight's Eco Assist system that actually teaches you how to drive more efficiently and rewards you with pretty green leaves.
Seems like the young and the old not only want to save the planet but are often economically challenged. The Insight allows them to go green and save green at the same time.
The interior of the Insight is contemporary Honda, which means a creative use of attractive plastics that give the car a tailored look without any pretense of traditional luxury. The real attention-getter is the all-new Ecological Drive Assist System, designed to use feedback to help drivers achieve excellent real-world fuel economy. The system that Honda has nicknamed "Eco Assist" offers driving-style recommendations via a three-dimensional background within the speedometer that changes color to reflect how efficiently the driver is accelerating and braking. Be aware the car is watching you. As a driver, your behavior is continuously tracked, and the car displays economy ratings per drive cycle and on a lifetime basis. If your driving is sufficiently "green" up to five leaves will appear in the display. The system also offers you the opportunity to press the "ECON" button to enhance the efficiency of throttle control, the continuously variable transmission (CVT), idle-stop duration, air conditioning and, in the up-level EX version, cruise control operation.
Honda notes that the Insight has a front end inspired by its FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle, but we can't help thinking "Prius" when we look at the Insight's profile. In a way you can't blame the Honda designers for emulating the Prius, because this is what Americans think a hybrid car looks like. The wedge shape and the nearly horizontal rear windscreen recall the Toyota hybrid, but the details like the taillights and three-bar grille lend the Insight a degree of distinction.
Because the Insight has an appealingly low initial purchase price you might fear the base model is a rubber-mats-and-cheap-upholstery kind of car, but we are pleased to report that is not the case. In fact, the base 2010 Honda Insight LX comes with a laudable array of features including automatic (continuously variable) transmission, automatic climate control, power windows, power door locks with remote entry feature, tilt-and-telescopic steering column and driver's seat height adjustment. Other standard niceties include a better-than-average four-speaker 160-watt audio system with CD player, projector-beam headlights and LED brake lights, all the better to make its futuristic statement.
For those willing to up the ante a bit from the base model, the Insight EX offers still more good stuff. One that we heartily endorse is the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) electronic stability control system. Appearance upgrades include alloy wheels and heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals. If the base audio isn't enough for you, the EX upgrades it with six speakers and a USB audio interface. Another upgrade is the inclusion of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a bow to the Insight's supposed "sportiness," which, frankly, is largely in the eye of the beholder. The key stand-alone option is the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition, which includes Bluetooth.
All 2010 Insights are powered by a 1.3-liter single-overhead-cam i-VTEC engine with cylinder deactivation and auto stop-start, which is the key part of the new-generation of Honda Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. The system also incorporates a 10-kilowatt (13-horsepower) electric motor and a compact Intelligent Power Unit (nickel-metal hydride battery pack) that enables it to recapture and store kinetic energy from vehicle braking and deceleration. The IPU supplies additional power for acceleration when needed, and it offers the over-rated benefit of operating exclusively on electric power in some low- to mid-speed driving conditions. With its 10.6-gallon fuel tank, the Insight delivers an estimated maximum driving range in excess of 400 miles.
1.3-liter in-line 4
98 horsepower @ 5800 rpm (gasoline engine); 13 horsepower (electric motor)
123 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1000 rpm (gasoline engine); 58 lb.-ft. of torque (electric motor)
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 40/43
By H I Owner on Thursday, March 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This vehicle is no where near the quality of the '04 Insight. My car feels cheap, makes ringing noises, you can hear the gas tank swoosh when making a stop, and no sound deafening when driving. I've even submitted a complaint and was advised these are known characteristics of the car and not defects. I will never buy this car again."
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Lisa on Monday, March 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sleek, practical, great fuel efficiency vehicle"
Cons: "Bumpy rides"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This is a very nice car. I love the looks and its hatch back cargo capacity. I am always amazed at all the things we can fit in the back when folding the back seats. The interior materials and ergonomics are very good. I was a little hesitant about having enough leg and head room but it hasn't been a problem at all. The fuel efficiency is greater than expected. I'm not crazy about the IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system and I would also prefer a smoother ride when driving. Hope future models will improve this."
By Collin - Las Vegas on Wednesday, February 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks Great! High Quality Feel. Navigation/Camera."
Cons: "IMA - Integrated Motor Assist - Horrible."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Overall this is a very nice car. It looks great. I like the sharp wedge design, the chrome and blue accents, the wheels, the color (bright red). The interior materials and ergonomics are very good. The navigation system is mostly very good. I have only one complaint about the music file player and that is that clicking the forward and back (track) buttons do not work the way they should. If I double click the back button I should be at the beginning of the previous song. But I am not. The major complaint I have about this car is the IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system. It is horrible. If I had drove this car before I bought it I might have re-considered. Once they put the Earth Dreams engine into this car, it will be fantastic! I am hoping that happens soon. I say, spend a little more and get the new Accord Hybrid. The Earth Dreams engine seems to be a vast improvement over the IMA."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Jack on Saturday, January 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "relatively cheap, fun to drive, fuel efficient"
Cons: "no frills, can get cramped for bigger folks"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"All hybrids basically get compared to the Prius. In my experience the insight is cheaper, better looking, and funner to drive. Not to mention that it gets better mileage depending how you drive it. It's smaller, and pretty spartan when it comes to features, but it's got a simplicity and feel that I found superior. The dashboard is not that fancy but it has a very simple fuel economy indicator, when you're driving efficiently the speedometer is green, inefficiently it's blue. I've found that to be a great driving trainer, so far I've been able to keep my MPG around 52 in the summer and 47 in the winter. It's a smaller car, and I'm a tall guy, so there's little room for backseat passengers. Overall I'm very happy with it, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice, cheap hybrid."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Sagegray on Sunday, January 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great little Car"
Cons: "Idle stop on too much"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Very convenient dependable/economical sporty little car - If you need a City Commuter you can't go wrong - Sportier looking/driving than Prius, and far simpler mechanically. Yes you can feel the road - I like to! No the back seat is not for grown-ups - AND it is definitely NOT a Colorado Mountain/winter car like my Subaru Outbacks... I get 40 to 45 MPG ALWAYS in STOP/GO traffic - even when I drive quickly - The car is pleasant on the highway at 80 MPH too. AT it's BEST in town commuter driving...."
10 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Stormie on Sunday, December 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,500overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I had a Toyota Prius and it was comfortable and quiet. This is uncomfortable and no one wants to drive it. Plus somehow the dealer got me owing 20,000 when its value is 9000. I was an idiot and trusted him at the dealership."
4 people out of 13 found this review helpful