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Honda unveiled the 2010 Insight to the media on January 11 at the Detroit Auto Show. In a move to promote its new vehicle as a green car leader, Honda scheduled its U.S. debut for April 22, 2009, which happens to be Earth Day. As expected, the 2010 Insight's fuel-economy figures are slightly lower than the Prius', with EPA ratings of 40 and 43 mpg (city and highway, respectively). However, the Insight encourages a whole new level of efficient driving, in the form of a brand new Ecological Drive Assist System (Eco Assist). The Eco Assist is made-up of three principal components:
<BR>- an ECON mode that optimizes the CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission), engine and powertrain components to maximize fuel efficiency;
<BR>- a dashboard that changes background colors to provide real-time guidance to the driver on achieving the best fuel efficiency;
<BR>- and, the cutesiest feature of all, a green leaf graphic that scores driving efficiency for the current trip and lifetime of the vehicle.
<BR>While the last two items may seem gimmicky, they will almost certainly encourage new owners to adapt their driving styles to achieve greater fuel-efficiency, especially during the first few months of ownership.
<BR>The 2010 Insight is powered by an advanced 1.3-liter SOHC aluminum-alloy i-VTEC engine and CVT, along with a new generation of Honda's IMA hybrid system for exceptional fuel economy and fun-to-drive performance. The latest IMA system has come a long way since the introduction of the classic Insight 9 years ago. It incorporates a 10-kilowatt (13 hp) electric motor and a compact Intelligent Power Unit (IPU), which recaptures and stores kinetic energy from vehicle braking and deceleration, while supplying additional power for acceleration when needed, and features an ultra-compact IMA battery and IPU, both of which are located in the vehicle's rear floor. This allowed engineers to include a 60/40 split and fold-down rear seat back.
<BR>Perhaps most important, the Insight's IMA system has the capability to operate exclusively on electric power in certain low- to mid-speed driving conditions (much like Toyota's hybrid system). It also provides for cylinder deactivation within the gasoline engine during deceleration and for engine shutoff when the vehicle is stopped. With a 10.6-gallon fuel tank, the Insight delivers an estimated maximum driving range in excess of 400 miles.
<BR>In a show of unbridled optimism, American Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel contended the new Insight would introduce "Honda's fun-to-drive, versatile and fuel-efficient hybrid technology to an entirely new group of buyers that previously may not have considered a hybrid because of either image or cost." We can only hope this projection becomes a reality. <a href="">Discuss</a>.
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