The most fuel-efficient car on the market doesn't have
the word "hybrid" in its name, but that's exactly
what enables it to produce outstanding EPA ratings. But
this title is not something new to the Insight. As the first
mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid, the Insight has
been dominating the tiny segment for years.
Unfortunately, the word "tiny" must be used to
describe the hybrid class. American manufacturers haven't
taken much of a look at entering the fray, though there
are signs of that changing.
Insight is a two-seat hatchback coupe. It is light and
easy to handle, but it is also very safe.
The 2005 Honda Insight is offered in one trim, with air
conditioning available as an add-on.
If you do decide to pick up the air conditioning option,
you will be pleased to discover that it is a system that
includes automatic climate control.
As mentioned, the Insight will sit two passengers with
ease. It has a standard features list that includes electric
power steering, power windows and mirrors, power door locks
with keyless entry and an anti-theft Immobilizer system.
Also on the list is an AM/FM/CD player, a digital clock,
a tachometer, a trip computer, intermittent wipers, a rear
defogger and a rear wiper/washer.
Part of the Insight's conserving nature is due to its lightweight,
aerodynamic, aluminum-intensive body and chassis combination.
It delivers a low 0.25 coefficient of drag.
The Insight employs Honda's unique Integrated Motor Assist
(IMA) system that couples a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder gasoline
engine with a thin, lightweight electric motor. It is able
to muster 73 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 79 lb-ft of torque
at 2000 rpm.
The IMA system recaptures energy from the car's momentum
during braking and deceleration, with the electric motor
acting as a generator that automatically recharges the batteries
so that it never needs to be plugged in. The IMA system
also uses an "idle stop" feature that automatically
turns off the engine when the car is not moving to reduce
unnecessary fuel consumption and emissions.
Two transmissions are offered-5-speed manual and continuously
variable automatic (CVT). On models equipped with the CVT,
the engine automatically restarts when the driver's foot
is removed from the brake, and on 5-speed models it restarts
when first gear is engaged.
This is the big selling point: manual models have a fuel
rating of 60/66 mpg, while CVT models get 57/56 mpg.
Safety and Security
Antilock brakes and dual front airbags are standard.