Honda's new 2010 Insight five-door dedicated hybrid vehicle has become the most affordable in America, with a sticker price below $20,000.
With distinctive style, the five-seater is powered by an 'integrated motor assist' (IMA) system comprising a 1.3-liter i-VTEC gasoline engine and a 10-kilowatt electric motor that together contribute to an EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy rating of 40 / 43 miles per square gallon.
It also features the 'ecological drive assist system' (Eco Assist), an innovation that Honda says can further enhance efficient vehicle operation while providing feedback related to individual driving styles.
"The all-new Honda Insight brings the cost of entry for hybrid technology within closer reach of an entirely new car-shopping audience," said Dick Colliver, executive vice-president, American Honda.
"In addition to making good environmental sense, hybrid technology is now entering a new era where it can also make financial sense for a broader range of customers."
A sleek exterior blends design elements from the original 2000 Insight's highly aerodynamic side profile with a front-end design similar to the hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity, a marquee environmental product for Honda.
The interior offers a roomy passenger environment with a configurable rear seating and cargo area that benefits from 60/40 split fold-down seats.
Major features standard to the Insight LX include front, front-side and side-curtain airbags; an anti-lock braking system; a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT); Eco Assist; automatic climate control; tilt and telescope steering column; manual driver's seat height adjustment; power windows; a four-speaker AM/FM audio system with CD player and auxiliary audio input for external digital music players; and much more.
A premium version of the Insight is also available: the Insight EX
The Insight's IMA system has the capability to operate exclusively on electric power in certain low- to mid-speed cruising conditions. It can also provide cylinder deactivation during deceleration and an idle-stop feature when the vehicle is stationary. With a 10.6-gallon fuel tank, the Insight delivers an estimated maximum driving range exceeding 400 miles. Models for sale in California and states that have adopted the California Air Resources Board (CARB) ZEV standards receive an 'advanced technology partial zero emissions vehicle' (AT-PZEV) emissions rating.
Eco Assist helps drivers achieve improved real-world fuel economy. It is a feature designed to help drivers optimize fuel efficiency for their given set of driving conditions. Pressing the ECON button can further enhance the efficiency of multiple vehicle systems: throttle control, CVT operation, idle-stop duration, air conditioning and cruise-control operation (Insight EX only).
Eco Assist also provides feedback about driving style via a 3D-appearing background within the speedometer.
The background changes colours from green to blue to reflect how efficiently or inefficiently the driver is accelerating or braking (green = efficient). The driver's results are continuously tracked as fuel-economy ratings are shown per drive cycle and on a lifetime basis in the form of plant-leaf graphics that appear in the multi-information display (MID). Up to five leaves can be 'earned' as the driver demonstrates a fuel-efficient driving style. A real-time score is shown in the Eco Guide MID screen.
Standard safety features on all Insights include dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags; front-side airbags with a passenger-side 'occupant position detection system' (OPDS); side-curtain airbag system; anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution (EBD); driver's and front-passenger's active head restraints and a front body designed to mitigate pedestrian injuries.
The vehicle also feature Honda's 'advanced compatibility engineering; (ACE) body structure, which provides improved frontal-crash compatibility between vehicles of different size and ride height.