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2010 Honda Insight Hybrid Makes World Debut at the North American International Auto Show

The 2010 Honda Insight. Click to enlarge.

The all-new 2010 Honda Insight hybrid car made its world debut at the North American International Auto Show. Utilizing the fifth generation of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid technology and new, more cost-efficient production methods, the 2010 Insight offers an estimated EPA city/highway/combined fuel-economy rating of 40/43/41 miles per gallon US. Honda projects that the Insight will carry a CARB AT-PZEV emission rating.

Evoking the aerodynamic five-door sedan design first deployed on the FCX Clarity fuel cell car, the new Insight has a low center of gravity and seats five. The 2010 Insight will be launched at Honda dealers throughout the United States in the beginning of April 2009 and will be priced below the Civic Hybrid.

Transparent rendering of the 2010 Honda Insight. Click to enlarge.

The Insight combines a 1.3-liter SOHC aluminum-alloy i-VTEC engine and CVT, with a new generation of Honda’s IMA hybrid system. The Insight’s IMA system includes a 10 kW (13 hp) electric motor that delivers 68 lb-ft (92 Nm) of torque and a compact Intelligent Power Unit (IPU) consisting of a 5.75 Ah, 100.8V NiMH battery pack, Power Control Unit (PCU), motor Electric Control Unit (ECU), and cooling system.

Combined output and overall torque of the engine and motor is 98 hp (73 kW) @ 5,800 rpm, with max torque of 123 lb-ft (167 Nm) @ 1,000-1,500 rpm.

The 1.3L i-VTEC. Click to enlarge.

1.3L Engine. The i-VTEC engine at the core of the Insight carries a rated power output of 88 hp (66 kW) and develops up to 88 lb-ft (119 Nm) of torque. The i-VTEC valve control system employs a dual rocker configuration that supports both normal valve timing and cylinder idling to achieve a broad power band combined with good fuel economy.

A Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) system monitors throttle position, engine temperature, intake manifold pressure, intake air mass flow atmospheric pressure, exhaust gas oxygen and intake air temperature to control fuel delivery via multi-holed injectors mounted in the intake port of the cylinder head. The intake manifold is made of a lightweight, composite resin instead of aluminum for further weight reduction.

Dual and sequential ignition with two spark plugs per cylinder facilitates an intense, rapid combustion process for increased power and reduced fuel consumption.

During deceleration, cylinder deactivation via Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) virtually eliminates the pumping action of the cylinders, decreasing resistance to allow the motor/generator to more efficiently generate electricity with which to charge the battery.

The lightweight engine block incorporates a thin-sleeve construction. Friction reducing measures include plateau honing, low-friction pistons, low tensile-force piston rings and an offset cylinder bore. The surfaces of the high-strength forged steel connecting rods have been hardened with a special carbon process for a more lightweight design.

DC Brushless Motor. The 10 kW motor assists in acceleration and some steady state cruising conditions at low-to-mid vehicle speeds, depending upon conditions. The motor also acts a generator during braking, steady cruising, gentle deceleration and coasting to capture kinetic energy and recharge the battery, Under certain conditions (the example given was driving on a flat surface at steady speed in the low 30 mph range), the vehicle will be propelled exclusively by the electric motor.

Battery pack.. The battery system in the IPU consists of seven NiMH modules, each comprising 84 ”D-sized” 1.2V cells. Compared to the fourth-generation battery technology in the 2006 Civic Hybrid, power output per module is 30% higher, enabling a reduction in modules from 11 to 7.

The overall IPU size is reduced by 19% and overall weight by 28%.

Packaging of the ultra-compact IMA battery and IPU in the vehicle’s rear floor allows the enhanced utility of a 60/40 split and fold-down rear seat back.

Evolution of the Honda Hybrid
  2000 Insight 2003 Civic Hybrid 2005 Accord Hybrid 2006 Civic Hybrid 2010 Insight
Wheelbase [in.] 94.5 103.1 107.9 106.3 100.4
Engine type I-3 I-4 V-6 I-4 I-4
Net power [hp @ rpm] 67 @ 5700 85 @ 5700 255 @ 6000 110 @ 6000 98 @ 5800
Motor [hp @ rpm] 13 @ 3000 13 @ 4000 16 @ 840 20 @ 2000 13 @ 1500
Battery capacity (Ah) 6.5 6.0 6.0 5.5 5.75

Eco Assist. To help Insight owners realize the full benefits of Honda hybrid technology, the Insight will feature a new interactive, driver-focused fuel economy enhancement technology named the Ecological Drive Assist System (Eco Assist). Eco Assist combines multiple functions:

  • A driver-activated ECON mode that optimizes control of the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), engine and related powertrain components to further improve vehicle fuel efficiency;

  • A driver feedback function that uses an innovative speedometer display with changing background colors to provide real-time guidance to the driver on achieving higher fuel efficiency;

  • A unique fuel-economy scoring function using a plant-leaf graphic to provide feedback to the driver on current-trip driving efficiency and lifetime fuel-efficient driving performance.



So...Prius without as good of mileage? What gives? Is Honda really so far behind Toyota on patents that they couldn't match the 50 Mpg combined of the 2010 Prius?

It seems like they have a lot of nice features for optimizing efficiency, and yet it's about the same as the published numbers for the slightly larger Civic Hybrid. Perhaps it costs less.


That looks just like a Prius


I had expected this Insight to get about 70mpg like the original. In which case, I would have traded my 45mph HCH in on one.

Now I have no interest in it.


45 mpg


Once again the point of the vehicle is completely missed. This isn't rocket surgery (nor neuro-science):

This vehicle is supposed to be the LOWEST COST HYBRID on the market. Not the most efficient, most luxurious, nor the most advanced.

Even looking at the engine you can see they definitely went with cheaper components (look at the big mechanical a/c compressor instead of a more costly electric hvac unit).

BTW - autoweek is reporting 43-45mpg in normal driving with econo mode engaged the entire time.

They were smart enough to NOT create a one-off unusable super efficient machine like they did with the first insight which only sold in the hundreds to eco-freaks. This time they are going for a broader audience with a more useable vehicle in the hopes of actually getting some market share.


@ Lucas, the original Insight seated 2. This seats 5. Also, the way fuel economy is measured became more conservative since the original.

@ Patrick, how much do you think it will to sell for? Will it be less than the Civic Hybrid (~$22K)? I'd think $17-$18K could work.


CEO Takeo Fukui says it will be priced significantly below current hybrids. He expects it to start at about $19,000, which will make it the least expensive hybrid on the market. "This new Insight will break new ground as an affordable hybrid within the reach of customers who want great fuel economy and great value," Fukui says in a statement.


This sounds like the econo version of a Prius.

My Prius cost $25K and gets ~55mpg on average (ranges from 45mpg to 65mpg on a tank of gas which now costs $12 to fill up).

Could it possibly cost $15K for a 45mpg car? if so, it'd be a smashing success. Priced below the Honda Civic Hybrid - that is the key I believe - how much below?
$20K for 45mpg would make it very tempting. But what will the next Prius cost?


ok wtf honda' engine is 1.3L and develops as much power and torque as toyota 2010 1.8L akinston engine.... man but obviously toyota's hybrid system is more robust! go figure!


It sounds pretty good to me.
It is more important that loads of people get 41mpg in this than a few get 50 in a Prius.

What is important is the number of gallons of fuel used per year and here it is far more important to get people out of 22 mpg vehicles into 41 mpg than getting a few from 41 into 50 (or even a few from 22 into 50).

The trick is to get a low fuel consumption, low emissions car that loads of people will want to buy and this could be it.

It is now a marketing (and financing) problem to get them actually bought and not just admired.


No price, weight, 0-60 mph?


The Insight is going to get 10% worse mileage than the Prius for as much as $5000 less.

It has been driven since before X-mas, journalists have been under embargo:


"Honda has not announced pricing yet, indicating they will wait until closer to the on-sale date of April 22. Honda spokesman Sage Marie indicated that the volatility of commodity prices like steel would make it unwise to lock down a price yet. Previously, Honda CEO Takeo Fukui has alluded to a base price as low as $18,500 which is about the same as a loaded Fit Sport. Honda will likely try to keep the starting price under 20 grand."

Brian P

If it gets 43 - 45 mpg US during normal driving, that's not much different from what most people with a Prius report, and if it will do 60-ish in exceptional conditions, that's not too different from Prius, either.

Before bellyachin' about the EPA ratings, consider the possibility that the nature of the Prius drivetrain aces the EPA test, but this one might be a better match for the way people actually drive. And at the price ... and supposedly with better driving dynamics ... I'd rather have this one.


The mileage is slightly less than Prius, so is the price. In the end, it comes down to which one you prefer, both in style and driving experience. I would go with the Prius, simply because it will give me to option to convert to plug-in, should I want to do so eventually.


From what I have read the weights are as follows:

LX (stripped down model) roughly 2720lbs
EX (loaded model) roughly 2790lbs

I'd like to see comparison reviews and drive both for myself, but I'd lean more towards the Insight over the Prius for the cost savings & Honda's tend to have more lively handling while Toyota's are known for making the driving experience akin to falling into a coma.

Car and driver (whom I said reported 43-45mpg with the ECO button) also reported 40-41mpg in normal driving without the use of the "ECO" button.

Stan Peterson

Why would you have expected any more fuel economy than this? Don't forget that Honda's IMA is just a mild HEV. It is not really different that the GM BAS-II mild hybrid technology. Eventually all standard ICE cars will have this cheap HEV technology, to improve mileage but it is really no great shakes. This achieves its fuel economy with classical "downsizing", a tiny engine in a "Super B" segment smaller Aveo-sized vehicle.

Conventional "B" segment cars, that are starting to proliferate here in the USA, get high 30s, low 40s economy ratings.

Maybe Honda apologists expected more and tend to magnify Hondas's efforts. But in reality, this isn't much, at all.



Please name all the "B" segment cars in the us sold as 2008 or 2009 models getting high 30's/low 40's combined cycle fuel economy on the latest EPA tests.

Yup, that is my answer as well: none. The smart fortwo is an "A" segment car and doesn't achieve those numbers. The Prius is larger than B segment - though it does best those numbers.

Deep Throat

It's all in the price. For a few MPG higher is it worth thousands more for the Prius? Someone out there will I'm sure do the break-even calculations, but to me it seems a resounding "No," all other things being equal.

Honda may have a big hit with this poor-man's hybrid.

Now only if an American company can somehow follow suit!!!!!

GM where is BAS-II????????????

Deep Throat

"Conventional "B" segment cars, that are starting to proliferate here in the USA, get high 30s, low 40s economy ratings[...]"

Um, please name one, other than the '09 Jetta TDI Diesel, that gets in the 40s because I'd love to buy it!

This Honda will be a great advance of high mileage, low emissions, and low cost, despite your obvious Prius boosting.

Buyers care about cost, mileage, safety and comfort, etc. Not whether the guts under the hood = a mild or full hybrid system. 5-seat and 41 MPG = 5 seats and 41 MPG no matter how you spin it. Toyota needs to drop its cost big time or it will lose a big share of Prius buyers. Pure and simple.

Brian P

What's the Yaris rated at?

Stan Peterson

@ Patrick,

Why would you want to compare a 2010 model mild-hybrid against other obsolescent "B" segment vehicles?

Compare it to the same generation, 2010 Fiesta or 2010 Beat/Spark, gettng near equivalent mileages as they are now being introduced overseas. When they get here next model year, it will be the same.

Now for an equivalence booster, add the Malibu's BAS-II,or such, to a Fiesta or Beat/Spark, and what do you have?

Surprise! Nothing more than a 2010 Honda Insight. Your Honda brainwashed; and I owned an Accord too, so I'm not a Honda hater. Its that this is Much Ado About Nothing.

Like I said ... BFD!

Brian P

Does this use less fuel than a Fit (or other B segment cars) -> yes
Is it at a price that people can afford -> in general, yes
Is there any sacrifice in performance relative to Fit -> no

Is this a revolution in technology? NO and it was not meant to be, it was meant to bring a more efficient solution (than conventional powertrain) at an accessible price, and does it do that, YES. It remains to be seen whether the economics work out relative to a comparable Fit ... to someone who crunches the numbers, hybrids up until now have NOT. Actually it could be argued that the economics of the simpler systems e.g. GM's BAS mild hybrid system work out, but the economics of very complex systems do not, and if it is the case of simpler being better, what is the problem with that?

So what is the problem? That Honda didn't put in a more expensive powertrain that would have taken it out of that price range (and probably wouldn't have saved much fuel anyway)?


There is a big issue with the Prius. It doensn't make financial sense.

With the price of gas at $2, if you buy a Nissan Versa, and drive it for 150,000 miles, you still haven't reached the purchase price of a Prius.

There are diminising returns to improving gas milage. Lets say you have a car that gets 30mpg, and that car costs X. You improve the car to 40mpg, but with gas at $2, and a 100,000 mile payback period, you cant charge more than X+$1667 for that 30% improvment in milage.

Things get worse as the milage goes up. The cost of gas has less and less of an effect. With that same example above, and gas at $5, you cant charge more than X+$4167.

100mpg car? Sure, but at this point, taking a civic from 35mpg to 100mpg, you cant add more than $3714 to the cost of the car.


I am sorry, I didn't complete that thought...
Honda is making the right decision here. You need to keep the cost of the car low to get volume. People aren't going to buy a large number of cars just to be green. You have to have an efficient vehicle that makes financial sence. This car does that.


In terms of cost, some of you need to consider that the new Prius has a completely beltless engine. It's extremely likely the Prius will cost a lot less to maintain than the Insight. The Insight has a lot more mechanical components than the Prius.

Any engineer will tell you that by design electrical components are more reliable than mechanical components.

Also regarding the test drives, yes they've achieved mid 40s mpg numbers but these were under pretty much ideal conditions. I can't wait to see what kind of fuel economy numbers the Insight will get in urban traffic on a hot summer day with the A/C on at full blast. The Insight has a mechanical A/C compressor and also it's engine never turns off. In heavy traffic with the A/C on fuel economy (and performance) will surely suffer.

Then there is the issue of highway cruising on a hot summer day with the A/C. Because the engine is so small and it's power output low, with the A/C on it will have to work harder to cruise on the highway reducing fuel consumption.

The Prius on the other hand will thrive in all these conditions. Electric A/C compressor puts no stress on the engine, and heavy traffic conditions are ideal for the Prius as it will have the engine shut off most of the time and be running on electric power. Also during highway cruising on hot days the engine will have no stress from the A/C compressor or the water pump. I'm also willing to bet the Prius with it's 1.8L engine will run at lower RPMs on the highway than the Insight and it's 1.3L engine.

Yes the Insight will be cheaper than the Prius, but we don't know by how much. We also don't know how big real-world fuel economy differences will be especially in varied conditions. I also predict the Insight in cold conditions will see fuel economy drop more than the Prius. The Prius will use recirculated exhaust gas for heat in cold weather allowing the hybrid system to turn on much quicker than before and allowing the gas engine to turn off much sooner.

One more important point not mentioned; the Prius has more interior room than the Insight, some people mighted be turned off by the interior design of the Insight, and also that the Prius will be faster than the Insight.

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