Why Are Keys So Fat
Why is it that the part of a car key that you have to stick into a key ring is so damn fat? With rare exception, modern keys have these chunky plastic ends that make it nearly impossible to fit through that tight little key ring without breaking a nail, forever separating the ring wires or coming up with new usages for words that rhyme with duck. And it’s not just the thickness, the plastic doesn’t create a sharp enough edge to force open the metal ring.
With the Insight in my custody for a while, I thought I’d divorce it from its giant leather key tag Honda insists on placing on its press car keys and put the fob/key on my own key ring. Five minutes and a Takahashi later, old one-armed Riswick managed to get the thing on the ring. This is obviously not a Honda or even a recent issue. Check out my ancient BMW key. Same problem. And actually, these aren’t the worst â Ford’s is enormous and square shaped.
Volkswagen/Audi and GM are the only entities I can think of at the moment that places a thin metal piece at the end of their flip fob. Actually, the regular GM key is also pretty thin as well though not made of metal. It’s a simple thing and something you don’t have to deal with much, but it’s an irritant nevertheless.
What Is A Hybrid High Voltage Battery
Hybrid vehicles which use internal combustion engines and electronic motors must have a storage location for electricity when it is not being used to propel the vehicle. Whether the system uses the ICE and brakes to charge the battery or a combination of the brakes and a power plug, the high voltage electrical battery is necessary to store the high voltage needed to run the large electric motor.
Where’s The Gas Door Release
For those of you who fairly guessed, congratulations. For those of you who cheated by looking at the photo name, I’ll try better next time. For those of you who insulted me, your mother’s cooking sucks and your father is a descendant of gypsies.
But yes, the Honda Insight lacks the gas door release pull of every Honda product I can remember.* Pulling into the gas station, I opened the door and by instinct leaned down to the floor to pull . Instead, there was nothing but carpet.
Confused, I got out and walked to the gas door itself. There was no pull indentation like on a Ford. Therefore, I pushed the door like I would with a BMW, GM or many others â out it popped. Unlike other such designs, though, the door doesn’t lock along with the doors. There’s nothing to prevent someone from sticking a garden hose or something worse in your gas tank , which is what I’ve always assumed was the point of the remote gas door release.
How do you chalk this up to anything but cost cutting?
* Update: Guess who’s never filled up our long-term Fit? That would be me, who went down to the garage last night and popped open the Fit’s gas cap by pressing it. Make it 2 Hondas.
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One Important Upgrade Over The Fit
Our 2010 Honda Insight EX has one very important thing that our 2009 Honda Fit EX does not: seat-height adjustment for the driver.
The ability to move the seat up and down goes some distance in making the Insight a more comfortable place to sit. I road-tripped an earlier 2010 Insight test car and found the driver seat adequate for 7 hours of driving.
That said, I think the lower-mounted seat and extra seat-track travel made possible by the Insight’s longer wheelbase also contribute to a more natural seating position.
Day 3 On The Disabled List
So given my injury, which had nothing to do with dancing or curling , I’m constantly coming up with ways to make my life a little less strenuous. While the Insight’s electric power steering makes low-speed maneuvers easier than most cars south of Toyota, there have been times this week when I could’ve pulled into a parking spot a little smoother and quicker, and with less strain on my wrist.
Then I thought of those knobs you used to see on old timey cars without power steering and on some ride-on lawn mowers. I thought, “hey, why not go down to Pep Boys and pick one up.” Well, as Magrath was quick to point out, they’re illegal in California and most states because they live up to their suicide knob label. I guess planting your head on one during a crash is nastier than just ramming your head into an airbagless wheel hub. They’re also bound to make people even lazier and prone to wildly excessive steering inputs.
P.S. Someone did correctly guess my injury and the circumstances on Wednesday
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A Hatchback Before A Hybrid
I fit the basic profile of a hybrid car owner. I live in Santa Monica. I shop at Trader Joe’s, the farmers market and occasionally Whole Foods. I bring my own cloth grocery bags. I buy organic milk. I voted for… well, you get the idea.
I have in the past recommended to friends and family members that they might be happy with a Prius. But not for the obvious reasons. For the hatchback thing.
The main reason I like our 2010 Honda Insight, for example, is that it’s a hatchback. No, there’s not enough space back here for a large dog and luggage for a family of four. But groceries for four? No problem, and the lightweight liftgate, low liftover and wide opening make them very easy to load.
Here’s a thought: Ninety percent of the minute-to-minute satisfaction Insight and Prius owners get from their cars is related to their hatchback body style and its inherent practicality. Once we get past the initial thrill of EPA ratings, American acceptance of hybrids has little to do with fuel economy and plenty to do with a pent-up desire for hatchbacks.
Time For An Oil Change
A service light has been coming on at startup in our 2010 Honda Insight EX since Tuesday night. Checking the owner’s manual, I learned that the “Service Due Now” message indicates that estimated oil life is somewhere between 1 and 5 percent . If the car perceives that its oil quality has dropped to 0 percent, you’d see a “Service Past Due” message.
Honda uses letter and number codes in the Insight to indicate what type of service the car requires. “A” indicates a basic oil change with no oil filter change. “1” indicates a tire rotation.
When I dropped our Insight off for service this morning, the service advisor was slightly dismayed that we were seeing “A” rather than “B.” The latter indicates a more major service , and he thought the car should be asking for “B” given that it’s nearing the 10,000-mile mark. But it’s not, so we’re doing the cheaper “A1” service.
I’ll give you a rundown of the final costs after we pick the car up later today.
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Cruise Control And Paddle Shifters
This weekend I had our 2010 Honda Insight for a long trek up to Northern California so I had the chance to get acquainted with the cruise control. Turns out, not a huge fan. It’s no surprise that it’s not responsive when you press the “Accel” button on the steering wheel since this car doesn’t have that much power to begin with but when you press “Decel” and have to wait seconds for it to react? Not good. Plus you have to basically hold it down firmly, no quick jabs lasting less than 2 seconds, it seemed. Because of this I found it more effective to downshift with the paddle shifters when I wanted to slow down without pressing the brakes.
Sure, I did appreciate cruise when there weren’t any other cars around, but as soon as I saw a car getting on the freeway from the on-ramp, I’d just hit “Cancel” which slows the Insight down faster than if I had just pressed the decelerate button a bunch of times. Eh, maybe it’s technique and getting accustomed to the way it works. But just saying, compared to other cruise control systems I’ve encountered this one isn’t all that responsive.
I did like the paddle shifters, though. And I think that “S” on the gearshifter that is meant for, don’t laugh, “sport” mode or manual since it allows for you to solely use the paddle shifters to upshift and downshift. You can still use the paddles for the regular “D” mode, too, but as soon as you press the accelerator or brakes, it clears the gear you initially selected. I do like that.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Hybrid High Voltage Battery
Hybrid high voltage batteries most commonly fail as a result of memory or one or more bad cells. When batteries fail due to memory or degradation of cells the vehicle will loose efficiency . This is because the battery can no longer propel the vehicle with as much energy or for as long as it was previously capable. In some cases, the service hybrid battery warning light will display, and the vehicle may no longer be able to drive as an electric vehicle, or even support the ICE with hybrid power. In the worst cases, the vehicle may be completely disabled, even though the 12-volt electronics still function.
Suspense In The Fast Lane
I love my 10-year-old Acura TL, but it’s definitely an antique when it comes to its audio system . I’m addicted to recorded books, but my aftermarket solution for in-car listening to the scads of books I have on my iPod is completely inadequate for city driving, relying as it does on finding a clear FM channel on the very crowded L.A. band.
So while there are a lot of things I don’t like about driving the Insight, such as its sluggish acceleration and less-than-posh interior, I am enjoying its simple-to-use iPod . Listening to a mystery by Swedish writer Henning Mankell really makes the miles fly by. Who did kill that Latvian police major, anyway?
Honda Eco Assist System
The system monitors and displays the positive or negative effect of a driving style on the vehicle’s fuel economy.
As a visual aid, the background of the Insight’s digital speedometer glows green when the car is being driven in an efficient manner. Somewhat less-efficient driving makes the meter glow blue-green. Aggressive starts and stops that consume extra fuel make the meter glow blue. By observing the color shift of the speedometer background, the driver receives assistance in developing driving habits that typically enhance fuel economy.
In addition, ECO ASSIST includes a dedicated ECON button that enables the driver to initiate a range of functions that increase the fuel economy of the IMA system via a single button press. In ECON mode, the driver trades off a measure of performance for enhanced fuel economy but gains the following advantages:
- Increases the potential for engaging the Idle Stop feature sooner
- Operates air conditioning more in recirculation mode
- Reduces automatic climate control blower fan speed
- Optimizes throttle angle input and CVT operation
- Limits power and torque by approximately 4 percent
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I Want Just One Cool Feature To Rave About
Wind generators in the Tehachapi Pass behind the 2010 Honda Insight. Photo by Andrew Reed.
If only I didn’t know about the Toyota Prius.
If I had never driven a Prius I would think that the 2010 Honda Insight EX was a cutting edge, ultra high tech wonder. But the fact that Honda is only now introducing the Insight, after the redesigned Prius has been in the market since 2004, seems like a real misstep.
I drove the Insight about 500 miles last week and enjoyed it . But I came away thinking, “Give me just one cool, knockout feature to rave about and I’ll remain a loyal Honda fan.” And on top of this, the styling begs â almost demands â comparisons to the Prius.
I wanted to think that the lower price tag of the Insight was a good reason to buy it. Looking at sticker prices, the LX Insight could goes for $19,800 while the cheapest Prius is $22,000 â a difference of $2,200. But the Prius is more powerful while delivering better fuel efficiency. However, the Prius seems greener by driving at low speeds in all-electric model.
I’m not saying that the Insight isn’t a very capable car. Around town, this gas sipper is quiet and efficient. For a single commuter it would do the job without complaint. But it comes off as an imitation of a break-through car. I guess you could say that Toyota still owns this territory.
A Few Thoughts From The Garage
The more I drive our long-term 2010 Honda Insight, the more I think that Honda really didn’t anticipate how vastly improved the 2010 Toyota Prius would be.
For sure, Honda’s take two on the Insight is a better-driving car than the second-generation 2004-2009 Priuses that lurk in every Southern California subdivision. But alongside the third-gen Prius, the case for the Insight is much tougher to make. It has a harsher, noisier ride and a smaller, lower-buck cabin. And I don’t think the Insight’s slightly sportier steering and crisper turn-in are enough to offset this stuff â to say nothing of its lower EPA mpg ratings.
Ultimately, the Insight only works for me if I think of it as a Civic alternative. It’s a five-door hatchback and I sure can’t get this functionality in a current-gen Civic. And I love its JDM face. You see a bunch of Hondas with this face if you walk around in Japan, but it’s still unusual and fresh looking in the U.S.
So my appreciation for the 2010 Insight is a little shallow, but you might be a little shallow, too, if you parked in this company.
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Losing The Sales Race
It’s a little soon to predict what the long-term sales outlook might be for the Honda Insight, although you have to say that there’s less of them on the street than there ought to be. For September, just 1,746 Insights hit the street. In the same period, 10,964 examples of the Prius were sold. Amazing, no?
Maybe one reason is the Honda Insight is not so different from every other Honda. It’s practical, hyper-efficient and affordable, which is pretty much what you can say about the Honda Fit, the Honda Civic, the Honda Accord and everything else with a Honda badge. In comparison, the Toyota Prius is the only Toyota with a smart, cool persona, so it has less competition on the Toyota showroom floor.
If you want a futuristic Toyota, there’s just one car to buy. If you want a futuristic Honda, there’s a big selection of them. Maybe it’s no wonder that the Toyota Prius leads the Insight so dramatically in the sales race.
And maybe it’s no wonder that Carlos Ghosn has set Nissan to the very expensive task of developing technology for the Nissan Leaf plug-in. When you have a range of fine but ordinary cars like Toyota does and the Prius hybrid is the only one with enough car-ness to make people care, then the lesson for every car-maker is clear. You can love the electric car or hate it, but it’s the only sort of thing that registers with ordinary consumers. If you want your brand to be cool, then you must have an electric car.
Consumer Reports Is Wrong Imho
I read about Consumer Reports’ dislike of the 2010 Honda Insight with some surprise: Among hybrids, the Mk II Insight simply is not a bad car.
Does it drive like other Hondas? Absolutely not. But I thought by now we all knew, that until we find a smaller, lighter solution than nickel-metal hydride batteries, hybrids will be weird, awkward things to drive. CR noted, “The Insight… is nothing like the on which it is based.” No, of course it isn’t.
But among all the hybrids I’ve driven in the last 5 years, the 2010 Honda Insight comes the closest to being a car I could stand to drive every day. It has something resembling steering feel as you add input going into a corner, and that’s rare for a hybrid. I also happen to like the firm-ish suspension tuning, which lets you imagine that you are connected to what the tires are doing.
It’s a stiff ride, mind you. And not a quiet one. But the Fit’s not plush or quiet, either. If you want plush and quiet, you want a 2010 Prius though you’ll still have the “clumsy handling” problem.
So, judged as a hybrid, the 2010 Honda Insight is a likable car. Ask it to play like a Fit, and well, it might disappoint you.
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A Roadtrip From Three Povs
I had our 2010 Honda Insight for an 800-mile roundtrip roadtrip I was taking up north this holiday weekend with my brother and editor Jay. Jay was the driver, I was the front-seat passenger and my bro was in the backseat by himself. I present our thoughts about the Insight as a road trip car.
Jay: “The road noise didn’t get out of control at freeway speeds as expected, not as big of an issue as I thought but there was wind noise at the A-pillars at freeway speeds. The Insight has a sports car ride but not sports car handling, choppy ride, with short travel. Most prominent thing on a long freeway trip is its directional stability, . It’s a subtle thing, a lot of drivers probably wouldn’t notice that they’re making constant corrections but I did. It’s a mental drain on a long trip, requiring more concentration than otherwise. We had some crosswinds on the way up and that wasn’t helping.”
My brother : “I didn’t mind the legroom when sitting behind Caroline . And the road noise didn’t bother me. It was decently comfortable back there and I liked resting my head in that space between the headrests.”
I did appreciate the extra storage space on the side door for holding my snacks, extra water bottle and my iPhone. And I liked being able to easily scroll through the playlists and songs on my iPod from the car’s audio/nav screen. Interestingly enough, the recirc button was effective during drivebys of most of the cattle farms along I-5 all except the huge one near Coalinga. Blech.