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When I bought the VX-GTI the Insight was on the list but was runner up in the end for the following reasons. More power, I'm a car guy and faster is almost fast enough but, I think I'm getting over that. My daily commute is 32mi, mostly traffic free freeway, with a seventy pound Golden Retreiver who doesn't share my enthusiasm for tossing the car around in the corners. Room, without the rear seat (yep, never had more then two people in the VW in nearly three years of ownership) the GTI is a small two seater station wagon. Bikes, okay pack the bags I going on a guilt trip, I'm really into bicycles and want to practice what I preach about doing more with less, etc. etc. Problem is hauling bikes with the Insight ain't as easy because I love trailer hitch racks and getting a receiver on the Insight looks like a custom job. I can probably handle it I made the trickest rack ever for my Miata and yes I saw the tread on hitches already posted. My daily commute also includes a grade that gains 720ft in 2.2mi (that would be 219m in 3.5km for all you metric folks) which is about 6.2%. Will I be in the slow lane with the trucks?

I've touched on some of my needs here. I think there is just enough geek in me to be well entertained by the Insights on-board video game which displays what's going on. Am I right here? Is driving with all the efficiency info part of the fun in driving the Insight? If I'm understanding correctly silver seems to be the first choice color for a SoCal resident for heat considerations. Am I right on this one?

There are no cars on the lots of local dealers. I did manage a while ago to test the fit of the dog and she was fine with it. Getting one to drive is another issue. Local dealers don't really want to bring one in just to let me drive it unless I'm ready to buy. Heck, why would they, they're too busy selling H-2 Bummers. Okay, okay I'll stay away from the whole SUV thing, sorry.

I just got the VW paid off so this trade isn't going to be a money wise thing. Truth is it is really about not using so much fuel and what I'll lose in selling a car that's paid for will takes years to cover with savings from gasoline cost. This is why the decision is such a dilemma for me.

Any help really will be greatly appreciated. As you can probably tell from the rather disconnected structure of the post this decision has been messing with me.

Be well, AJ
 

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I understand your conflictedness over this. It sounds like you've learned that you don't need the extra space that the VW gave you, and you would probably perversely enjoy the hassle of figuring out how to mount your favorite bike stuff on the Insight. You want to buy the Insight and you are looking for a nudge from someone already fanatical about it. I'm your guy.

If you get the 5-speed, you won't be left in the slow lane with the trucks unless you choose to do that in order to get a higher score on the dash board's video game. The cool thing about the Insight is that one day, you can do that and brag about your gas mileage, and another day, you can drop down to 3rd gear and lose your license speeding. My first day driving my Insight, I caught myself doing 80 on the highway in third gear. The car was so quiet, I couldn't tell. It's your choice how you drive.

The Insight has power, if you are willing to ignore the mpg numbers. It has high mpg numbers if you are willing to ignore the other cars passing you. You find that middle path, knowing that even if you waste all this engineering on comparing testosterone levels with the Porche drivers, you'll still be burning less gas and polluting less than they are.

Similarly, you can run high air pressure in the OEM tires and get great gas mileage, but get a little slippery on curves or hard braking, or you can lower the air pressure to Honda specs or thereabout or even replace the tires with something grippier and get better handling, but have fewer bragging rights at the gas pump. I mean, you might only get upper 50s instead of around 70. Tragic. Does the VW get 30? Probably not.

The dash board is fun. The low ride, tight steering and very controlled braking are fun. If you respect the technology, even the weird-feeling of the anti-skid brakes is fun. Keeping the battery state of charge high is fun. Customizing it is fun. Being stared at while driving it is fun. Explaining it to strangers at gas stations and sidewalks everywhere is fun. Knowing that only 6500 of these things or less per year are sold in the US is fun.

For myself, the two Hondas I've owned were the best built, most dependable cars I've owned. The one VW I owned (a Rabbit) was the least dependable car I ever owned. For the Hondas, I've spent a lot on maintenance (I take them to the dealer) and very little on repairs. The Civic hatchback has over 210,000 miles on it and has once again become my main car (my Insight was destroyed in an accident with an SUV, though my wife was unharmed) until my new Insight arrives any day now. Then it will go back into pickup-truck/minivan mode, used only when hauling more than one passenger or when the back seats are down or the trailer is attached, hauling stuff.

Everybody has a bias. I hate VWs and love Hondas, having owned both. The Insight was the most fun car I've ever owned. There are lots of other reasons I liked it, but I finally came clean and decided to admit that the main reason I'm getting another Insight instead of a Civic Hybrid or Civic Si (the only other hatchback in the bunch), is that the Insight is fun. I wouldn't trade it for an NX.
 

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My personal view is that you should go for it as soon as you can find a suitable Insight to buy. The Insight is a great car especially if you do not not need to transport more than two people (or you and your dog!) around. Your issues are:

Speed - it is plenty fast enough to satisfy the boy racer in you. I recommend getting the 5 speed manual for that extra oomph. The hill in your commute will not be a problem and you can charge the batteries on the downhill part of your journey.

Handling - think of the Insight as a grown up go-kart. Steps out at the back end first. Suits your name?

Storage / Bikes - if you take the front wheel of your bike, I believe it should fit in the 'boot', no problem. Someone else please advise on their experience.

Colour - as a silver Insight owner I have to advise that you are right - silver is the coolest colour (!).

To make the economics work better, take your time shopping around for the best deal for your Insight. Hope this helps.
 

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After removing my wheels my mountain bike fit in the trunk with plenty of space for other stuff all around and on top and still had good rear view mirror visibility.
I've fit 4 full size 205/55R16 wheels in the trunk easily with room for a few bags of stuff, and visibility was still ok in the rear view mirror!
Huge trunk is awesome.
In comparison most cars would need to have only 3 people in them to have the same amount of cargo room!
For example a group of people going camping, only 3 people per car with gear would fit in most small to medium cars. With the Insight it's 2 people with all their gear easily.
 

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I've only had mine since Thursday, but I don't think you have to worry about getting stuck in the slow lane. I live near Reno, but bought mine (used) in Las Vegas, about 450 miles. Cruised around 80 on the trip back, with A/C on full, and still got 55 mpg plus.

This weekend I took it to Tahoe twice, both times over a road (Spooner Summit on US 50) that's over 2000 ft of straight climbing in about 12 miles. Kept right up with the faster traffic. It's very high-geared, so you have to get used to going up hills in 3rd, but the Insight is quite happy to do so. It does run the mileage down a bit, but I'm still at 69 for the driving I've done since I got back.

I have a big dog, too (lab/golden/? mix), and she's quite happy riding in the back. I think she thinks of it as her little den...

Haven't tried the bike back there yet, but if I can manage to stuff it in the CRX and the Piper, I figure it ought to fit somehow :)
 

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While the Insight is not a performance car, it's still a wolf in sheep's clothing. I had a 1988 Honda CRX HF, the closest thing to the Insight, and the acceleration is much better, thanks to the electric assist. Electric motors are inherently better accelerating than internal combustion engines.

I can't tell you how many times I'll be crusing at "only 75", and someone impatiently tries to pass me, then finds out it's not anywhere as easy as they thought. I'll cave-in to their childishness to an extent, but I'll let up when it's apparent that they want to go insanely fast.

The biggest myth of the Insight after an overnight recharge, is probably poor acceleration.
 

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Hah! With some persistance and a little cyber sleight-of-hand, I managed to find two Insights, both 5 speeds: a used 2000 and a new 2001. My husband drove me to the closest dealership same day where the new Insight was waiting. Over the past few weeks, I've been reading everything I can about the Insight and the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. So much so that I've become quite preoccupied, figuring it'll be a no-brainer to just "try and buy."

We looked the car over before we took it for a spin, marvelling at its weird elegance. Just a wee thing. Now, we don't have kids or a dog, but how does anyone fit their stuff (camping gear for two?) or a cooler, in this car? Earlier in this thread, the deck was referred to as a trunk––you're kidding, right? I test drove the Insight (with husband) over a variable route, finding it surprizingly nimble but pretty noisy and a bit harsh, particularly over the light coloured pavement patches. Which is what the whole 407 is, come to think of it, giving me pause since I drive it frequently.

I didn't think audio quality could play such a large role in driving satisfaction––but in this case, it would help the driver adapt to the car's environment.

The dash is just as described: informative, clever, a point of real interaction with the car. I muddled through the gears a bit, since it is a totally different shifting car from anything I've ever driven.

All in all, it was a good experience, but I wasn't blown away like I thought I would be, indeed expected to be––I've read about a few of you deciding to buy right away after test driving the car; I wish I felt that kind of clarity. Or without a test drive, by order! Now I know I could never do that.

So I've taken a step back, feeling a bit confused. Still wanting the car but wondering how much of it is emotional. Truth is I'd be driving it for years through rain and snow and ruts...that's the reality. I've always valued good handling in a car for its insurance value over fun (although fun is good!). Does the Insight have the punch to get out of situations that can arise quickly on a busy highway?

Did any of you experience this kind of ambiguity when you bought your Insights? Easy/tough choice? What other cars were you driving and/or looking at, at the time?

In the end, I liked the car. Just wondering if I'll be able to fit a reasonable quantity of "stuff" in it and if my safety will be compromised if I pile it on the deck. There's no cover for the deck so where to hide light-sensitive or theft-sensitive stuff when on long hauls? I can only think of the box and the passenger side floor.

Will I buy the Insight? AHHdonnnknowww! I'm surprized how emotional and thought-provoking the car shopping experience has been this time 'round. That's a first. Reading this forum stirred up the pot. It's all good.
 

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I'm a real driving enthusiast and I raced my old car and now race my Insight on a few times a month just for fun and to improve my driving skills. The harsher then normal ride is partly the result of the very skinny tires with stiff vertical sideways. If you replace the OEM 165/65/R14 tires with 185/60/R14 tires or 195/55/R14 tires (I have these), you will notice a significant improvement in comfort, traction and driving control and tracking (skinny tires find grooves in the road and try to follow them). These wider tires will cause a slight decrease in fuel economy of about 5-10% (depending which average speed you are comparing with).
I found the benefits highly outweigh the disavantages using wider tires.

This car allows the driver to have much better control of what's going on in the road. This is important for collision avoidance and car control in any condition. Driving on the street at a easy pace, the major difference between driving a soft floaty cadilac and a porshe is how much feedback you get from the road to feel what's going in between the tires and the road. In the snow you will FEEL that you are sliding in a stiff "sporty" car the split second it starts. In the latest model soft riding corolla (designed to isolate you from the road) you will not notice anything is wrong until your eyes realize you are travelling sideways!

The Insight was designed to be a drivers car, not just an appliance to get you from point A to point B.
 

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There's a medium-sized "trunk" in addition to the deck area, enough to fit maybe four grocery bags, a cooler, or something similar. It's at the rear of the deck, not readily noticable, but just open the hatch and look for a loop of fabric. For more theft-sensitive things, you can pop the small floor panels either side of the trunk, and there's enough room to stuff a largish handbag or two each.

As far as ride & noise go, I think that depends on what you've been used to. I've always owned small cars (most of them what you might call sports cars), plus the occasional pickup truck, and I'm very pleased with the Insight's quietness & smoothness. But I suppose if your standard of comparison is a Beemer or some such, you'll have a different impression :)

As for camping, haven't really been with the Insight yet, but the previous car was a CRX (similar size 2-seat hatchback), and I had no problems with gear for me and the dog.

And of course, if your husband has a second, larger car, the problem goes away: you drive the Insight when you don't need to carry a lot, and use his when you do :)
 

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Thank you both for such useful information!

The specifics about the tires really hit the mark since I was thinking I'd like to change the existing ones out for more grip in the wet anyway. From what I've read, they aren't good in the rain and my car won't be carrying more than my 120 lb frame and some personal flotsam most of the time. Years ago, I had a CRX that had a bad tendency to hydroplane over any accumulation of water in the lane's ruts (however gentle they were). Actually, the car was over-powered for its size and weight. In the winter, I'd throw bags of sand in the back for added stability in snowy/icy weather.

I'm now driving a 5 speed Jetta 1.8t with lots of low end torque. I know that VW has a poor rep (as opposed to Honda) but it's been a great car, in my experience. Set the bar pretty high.

So I'm glad to say that the Insight's power off the line wasn't disappointing. And after the test drive, my husband commented that the Jetta's low profile tires were comparably noisy even though its cabin seemed to be more insulated than the Insight's. I think that adding good quality floor mats wouldn't hurt - maybe there's such a thing as an "insulating" floormat. (OK, maybe that's a reach.) I don't remember if I saw the compartments under the deck floor but I did see the box and it is workable.

G - glad to hear you're from southern Ontario too. You know what I mean about the weather in this part of the country. I just want to feel safe in a car that, well, feels safe! (Even when stocked with weekend gear.) I am fortunate that my husband has a station wagon with the works for really nasty weather and big loads. Don't think he'll want to part with it any weekend soon though.

BTW: I'm always freezing in the winter - does the Insight have a good heater? I found the air conditioning to be wonderful so is the winter climate control just as effective?
 

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I just bought my Insight used in April of this year.
From personal experience with other cars and many tires, winter tires make a huge difference and I will never drive without them in winter.
I'm planning on buying used 14" aluminum civic rims or new steel rims to install 175/65/R14 winter tires (just slightly wider then OEM).
Since it's best to buy winter tires for winter then there is not reason to compromise in the summer, so it's best to buy summer performance tires to get maximum wet and dry grip in summer. I have 195/55R14 Toyo Proxies T1-S ultra high performance summer only tires. These are one of the best wet and dry condition summer street tires money can buy and they happen to be one of the only tires available in this size. These are pricy but I can take a highway on-ramp faster in the rain then any Insight with OEM tires can take the same ramp in the dry!
What blew my mind was that I went from all season OEM tires to these ultra high performance summer tires with very stiff sidewalls and the ride quality and comfort improved!
That almost never happens! The reason is because now the sideways are at a angle instead of being completely vertical so it absorbs bumps.
A more affordable option is the new Yokahama ES100 ultra high performance summer tire available in 185/60R14 at about the same price as a brand name all season (no season really...LOL) tire.

If you just get a wider all season tires you will get even more improved comfort and less vibration/shock when you hit bumps but you will not get nearly as much grip in wet and dry summer conditions as the tires I recommend.

An option for warm you up right away in winter is getting a comfort seat covers with built in heaters that you plug into the 12V power socket. I've seen them at Walmart for about $50.

My roomate has a 2000 Jetta 1.8T and it's a smooth comfortable quiet car, it's powerfull but suspension is too much on the soft side to be real sporty. His has been experiencing intermitent power loss that comes and goes and none of the mechanics and computer dianostics can figure out what's wrong (that cost him $130 and was useless!) and a few weeks ago the engine light started coming on and no one can figure out why. Now he wants to sell his car but noone will buy it with the engine light turning on so he is trying to fix it. :(
 

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I am in New England and didn't notice performance problems in snow or rain this winter. The Insight handled better than many other front-wheel drive cars that were sharing the road with me.

The Insight climate control takes >5 min to heat up in sub-freezing temperatures... by that I mean it takes more than 5 minutes for it to start outputting warm/hot air. It takes even longer after that for the inside temps to get comfy.

The comments on tires are helpful... I am approaching the EOL of my OEM tires and am considering upgrading to 195/55/R14s or 185/60/R14s... those two seem to be the most available sizes and the closest fit (195/55 being exact) to the original Insight diameter.
 

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G - a ballpark price for the tires? Sounds like it could be expensive just to get the car to handle in the corners. Between that and a stereo upgrade, heated seat covers and floor mats...well, it's adding up.

Your friend's Jetta may have a faulty chip if it he's also noticed that the needle occasionally "sticks" in his engine temperature gauge. I knew someone who had that problem and that's what it was; fixed in minutes. These are complex machines - but I understand his frustration.
 

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Can't comment yet about Insight & hydroplaning, since it hasn't rained in the couple of months since I bought mine, and probably won't for 3-4 more. I had a CRX previous to this, and was wondering about the same thing, but those who live in wetter climes say it does fine. You might try searching on the word to find that thread...

Other people have said that fairly inexpensive & easy to install matting under the carpet gives a noticable noise reduction.
 

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I considered snow-tires, but I soon realized that any snow deep enough to need better tires is too deep for the low road clearance on the Insight. During those few days when snow is deep enough that I can't drive the Insight, I just don't drive. Since I live in town, they clear the roads quickly, and the stock tires do just fine with careful handling, even on ice, especially with the anti-skid brakes.

Meanwhile, the stock tires get better gas mileage and thereby decrease air pollution. It's sort of why I bought the car, right?
 

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Other issues perhaps not completely addressed:

Accelleration: The trick with the Insight is that any time you need to kick it, like you would drop a gear in the Jetta, drop TWO gears in the Insight. Most cars don't run 2000 rpm at highway speeds (and don't get 70mpg), so when you need performance, you need to rev up in a lower gear. This is rare, but it's nice to know it really is there when you need it.

Heat: Yes, it takes minutes to get the heat going, but once it's there, it's enough to warm the car, even at very low temperatures. It won't warm it on a very short trip (less than 10 minutes), but then, most cars won't do better. If it's cold enough to not get enough heat from the Insight, then, well, you ought to be dressed for it, right?

One cool feature is that below freezing, the rear defroster turns on even if you don't turn it on.
 

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The very best price i found for the Toyo Proxies T1-S summer only 195/55/R14 tires was $160 each Canadian including taxes, installation and ballancing.
Good winter tires can be cheap like the Kumho 7400 are only $65 Canadian each for the 165/65R14 winter tires.

I don´t use winter tires because i´m worried about gettting stuck in deep snow, it´s the stopping and turning on light snow and/or ice where winter tires are significantly better then any all season tire.
If you don´t agree, you don´t know what you are missing.

And ABS brakes allow you to stop in a straight line but it INCREASES your stopping distance up to 50% compared to threshold braking in winter conditions. I have enough experience doing emergency braking and avoidance exercises (I have lots of training) with and without ABS (pulled the fuse) that I feel much more confident and comfortable without ABS in snow and ice covered roads, but on just wet and dry roads I prefer ABS on.

And for all those people worried about the slight increase in fuel consumption when using better safer tires, may i remind you that speed is a more significant factor in fuel efficiency. And if you are a hard core fuel misser you could simply not drive at all unless you really have to.
Safety is much more important then trying to beat each other´s record in this fuel economy game....
 

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A 5 speed Insight with wider summer tires or winter tires in still more fuel efficient then a CVT Insight with OEM tires.
 
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