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2010 Honda Insight Hybrid Review and Specs

2010 Honda Insight (select to view enlarged photo)
2010 Honda Insight

The following is an Auto Channel Green Wheels Report. It features relevant content for car shoppers and auto enthusiasts concerned with alt-fuels, fuel economy, hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, fuel-cells, saving our planet by reducing poisonous gasoline exhaust emissions and eliminating a need to kiss the asses of countries that hate America and Americans.

2010 Honda Insight – Budget Hybrid


By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
Amsterdam NL Bureau
The Auto Channel

VILLACH, Austria. Want to drive a hybrid? From the beginning of April, there will be another choice on the market: the 2010 Honda Insight. This new hybrid made its world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Because of the state of the industry, Honda had decided to skip the hoopla and glamour and just put the new 2010 Honda Insight in the centre of its display area. During the show, the Detroit Three bragged about coming up with new hybrids and electric vehicles in the future. But that means there are still two to three years to go.

In the meantime, the Japanese have shown the way. In 1999, the Honda Insight was the first hybrid sold in North America and Toyota followed in 2001 with the Prius. A year later, Honda introduced the 2003 Civic Hybrid that was succeeded in 2006 by the second generation.

The 2010 Honda Insight is a completely new vehicle and has nothing to do with the original model, that was the first production vehicle with Honda’s IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system. Even though mileage was exceeding 60 mpg, the radically styled first Honda Insight was mainly impractical because of its two-seat coupe configuration. Total global sales amounted to only 18,000 cars and Honda discontinued building it by the end of 2006. Of the new Insight, Honda expects to sell high quantities with annual global sales of 200,000 per year, and approximately 100,000 in North America.

At first sight, it is easy to mistake the new generation Insight for a Toyota Prius. Has Honda been aping the Prius because of its success? We will not get the answer. One thing is certain: aerodynamics for the least resistance are ruled by the wind tunnel and negative input comes from crash regulations. That Honda choose a hatchback is initiated by the popularity of such models in Europe.” The American Honda organisation asked for a sedan, but we held on to the hatch, also because of its better aerodynamics,” said Hiduharu Takemoto, the Insight’s assistant chief engineer. Another thing is that Honda wanted to make a cheaper hybrid for younger customers. Although the price has not been announced yet, the Insight is expected to sell under $ 20,000, well below the Civic Hybrid that starts at $ 23,650 and the Toyota Prius with a base price of $ 22,000.

A better look at the 2010 Honda Insight tells us that it is lower than the Prius. The figures say 2.5 inches and in car terms that is a lot. But the Insight also undoubtedly shows its relationship to the revolutionary FCX Clarity, Honda’s fuel cell car and the first one world wide available for customers (in Southern California, at three-year $ 600/month lease).

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Unmistakeably, the design of the 2010 Honda Insight says Hybrid and its low stance also means a low centre of gravity. The front of the Insight is inspired by that of the FCX with thin projector-beam headlamps. The sleek five door Insight has distinctive LED tail lamps and a tinted window in the back. It gives a better visibility to the rear, but the window ‘sill’ above still is a bit in the way.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2010 Honda Insight inside looks spacious with a centre console that is angled a bit toward the driver and still well-visible for the passenger. Seats have nice fabric, are comfortable and provide enough side support during cornering. It’s a pity that the room behind the front seats is not really fit for tall adults as head room is tight. Leg room is sufficient, provided the driver does not need to go al the way back with the seat. The luggage space of 15.9 cu ft. can be extended by folding the backseats (60/40) forward, although they do not go completely flat.

The specs and details of the new Honda Insight have already been posted in the most recent update at All-New Insight Makes European Debut in Valencia

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Our first 2010 Honda Insight test drive ended near the harbour of the beautiful Spanish city Valencia. We used the 1.3-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine and the IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system on the freeway, on winding country roads and in the city. We drove not especially in a ‘green’ way, but as we would normally drive any car under such circumstances. Overtaking now and then, or quickly changing direction in the city after realizing we were about to take the wrong street. The total of 98 horsepower might not be very high, but the torque of 123 is quickly available and that feels very secure. The 2010 Honda Insight reacts without hesitation on the moment you want it to. If you would not know better, the car does not feel as a fuel saver. However, I think the power will be just o.k. when the car is fully loaded, i.e. with four people and luggage. In most cases though, people buying a hybrid will not often use it for more than the daily commute or average city driving.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Anyway, the gauge in the centre of the 2010 Honda Insight instrument panel tells you whether you are charging the battery, or just eating up its power. The start/stop system turns off the gasoline engine to save fuel at traffic lights. The electric motor of the IMA system does not start up from a standstill, but is capable to operate in low ( for instance 30 mph) to middle-speed conditions on electric power. The power goes to the wheels through the CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission) with a 7-speed Sport mode, that can be shifted through paddles on the steering wheel. It can make life easy, when you are cruising and suddenly want to get out of a dangerous situation. In that case you can shift back from ‘7’ to ‘4’ in no time. But normally, the CVT is well prepared to do its work.

Honda states a fuel consumption of 40 mpg city and 43 highway and with a 16 gallon tank, you may expect a driving range of more than 400 miles. Our first drive was not as gas sipping as we could be. The limited time and distances normally do not inspire you to be as green as you’d normally be. Nevertheless we did some 39 mpg. For drivers who want to improve on fuel efficiency, Honda developed the fancy ‘Econ’ button. It activates fuel conserving modes in the Insight’s system’s, such as how the cruise control operate and how often the gasoline engine is shut off.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2010 Honda Insight Eco Assist feature helps drivers to be more efficient by showing in the background color of the speedometer if you are ‘blue or green’. The system also registers your driving, adding flowers in the little display in the I.P. when you are doing well and accumulating the car’s lifetime score. It will be a nice gimmick for drivers to go to the internet and compare their scores with those of others. Hey, marketing people at Honda, did you already think about playing this on the web…? By the way, I scored the leafs of four flowers, so there is room for improvement as ideally you would like to have complete flowers in the display. The next day, my colleague had the same score.

The first impression of the 2010 Honda Insight was good, but for success in Europe the price really has to be right. If it comes to close to that of the Civic and its opponent from Toyota, people might choose for the roomier models. But if the difference in Euro will be about the same as in dollars, Honda might reach its goal. In certain markets the hybrids are ‘sponsored’ by national governments. In my country, we normally pay 40 per cent tax over the net price of a car (plus 19 per cent state tax). People who use the car for business, or lease it normally have to add 25 per cent of the car’s value to their income, and pay tax accordingly. If a car’s CO2 emission is lower than 110 grams per kilometer – as is the case with the hybrid models - you add only 14 %. Between 11 and 140 grams it is 20 %. This, of course, stimulates the sales of hybrids. However, the government can chance its policy from year to year. Last year though, it helped Honda increasing sales and Toyota holding its ground in the decreasing market.

2010 Honda Insight Specs

2010 Honda Insight Engineering
Engine Type In-Line 4-Cylinder In-Line 4-Cylinder
Engine Block/Cylinder Head Aluminum-Alloy Aluminum-Alloy
Displacement (cc) 1339 1339
Horsepower @ rpm (SAE net, combined gasoline engine + IMA motor) 98 @ 5800 98 @ 5800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm) 123 @ 1000-1500 123 @ 1000-1500
Redline (rpm) 6200 6200
Bore and Stroke (mm) 73 x 80 73 x 80
Compression Ratio 10.8 : 1 10.8 : 1
Valve Train 8-Valve SOHC i-VTEC® 8-Valve SOHC i-VTEC®
Multi-Point Fuel Injection Standard Standard
Drive-by-Wire™ Throttle System Standard Standard
Front-Wheel Drive Standard Standard
Eco Assist™ System Standard Standard
CARB Emissions Rating ULEV/AT-PZEV[1] ULEV/AT-PZEV[1]
Direct Ignition System with Immobilizer Standard Standard
100K +/- Miles No Scheduled Tune-Ups[2] Standard Standard
Electric Motor / Generator
DC Brushless Motor (Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous) Standard Standard
Power (hp @ rpm) 13 @ 1500 13 @ 1500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm) 58 @ 1000 58 @ 1000
Electric Power Storage
Nickel Metal Hydride
(Ni-MH) Battery
Standard Standard
Output (Volts) 100.8 100.8
Rated Capacity 5.75 Ah 5.75 Ah
Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) Standard with Paddle Shifter System
Gear Ratios: 3.172~0.529, Reverse: 4.511~1.693, Final Drive: 4.20    
Unit-Body Construction Standard Standard
MacPherson Strut Front Suspension Standard Standard
Torsion-Beam Rear Suspension Standard Standard
Stabilizer Bar (mm, front) 18.0 / 16.0 18.0 / 16.0
Electric Power-Assisted Rack-and-Pinion Steering (EPS) Standard Standard
Steering Wheel Turns, Lock-to-Lock 3.29 3.29
Steering Ratio 16.73 16.73
Turning Diameter, Curb-to-Curb (ft) 36.1 36.1
Power-Assisted Ventilated Front Disc/Rear Drum Brakes
(in, front/rear)
10.3 / 7.9 10.3 / 7.9
Wheels 15" with Full Covers 15" Alloy
All-Season Tires 175 / 65 R15 84S 175 / 65 R15 84S
Compact Spare Tire Standard Standard
Exterior Measurements
Wheelbase (in) 100.4 100.4
Length (in) 172.3 172.3
Height (in) 56.2 56.2
Width (in) 66.7 66.7
Track (in, front/rear) 58.7 / 58.1 58.7 / 58.1
Curb Weight (lbs) 2723 2727
2734 (with Navi)
Weight Distribution
(%, front/rear)
58/42 58/42
Interior Measurements
Headroom (in, front/rear) 38.4 / 35.9 38.4 / 35.9
Legroom (in, front/rear) 42.3 / 33.5 42.3 / 33.5
Shoulder Room
(in, front/rear)
52.7 / 50.4 52.7 / 50.4
Hiproom (in, front/rear) 51.6 / 48.7 51.6 / 48.7
Cargo Volume (cu ft, seat up/down) 15.9 / 31.5 15.9 / 31.5
Passenger Volume (cu ft) 85.0 85.0
Seating Capacity 5 5
EPA Mileage Estimates[3]/Capacities
CVT (City/Highway/Combined) 40/43/41 40/43/41
Crankcase (qt) 4.0 4.0
Coolant System (qt) 5.3 5.3
Fuel (gal) 10.6 10.6
Required Fuel Regular Unleaded Regular Unleaded
3-Point Seat Belts with Front Seat Automatic Tensioning System Standard Standard
Adjustable Front Seat Belt Anchors Standard Standard
Driver's and Front Passenger's Seat Belt Reminder Standard Standard
Dual-Stage, Dual-Threshold Front Airbags (SRS) Standard Standard
Front Side Airbags with Passenger-Side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) Standard Standard
Side Curtain Airbags Standard Standard
Driver's and Front Passenger's Active Head Restraints Standard Standard
Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) Body Structure Standard Standard
Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) Standard Standard
Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) Standard Standard
Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with Traction Control   Standard
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)[4] Standard Standard
Side-Impact Door Beams Standard Standard
Outboard Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) Standard Standard
Child-Proof Rear Door Locks Standard Standard
Immobilizer Theft-Deterrent System Standard Standard
Exterior Features
Roof-Mounted Antenna Standard Standard
Security System with Remote Entry Standard Standard
Body-Colored Folding Power Side Mirrors Standard Heated with Integrated Turn Indicators
2-Speed/Intermittent Windshield Wipers Standard Variable
Rear Window Wiper/Washer Standard Standard
Impact-Absorbing Body-Colored Bumpers Standard Standard
Projector-Beam Halogen Headlights with Blue-Tinted Chrome Bezels Standard Standard
Tinted Glass Standard Standard
Body-Colored Door Handles Standard Standard
LED Brakelights Standard Standard
Comfort & Convenience
Automatic Climate Control Standard Standard
Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ with Voice Recognition[5]   Available
Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®[6]   with Navigation
Power Windows with Auto-Up/Down Driver's Window Standard Standard
Illuminated Window Switches Driver's window only Standard
Power Door Locks Standard Standard
Cruise Control   Standard
Steering Wheel-Mounted Paddle Shifters   Standard
Tilt and Telescopic Steering Column Standard Standard
Illuminated Steering Wheel-Mounted MID Controls Standard Standard
Illuminated Steering Wheel-Mounted Cruise Controls   Standard
Illuminated Steering Wheel-Mounted Audio, Navigation and Phone Controls   with Navigation
Beverage Holders 8 6
Center Console with Armrest and Storage Compartment   Standard
Door-Pocket Storage Bins, Front Standard Standard
Driver- and Passenger-Side Seatback Pockets   Standard
Driver's and Front Passenger's Vanity Mirrors   Standard
Map Lights   Standard
12-Volt Power Outlet Standard Standard
Rear Window Defroster Standard Standard
Cargo Area Light Standard Standard
Driver's Seat with Manual Height Adjustment Standard Standard
Reclining Front Seatbacks Standard Standard
Adjustable Head Restraints Standard Standard
60/40 Split Fold-Down Rear Seatback Standard Standard
Audio System
160-Watt AM/FM/CD Audio System with 4 Speakers with 6 Speakers
Radio Data System (RDS) Standard without Navigation
MP3/Windows Media® Audio (WMA) Playback Capability[7] Standard Standard
MP3/Auxiliary Input Jack Standard Standard
USB Audio Interface[8]   Standard
CD Text Display Capability Standard Standard
Speed-Sensitive Volume Control (SVC) Standard Standard
ABS Indicator Standard Standard
Airbag System Indicator Standard Standard
Blue Backlit Gauges Standard Standard
Brake System Indicator Standard Standard
Charging System Indicator Standard Standard
Coolant Temperature Indicators Standard Standard
Cruise Control Indicators   Standard
Door/Trunk-Open Indicator Standard Standard
DRL Indicator Standard Standard
ECON Button Standard Standard
EPS Indicator Standard Standard
Fuel Level Indicator Standard Standard
Headlight-On Indicator Standard Standard
High-Beam Indicator Standard Standard
Idle-Stop Indicator Standard Standard
IMA Charge and Assist Indicator Standard Standard
IMA System Indicator Standard Standard
Immobilizer System Indicator Standard Standard
Low Tire-Pressure Indicator Standard Standard
Low-Fuel Indicator Standard Standard
Low-Oil Pressure Indicator Standard Standard
Maintenance Minder Indicator Standard Standard
Passenger-Side Side Airbag-Off Indicator Standard Standard
Seat Belt Reminder Indicator Standard Standard
Security System Indicator Standard Standard
Tachometer Standard Standard
TPMS Indicator[4] Standard Standard
Two-Tier Instrument Panel Standard Standard
VSA System and Off Indicators Standard Standard
Multi-Information Display (MID)
Average Fuel Economy Indicators (2) Standard Standard
Average Speed Indicator Standard Standard
Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®[6]   with Navigation
Digital Fuel-Mileage Indicators Standard Standard
Digital Odometer and Digital Trip Meters (2) Standard Standard
ECO Guide Standard Standard
Elapsed Time Indicator Standard Standard
Exterior Temperature Indicator Standard Standard
IMA Charge and Assist Indicator Standard Standard
IMA System Power Flow Indicator Standard Standard
Maintenance Minder™ System Standard Standard
Miles-to-Empty Indicator Standard Standard
[1] AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle) models as certified by California Air Resources Board (CARB), are available in California and states that have adopted California emissions standards.
[2] Does not apply to fluid and filter changes. Will vary with driving conditions. See your owner's manual for more details.
[3] Based on 2010 EPA mileage estimates, reflecting new EPA fuel economy methods beginning with 2008 models. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.
[4] For optimal tire wear and performance, tire pressure should be checked regularly with a gauge. Do not rely solely on the monitor system. See your local Honda dealer for details.
[5] The Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System is available on the EX model in the United States, except Alaska. See your local Honda dealer for details.
[6] The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc., and any use of such marks by Honda Motor Co., Ltd., is under license.
[7] Windows Media® is a trademark or registered trademark of Microsoft® Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
[8] The USB Audio Interface is used for direct connection to and control of some current digital audio players and other USB devices that contain MP3, WMA® or AAC music files. Some USB devices with security software and digital rights-protected files may not work. Please see your local Honda dealer for details on compatibility. Windows Media® Audio is a trademark or registered trademark of Microsoft® Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.