2010 Honda Insight
All-New Hybrid Gets Good Fuel Economy.
Introduction | Interior / Walk-Around | Driving Impressions | Summary
The 2010 Insight is a hybrid, so expectations for ride and handling rightly ought to be on the conservative side. And that's about where they belong. Straight-line acceleration is not a strong point for hybrids. Neither is heart-pumping response to quick, right-left-right steering inputs, or even impressive stickiness around long sweeping curves. Where hybrids by right ought to shine is on the daily commute. And the Insight does.
Transitions between power sources are markedly smoother in the new Insight than in the Civic Hybrid and easily on a par with the '09 Prius. The paddle-shifted, simulated manual seven-speed seems to us an unnecessary, even wasteful, gewgaw, more a gratuitous tipping of a braggart's hat to Honda's high-tech heritage than a functional addition to an already very competent, and fuel-efficient, powertrain.
The aforementioned ECON button is more in keeping with the Insight's mission. Although equally unnecessary, it at least fulfills a purpose, giving the driver real-time indications on how frugally the powertrain is functioning while still leaving the driver free to tap the powertrain's full potential when and if desired or necessary. Driven normally, the powertrain operates at optimum fuel efficiency. Pressed, it dutifully pumps out everything it has, shifting back and forth between the two effortlessly, with the only indicator being the changing colors backlighting the digital speedometer.
With ECON engaged or not, lifting off the gas eases the needle metering the power flows into the regenerative Charge range; applying the brake pushes the needle even deeper. The new Insight's regenerative brake system is slicker than the Civic's, too, masking more fully the system's disengagement as the car nears a full stop. Speaking of brakes, the Insight's did their job without any drama, with the only limitation on their stopping power resulting from the small foot print of the tires.
Road and tire noise is more intrusive than in either the current Prius or the most recent Civic hybrid. Wind noise, though, is minimal; props to that wind-cheating, Prius-like body. Ride is firm, but not stiff; it is a hybrid, after all, not one of those traditional family sedans with all that road-hugging weight to suppress pavement heaves and bumps. Likewise, fit and finish is Honda-spec, for the most part quality plastics with consistent gaps between panels. The dash-mounted, 360-degree rotating a/c registers are a nice, much-appreciated touch.
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