Go Back   EcoModder Forum > EcoModding > Hybrids
Register Now
 Register Now
 

Reply  Post New Thread
 
Submit Tools LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 03-26-2011, 10:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
Depends on the Day
 
RH77's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Kansas City Area
Posts: 1,761

Teggy - '98 Acura Integra LS
Sports Cars
90 day: 32.74 mpg (US)

IMA - '10 Honda Insight EX
Team Honda
90 day: 34.76 mpg (US)

Tessie - '06 Acura TSX Base
90 day: 28.2 mpg (US)
Thanks: 31
Thanked 41 Times in 35 Posts
Long-Term Test Review: 2010 Honda Insight EX



Introduction
Well, it has been over a year of solid driving experience from the 00007th mile up to the 11,000th for the newly purchased 2010 Honda Insight EX. Looking back, I would buy it all over again -- primarily due to the bang-for-the-buck factor, unique design, upbeat dash/interior, and acceptable handling . One can loosely compare it to the 3rd Generation Prius -- but aside from both being 5-door Hybrids, the similarities tend to end with the price savings. I call it the "Economy Car Hybrid".

Many might recall the months of debate and research that went into the purchase. With a new kiddo, the need for 4-doors and updated safety features demanded a replacement (or addition to) the Integra 3-door hatch. Toyota and Honda were considered due to their long-term reliability and personal preference. The 2nd-Generation Prius looked to be a good fit, but resale values were high enough to consider something new. Then, comparing both the Yaris and Fit offered little cargo room with the seats in place. This left the Insight and Prius. The Toyota was much more expensive (and frankly difficult to option) compared to the Insight (if I wanted the iPod/USB connection, it would have required a huge upgrade). Equipped with standard 2nd-tier, EX trim, the Honda beat a similarly-equipped Prius by $4000-$5000 (including better terms and free oil changes for 5-years). Plus, I prefer the interior, fun-to-drive demeanor, and personal reliability experience of the Honda nameplate. If the 2010 LX/Base had offered cruise control, the better radio with iPod direct-connect, and height adjustment for the driver's seat, then it would have been the easy (cheaper) choice -- but no luck on adding those as options (for 2011, there is a base-model, LX, and EX at a reduced price). The top-line EX With Navigation offers a slew of additional options.
It's obvious that the Prius is the "King of Road" when it comes to FE and tech, but I don't feel so bad about the decision. I average about 45 MPG in mixed driving where the Prius could probably attain 15 more than that if driven similarly. My goal is to significantly increase FE in every vehicle replaced. Compared to Teggy's 34 MPG and 1998-era emissions, the environmental impact is improved, so everyone wins.

So enough about the "Why" and more about "How". (I promise this is the last Prius comparison). Compared to "other hybrids", it doesn't have the "synergy" that drives a complicated setup: the Insight simply has an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and CVT transmission, with an old-school Ni-MH battery and 8-Valve 1.3L SOHC Inline-4. The primary design goal was "affordable efficiency". It does have 2-stage VTEC (electric-only/valve-closure mode, and normal operation mode -- it lacks the performance cam, yet competes with economy cars for acceleration and quarter-mile: 0-60 in about 10-seconds, quarter-mile just short of 18). The single cam and VTEC arrangement is more compact, lightweight, and less expensive. Precise fuel delivery is achieved through Multi-Point Fuel Injection (2 per cylinder).



The Drive
When the topic arises I tell the average Joe or Jane that I bought a new Insight. "Oh yeah, that little egg car..." No, it's basically a Honda's version of the Pri -- um, nevemind. One must understand that we're still in the early stages of hybrid vehicle development with respect to overall vehicle history -- especially when a manufacturer experiments with cost-savings. I may find a few "beefs" with the car, but overall, it's a great vehicle and I enjoy it. Driving the Insight is surprisingly smooth, despite the reported criticisms of many popular automotive journalists. Power is spry and akin to older Civic gassers, but don't forget that it's an economy/hybrid. You roughly have a little over 100 hp max at your disposal. We know that efficient driving can often rely on that torque number, which is over 120 lb-ft. The CVT does a modest job at finding the proper RPM for the job (along with the 7 selectable ratios from the pattle shifters, which have been personally used twice in the last year -- it's a novelty). If you need extra oomph, shift down to "S" and gain a more aggressive shift pattern until you don't need it any longer. Again rarely used. High RPMs and wind noise create a loud cabin, but remember that corners were cut, to shed weight and cost.



Speaking of corners, handling is quite good for its class, but like the others, is limited by the LRR tires which yields understeer in harsh cornering, and a more neutral arc during throttle-lift. I took delivery of the car during heavy snow and higher winds. Then and since, I really feel that it does quite well in snow and other inclement weather (except head- and crosswinds, of course). Now, I'll try to offset each positive entry with a less-than-ideal interpretation.

Driving the car is better than stopping and starting it -- some facets are not "Honda Smooth". One beef I have is the often clunky engagement of the electric motor after resuming from "auto stop", which is simply the automatic shutting-down of the engine under 7 mph. An EM poster once asked about the advertised "optimal acceleration from a stop". When conditions are appropriate, the engine shuts-down as mentioned, while shifting the drivetrain into neutral. Lifting the brake pedal or tapping the throttle reingages the engine (it will not start on battery alone -- there is no way to de-couple the motor and engine, so during EV-only modes -- 16 MPH+, VTEC closes the valves to reduce pumping losses). While all of this is taking place, the the CVT engages forward motion and the electric motor is called upon.
Starting off is similar to the variability of someone using a clutch. Most often, the engine quietly starts with the electric motor, accelerates at around 1200 RPM at start-off, brings-in more voltage and off you go. It should bog down just slightly while the electric motor slowly kicks-in -- but, it can feel like clutch slippage and it sometimes bucks and jerks until momentum is gathered -- especially if you're too fast on the gas after releasing the brake and subsequent engine start. The toughest transition of the IMA system is at speeds of 8-15 mph (while approaching an anticipated stop, if the need arises to accelerate, the system is slow to respond and the drivetrain roughly re-ingages with higher revs and then it catches). The electric motor is often clunky when it kicks-in -- it's not a big thud or anything, it's just not something one expects from Honda. But overall, the simple hybrid system offers great FE compared to what is available.



City driving and mostly highway operation tend to reduce efficiency, while sub-urban operation (35-45 MPH) can yield trips in the 60's or 70's MPG.
The suspension is quite firm, but yields an edge of handling and a sporty feeling over rivals. Some (especially rear-seated passengers) may confess that the seat is stiff and ride somewhat harsh. To save space and costs, a rear torsion beam suspension was used. The front platform is technically taken from the Honda Fit then stretched, so body roll is minimized and driving can be fun when you want it. If you keep it mellow, you'll be rewarded with over-EPA percentage FE and a relaxing cruise. Light braking engages regenerative braking, while additional input requires the traditional hyrdraulic squeeze. Overall stopping power is good using ABS with Brake Force Distribution and well-timed corrections from the stability control are available when needed.



For FE and ease of use, it's a great commuter vehicle, especially around town. The driver's seating position is variable, comfortable, and offers good visibility (except through the split rear windows). If you try to keep out of battery assist, you won't have pay the piper later with more energy than you spent (I think it takes around 30% more effort to charge-up than the energy released from the battery). Basically, forced re-charge, especially on hill climb, isn't good. The IMA system does what it wants, so I take a rather mild EcoDriving strategy compared to driving non-hybrids, and it really works out. There are techniques out there, but they get complicated and the battery tends to have limited capacity compared to peers. Think of the IMA system as a small turbo -- you'll get added power to the 1.3L, but it will cost you fuel in one way or another.

Especially when you call on it. Adding passengers, cargo, A/C load, and/or a stiff breeze requires more available battery assist, which can declare the response "sluggish". But many of my passenger-laiden trips were to places like baseball games, heavy traffic, or pick-up/drop-off at the airport. For what it is designed to do, it's a homerun with a team that came-in under budget.



There is a lack of steering feedback and sensitivity is one design flaw (initial Disclosure: I am running 50 psi in warmer months -- which I suspect is a mild contributor to effect). The electric steering rack and slushy Dunlops provide minimal feedback, most especially during heavy crosswinds at highway speeds. Add-in a “null zone” or what would normally be considered “play”, isn’t fun. Tracking straight takes quite a bit of effort and concentration, especially in the windy Central Plains. The passing semi or uneven road surface complicates the issue. On the flip-side, cornering is surprisingly precise and provides a weighted, sporty wheel. Perhaps energy is saved by not over-taxing the steering system until it is needed in excess, upon which it links-up with the driver with road feel.
I’m not sure what’s going on with this design. It’s probably my biggest pet peave, and contradicts why I chose Honda over Toyota. Having tested electric steering systems from everyone from Chevy to Toyota (and even other Hondas), the Insight just misses the mark in this area. I noticed it on the test drive, but in the big picture, it can be tolerated. I hope it becomes a learning experience for future designs.



Standard on every new Insight is a green "ECON" Button. You have to love built-in marketing. Since hybrids aren't "completely understood" to the masses, you have to make a game out of it, growing leaves and achieving trophies for smooth, efficient operation. So, the ECON ASSIST setting performs a few functions that should be standard operation on in a hybrid. Straight out of the book it does the following: Increases the potential for engaging the Idle Stop feature sooner; operates the air conditioning recirculation mode more often; reduces HVAC blower fan speed; optimizes throttle angle input and CVT operation; and limits power and torque by approximately 4 percent (full responsiveness is provided at wide-open-throttle).

Allow me to elaborate on "throttle angle input" and "...limits power". The gas pedal should have a predictable, linear response so you know what to expect. Instead, the program mutes or delays the speed at which the throttle position reacts on input. It makes it difficult to modulate, learn, and tends to ask this driver to push on the darn thing harder at times. Turning off the ECON button causes you to lose the other functions (like A/C and engine power reduction, optimal CVT ratio change, and more aggressive battery charging; however, tests have shown that the feature is more of a "trainer" for basic Ecodriving techniques, and did not yield an appreciable difference in EPA tests. I have found myself fiddling with it more to see if I can squeeze more FE out using my own built-in ECON system (as programmed by membership at EcoModder.com).

What I Love About Driving This Car
First, I get a new 5-Door hatch with modern safety and amenities. The wide hatch opening allows for ease of loading cargo (including the fold-down rear seats). Auto-stop saves me the trouble otherwise, and the system can hit EV-Only mode at high speeds down to about 16 MPH. The 1.3L with CVT can accelerate when needed, and adapt for FE the other 99% of the time. I also love the “complex simplicity”. The 2-tier instrument panel, driver-oriented steering wheel controls, overall driving experience, nice audio system, and high FE all come together for one heckuva deal.



Appearance
On the inside, the instrument panel is cutting-edge and pleasant to use. The radio controls are a bit fiddly, but it sounds good and links-up with an iPod/MP3 player, better than the competition. The driver's seat on the EX is height-adjustable, and forms the ideal driving position with the tilt/telescoping steering wheel. On the wheel, you find the paddle shifters, buttons to cycle through the information display, and a rear-mounted button to view the odometer, trip A and B, etc. Many owners (this one included) agree that the small, square info display should show more than one feedback item. I would prefer to see both the battery state and instant FE. I gave up on using the SG-II and placed it back in Teggy -- there doesn't seem to be a good place for it and I'm satisfied with the FE. So, I guess the feedback issue isn't that big of a deal.

The fit-and-finish of panels and gaps are worthy of the Honda nameplate. The seat fabric and plastics are quite durable. The front seats offer ample leg room and comfort. The rear seats are another story. The cushioning is minimal -- I find them a bit uncomfortable, yet all passengers queried don't seem to mind. Plus, there's plenty of room for a rear-facing child seat (behind my short-legged seating position) and 2 passengers. 2 rear passengers in the rear + a child seat or 3 overall would prove quite tight, but doable. Cupholders for rear passengers are water-bottle holders in the doors. The tall stance offers more-than-ample headroom. Cargo room is great -- seats up or down. Heating and cooling are average through the standard automatic climate control system (which is better handled manually for FE). The 360-Degree vents are a nice touch.



On the outside, you will find the ideal roofline for wind resistance. The front-end has been influenced by the FCX Clarity and is pleasantly crisp. The appearance of the rear can be quite criticized. It appears bulbous and quirky, but is necessary to finish the roofline. The split-window (read: CRX-like) rear view can be an obstruction. To overcome this, the Insight is equipped with GIANT outside rear-view mirrors. LED brake and tail lights are modern and add an air of safety and appeal. I chose black paint over the dark-blue interior (instead of the light brown found in 80% of this exterior color) with no options in EX trim. This level offers attractive, lightweight alloy rims that dramatically improve the appearance over the standard wheel covers.



Service
The automatically-programmed service reminder system came-on at about 10,000 miles and was down to 5% oil life remaining and "service due now" messages at 11,300. I pulled up to the dealer with no appointment, got an oil change and filter (declined the $23 tire rotation -- can perform myself), and used my free oil change coupon. 45 minutes later, it was ready. Easy, smooth, and I wasn't hassled in the waiting area to buy a new car.

Conclusion
Overall, you get a new, Honda 5-door hybrid, near the $20K mark and you only sacrifice a few quirks over the competition. It will come in 2nd place in many categories, but almost always 1st in value. It's not the "Gold" standard, but "Silver" is still darn good in this Economy. If you're in the market, take it for a spin and drive the others. Calculate what you need, what you want, and budget it out. You might be pleasantly surprised...

Vitals as Tested:
Model: 2010 Honda Insight
Trim Level : EX
Price: $21,000 (Options: None)
Body Style: 5-Door Hatchback
Engine: 1.3L SOHC Low-Friction Inline-4 with 2-Stage Variable Valve Timing and Lift, 8-valves, Multi-Point Injection (2 per cylinder)
Transmission: CVT with 7-Ratio Manual Mode and Selectable Sport Mode
Motor/Generator: Brushless DC (13 hp at 1500 RPM, 58 lb-ft of torque at 1000 rpm)
Battery Pack: Nickel-Metal Hydride rated at 101-Volts - 5.75 amp-hours
Engine: 98 HP and 123 lb·ft of torque at 5800 rpm; 10.8:1 Compression Ratio
Fuel: 87 Octane Unleaded
Forward Gear Ratios: 3.172–0.529 infinite
Final Drive = 4.20:1
Drag Coefficient: 0.28
Frontal Area: 21.9 sq. ft.
Curb Weight: 2727 lbs.
Lifetime FE: 44.73 MPG at 9.0% Above EPA Combined Cycle

__________________
“If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research” ― Albert Einstein

_
_
  Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to RH77 For This Useful Post:
CigaR007 (03-26-2011)
Alt Today
Popular topics

Other popular topics in this forum...

   
Old 03-26-2011, 11:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
Efficiency Aficionado
 
CigaR007's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 636

GreenTurtle (Retired) - '01 Toyota Echo Sedan
90 day: 44.85 mpg (US)

Zulu - '14 Honda CR-Z
90 day: 47.95 mpg (US)
Thanks: 139
Thanked 167 Times in 114 Posts
Thank you for the thorough review ! Much appreciated.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-26-2011, 11:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
Engineering first
 
bwilson4web's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 791

14 i3-REx - '14 BMW i3-REx
Last 3: 45.67 mpg (US)

17 Prime Plus - '17 Toyota Prius Prime Plus
90 day: 58.25 mpg (US)
Thanks: 76
Thanked 196 Times in 126 Posts
We went with the 2010 Prius (ZVW30) but the new Insight is a good, compact, hybrid. We needed more space and I hit my head trying to get in the Insight. I'm also impressed with the user reported MPG at www.fueleconomy.gov.

Currently I commute with a 2003 Prius and the Honda Insight compares well with that compact car. But the 2003 Prius is paided off and the 52 MPG is sweet when gas runs $3.50/gallon.

Bob Wilson
__________________
2019 Std. Range Plus Model 3 - 134 MPG3 || 2014 BMW i3-REx - 117 MPGe, 39 MPG
JuiceBox 40 Pro (240 VAC, 40 A), KHONS portable (120-240 VAC, 12-32 A)
Retired engineer, Huntsville, AL (five times AutoPilot saved.)
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2011, 01:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
Depends on the Day
 
RH77's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Kansas City Area
Posts: 1,761

Teggy - '98 Acura Integra LS
Sports Cars
90 day: 32.74 mpg (US)

IMA - '10 Honda Insight EX
Team Honda
90 day: 34.76 mpg (US)

Tessie - '06 Acura TSX Base
90 day: 28.2 mpg (US)
Thanks: 31
Thanked 41 Times in 35 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwilson4web View Post
We went with the 2010 Prius (ZVW30) but the new Insight is a good, compact, hybrid. We needed more space and I hit my head trying to get in the Insight. I'm also impressed with the user reported MPG at Fuel Economy.

Currently I commute with a 2003 Prius and the Honda Insight compares well with that compact car. But the 2003 Prius is paided off and the 52 MPG is sweet when gas runs $3.50/gallon.

Bob Wilson
I've had a chance to rent the 3 generations of Priuses, and really enjoyed driving each one. When it came time to buy, I was really looking for more of a commuter car for just me, with the added responsibility of occasional family hauling. My Wife's TSX has the room to haul 4 passengers + the driver (and large trunk space), so the compact and economical construction of the Insight offered the solution for not needing more space (plus our experience with Honda/Acura has been great over the years). The Integra does the rough stuff (3rd car, Winter, highway trips for work, cargo hauling, and extended outdoor parking) and has long been paid off, so the work mileage essentially goes to a routine repair fund -- plus, it has been a great FE experiment car since I started my FE journey.

Basically, I just need to hone my skills with the Hybrid drivetrain to maximize results since I drive both the gassers and the Insight regularly.

RH77

__________________
“If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research” ― Albert Einstein

_
_
  Reply With Quote
Reply  Post New Thread


Thread Tools




Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.5.2
All content copyright EcoModder.com