Review: 2010 Honda Insight leaves us praying the CR-Z will be better

Review: 2010 Honda Insight

With the introduction of the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the redesigned Honda Insight, and a slew of other hybrid-versioned mainstream models, 2010 will go down as the model year that the hybrid market blew open and progressed from being the ‘Prius’ market.

Though Honda is no newcomer to the hybrid market, the 2010 Insight is their answer to the Toyota Prius; the iconic hybrid that defined the inaugural generation of the gas-electric hybrid vehicle. The low, flowing design with sporty rear hatch gives the Insight a a sleek, competitive, and hybrid-centric design, while not embarrassingly screaming ‘tree-hugger on board’ as you drive by.

But how will it hold up to the 2010 Toyota Prius? Let’s find out.

Hit the jump to read more and to view the high-res image gallery (at the bottom of the post).

Review: 2010 Honda Insight:

Review: 2010 Honda Insight Review: 2010 Honda Insight Review: 2010 Honda Insight Review: 2010 Honda Insight

2010 Honda Insight Specifications:

Base Price: $19,800.
Price as Tested: $24,120.
Engine: 1.3L i-VTEC 4-cylinder – 98-hp / 123 lb-ft. IMA electric-motor – 13-hp / 58 lb-ft.
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
Curb Weight: 2,723 lbs.
0 to 60 mph: 12 seconds.
Fuel-Economy: 40/43 mpg (city/highway).

All Photos Copyright © 2009 Omar Rana ““ egmCarTech.

Review: 2010 Honda Insight

Exterior:

The exterior design of the 2010 Honda Insight is typical of what one would expect of a hybrid vehicle; it’s small, has a bit of an elongated shape, and a low front that opens up into a much broader rear-hatch. That being said; there is enough aesthetic appeal so that even the harshest critic of the hybrid look might not be totally revolted.

Sitting on 15″ alloys, the front of the Insight sports projector-beam halogen headlights with blue-tinted chrome bezels that give the car a bit of visual-pop during the darker hours, and LED brake lights.

As we said before, however, looks couldn’t matter less when shopping for a car in a segment where all of your options look like a wedge of cheese; it’s what is inside and under the hood that matters most.

Review: 2010 Honda Insight

Interior:

The Insight’s interior reeks of the Civic and Fit, but that is not to say anything negative. The dash has a very futuristic feel with the LED speedometer that sits in a nook carved out above the main dash of the steering wheel. Generally speaking though, the dash has a rather modest motif, but we feel that it suits the car well. The LCD navigation/radio display screen (on the EX trim package) sits square in the middle of the dash, to the right of the digital climate control buttons. One space saving feature we thought was rather intuitive was the replacing of multiple HVAC vent option buttons, with a single touch button that cycled through the venting options with each push. In the middle of the gauge cluster, situated right behind the steering wheel, sits another small LCD screen, or Multi Information Display, as Honda has dubbed it, about the size of a deck of cards, that updates the driver as to their statistics such as fuel economy, and battery usage.

Another cool feature on the Insight’s Multi Information Display is the EcoAssist feature; a system that provides feedback to the driver via an ‘eco score’ in order to help the driver operate the car more efficiently. The EcoAssist system even has a companion iPhone app that reports to the driver how efficient their driving is. The driver’s trip is rated in leaves, with three leaves indicating an optimally efficient trip.

Overall interior comfort is also pretty impressive, with sufficient rear leg room for your tree-hugging friends. The rear seat folds down 60/40 to expand the already ample cargo space located under the rear hatch, making the Insight a modestly-sized vehicle with ample space to provide for an active lifestyle. You’ll get 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded up, and 31.5 cubic feet with the seats folded down.

Our assessment of the interior did not leave us without complaint, however. The overall material use is of standard quality, the navigation system lags and seems very third-partyish, and the removable cup-holder is in the most asinine location (you can even remove a little piece that makes the cup-holders disappear).

Review: 2010 Honda Insight

Performance:

The technology employed by Honda to power the 2010 Insight is their Integrated Motor Assist engine, or IMA for short. The conventional motor is a 1.3-liter, i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine that puts out 98 horsepower and up to 123 lb-ft of torque. Figure in the integrated electric motor which sits between the engine and transmission, and the figures increase by 13 horsepower and and up to 58 extra lb-ft of torque. The IMA kicks in to aide the conventional engine during acceleration and uphill driving. The i-VTEC technology features its patented two valves per cylinder, and deactivates the intake when cruising at moderate speeds; this technology also aides in increasing fuel-economy, as does Honda’s CVT transmission. ECON mode, available as part of the EcoAssist system, offers a one touch feature that modifies the vehicles various systems to help minimize the overall energy expenditure of the vehicle, combining with the aforementioned attributes to provide an extremely fuel-efficient machine.

Though Honda employs these multiple fuel-saving technologies, the Toyota Prius still sits atop the hybrids as most fuel-efficient with its EPA estimated 48/51 mpg, and 50 mpg combined. The Insight gets an estimated 40/43 mpg, though we only averaged 35 mpg during our week-long test.

The only complaint we had with the vehicle’s overall performance was the jerk that you feel when the car switches between hybrid and conventional gasoline modes. Though the car performs decently, be in mind that it is a hybrid after all; top speed is about 112 mph and 60 mph comes in a sluggish 12 seconds.

Review: 2010 Honda Insight

Overall:

The Insight comes with a slightly more modest price-tag than does the Prius; pricing starts at $19,800, $21,300, and $23,100 for the LX, EX, and EX with Navigation trim packages, respectively. Compare these prices to those of the Prius; $22,400 for the Prius II, $23,400 for the Prius III, and $26,200 for the leather-trimmed Prius IV, and there is a considerable issue as to affordability.

Toyota though, offers more amenities and greater flexibility with regard to options on the Prius than Honda does on the Insight and as said before, the Prius trumps the Insight on fuel-economy as well. All in all we feel that the Prius represents a better buy in this segment.

One should bear in mind however, that Toyota has been chomping at the bit with Prius for quite sometime, and that the Insight represents Honda’s entry into the designated-hybrid segment, and it was in fact quite an effort. Honda also has an exciting new hybrid coupe in the pipeline, the 2011 CR-Z, which I’m eagerly anticipating.

Review: 2010 Honda Insight:

– By: Stephen Calogera

All Photos Copyright © 2009 Omar Rana ““ egmCarTech.


Missing access token