Saturday, June 27, 2009


I took a couple of test drives on Friday. My first drive was a Honda Insight, and that was shortly followed by a Toyota Prius.

The Insight is Honda's latest hybrid offering. It looks like a clone of the Prius, except it's smaller and about $3000 cheaper. I really wanted to like the Insight; I remember fondly driving the original Insight back when it was released in the early 2000's, and I worked for the California Air Resources Board. Then, as now, the driving was a little "ker-chunk"y. Back then, I think it was just that the manual transmission I was driving wasn't shifting very well. Now, it's the flywheel re-engaging when accelerating from a stop that is giving the clunky feeling. It's not enough to make a passenger sick, but it's noticeable to me, especially since my Civic is a fairly smooth ride. The other objectionable thing is that rear window viewing area has been compromised in the name of aerodynamics. You are forced to look through a window that is split in half laterally, and the C pillars are thick, so you don't get a lot of lateral-rear view. I don't believe the Insight comes with a rearview camera.

What I do like about the Insight is that it is smaller than the Prius. I like small cars, that's just me. I like that they maneuver more easily, you can get into tighter spaces, and park them in more areas than bigger cars. I like not having to think about how far away the ends of my car are. And I also felt that acceleration and driving were decent, if you don't take the kerchunking into account.

That being said, the Prius was a nice ride. The seat is firm, yet cushiony. The suspension is very smooth, as is the driving. I enjoyed the seamless transition from electric to gas-assisted power, and it provided acceleration that was at least comparable to my current Civic, if not a little quicker (probably due to the electric motor torque available on the low end). The rearview camera is a nice aid, but I would assume I'd be better off actually turning my head and looking behind me. The negatives... it's bigger, somewhere between a Civic and an Accord in terms of length, but the interior volume is equivalent to a Nissan Maxima. It's more expensive. The rear window is still in that annoying lateral-split configuration.

In the end, I decided to wait. I was eager to take advantage of the current promotion (if you take delivery of a vehicle with > 40 mpg fuel efficiency before August 1, you do not pay any sales tax). However, I think my parents, Daniel, and some friends convinced me to wait. I am going to ride out the flight test program at work, and see how my finances stack up after that; a few months of getting essentially double the paycheck should bulk up the savings quite nicely.

No comments: