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Consumer Reports gives the Honda Insight a pretty nasty review

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Via Treehugger
The new Honda Insight posted a lackluster “Good” overall road-test score in Consumer Reports’ testing for the August issue. The Insight achieved an excellent 38 mpg overall in CR’s tests but fell short in ride quality, handling, interior noise, acceleration, and rear seat access.  At its cornering limits, the Insight plows straight ahead early on in tight turns and the tail can slide out too quickly for stability control to completely prevent it.

The Insight is the most disappointing Honda Consumer Reports has tested in a long time,” said David Champion, Senior Director of CR’s Auto Test Center. “The Insight is a noisy stiff riding car with clumsy handling that is nothing like the Fit on which it is based. Also, Electronic Stability Control is only available on the highline EX version.” [...]


Edited by dana1981 - 7/1/2009 at 12:51 am GMT
post #2 of 13
Disappointing, to say the least.
post #3 of 13
A friend of mine test drove one and said it felt very "cheap" compared to other hybrids and ice based cars...  hmmm.
post #4 of 13
I actually saw one the other day driving around in San Francisco.  Deej managed to take a couple pictures of it on his phone.  I'll get him to post them later today.

Here's what Edumnd's says in their overview:


What says

The 2010 Honda Insight largely improves upon the tried-and-true formula of the rival Prius, and it costs thousands less.


Affordable price, excellent fuel economy, seamless hybrid powertrain, pleasant driving experience.


Tight backseat, invasive road noise.

What's New for 2010

The Honda Insight hybrid is back. This time, however, it's been reincarnated as a four-door sedan that serves as Honda's answer to the iconic Toyota Prius.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Largely improves on the Prius formula?  What's that supposed to mean?  I like how they say it costs "thousands less".  Yeah, 1-2 thousands!


A much better comparison is between the Insight and Civic hybrid.  They're made by the same company, get the same fuel economy, but the Insight is cheaper.  So I guess it's not surprising that it feels cheap, because relatively speaking, it is cheap.

And actually, if you compare the two, the '09 Civic hybrid actually gets slightly better fuel economy (40/45 mpg) than the 2010 Insight (40/43 mpg).  But again, it costs about $2k more.  Add the 2010 Prius into the comparison and to me it blows the Hondas away at 51/48 mpg with a price right in the middle.

So I can't really say I understand why people are big on the Insight.  The Honda hybrids are still a step below the Prius.

post #6 of 13
Back in '04 I went shopping for a new car.  I wanted something economical that my (not yet existent) family could grow into.  I was set on a Prius.  At the time there were long waiting lists, though.  In my search on lots I found a new '04 Civic Hybrid that apparently had been lost in the shuffle.  I bought it on the spot (what can I say, I was impatient).  It's got about 80,000 miles on it today and runs like new.  I'm getting about 45 mpg combined city/hwy, much like I did with the first tank of gas.  I've been very pleased.  I've got a lot of optimism about Honda's cars of the future, even if they do make an occassional mediocre one!
post #7 of 13
@captaint, that's awesome you've been loving your Civic Hybrid. I drove a (normal) Civic for a long time and it was a solid car. 

As stins mentioned, I did get some pictures of the Insight we saw on the street the other day. Without further ado:

I don't know about you, but to me it looked a lot like a Prius from the back.
post #8 of 13

Just for comparison, here is the Car & Driver comparison of the 2010 Prius and the 2010 Insight.  While they agree with some of CR's complaints, they didn't have issues with the handling (and I'd trust C&D's opinion over CR in that department).  They chose the Insight over the Prius.  Just a totally different perspective on it...they're obviously much more concerned with how it performs as a car than how eco-friendly it is.



post #9 of 13
An interesting contrast between the reviews but like you say - the C&D opinion is probably the better choice.

When you are behind the wheel and have an emergency the handling is far more important than the green rating. You can be as green as you want but dead is dead which is kind of hard to rate on a green scale.

With normal driving the green rating is certainly the better choice to go by.
post #10 of 13
It's been a few weeks since I posted but I'm back!  I had to respond to this one as I've just got an Insight myself... :)

Obviously, I'm gonna say it's great because I bought one but honestly I don't know where this CR lot are coming from. I came from an Accord that I'd modified with sports suspension that I used on track days and at the Nurburgring and I was pleasantly surprised by how good the Insight is at cornering.  It does roll with the punches a bit but it also holds the line quite well.

The extra torque from the IMA electric motor gives it diesel rivaling starting acceleration in city driving (much more than you'd expect from its 1.3L petrol engine) and in all but full throttle use it is very quiet - the engine turns over at an incredibly low 1,600RPM at 55mph.

Contrary to EPA figures, after two full to empty tanks of gas I've recorded an average of 61 mpg (51mpg for US gallons). These are real world figures made by dividing the odometer reading by the volume of gas pumped at refills.  On the last 330 mile business trip I took in the Insight I saw a on-board computer average over 100 miles of 74mpg and a trip average of 71mpg (UK gallons).

Performance is largely the same between the Prius and the Insight because while the Prius has more power (it uses a 1.8L engine to the 1.3L in the Insight), the Insight weighs less.  But then you're not going to be pushing the performance envelope on either car - are you?

I bought the Insight over the Civic hybrid because the Civic has the batteries in the rear seat back which means the seats can't fold down.  This severely limits the luggage capability of the Civic whereas the Insight seats are 60:40 split and both go down flat to accommodate large loads...  Here's a 160x79cm BP 3160S solar panel in the back of my Insight.

Talk of the Prius having "superior" technology is irrelevant. They are just different. The Prius is a true hybrid with a complicated dual drive system.  The Insight is a regular petrol car with a much more simple KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), similar to those used in some 2009 F1 cars.  The small 100V NiMH battery and 10kW motor in the Insight are used to store captured kinetic energy and use it to boost HP and torque when required to allow the use of an otherwise undersized petrol engine.  It is primarily recharged by regenerative braking from the permanently paralleled electric motor (bolted on to the engine flywheel) when braking or coasting down hills.  It also used for starting the engine (in stop-start traffic) and replaces the alternator on a regular petrol engine, charging the 100V battery and a small 12V battery (for the lights, computers and radio).

It can operate in a limited EV mode.  I drove to my parents house and there is a long section of road that is flat or gently down-hill most of the way with traffic lights here and there and 30mph speed cameras.  So, gently drving at 28-30mph, I noticed that the car (from it's power source display) was using petrol to accelerate to cruising speed and then switching to electric only to cruise.  When braking for the next set of lights, it recouped part of the energy to charge the battery for the next stint.

The Prius can cruise round a car park in true EV mode but the Insight can't.  Would have been a nice to have but what percentage of your driving hours are spent cruising around a car park?

The US market gets different models (trim levels) to the UK and Europe.  I bought the middle version in the UK (the ES).  Here they only sell the SE, ES and ES-T.  There is a S model (which is the very basic model that does not include VSA traction control, maybe as per the US LX model) but they aren't promoting it here as it's too basic for most buyers.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Good info AccordGuy, thanks.  Did you by any chance test out the 2010 Prius?  It strikes me that the Insight is very similar to the second generation Prius, but it seems like the 3rd generation (2010) Prius is a step up in terms of technology and fuel economy.
post #12 of 13
GREAT post, AccordGuy.  That's awesome that you've seen such good fuel economy in the Insight.  Compared to the Prius, how do you find the interior of the car?  I actually find the Prius to be quite roomy on the inside but I haven't really gotten close enough to the new Insight to really tell what the inside might feel like.

Dana, have you tested a 2010 Prius?  I've seen a couple on the road and I'm not sure how I feel about the new styling.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by stins View Post

Dana, have you tested a 2010 Prius?  I've seen a couple on the road and I'm not sure how I feel about the new styling.

No, I've never even seen one other than pictures.  That's why I'm interested in hearing if AccordGuy tested one out prior to buying the Insight.

I've never put that much stock in styling though.  I'm a bottom line numbers guy.  If the 2010 Prius gets 20% better mileage than the Insight and only costs $1-2k more, unless it's butt ugly, to me the Prius wins.   So I'm also interested to hear why AccordGuy prefers the Insight, assuming he looked into both.
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