Hot news for 2010: The Insight gas-electric hybrid reappears with four doors and a similar powertrain to the Civic Hybrid. Ÿ New Crosstour is the Accord’s answer to the to the Toyota Venza.
Carryover: Accord; CR-V; Element; Odyssey; Pilot; Ridgeline
n Coming off a strong year of change with a new Fit small car and Pilot sport ute, Honda keeps the momentum by dropping the new Insight gas-electric hybrid into the lineup while fitting the Accord with a hatchback as a direct competitor to the Toyota Venza.
When it comes to the Insight, the Japan-based automaker is appealing to environmentally conscious buyers who are also on a fairly strict budget. The sticker price is actually in the $20,500 range, which makes the Insight even less expensive than the Civic Hybrid. The new Insight has been designed for maximum practicality as well as fuel efficiency.
Although the Insight is a dedicated hybrid, which means it’s not merely converted from another Honda model, its basic structure has been lifted from the entry-level Fit and the view out the generously sized windshield is virtually identical. Motivation comes via an 88-horsepower 1.3-liter gasoline engine mated to a 13-horsepower electric motor for a net total of 98 horses. By comparison, both the current Prius and the Honda Civic hybrid are each rated at 110 horsepower.
The Insight also comes with an ECON button that, when pushed, induces the gas engine to shut down sooner when stopping, limits power and torque by four percent and runs the air conditioning and fan motor more efficiently. Finally, an Eco Guide display rates driver performance by displaying an increasing number of “tree leaves” earned per trip as an indication of an efficient driving style.
For a small car, the Insight cabin feels particularly roomy and the storage space beneath the hatchback is certainly healthy enough. Another hatchback in the works for 2010 is the new Accord Crosstour, which adds a bulbous hatchback and bolder grille to the Accord sedan platform.