After much soul searching on how this relationship got started, I realized it was her choice in cars. Cadillacs. It was always a special treat to visit with her for even a short ride in what used to be the ‘standard of the world’.
Then the divorce came and the Cadillacs went away along with the just-off-the-feta-barge-from-Greece husband. In their place showed up something I knew nothing of at the time having grown up on American cars. A quirky looking little Japanese car named Honda.
I will never forget the first day I laid eyes on her White over blue Accord sedan. I was amazed at the details that went into such a small package – this was in the days when Accords were the size of today’s Civics. Everything just worked but the catcher was the innovation in the simplest of places. Even switching on the air-conditioned was unique. There was a button within the fan control knob to engage the compressor. Sounds pretty straightforward in today’s world but at the time it took my perplexed aunt and my very unimpressed, Buick loving mother nearly 30 minutes in August New York 95 degree and 95% humidity heat to sort through what would become the new standard of the world.
As I got older, my relationship with Honda grew. I owned a Honda Scooter. I dated girls that drove Hondas. I even sold Honda motorcycles in college. You are starting to get my point, I really drank the Honda Kool Aid.
With that kind of history, I was particularly interested to try Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist and the new Honda Insight.
The cheap and not so cheerful way of describing Honda’s Insight is a Prius knock off in design and general mission. Beyond that, they go in somewhat separate directions.
Let’s get to the biggest one first – the ‘Assist’ part of the ‘Integrated Motor Assist’, Honda’s hybrid technology. In order to undercut the price of the Prius, Honda went with an electric motor that assists the car in acceleration rather than fully propelling it from stoplights. Think of it as a “Medium hybrid’ on a scale that includes the Prius as ‘full fat’ and an Altima as ‘diet. The overall effect is not great.
Yes it is a hybrid and my expectations in terms of acceleration were suitably set low but even for a hybrid the Insight simply cannot get out of its own way. This was in no way a function of the unique instrument display that Honda provides with each Insight.
In order to keep the driver reminded of the mission at hand, there is an indicator on the dash – a ‘blue-ish to green-ish’ rainbow on the display when you are in the optimal zone for the as promised 40 City MPG. No matter how much I tried to balance MPG, safety while avoiding tickets for driving too slow, I was simply unable to attain this myriad of treehugger nirvana for more than seconds.