Alright Y'all, I swung by the local Honda dealer ship and test drove the insight. Pics and review follow
Date: April 2, 2009
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Keeler Honda
Vehicle Tested: Honda Insight EX without Navi
Showed up at Keeler Honda at 7:00 PM to meet Rex, the helpful sales guy that promised me the Insight test drive. He met me right away and told me that the model they had available for test drives was out being driven by a prospective customer and in the meanwhile offered to show me the Insight's on the lot.
Saw both the EX & LX models. The LX ofcourse lacks VSA, heated side mirrors, and the fancy accoutrements that the EX has. It however includes the "ECON" button function. I noticed that the LX had black steel wheels and asked Rex whether hubcaps were an option. He told me that the hubcaps came with the car but that the dealership had not installed them. We walked around the car and I took a few pictures.
The Insight I was going to drive came back from a test drive, and we took possession of the vehicle for a test. Rex opened up the hatch and then pulled out the foam cover around the spare tire wheel well to show me where the batteries were located. He then folded the rear seats flat and the Insight seemed like it had more room than my wife's Impreza that I drove to the dealership. We put the rear seats back up and got in the back seat and the seating seemed ok for short drives and it seated both of us (6 ft 0 inches) in decent comfort. I craned my neck a little though and could touch the ceiling with my head. Getting in & out was fine. Interior materials are typical Honda with good fit & finish, ergonomically pleasing and easy on the eyes.
I told Rex that I was there only to test drive the car and would like to experience both ECON mode and Sport. I told him that the CRZ was what I was waiting for and that the Insight test drive was to get a feel for the CVT that would be installed in the CRZ.
Got in the drivers seat and the dash lit up in a rainbow wash of colors to welcome me. Rex explained a few functions and buttons on the steering wheel and then pointed me on the longest route that Keeler Honda would allow. Once the engine was started I put the AC on full blast and then switched the ECON button on. Soon as I put the car into gear I could palpably feel the Honda nanny dulling my acceleration input and the AC also was adjusted automatically for economy.
I drove out into traffic on Route 7 and was quite happy with ECON. In my opinion for someone that drives in slow moving city traffic, this is a good setting as long as there is no need for rapid acceleration - you are saving gas and winning the dashboard game (growing stalks and leaves) as long as you have all the time in the world. I decided I wanted to accelerate past the Crown Vic moving slowly ahead of me and with the car in ECON I hit the paddle shifter once as I floored the pedal, the dash turned Blue (its green as long as you are driving economically) and the engine revved all the way upto around 4000 RPM as I swung past the Crown Vic, and made a sharp right turn on Rex's instruction. We went down a curvy road in Niskayuna and I decided I wanted to get into sport. I shifted the transmission into sport and could feel the car come alive and respond to all my inputs. We went around an S curve and I downshifted to maintain speed through the corners. The CVT was responsive as were the brakes. We then turned left on a two-lane road that had a few curves. On this road I downshifted to 3rd and by the time I got to 7th I was doing 75 and the car seemed well poised for something that is riding on zero-resistance tires and that did not have a sporty suspension. Downshifting and maintaining speed through the corners was fast as the CVT is very responsive (more so than in the RDX in my opinion).
The fun finally came to an end after about 3 miles of driving and I pulled back into the Keeler lot with a heavy heart. I must add here that I was at home once I got into the Insight. The seats are typical Honda supportive in cloth and the driving position was very neat. The drive is typical of a Honda and if Mugen suspension and aero parts become available there should be no problem for someone that wants to drive the car hard. I must add here that I did not have a favorable impression about CVT's going into this test and the Insight won me over. The paddle-shifters make the car feel responsive and as long as you keep the car revving around the 4K rev limit, you should have no problem passing most traffic easily.
Exterior & Interior:
- The blue finish around the HID headlamps does not look very good on the burgundy colored Insight I drove and looks acceptable on the White & blue cars.It looks kinda cheap and I'm not sure how appealing it will look as the car ages.
- Rearward visibility, another concern of mine, evaporated as soon as I got into the Insight and backed it out of a spot. The Insight has typical visibility that we've all come to except of big H.
- The turn indicator lamps mounted below on the front bumper look like LEDs from afar but upon close inspection, you can see a regular bulb hiding in there.
All in all the Insight proved to be a lot of fun and this bodes well for all of us awaiting the arrival of the CRZ.
My Verdict: Numero Uno choice for the hypermiler that also wants to have fun. This should beat a Prius around a track although it is slower to 60 than the Prius