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2006 Honda Insight Hatchback

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Starting at | Starting at 60 MPG City - 66 MPG Highway

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  • $19,330 original MSRP
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Printable Version

2006 Honda Insight Hatchback

Printable Version

2006 Honda Insight Hatchback

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2006 Honda Insight

Source: New Car Test Drive

Overview

The Honda Insight was the most fuel-efficient car sold in America during the 2006 model year, in terms of EPA estimates, edging out the Toyota Prius.

Gas-electric hybrid powerplants are a practical, workable response to high fuel prices, global oil politics, and the need to reduce automotive emissions. They are on sale now, use no exotic technology, and require no investment in infrastructure. For the most part, they drive like the cars we are already driving.

Several automakers offer hybrid versions of conventional cars, but for 2006 you could buy only two hybrids that were designed from the ground up for maximum fuel efficiency. The previously mentioned Toyota Prius, with its equal emphasis on family-friendly room and practicality, has been by far the more popular of the two. But what the Honda Insight sacrifices in utility, it makes up in slick, sporty individuality.

Honda Insight seats only two people, and it's fun to drive, handling well on winding roads and cruising easily at high speeds on the highway. It looks slippery and futuristic. And it is. According to Honda, it is the most aerodynamic production car on the road.

Insight's tail-pipe emissions are bettered only by a zero-emissions pure electric car. An Insight can squeeze 66 highway miles from a gallon of gasoline when it's equipped with a manual transmission, according to EPA fuel-economy estimates, compared with the Prius, at 51 mpg.

Drivers who can live with its limited cargo capacity should find the Insight to be an enjoyable long-term companion.

Insight is a great car for someone who cares about the environment. Although it costs a few thousand dollars more to buy than a conventional compact, it is actually a bargain. Honda probably lost money on every Insight it sold, considering the cost of the high-tech parts and the all-aluminum body structure, let alone the research and development for such a low-volume car.

Little has changed since we last reviewed the Insight in 2001. A continuously variable automatic transmission, or CVT, became available for 2002. For 2004, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo replaced the original two-speaker AM/FM/cassette unit; and beige replaced black as the sole interior color choice. Safety and security were beefed up for 2004 as well, as Honda added seat-belt pre-tensioners and an engine immobilizer. A headlight warning chime was added for 2005. There have been no further changes for 2006 which, was the Insight's final year in production.

Model Lineup

The 2006 Honda Insight is available in a single trim level and is available with a five-speed manual ($19,330), with air conditioning ($20,530), and an automatic with air conditioning ($21,530).

Insight comes with power windows, locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo; reclining bucket seats; digital/analog instrument display; a single 12-volt power outlet; vanity mirrors; an anti-theft system with engine immobilizer; heat-rejecting glass; cargo-area hooks, a hidden storage compartment; and 14-inch alloy wheels.

Safety equipment includes the requisite front air bags, seat-belt pre-tensioners, and anti-lock brakes (ABS). Air conditioning, when ordered, is of the automatic climate control variety and includes an air filter. There are no other factory options, and color choices are limited to red, blue or silver, all with a beige interior.

Walkaround

This is a wierd looking car. From the front, it has a family resemblance to other Hondas. From the rear, it looks like nothing else on the road.

The Honda Insight is small, almost 20 inches shorter than a Honda Civic Coupe.

This car is a technological tour de force in many ways. Its body structure is made out of aluminum, instead of steel, with some plastic body panels.

A small, 1-liter, three-cylinder gasoline engine provides primary power; an ultra-thin electric motor integrated into the transmission housing boosts performance when needed. Honda calls this system an Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) and it is the heart of the car. The electricity for the electric motor comes from a relatively small battery pack, which is kept continuously charged by the gasoline engine. The system is totally self-contained, so there is no need to charge the battery with an external cable. The driving range of more than 600 miles is defined only by the 10.6-gallon fuel tank, which does not need filling up very often.

Simply put, the battery supplies juice when the electric motor is being used. Whenever the gasoline engine's power is not required to move the car, it acts like a generator and recharges the battery. To maximize fuel economy, the engine stops running when the car stops at traffic lights and the gearshift is put in neutral. The engine then magically comes back to life when the gearshift is engaged.

The Insight is a small two-seater that has a reasonable amount of storage space behind the seats. It is a commuter car and should not be compared to a two-seat sports car. The unusual shape of the car is the result of wind tunnel testing to make it as slippery as possible for maximum fuel economy.

Interior Features

If Insight's exterior looks strange, wait until you get inside. The instrument panel displays numerous digital readouts to monitor the operation of the gasoline-electric systems. On the left there is an analog tachometer. Most of the time it seems to be running at about 2000 rpm, a comfortable engine speed for cruising. When the car is stationary, a green light indicates that the engine is in idle-stop mode. In the center there is a large digital speedometer with a readout below showing the fuel consumption, plus a trip odometer. A button can be pushed to give average fuel consumption for a short segment, as well as for the whole trip. What's more, when toggled to the overall distance traveled by the car it indicates the fuel consumption since the car first went into service.

To the right of the instrument panel are three displays. One is a regular fuel gauge, and then there is battery charge gauge, which shows how much the battery is charged. Above these two is a bar that shows whether the batteries are being charged or whether they are being discharged to run the electric motor (IMA).

Honda describes these displays as being like a video game. Computer geeks and gamers will enjoy all the readouts. It's certainly true that they provide incentive to see if one can better one's fuel consumption from one trip to another.

Storage space is limited. There are a few cubbyholes and two cupholders. A flat area behind the rear seats provides room for luggage, and there is a hidden compartment under the floor that works well for keeping grocery bags from flying about. Access to the rear area through the large glass hatch is good. The floor of the storage area is high, as it covers the battery pack and electronic control unit underneath.

Despite being so miserly on fuel the Insight offers creature comforts such as climate control (optional), power windows and a remote key fob. But the rear-view mirror could be taller to make better use of the horizontally split rear window.

Overall, the Insight is comfy and cozy. The bucket seats are quite comfortable, although a large person might find them a bit small as they hug one's body quite nicely. All but the tallest people will find plenty of room in the cockpit.

Driving Impressions

Much of the joy of driving Insight comes from driving in an efficient manner, using some of the same techniques a professional driver uses to maintain momentum in an 18-wheeler or in a showroom stock race car: Brake only as much as necessary, carry momentum through corners and over hills. Use the brakes, gas and steering wheel in a smooth, fluid fashion.

In fact, driving the Insight is not much different from driving any other compact. If you drive it normally it is a relatively spirited small two-seater coupe. It is not a sports car, but it is perfectly capable of keeping up with and passing traffic. (We found it could cruise comfortably at 80 mph, where it feels quite stable.) The big difference is that you end up getting between 50 and 60 miles per gallon without trying to drive in an economical fashion.

On the other hand, if you start to learn new habits and follow the small arrow on the dash that tells you when to upshift or downshift you'll end up getting 70 or more miles per gallon. At first, driving the car in the most economical mode is disconcerting. The engine stops running when ever you come to a stop, as long as you put the gearshift into neutral and don't leave it in gear with the clutch in. As soon as you select a gear the engine restarts instantly, and moves off again in the normal manner as you engage the clutch.

On the highway one has to get used to the perception that the engine is lugging. It seems as if it needs to be downshifted into a lower gear most of the time. In fact it can be left in the higher gear as suggested by the upshift light as the electric motor adds torque as needed.

Insight handles quite nicely with a good ride for a small car. It has really skinny low-rolling resistance tires that make it look under-tired. Narrow tires don't offer the grip of wider tires, but a car as light as Insight doesn't need a lot of grip, and we had no complaints about how it cornered. You do feel and hear all the bumps on rough roads. The steering feels solid with some road feel and is not over assisted. The manual gearshift is smooth.

The optional continuously variable transmission drives like a conventional automatic, while providing a theoretically infinite number of "gear" ratios to optimize engine performance and efficiency. It retains the stop-idle feature of the manual-transmission model. EPA-estimated fuel economy suffers a little, dropping from the manual Insight's 60/66 city/highway rating to 57/56. In this way the automatic Insight is more comparable to the automatic-only Toyota Prius, at 60/51 city/highway mpg.

Summary

Honda's Insight is much more practical than an electric car, as its range is limited only by its fuel tank. Performance and ride are more than adequate for around town and occasional long trips. Because of this, Insight makes an ideal commuter car, a great runabout as a second car, and a good car for someone on a budget. It's just the ticket for early adopters of leading-edge technology.

Reporting by NewCarTestDrive.com correspondents John Rettie, John Katz, and Mitch McCullough.

Model Line Overview
Base Price (MSRP)
$19,330
Model lineup:
Honea Insight five-speed ($19,330); five-speed with air ($20,530); CVT automatic with air ($21,530)
Engines:
1.0-liter 3-cylinder gasoline with integrated electric motor
Transmissions:
5-speed manual; continuously variable automatic
Safety equipment (Standard):
dual airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, ABS
Safety equipment (Optional):
none
Basic warranty:
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in:
Japan
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSRP):
Honda Insight five-speed with air conditioning ($20,530)
Standard equipment:
automatic climate control; power windows, locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo; reclining bucket seats; digital instrument display; 12-volt power outlet; vanity mirrors; anti-theft system with engine immobilizer; heat-rejecting glass; cargo-area hooks, hidden storage compartment; ABS; 14-inch alloy wheels
Options as tested:
none
Destination charge:
550
Gas Guzzler Tax:
N/A
Price as tested (MSRP)
$21,080
Layout:
front-wheel drive
Engine:
1.0-liter SOHC 12-valve Inline-3 with integrated electric motor
Horsepower (hp @ rpm):
N/A
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm):
N/A
Transmission:
5-speed manual
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:
60/66 mpg.
Wheelbase:
94.5 in.
Length/width/height:
155.1/66.7/53.3 in.
Track, f/r:
56.5/52.2 in.
Turning circle:
31.4 ft.
Seating capacity:
2
Head/hip/leg room, f:
38.8/48.7/42.9 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:
N/A
Cargo volume:
16.3 cu. ft.
Payload:
N/A
Towing capacity:
N/A
Suspension F:
independent, MacPherson struts
Suspension R:
torsion beam
Ground clearance:
N/A
Curb weight:
1881 lbs.
Tires:
P165/65SR14
Brakes, f/r:
vented disc/drum with ABS in.
Fuel capacity:
10.6 gal.

Printable Version

2006 Honda Insight Hatchback

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Rollover Resistance
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std

Security

Anti-theft System Std
Printable Version

2006 Honda Insight Hatchback

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/Unlimited Miles
Hybrid/Electric Components 8 Years/80,000 Miles

Honda Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Honda Certified Used Car Limited Warranty extends the non-powertrain coverage by 1 year/12,000 miles from the date of purchase or expiration of new car warranty date. In addition, Honda Certified Used Car Limited Warranty extends the powertrain coverage to 7 years/100,000 miles.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 6 year or 80,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 150
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance No
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2006 Honda Insight Hatchback

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