Years ago, when the peaking SUV trend prompted a backlash from an increasingly eco-conscious public and automakers responded by making lots of cuddly promises about the greener, cleaner cars to come, many skeptical environmentalists assumed that they were just kidding. And, of course, many of them were. But the last couple of years have indeed seen a remarkable upswing in both the affordability and desirability of green vehicles as all of that R&D starts to pay off for those firms that were serious about developing the best hybrid car.
Among those firms is Honda, which seems to have scored a hit with the 2010 Insight, itself a reincarnation of the original Insight that the company offered from 2000 to 2006. With a suggested retail price of about $20,000 for its LX model, Honda’s latest take on the hybrid is the most affordable of its kind to date, comparing favorably in terms of price even with many lesser, gas-exclusive cars. It’s also the cleanest mass market vehicle available in the U.S., with mileage recorded at 40 city and 43 highway. And it doesn’t skimp on the little extras, either; the unique LED brake lights are widely touted on Honda’s website for providing “maximum illumination,” which one must admit is the best kind of illumination for a light to provide.
The biggest single boost to the new Insight’s green viability comes by way of the company’s integrated motor assist system, which works with the gasoline engine to provide electric power at optimal moments for, um, optimal efficiency. The Insight also makes use of an unusual feature called Eco Assist which tracks driver perfomance throughout a given ride in order to provide instant feedback regarding whether or not the driver in question is doing all of that driving in an energy-efficient manner; when the trip is over, the display provides an “Eco Score” rating the driver’s performance. If there’s a better way to get car owners with competitive personalities to slow down, we haven’t heard of it.
See a comprehensive list of The Lazy E’s recommended green vehicles