2019 Honda Insight: Five Insights After Seven Months and 7,000 Miles08/01/2019
In the seven months we’ve had our 2019 Honda Insight long-term loaner, we’ve logged just over 7,000 miles of mostly stop-and-go city driving. We’ve used our drive time to test the Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance features, primarily adaptive cruise control (ACC) and lane keep assist (LKA). Although the systems must be activated separately, they work well in concert and provide just the tiniest taste of what a driverless future may hold. To be clear, the Honda Sensing system should not be confused with an autonomous driving system. The driver still must keep hands on the wheel; otherwise the system will light up an alert in the instrument cluster before shutting the systems off completely. With hands on the wheel, ACC and LKA systems activated, and a cruising speed set, the Insight stays within well-marked road lines and moves with the flow of traffic, even down to a 1- to 2-second full stop before resuming travel again. With a stop longer than that, the driver has to tap the accelerator to reengage the ACC system. It’s all quite civilized—and remarkable for our $25,229 hybrid. What else have we learned?
Read more about our 2019 Honda Insight EX long-termer:
- Arrival: Third Gen’s A Charm?
- Update 1: The 1,100-Mile Road Trip
- 5 Quick Insights on the 2019 Honda Insight
- Update 2: How Prius Performance Compares to Our Hybrid Honda
The driver assistance systems don’t see everything
Because ACC can track the car ahead and provide a safe following distance and LKA keeps the Insight centered in the lane, it’s easy to think the systems see everything else around you—including approaching stop signs and signal lights turning from orange to red. But they absolutely do not, so stay alert and engaged.
Slow, corners ahead
Say you have ACC set to 35 mph and it’s tracking the car ahead. You’re both approaching a 90-degree right-hand turn, and when car ahead slows, so does your Insight. But when the car ahead makes the turn and disappears from view, your Insight no longer registers it, and thus speeds up—right into the corner. Not exactly what they teach you in driver’s ed—and another reason to remain ever vigilant.
In another scenario, imagine you’re cruising with the ACC set to 35 mph again, but this time there’s no car being tracked immediately ahead. In the distance, there is a car in your lane, stopped at a signal; the Insight should register it soon enough and begin braking. My issue is one of personal preference: The system responds slower than I’d like. If I wait for the system to engage, the response feels more like a panic stop, which is in marked contrast how smoothly the system works in stop-and-go traffic.
It’s really quite quiet, too
At last year’s Car of the Year program, the Insight was unanimously dinged for its hybrid powertrain, which was deemed loud and thrashy at wide-open throttle. Turns out this is a rare use case in daily city driving—at least for your author. From home to work, stop light to stop sign, the Insight’s one-speed transmission and 1.5-liter motor-generator provides smooth, brisk-ish acceleration, with only a hum if you go past ¼ throttle. Any less, and you’re probably driving in EV only mode, which is nearly silent. Drivers who regularly merge onto freeways or require brisk, sustained acceleration may find the powertrain annoying, since the thrashiness is always lurking just underfoot, should you push hard enough.
Right around the 4,000-mile mark, we noticed a creak that seems to emanate from the dashboard above the glove box. The noise is vibration related and appears to correspond to the motor-generator running (while charging the battery) and/or the roughness of the pavement under the tires. The climate control fan is also a bit noisy, though we’re not sure this is a new issue since we’ve only recently started regularly running A/C thanks to the start of summer.
We’re having the creaks looked at during our first service appointment and will report back posthaste. If you have any insights (or questions) about the Honda Insight, please send them to us at [email protected]
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