Insight Update

So Honda discontinued the Insight in September of this year. Though terribly disappointing, with sales a pitiful 1000 cars ytd it is not a shock. I understand that to the typical consumer the benefits of an additional 10mpg over a Prius is not worth giving up the back seat, and that $19k for a commuter car is steep, but as I approach the end of my first year as an Insight owner I can’t help but think that they are wrong.

As I have written before, trading my Evo 8 (basically a race car w/plates) for my Insight Hybrid (I still refer to it as my human race car) was both the cause and effect of a huge shift in my world view. First of all you are smaller. Certainly smaller than a Hemi Dodge, smaller than a minivan-heck you look up at Ford Focuses. I have found this to have a very calming effect on the ego. Next you are, well, slow. Wait, that isn’t true. You are fast enough. In my 8,000 miles I have never once needed more power. I have driven the freeways of Chicago at 85mph, I have passed semi’s on 2 lane highways, and I have driven thru sustained 45mph headwinds and massive sheets of rain. Having just enough power means that you start using just enough acceleration, in fact I coast alot. Again-very calming. My favorite feature is still the autostop. Back when the sun existed I would coast to a stop with the windows down, the ECU would kill the engine, and I would sit for a few breaths on my rural road commute and just soak up the crisp morning air and birdsong. Hybrids make me unhurried. Suddenly by giving up 230hp, I gained just enough power to stop to smell the roses.

This is my first winter in the Insight, and apparently the engineers were very concerned about the hybrid driver staying warm enough. The closed loop mode of that teensy 1000cc motor is brutal on mileage as the ECU dumps fuel into the engine trying desperately to warm up the coolant enough to produce heat. I have a 19 mile commute, and it take about 12 of those to get the Insight out of “warm up” mode so that it will get decent mileage again. The long and short of it is that for those first 12 miles I am getting about 45mpg, and even getting my typical 70 the last 6-7 only nets me about 55 total trip. This explains why the total lifetime mileage on the car is 59.5 and not the 70 I was used to getting-for 5 months out of the year I will be averaging under 60mpg. In the last 1/2 tank I have come to terms with that, and have stopped frantically staring at the mileage gauge in a vain hope to see it best 60mpg. And yes, I know I am a geek.

A year can change at. Last December I was dreaming about imported German Suspension kits and racing slicks, while also feeling terribly guilty about what the money should be going to in our family. Now I am installing a new compost bin at our church, researching deep mulch gardening, and attending study groups on Swedish Sustainability Models. Buying the Hybrid removed a lot of the dichotomies in my life-and allowed me to more fully embrace a more simple lifestyle and stop trying to be something I thought I wanted to be. How many of our societal problems share the same simple solution?

Be the Change.


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