In the original story introducing the Honda Insight
to our long-term fleet, I had a bit of fun recounting that, when I first encountered the Clear Sky Blue hybrid, my knee-jerk response was "Ack, ack!" I couldn't think of a better way to greet this otherworldly automotive invader than in the mono-word language of Tim Burton's alien invaders from his classic "Mars Attacks!" (What? It's not a classic?)
But after 12 months and 19,591 miles living with HONDA INSIGHT
serial number JHMZE2H7XAS000078, the toughest questions we have aren't the usual worn sneakers about reliability and cost of ownership and so on. Strangely enough, it's its alienness. What started as a bit of fun has become the most serious question we have about the Insight.
As a rich psycho-emotional dynamic experience -- what you and I expect from an automobile -- the HONDA INSIGHT
was essentially a no-show. But as a four-wheeled accountant's balance sheet that attractively weighs economic payback periods, as a technical white paper on practical hybrid technology, or as a soul-exposing inquiry into what we truly, fundamentally need an automobile to do, the HONDA INSIGHT
was a striking litmus test. Among its roster of regular Motor Trend drivers, it starkly separated the romantics from the analyzers.
"The joy of driving is absent here," dismissed Art St. Antoine, distilling the former's perspective in a nutshell.
However, even the "analyzers" were plagued with serious bouts of on-the-one-hand/on-the-other-hand-ness. Kirill Ougarov: "There is a good chassis underneath, and I like the steering response" -- but -- "the lack of even a rudimentary purely electric mode seriously handicaps the Insight. Every time traffic inches forward, the engine kicks back on and then turns back off seconds later once traffic stops again." Ed Loh: "I found the HONDA INSIGHT
to be a perfectly fine weekday car for my 45-mile (one way) commute"-but -"it struggles with heavy loads and isn't comfortable with a full complement of passengers or on long road trips." Rory Jurnecka: "It's a fun car to hypermile around at first" -- but -- "the novelty quickly wears off, revealing serious driveability issues."