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Honda Insight

The Honda Insight Hybrid automobile is perhaps the world's most fuel-efficient production vehicle. For certain, the Honda Insight Hybrid was the first mass produced hybrid car to hit the market, dating back to its introduction in 2000.

The Honda Insight Hybrid is one of only two cars (Toyota Prius being the other) to break the 60 mpg barrier so far with the 5-speed manual transmission model coming it at 61 mpg city/66 mpg highway. Other independent reports have had the Insight coming it at over 70 mpg in some circumstances.

The Honda Insight achieves its excellent gas mileage rating through its 2-seater, lightweight aluminum design, plastic body panels, extreme aerodynamics, an efficient 1.0-liter 3-cylinder 12-valve, SOHC VTEC® aluminum gasoline engine with an ultra thin, lightweight electric motor that kicks in when extra power is needed. The Insight contains a linear air-fuel sensor and lean-burn NOx catalyst that allows the use of stratified-charge lean burn combustion technology.



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The Honda Insight Hybrid comes with either a 5-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The CVT generates slightly less efficient fuel economy at 57 city and 56 hwy mpg, but also gets a slightly higher fuel emissions rating as a Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle (PZEV) as compared to the manual transmission, which receives a Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) rating. The Honda Insight Hybrid is also a long-range vehicle needing to be refueled every 500 - 600 miles.

Honda was first to market with the gasoline-electric Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system. The super-efficient 3-cylinder engine runs most of the time and gets a boost as needed from the electric motor, which runs off of a bank of 120 D-size nickel-metal hydride batteries (with a total output of 144 volts) housed under the cargo floor.

The Insight also uses a regenerative braking system, where the electric motor turns into a generator and recharges the battery pack every time the brakes are applied. The Insight also applies an "Auto Stop" mode in that the gasoline engine will actually shut off when the car comes to a complete stop, such as at a stoplight. This is done to reduce idling time and create even greater fuel efficiency. When you want to Insight to go again, the electric motor quickly starts the gasoline engine and away you go.

The Honda Insight Hybrid comes with standard features that include anti-lock brakes, electric power steering, dual air bags, power windows and mirrors, a remote entry system, anti-theft Immobilizer system and automatic climate control. Air conditioning, however, is not standard.

A couple of the downsides to the Honda Insight have been reported. The first is the ride on the Low Rolling Resistance (LRR) tires can seem harsh due to their harder composition and these same tires can often get caught in the grooves already worn in the roadway. The second downside is the future of the Honda Insight Hybrid itself. Reportedly, Honda has decided to promote its new Civic and Accord hybrids heavily and expects to sell approximately 50,000 of those two models combined in the 2005 calendar year, but it only expects to sell a couple thousand Insights in the same year.

The Honda Insight Hybrid has been an excellent automobile for the green car enthusiast for the past 6 years, setting the standard for fuel efficiency. Hopefully, Honda will be able to find a way to keep the Insight commercially viable and improve upon its efficiency so it can still be offered to the consumer for some time to come.