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2010 Honda Insight Hybrid test drive

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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2010 Honda Insight front view

2010 Honda Insight

Photo © Aaron Gold

The Bottom Line

What do the Guide Rating stars mean?

Honda's all-new Insight is the hybrid for people who can't afford a hybrid. Pricing has not been announced, but with a range estimated at $20k to $24k range, it should be $2,000 to $4,000 cheaper than a Toyota Prius or a Honda Civic Hybrid. Along with its inexpensive (for a hybrid) price, the Insight brings a youthful (for a hybrid) character and fun-to-drive (for a hybrid) road manners. Is this a hybrid you'd actually want to buy? Read on. Pricing TBA, EPA fuel economy estimates (unofficial) 40 MPG city, 43 MPG highway.

Larger photos: Front - rear - interior - all photos

Pros

  • Zippy and fun to drive
  • Dashboard turns hypermiling into a game
  • More affordable than a Prius

Cons

  • Not as fuel-efficient as most other hybrid cars
  • Cramped back seat
  • Not *that* much more affordable than a Prius

Description

  • Insight is Honda's new entry-level four-seat gas-electric hybrid
  • Powertrain: 1.3 liter gas engine, electric motor, continuously-variable automatic transmission, front-wheel-drive
  • Available in LX and EX trim levels
  • Price range TBA; estimated at $20,000 - $24,000
  • EPA fuel economy (unofficial): 40 MPG city, 43 MPG highway

Guide Review - 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid test drive

Honda's decision to resurrect the Insight name for their new hybrid makes perfect sense. The original two-seat Insight was a ground-breaking car that wasn't for everyone, and the same could be said of the new Insight. This time, the ground being broken has to do with the Insight's video-game-like split-level dash, designed to coach drivers into getting better MPG -- from a speedometer with a background that changes color (green is good, blue is bad) to a bar gauge that moves right or left on braking or acceleration (the shorter the bar is, the greener your driving). There's even an ECON button that puts the Insight in extra-green mode -- sort of like a Sport mode, but exactly the opposite.

The Insight is powered by a 1.3 liter gas engine and electric motor combo that delivers 98 hp and 123 lb-ft. It's surprisingly sprightly and quite entertaining to drive, at least compared to other hybrids. Official fuel-economy figures haven't been released; Honda estimates 40 MPG city and 43 highway, a bit below the Civic Hybrid and well below the Prius. The Honda press preview included a hypermiling route; I averaged 50 MPG driving normally and 63.7 as guided by the Insight's electronics -- but then I tried it in a Prius, which clobbered the Insight at 74.5 MPG.

Downsides: the back seat is tight, even for a short guy like me, and while Honda spared no expense on the dash electronics, they spared plenty of expense on the headliner and the carpets, which are laughably cheap. Still, the Insight has plenty of cargo room (more than the larger Prius, in fact) and lots of front-seat space.

Bottom line: The Honda Insight is way more entertaining than the Toyota Prius, but it's not as practical nor as fuel-efficient. It's a great choice for young cash-strapped greenies, but for those with families, a Prius is a more practical way to save fuel. -- Aaron Gold

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