Honda’s 2010 Insight proves that they are serious about being a player in the hybrid vehicle market segment. Offering the least expensive hybrid sold in the US market, the LX edition that is offered with pricing beginning around $20,000, it is obvious they want to make this new technology affordable to all comers.

Our Insight test vehicle was the LX’s big brother, the EX with a navigational system. Our first impression was that Honda had moved much closer to the mainstream in the looks of this vehicle. The five door sedan had “conventional” hybrid looks, which means it is much more aero in its bodylines than most vehicles on the road, but still very pleasing to the eye. The high rear deck not only assists the aero numbers, it also provides excellent behind the seat storage. Inside the cabin of the EX we were greeted by supportive upright seating, that was much more chair-like than most Honda vehicles. On a 300-mile drive, we found them to totally comfortable. There was also plenty of interior room. This was no sardine can sized sedan looking for good fuel economy.

Powered by a 98 hp 1.3 liter SOHC 4 cylinder engine integrated motor assist (read that electrical power from a battery pack) with an idle stop feature and mated to a flawless continuously variable transmission, the Insight provides more than adequate power for normal driving situations. No, it is not a rocket ship at stops lights. That is a small price to pay for fuel numbers that were consistently in the mid 40’s mpg range. On extremely long uphill grades we found the paddle mounted shifters to be a great asset in producing a downshift to enhance performance. The EPA rates the Insight at 40 mpg/city and 43 mpg/hwy, as now seems to be the norm, our numbers were slightly different. In combined driving, we never fell below 44 mpg, and on a total Interstate drive, we earned an impressive 46.2 mpg.

The Insight helped us earn this mileage. “How,” you might ask? Mounted much more prominently than the speedometer is an ECO assist monitor. It constantly tells you how you are doing on your fuel economy. Before long, you find that it is training you to improve your numbers. There is even an almost video game like feature that encourages you to earn five leaves.

For the longest time, the best we could do was 4 and ½ leaves, but finally we earned the elusive fifth leaf. How did we do it? I don’t have a clue, but I’m sure constantly monitoring the ECO screen had some direct correlation to how my foot pushed on the accelerator pedal.

Don’t expect the hybrid Insight to be a Spartan vehicle, it is not. As mentioned before, our test vehicle had an in-dash nav system with voice recognition. Other features include Bluetooth compatibility, 160 AM/FM/CD audio with MP3/WWA playback, steering wheel controls, USB interface, power windows and locks, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, tire pressure monitor and an immobilizer theft deterrent system to name but a few.
With the ever-fluctuating price of gasoline, don’t be surprised if a hybrid finds its way to your shopping list. The Honda Insight would be an excellent place to start your search.

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STATS:

  • Horsepower: 98 hp with Integrated Motor Assist
  • Mileage: 40 city/ 43 highway
  • Price as tested: $23,770
  • Seating capacity: five
  • Recommended fuel: regular