2010 Honda Insight

The 2010 Honda Insight is the latest in an attempt to compete with the Toyota Prius. The Prius, of course, is the standard of ‘green’ sedans with excellent fuel economy. Honda has tried to wrestle that crown from Toyota with the Honda Civic Hybrid, but the latter’s poor acceleration and design lines that don’t quite evoke ‘hybrid’ made it bow out in sales. Stepping up to the plate once more, Honda has created the 2010 Insight, but is it a hit or a miss?

Engine and Performance

The 2010 Insight runs on Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist hybrid setup. It pairs a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine good for 88 hp and 88 lb-ft of torque with an electric motor for an additional boost of 13 hp and 58 lb-ft. The Insight can run on this setup for up to 30 mph without assistance from the gas engine.

In addition to the great handling, the Insight boasts of a combined 41 mpg fuel economy, levels ahead of the Honda Civic Hybrid. Another great feature—also present on most Toyota hybrids—is the regenerative brake system, which captures energy from the brakes and stores it in the battery to be used again.

Exterior

Heavily borrowing from the Prius exterior design cues, members of the Auto Press have spoken on the functionality of these design lines: they reduce drag, which boosts fuel efficiency. The angular headlights evoke ‘hybrid’ as well as efficiency, and the shiny chrome grille is one visual feature that doesn’t hurt, either.

While similar in looks to the aforementioned Prius, the Insight is in fact 2.5 inches lower, making for a closer-to-the-ground driving experience that improves the car’s handling on tight corners.

Interior

The 2010 Insight’s driver seat provisions are ample, perhaps at the cost of the rear passengers. Tall drivers will get a kick out of the Insight’s telescoping steering column and the ergonomic dashboard is chic and characteristically Honda. The digital speedometer changes color to warn you about acceleration.

Many reviewers, however, have expressed dislike about the rear quarters’ lack of leg room, which is an upper hand the Toyota Prius gains on the Insight as well.

Safety and Reliability

Every 2011 Insight comes with standard antilock brakes, front and side-curtain airbags, as well as stability control and traction control on the EX upgrade. A gripe of many consumers is that the standard trim should come equipped with the latter safety features.

The Insight is covered by a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, good for 36,000 miles. Its hybrid power train warranty is valid for even longer, at five years and 60,000 miles.

Competition

The Honda CR-Z (MSRP $19,345; 31 city / 37 hwy) is a hybrid that runs on the same IMA system, although most buyers will probably take the Insight’s cramped rear quarters over the CR-Z and its two-seat setup. In terms of fuel economy, the Honda Fit (MSRP $14,053; 27 city / 33 hwy) and the Prius of Toyota (MSRP $23,520; 51 city / 48 hwy) are excellent alternatives. Although not a hybrid, the Fit’s gas mileage ratings are excellent, and the affordable price tag is a certain draw.

Recommendations for Insight alternatives will never be complete without mention of the Toyota Prius. Certainly the standard of everything the Insight and Civic hybrids have tried to be, the Prius touts an aerodynamic, drag-reducing exterior. The redesigned Prius’ gas mileage ratings blow the Insight’s out of the water, and is still the absolute elite ‘green’ car, despite being a few hundred dollars pricier than the insight.

Pros & Cons

One of the most affordable hybrids on the market, exterior design reduces drag and boosts fuel economy, power train setup is efficient. Cramped back seat, fuel economy could be better, stability and traction control not offered in base trim.

Overall Rating
68 out of 100

What others say:

"The 2010 Honda Insight is defined by its slippery silhouette and efficient interior."Car Connection

"Insight is best described as "busy" on anything but the smoothest roads. The ride is generally free of harshness, but firm low-rolling-resistance tires and a short wheelbase contribute to considerable up-and-down motion and general choppiness."Consumer Guide

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

"With a starting suggested retail price right around $20,000, the 2010 Honda Insight is designed to make hybrid technology affordable to buyers who otherwise would not be able to purchase a hybrid."KBB

Specifications

General Info
Vehicle Type: Hybrid Hatchback Base Price: $18,511.00
Fuel Tank Capacity: 10.6 gallons Miles Per Gallon: 40 city / 43 hwy
Dimensions
Length: 172.3 in. (437 cm) Width: 66.7 in. (169 cm)
Height: 56.2 in. (142.7 cm) Curb Weight: 2723 lbs (1235 kg)
Wheel Base: 100.4 in. (255 cm) Ground Clearance: NA
Luggage Capacity: 31.5 cu ft Maximum Seating: 5 people
Performance
Engine: 1.3LSOHC 8-valve inline-4 Displacement: NA
Horsepower: 98 HP Max RPM: 5800 RPM
Torque: 123 lb-ft @ 1000 rpm Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
0-60 mph: NA 1/4 Mile: NA
Available Trims & Engine
Option:2011 Insight Base MSRP: $18,200; MPG: 40 city / 43 hwy
Option:2011 Insight LX MSRP: $19,900; MPG: 40 city / 43 hwy
Option:2011 Insight EX MSRP: $21,490; MPG: 40 city / 43 hwy
Option:2011 Insight EX w/Nav. MSRP: $23,265; MPG: 40 city / 43 hwy