Honda’s 60-MPG Surprise
When Honda announced that the new 2010 Honda Insight would “only” average about 41 or 42 mpg, some hybrid fans wondered what went wrong. Forget that Honda’s goal with the new five-door model is affordability, not maximum mileage. The major ding against hybrids has been extra cost, and Honda was aiming once and for all to prove that gas-electric technology could come with a modest price tag—in this case about $19,000. (No official exact price yet.)
Nonetheless the company’s revival of the “Insight” badge set an expectation that Honda would regain the mpg crown from the Toyota Prius. The first-generation Honda Insight—retired in 2006—was rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 70 mpg on the highway (which translates to about 65 mpg in the EPA’s updated system). That’s a far cry from the Insight’s expected highway mileage around 43 mpg.
Just when expectations for the Honda Insight were being recalibrated… Surprise! The first set of real-world road tests of the 2010 Honda Insight are arriving, and they are consistently higher than 60 mpg. Auto journalists using a smidgen of care—a light foot on the accelerator, staying at legal speeds, and coasting when possible—are getting these remarkable results, with some help from the “econ” mode and the dashboard’s interactive color-coded feedback system.
The EPA will soon release the results of its lab tests; official numbers on the window sticker may very well be around 40 mpg. But based on the experiences of the following journalists, just about any driver who wants to get 60+ on the highway in the 2010 Honda Insight will be able to.
Excerpts from Road Tests
Edward Loh, Motor Trend – 63.7 MPG
“The A/C is off, and I’ve got the windows sealed tight to maximize my aerodynamic efficiency. I don’t think the radio reduces the output of my Honda Insight’s IMA system, but I have it off just in case. All I can hear is the quiet hum of the tires as I try to keep my speedo green and the gas engine from firing up…I pull in, soaked and elated: My instantaneous average looks to be 63.7 mpg through this mostly city course. That’s over 20 mpg higher than the 43 mpg those ninnies at the EPA got on the highway.”
Sam Abuelsamid, Autobloggreen – 63.4 MPG
“The [test drive] loop consisted of mostly stop and go driving over varied terrain (up and down hills) with speed limits ranging from 25-55 mph in and around Carefree, Arizona. I stuck to the speed limits and kept a light foot on the throttle and brake pedals. With the speedometer up above the steering wheel, the colored background [providing efficiency feedback] was easily visible in my peripheral vision. Glancing down to the main efficiency indicator graph helped to optimize my driving style. With all the feedback I was able to achieve 62.2 mpg over the 16-mile loop. A second attempt later in the afternoon yielded an even better 63.4 mpg.”
Jerry Garrett, New York Times – 65 mpg
“After failing to get exceptional mileage at the press introduction of the new Honda Insight, I was eager for a retrial. A few weeks later, I drove an Insight for another 1,000 miles with better results. My drive was broken into segments of 40 to 80 miles. Mileage on the early sections was similarly unimpressive. But one of the later segments, of 82 miles, yielded 65 mpg at an average speed of 65 mph.”