Were the economy exactly what was obviously a year . 5 ago when Wall Street was in full Go-Go-Mode, it’s doubtful anybody seriously looking for an all-new Prius gives Honda’s new Insight a 2nd glance. Sure, they are a lot alike, but understand, they’re two starkly different automobiles. Different in size: Dimensionally, the Insight is often a confirmed compact as the new Prius has expanded its interior volume enough to put it somewhere midpack from the midsize category. Different in hybrid technology: What they mainly share is battery chemistry. And different in price, with a price spread adequate enough drive an automobile a number of home loan payments through. Unfortunately, the economy has subsequently put these kinds of simple thinking in to a coffee grinder and pressed the top down.
Today, most folks’ household budgets are getting the fine-tooth-comb treatment, as well as the sound of needing a lot of the Prius’s mileage bang for a lot less buck carries a rather nice ring with it. And complicate things, Honda has baited its Insight’s hook with bodywork that’s so Prius-like it borders on copyright infringement.
A little while ago, our late friend and Toyota hybrid guru, Dave Hermance, admitted Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) was the better approach for low-cost cars (though he was quick to incorporate that Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive gains the top hand as size and value increase). Well, Honda has finally pulled the trigger and built Toyota’s worst nightmare.
The Insight may be the car an accountant would recommend-and maybe demand reading that disastrous 401K statement of yours. Imagine paying $24 for any fill-up that offers a 435-mile driving range. That got your interest, didn’t it? Which has a base tariff of $20,470 and also a combined EPA mileage rating of 41 mpg, the Insight should be the supreme financial hedge against this wacko economy and seesawing oil prices. Regardless of the hell happens, you’ll endure it nicely within an Insight.
And thus should Honda. Powered through the pancaked blend of an 88-horse,1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and a 13-horse motor unit masquerading like a flywheel, the Insight’s mild hybrid machinery would in the beginning seem to be fairly typical IMA fare. But it isn’t. Honda proceeded to go berserk using the details, wringing cost out every way it could: miniaturizing components, axing the Civic Hybrid engine’s third i-VTEC cam mode, cutting the piston’s costs in two, and shrinking battery pack. This means that the Insight’s “hybrid premium” has become slashed Forty percent compared to the Civic Hybrid’s. Wow.
Unfortunately, the cost-cutting is equally apparent traveling. As well as its road noise (higher than you’d expect even just in a sub-$20,000 car), the miscroscopic engine adds a unique racket its own whenever you place the follow it. Plus the ride isn’t exactly spongeville either, as was astutely perceived by my three-year-old rear passenger strapped within his car seat: “Dad, you’re driving really rough!” It is the car, young dude, it is the car.
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