2010 Honda Insight

With the design and hardware finalized, I think it’s time to take another, closer look at the 2010 Honda Insight – potentially the most important car in  Honda’s lineup this year.  Pricing will help determine that – and final pricing hasn’t yet been announced.  Many numbers have been thrown about – from “under $20k” to “starting at $18.5”, so it’s really hard to tell.  Even if it does start at $18,500 – that will be before destination charge ( putting it closer to $19,300 or so ) and will of course be the base model.  Either way, the Insight will be priced well below the Civic Hybrid ( which costs over $24,000 these days ) and the new 3rd generation Prius.

Let’s take a look at the specs – this is really what makes the Insight so special, after all.

2010 Honda Insight Specs

  • 98 HP / 123 lb-ft of torque combined ( gas engine and electric motor )
  • 1.3 liter 4 cylinder gas engine
  • 13 HP / 58 lb-ft of torque electric motor
  • 580 Wh total capacity for the battery pack
  • Continuously Variable Transmission ( CVT ) with available paddle shifters
  • ECON button for improved fuel economy
  • Expected EPA ratings of 40 MPG city / 43 MPG highway

Honda started with the 1.3 liter engine from the Civic Hybrid, though it puts out less power in the Insight.  ( 110 combined HP in the HCH vs 98 combined HP in the Insight ).  The electric motor is less powerful as well, developing 13 HP vs 20 HP in the Civic.  Even the battery pack is smaller – holding 580 wH vs the larger Civic battery pack which holds 869 wH.  A smaller battery pack and smaller electric motor do mean reduced hybrid wizardry, and thus lower fuel economy.  Even though the Insight is lighter than the Civic Hybrid by about 100 lbs, Honda is expecting EPA estimates of 40 MPG city / 43 Highway.  That’s 2 MPG lower than the Civic Hybrid.

The benefit, of course, is that the smaller battery pack now sits under the rear cargo area – so the rear seats fold down flat, creating a pretty huge cargo area.  That, and the price – which should fall far below that of the Civic.

From a platform standpoint, the Insight started on a Fit platform.  Honda moved the rear axle back 2 inches, and lowered the roof 3.8 inches.  What you end up with is a longer wheelbase, lower stance, and ( possibly ) better handling than the Fit.  If sport driving is your thing, the EX model will come with paddle shifters – complete with 7 pseudo-gears ( the Insight has  CVT, so there are no actual gears. )

If you’re a real hybrid driver, then you love gauges.  The Insight doesn’t disappoint – it has a gauge setup similar to that of the Civic cHybrid.  The big addition is the green ECON button.  Press that and the Insight will change the CVT “gearing”, auto stop settings, and slow response to A/C changes and throttle input.  All this adds up to a more fuel efficient mode.

2010 Honda Insight Gallery

Thoughts

I would have liked to see a Prius-destroying Insight.  You know, a larger motor and battery pack than the Civic, and EPA figures in the high 50’s – 60’s.  I don’t have any doubt that Honda *could* have done this.  However, it was smart of them not to do it.  The cost of such a vehicle would probably start in the high 20’s to 30’s.  Being conservative with the expensive hybrid parts will help keep the Insight down into the affordable <20k range.  With the economy the way it is, price point is more important than ever… and Honda made a smart move.  By the time the Insight reaches dealer’s lots this spring, I’ll have to wander over and take a look.  Perhaps it’s time to replace my Civic Hybrid with a shiny new Insight.  That cargo area looks mighty handy.

Published on January 13, 2009 in Honda,Hybrids

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