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Old 09-08-2010, 11:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Best car for long highway commute?

So here's the story...

I started at a new job that's 150 miles round-trip from home, all highway, all flat terrain. My primary vehicle was an Audi Allroad which is a great car...except for the 19-20mpg it got on the highway. So I figured, something in the 30mpg range would be fine so I bought a Toyota Celica...and it has been getting 29-30mpg as expected. Still, I'm paying over $400/mo in gas so I'm thinking of upgrading my fuel economy yet again.

Sounds like an Insight is a no-brainer right? Well the reason I'm posting here is that it seems like there are a lot of VW TDI converts here so I'm hoping to draw on experience from owners of both vehicles.

I cruise at 75-80mph the whole way. No, I won't slow down...period. Also during summer, the AC has to be running the whole time (Texas). Based on what I've read in my searches, I'm going to guess a MT insight will get 55ish mpg in these conditions?

....and a TDI MT will get probably 47ish?

Any thoughts? Other cars? Other non-MPG feedback?
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Cost per mile...

Remember, it is not JUST the miles per gallon you get. The COST per mile is what you should be looking at.

No car sold in the US today is going to do very good at 70mph plus. Even getting 50 MPG is going to be hard.

The problem with the diesel though is that the fuel cost for diesell is much higher. Remember to factor that in. Diesel fuel where I live cost about 5% to 8% more than Regular. In some places the delta is not as much, and in some places it is more. If the difference in price is 5% and you get 45 MPG in an Insight and in a TDI, the Insight will be cheaper.

Also, look at the cost of oil and filter changes. With the mileage you are driving, this could add up. And the CVT transmission in the Honda may be more expensive to maintain than a manual transmission in a VW (I don't KNOW about the VW, but I know that the Honda CVT recommend service interval for my Gen 1 Insight is 30K and unless you do the work yourself, it will be expensive to service the CVT).

There are also Tire and Insurance issues, and the 500 pound gorilla in the room... Battery Pack replacement (in the event that you buy new and keep the car a long time, this may not be an issue, but if buying used could be a hugh issue).

There is also insurance. I have heard reports that Hybrid insurance seems to be higher than other cars. Get a qoute for each. At 45MPG (which I think you will be luck to get at the speeds you are driving), you would have to get a LOT better mileage in the Insight (if the insurance DOES cost more) to make up a difference of $100 a year for insurance (again, if it IS true that Hybrids cost more.)

And finally, there is resale. Without knowing your long term ownership strategy, it is

To be honest, the cost per mile of the Insight CVT may be much higher when you figure in some of these other items, but to really know, you would have to do the math on things like oil changes, tire replacement, transmission service, diesel vs gas prices, etc.

If the VW Polo 1L diesel were available anymore (and it was never imported into the US), it would be my number one choice over all other cars on the market because I suspect that the TOTAL cost of ownership would be the lowest of any car available today. But it is not. Your choice would be best made by looking at total cost of ownership.
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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On long distances the Insight is comfortable to drive, but may be in a different ride class than a TDI. At those speeds I would also estimate your mileage to be in the 45 - 70 range (extremes), depending on weather and your driving style (how aggressive driver you are). Battery cost is a concern, but TDI's also have their own maintenance concerns that need to be taken into consideration.
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Old 09-08-2010, 05:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jw461 View Post
Other non-MPG feedback?
If you're a nerd, you will love the Insight and all the little things Honda did to save gas.

I wonder about the 47mpg @ 75mph number. It sounds about right under optimum conditions, but do people get tank after tank of 47mpg while driving like that?

I managed 79mpg @ 70mph for 150mi under absolutely optimal conditions in my modified Insight, but only 72mpg for the 1500mi trip. Results not typical, and I certainly couldn't do it in weather like we're having now.

You can check out some people's fuel logs. Some of these folks drive really slowly, others do not.

TDI MT:
EcoModder Fleet list - EcoModder.com

Insight 5MT:
EcoModder Fleet list - EcoModder.com
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Old 09-08-2010, 07:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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As far as insurance, my 2006 Insight costs almost precisely what my 2007 Focus costs to insure (under $10 difference), and the Insight is WORTH a lot more in current market value. So at least with Geico, there does not seem to be a penalty for the Insight's aluminum construction.

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Old 09-08-2010, 08:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Allot of good tips already ... and as others have posted there are lots of variables you will want to balance out.

My two bits,

Energy per vehicle mile.

At highway speeds like that Aerodynamics matter allot... compare CdA figures.
Rolling resistance increases linearly with speed and vehicle weight... compare weight.

From my perspective, TDI , IMA , Gasoline, etc... are all secondary issues ... to what vehicle platform is the most efficient use of energy per mile.

Total wh of energy per mile ... the Gen-I Insight is very hard to beat... no matter what drive train it uses.

But better mpg or not ... if you are spending that much time in the vehicle make sure you like it... I love my Gen-I , but I recognize not everyone else finds it as comfortable as I do.

Also keep in mind, if you have a lead foot, understand that it will reduce the MPG of any vehicle... don't drive at ~80 MPH and expect the same MPG as someone traveling at ~70 MPH... because of the exponential nature of aerodynamics , that ~10 MPH increase from 70 MPH to 80 MPH means ... at ~80 MPH you are spending about ~30% more energy on aerodynamic losses than the guy traveling at ~70 MPH.

have fun.
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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So the Insight I'm looking at has a new (warranty) battery in it, so that's as little of a concern as is realistic. Basically this comes down to--

Is the VW driving experience better enough to offset the higher cost of more expensive oil changes, more expensive parts, more expensive fuel, more fuel used, having to deal with a timing belt replacement, and higher purchase price?

Or put another way, is the Insight economical enough to counter lack of cruise control, less power, more road noise, smaller interior volume, and cross-wind instability?

These are all difficult to quantify in a meaningful and comparable way which is why I posted in the first place.

To answer some questions--

I'm not an aggressive driver, just cruise fast. I learned using the "instanteous MPG" readout on a Dodge Durango I used to have to drive for the best fuel economy possible (very very light throttle position and lots of coasting).

As far as ownership strategy, I tend to buy and sell vehicles frequently (about every year) so now that I think about it, it doesn't matter which one I get because I can just sell it if I don't like it. Seeing as how I can't find a good deal on a TDI powered car right now, I may end up with an Insight by default
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Old 09-09-2010, 06:56 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Is the VW driving experience better enough....
You kinda lost me right there. This is an Insight-I forum, and you're asking us how much BETTER the "driving experience" of a VW is than driving an Insight-I????? Did you go on the TDI forum and ask them how much better than the VW they think the Insight-I is? And what response did you get?

Frankly, I find the Insight-I to be the most fun to drive of any car I've ever owned or driven over the past 40+ years. For that matter, a tad more fun than the best of the many many motorcycles I've ridden, enough so that I lost interest in riding. But "driving experience" is a subjective matter that you'll have to decide for yourself. If you're stuck in the old seat-of-the-pants acceleration paradigm then maybe it's not for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jw461 View Post
Or put another way, is the Insight economical enough to counter lack of cruise control, less power, more road noise, smaller interior volume, and cross-wind instability?
I thought I would want cruise control but haven't missed it all. I'm too busy having fun. Power is fine with me, as is road noise (no, I'm not deaf). Interior volume: how much volume do you need??? Are you huge or something?? Cross wind instability: it has zero toe to improve fuel economy, so it is more sensitive to pavement irregularities, but it certainly doesn't go flying off the road. I don't find it sensitive to crosswinds.

But only you can answer for yourself most of the questions you are asking. We can't tell you if it's "right" for you; all we can tell you is that an Insight-I is a unique vehicle, different from anything you've ever driven (and different from all the other hybrids out there for that matter).
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Last edited by red1dr; 09-09-2010 at 07:05 AM.
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Old 09-09-2010, 07:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by red1dr View Post
You kinda lost me right there. This is an Insight-I forum, and you're asking us how much BETTER the "driving experience" of a VW is than driving an Insight-I????? Did you go on the TDI forum and ask them how much better than the VW they think the Insight-I is? And what response did you get?
Sorry, what I meant by that is by nature of the VWs being larger vehicles with more sound insulation and larger cabins that you get a quieter ride with more solid road feel. I didn't intend it as a knock against the Insight--to illustrate my point, if you drive a GTI after driving a Honda Fit (great car), there's a huge difference in the way the car drives (cruise at 80mph same as cruise at 60mph, out of this world brakes, tight handling while still soaking up bumps), but that doesn't mean it's the better vehicle because of OTHER factors, among which are cost, reliability, and versatility.

I came to the Insight forum because many owners here have had other very fuel efficient vehicles. While this may be true on TDIclub.com, because there are so (relatively) few Insights to begin with, getting an opinion there would be worthless because it'd be primarily based on what people have read or have pre-conceived instead of first-hand knowledge.

If you disagree with the assumptions I've made, I welcome your opinion...I admit, I've never driven an Insight and have only driven the gas-powered VWs.

Last edited by jw461; 09-09-2010 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:25 AM   #10 (permalink)
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JW461: My own background is that I have, for 44 years, been an absolute car nut. I have owned well over 40 cars and over 35 motorcycles. Many (most?) of those cars and motorcycles were among the best (3 Corvettes) or fastest (575 hp supercharged Chevy SSR, 460 hp supercharged Mustang, 9.9 second / 175 mph motorcycles) or highest tech available at the time. I even authored a successful e-book on the Chevrolet SSR ("The SSR Experience").

The Insight I is easily the most intriguing car I have ever owned.

Read the "Insight Encyclopedia" elsewhere on this forum in one of the "sticky" sections.

VWs are readily available and nothing special. You may never again get a chance to own and drive an all aluminum, very high tech, no compromises "market science experiment" vehicle like the Insight. Take the opportunity before it disappears.

Jim G
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