This week were looking at the Honda Insight Hybrid gas and electric vehicle. Next week we’ll be looking at Toyota’s version, the Prius. In any case, they’ve finally begun to develop alternative fuel cars that work. And what a great transition these are to totally non-fossil fuel propulsion cars. I’ll tell you right up front that I really like this car. Engineer friend Merkel, who teaches at the College of Design in Pasadena, was very impressed as well and says this is one of the most sophisticated cars on the road today. That sophistication includes a change over between gas and electric that is totally transparent to the driver because it is totally automatic.
This past couple of weeks has been an eye opener for me that confirms where I believe the auto industry is going. It has to – just look at gas prices. Where do you think the industry is going? Let me know at www.atthewheel.com.
A slight preview of next weeks Toyota’s Prius Hybrid is that it is a 4-door five-seater commuter that eliminates one of the two drawbacks I noted for the Honda. It’s only a two-seater. The second drawback, however, applies to both of these new innovative gas and electric cars, and that is the purchase price. Both are high relative to the gas benefit.
A few years ago I tested the Saturn EV1 and thought that was an embarrassing effort from American automakers. Now we should be even more embarrassed as we ask the question, “why is it that the real electric cars must come out of Japan”? Second question is, “Have we lost our inventive and innovative flair”, or is it an American conspiracy from the “Mega-Monopoly” auto industry? Your thoughts are welcomed.
Handling & Performance:
Outstanding for the most part, but you’ll find you have to learn to drive differently. Although there is good acceleration and it’s adequate for average driving, one noticeable difference is that you have to anticipate passing situations. There is a delay in getting the battery to kick in to give you passing speed. But once you get it rolling, it really moves. I didn’t get to see what the top end is, but it was still pulling well at 102 mph.
I’m sure the gas performance has been verified, but not even the “little old lady from Pasadena”, could get 70 mpg out of this car. But then, she has a lead foot like me.
I have mixed emotions and found that people either hate or love it. It’s evident that aerodynamics was the main objective of this design.
Fit and Finish:
Typical Japanese quality – nice job.
Good. Most everything is standard where the competition leaves several features as options. For example the Metro, by comparison, makes the following features optional: ABS brakes, power door locks, FM radio and cassette, and power windows are not even available.
A little pricey even though introduction of this high mileage vehicle couldn’t be better timed considering a doubling of gas prices in the past few months. You do the math and even with the increase in gas cost, you’ll find it takes ten years of driving to recoup the increased cost over a Chevy Metro that gets about 36-42 mpg from a gas only power plant.
And we won’t know what the real cost of this Honda is, until we know more about repair and maintenance of this new high technology power plant. I doubt a total meltdown will result, but there is no history to look back to.
Look at the high mileage commuters along with this Gas/Electric option. This would be the ultimate commuter if it were priced better. For example you’d only pay half of the cost of this Honda for the Metro, and as noted above you don’t give up all that much.
Chevrolet Metro $9,235-10,600, Hyundai Accent $8,999-9,699, Suzuki Swift $9,099-10,099, Toyota Prius $19,995, Volkswagen Golf $14,900-17,900.
High mileage, smooth ride, handles well, good storage area.
Pricey, only manual transmission, two seater, I couldn’t verify the gas stats and only got 50 + mpg out of my lead foot, unknown maintenance costs.
1.0-liter 73 horsepower 3-cylinder gas engine with electric motor assist, idle stop feature, 5-speed manual transmission, front disc anti lock brakes, electric power assist steering, dual air bags, anti theft, remote keyless entry, climate control, stereo with cassette, power windows and door locks, power mirrors, rear window wiper/washer.
61 City and 70 Highway MPG.
Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.