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 oil burner on Monday, December 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,123overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun car"
Cons: "cup holders not good placnent for us"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"the overall car is great wife drives 80 miles a day just loves the car from driver seat every thing is total reachable but at about 60000 miles car is burning oil wish i could a fix.do not want to give up car"
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By kristicake on Friday, November 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,250overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I have had this car for 2 1/2 years now, I went from a tiny gas guzzling VW. Overall, I really like the car, I haven't had any real issues with it. In the first year or so, I did experience some "whistling" when I drove over 70mph but it seemed to go away over time. It was really annoying though at first. My only major complaint about this car is that it's NOT made for steep hills. I spent the first 2.2yrs living in Los Angeles, I didn't have any really issues since there were VERY rare occasions where I was stuck on a steep hill, and it would roll back, so I'd scramble for the e-brake and hope for the best. I just however, moved to Seattle, the land of steep hills. It's been absolutely terrifying to drive!! I've rolled back multiple times now and its SO scary. It also jerks (almost like a manual) when you try and recover from the rolling. Just not good. Alas, this car is not made for someone living in Seattle and I am looking to trade in for something "hill friendly" so I can navigate the city without fearing my life (or someone elses!) If you live somewhere relatively flat, I HIGHLY recommend this car!"
7 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Rambo on Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "EPA-beating MPG, low cost, more "fun" than a Prius"
Cons: "No AC when stopped, engine wheezes on hills"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We've had our 2011 Insight EX since new. It's had 50,000 trouble-free miles, with only normal maintenance like oil changes and a new set of tires (factory ones wore out after 15k miles). First off, fuel economy: we have a 20 mile commute roundtrip, with a mixture of hwy and city roads. We average around 46mpg, (calculated after refueling), soundly beating the EPA rated figures. On longer roadtrips, we've gotten 55-60mpg. Following the built-in efficient driving guides, you should absolutely get better mileage than the EPA figures. It's also a much more engaging car to drive than the Prius. We test drove both back to back, and the Insight has much more direct handling, and the manual shift paddles on the EX trim snap through pre-set CVT ratios instantly. It feels like a dual-clutch box in that mode. The car has no troubles getting up to freeway speeds and passing, although I'd recommending a few "downshifts" on the paddle shifters before passing. That said, the paltry 98hp does make hill climbing a chore, as the car will drone away at 5000rpm after the electric boost charge is used up. Even worse, the car has an alarming tendency to roll backward if you're stopped on a hill, and the start-stop system kills the engine. After you let off the brake, the car lags in getting enough torque to start rolling forward. This caused some hair-raising situations during a drive through San Francisco. At level grades, though, the stop-start function is seamless. The car does great in light snow. The skinny tires cut through light snow very well, and the car tracked great. I did have problems getting up an icy hill, but made it to the top after turning off the traction control. With judicious driving, the car can manage mild snowstorms without issue, just stick to plowed roads. The interior is comfortable, and the EX stereo has USB input and sat radio. It sounds decent for a car in this class, and has no problems connecting to an iphone, USB stick, or Android phone and navigating through playlists right from the dash. On our car, bluetooth was only available with the navigation, which we don't have. Later models changed that. In an obvious cost-cutting measure, the air-conditioning compressor is powered off the engine accessory belt, like a conventional gas car. However, this means the AC turns off when you stop at a stoplight, and can be very uncomfortable on hot days. There doesn't seem to be a way to force the car to idle, as it will shut off in both normal and ECO modes. The competition uses electric AC compressors to get around this, but also cost quite a bit more. The automatic single-zone climate control works great when the car is running. The sloped roof can make the back seat hard to get into for taller passengers, although there's plenty of headroom once they're seated. There's a sizable cargo space with the rear seats up, and this becomes massive with the seats folded down. I've gotten a full garage cabinet set in the back with the hatch closed. Overall, we really like this car, despite its relatively minor faults. It's never had a single problem, gets great mileage, and isn't entirely soul-sucking to drive (this coming from a Subaru WRX owner)."
20 people out of 35 found this review helpful
By Pablo on Thursday, September 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "confortaable, convenient, economical"
Cons: "under-powered for general travel"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The Insight is a great city car, but too severely under powered for general travel, especially in hilly/mountainous country. It needs a bigger engine and should have used the Toyota Prius transmission model. Otherwise it's a great little car. PB"
10 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Car on Sunday, August 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, fuel efficient, quiet running"
Cons: "No power seating for driver difficult for disabled"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Love this little car! Easy to drive and park. Comfortable for around town trips and so fuel efficient. Love the quietness of the motor and the lack of exhaust smells. Power seating for driver would make it perfect!"
18 people out of 28 found this review helpful
By Ray on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Low cost - fun and always feels new"
Cons: "Mountain driving low battery power"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Still fun and enjoyable to drive. Lowest overall cost of any car ever owned. Climate Control is great (change cabin filter regularly) Good Feel of the road but stiff - Not a great mountain car but most front wheel drive cars are not either...Very handy hatchback but rear seats are not for large people...The EX model has the "Worth every dollar" features.. The Honda "Eco=Boost" Hybrid technology is far simpler and may be more trouble free in higher mileage years...."
16 people out of 28 found this review helpful