In 1999, the 2000 Honda Insight became the first hybrid car available in the U.S. Prior to its release, attempts at mass-producing environmentally friendly cars had focused on creating electric cars, as the hybrid technology of dual power systems was thought to be impractical. However, electric cars failed to meet the high expectations of consumers and so never made a break into the market.
Considered the most fuel efficient vehicle ever sold in America, this little two-seater gets nearly 70 miles per gallon.
Interest in the Insight was high in the first few years. As Honda and other manufacturers began to produce hybrid vehicles that looked more like standard vehicles (the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius), the popularity of the Insight fell and in 2006, production was stopped completely.
What made the Insight different?
Being the first hybrid car on the American market made the Insight a novel product. It won many awards, ranging from the Sierra Club's Excellence in Environmental Engineering Award to International Engine of the Year. The Insight combined hybrid technology with a design that was based on being as fuel efficient as possible.
The breakthrough teardrop design of the Insight's body kept wind resistance to a minimum and the undercarriage was laid out in a way to keep the area as smooth as possible, further increasing the car's aerodynamic properties.
The body was made of aluminum alloy, making it much 47% lighter than a standard vehicle. Despite aluminum's light weight, this car was still extremely safe. In a crash, the front and back ends of the car were designed to absorb the impact and crumple, while the passenger area stayed rigid. The 2006 Insight received a four-star safety rating in front, side and roll-over crashes.
Unique tires were also created for the Insight to keep resistance to a minimum. However, since the car is no longer in production, some Insight owners are finding these tires and other replacement parts more difficult to come by.
Being one of the first hybrids in the U.S., educating drivers on how the technology worked was key. One of the ways the Insight did this was with digital dashboard displays that showed the driver how their MPG fluctuated as driving conditions changed. This was meant to keep the driver involved and engaged with how their car was performing.
Buying a used Honda Insight.
You can find a used Insight ranging in price from $14,000-$20,000. Honda also has a certified selection of pre-owned hybrid vehicle Insights on their website. Another great source to start searching for used Insights is automotive.com. If you own one of these small, green two-door hatchbacks and you're searching for Honda Insight parts or accessories, I would recommend you try eBay Motors. Since this model is now discontinued, if you're thinking about buying a used Insight, especially one with high miles, make sure you do your homework to avoid any problems you might have finding parts and/or local service. I don't expect that you will have any issues with either one.
Jeff Carey is a green vehicle enthusiast who manages a portfolio of more than 60 hybrid and electric blogs. Learn more and subscribe to his monthly newsletter at http://www.hybridkingdom.com.