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Honda Insight - short distance per day

3870 Views 14 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  johnnyviri
Hi form Poland, Europe.

I thought about buying a Insight, but...

1. Hybrids cars should be a city cars. But very big cities, I think.
I live in 130k city, distance to work - about 3.5 miles / 5.5 km (15-20min driving). Daily about only 7 miles / 11 km (ofcourse this is minimum distance per day - from time to time I want to go for shopping or something else, but in most weekly cases - home>work>home). I barely don't use car at weekends (two times per month about 40 miles).
Is Insight (in general hybrids) good choice for that small distance? What about IMA and 12v battery, then?

2. Winter in my country is quite cold - at night about -4F (-20C). I have no garage, so car must stay outside all the time.
So, in conjunction with point 1, I'm afraid that each day I would be replace 12v battery to start engine :p.

What you think about that? Is it risky that car won't work properly?

Thanks for advice, and sorry for my english if I did mistakes ;).
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I don't think the city size is a problem but a hybrid isn't going to offer you savings for the mileage you drive. The insight probably want even get to operating temperature before you would get to your destination. Its also low to the ground which might be a problem in snow. When insight drivers talk about their fuel economy its the ones who do mostly highway driving and a lot of it that usually have the best numbers. Someone that only drives short trips is probably better off with a car that is larger and could accomplish a wider range of uses. Have fun, RIck

If you have a dedicated parking with access to an electrical outlet, I would definitely get an electric car. Like a Renault ZOE, or smart ForTwo Electric Drive.

If you don't have a practical way to charge an electric car at home or at work, and you have your heart set on a hybrid, here are some more thoughts:
-the Gen 1 Insights are getting old, and they need a bit of tinkering. Be ready to do a lot of reading on this forum, because Most mechanics do not know much about the battery maintenance. However, most other items such as transmission, brakes, suspension etc is easy to work on for any mechanic. The Gen 1 is a great driver's car, but it is not good to let it sit for extended period of time.
-Prius is a safe and reliable bet for people who need more space and don't mind the numb driving dynamics.
-since you drive so little, I would not risk the expense of a hybrid battery replacement, and I would just get a Honda Jazz or Civic.

Nice to have you join the forum from a beautiful country. I enjoyed my visits to Kraków, Morskie Oko, Zakopane, and Warsau.

Best of luck with your car buying!
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A Volt is a perfect option for only a 7 miles (14 round trip) commute. You will never burn gas as the Volt has a (roughly) 30-40 mile EV range.
I put around 15 miles on my car daily(7.8 miles one way to work). I'm avg around 45mpg, currently showing 46.9mpg with avg speed around 22-23mph. Have the car since late April, so far with only around 3600miles on the clock, including a trip from Miami to Orlando. I think it perform better with city driving. Cause with 1.3L it is very hard to keep up traffic. I'm happy with it so far, comparing to my old car with is twin turbo BMW which only return 15-16mpg. But smile per miles is way better in the BMW. LOL
Eco-Car or Super -Eco Bike

For 3.5 miles

You do not need a car, you need a bicycle.

Dutch city cycling:

Your journey will cost you nothing, a bicycle will keep you fit and healthy, your door to door journey may be faster by by bike
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Hybrids need to be driven frequently. With the gen 2 being discontinued you can find some great deals on used ones. You may get lower than estimated mpg, but it will be better than a nonhybrid vehicle. It has a 1.3l engine so if your country taxes on engine size it would be lower than a non hybrid vehicle.
Thanks for yours replies so far ;).

Since 4 years I am Opel Vectra C 2003 (Chevrolet Vectra C in US?) owner, it's diesel with almost 240.000 miles.
It has perfect ON consumption - on that short distance I've mentioned (7 miles per day in the city) -> 32mpg. It's quite cool. But it's time for changes...

Gas in Poland is quite expensive (about 5$ per gallon of 98 octan's gas, about 4.5$ per gallon of ON (petroleum in english?) and about 1.9$ per gallon of LPG). Because of the high availability of LPG, hybrid cars are not so popular here.

I can buy Honda Insight 2009 for about 6.200$ and about 65.000 miles on the clock. As I said before - I'm affraid of winter's mornings, becouse I don't have a garage, so car must park outside all the time.
Ofcourse, I be able to agree with increased mpg on winter on short distances, only if I will be 100% sure that every morning car will start without jump-start and high-voltage battery doesn't break after one winter.

Yestarday I visited Russian's hybrids forum (yeah!, it was hard, but with Google Translate something could understand) - winter's temperatures are similar to Poland's, and I doesn't saw complaints for any wrong behavior of starting engines on cold weather (but most of people replaces original 12V battery to something better). Most posts was about Civic's hybrids, but engine and IMA system are the same as Honda Insight, right?

As I readed there - Honda hybrids has a 'normal' starter which comes into work when temperature drops below about 0 F (engine don't start smoothly, but as in normal cars), am I right?

Well... I have to think about it... It's difficult decision... If only Insight has normal 1.8V-tec engine, ehh...

@E46_5MT - Oww, this is an answer I wanted to hear more...

@Cobb - Here, Honda Insight's required insurance is about 130$ per year, included 60% discount, and you can drive. (For my Vectra 2.0 diesel I pay the same insurance's costs). Engine's size has metter only if you import car - if it is under 2.0l you must pay about 3% car's price (once), and above 2.0l - 18% car's price once (as I know...).

@E27006 - Yes, I know - bikes are great, some of my friends drive by bikes to work, but only in summer ;). I preffered cars - more possibilities.

@Rick Reece - "The insight probably want even get to operating temperature before you would get to your destination." Yes, I know that it can be as you wrote, but what about batteries (12V and IMA) then?

@freezin4 - I'm glad that you enjoyed visits in Poland.
I live in Zielona Gora (about 120 miles from Berlin), but I also think that Krakow is a cool city. I was there only once, but I love its climate ;).

I hope that you have understood my english, it's middle of the night here, so it's time to sleep for me, have a nice day ;).
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Hi Ravi, you do not need to worry about cold winter temperatures. The Insight copes just fine like other cars would.

It is true that the 12V battery is weak - it needs monitoring, but if you replace it when it can no longer stay above 11.5 Volt in winter you will not run into trouble (I needed to replace mine once - but 12V batteries are cheap, and I got it under warranty - another mediocre Honda 12V battery. But it still holds and it was free to me).

When it gets really cold it does pay to have thin oil (0W20, or even better Honda Green Oil). On Green Oil I saw the winter 'penalty' on economy get less severe; in fact last winter my fuel economy was on par with my lifetime average, despite some mild frost and storms and the like. In previous winters on regular oil I had far worse economy, even in the very mild 2014 winter.

Once the engine warms up there is little difference in economy between the oil makes.
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Hi Ravi! Hello from Germany from a fresh 1st. gen. Insight owner.

The 1st. gen. has a normal starter for the engine just in case the high voltage battery is too cold. As long as the 12V battery is okay, it should start. Sorry, I have no idea if the 2nd. gen. has this feature also.

I am eager to find out how my car will do in the winter time.

Anyway, short distances are not good for any car, hybrid ones and gasoline ones.

Hi Ravi,

E46_5MT is from Florida where as you probably know, winters are very mild. But in any event, my First Generation (2000) Insight does pretty well in colder Maryland winters. I think you would be fine with driving the Gen2 in Poland, but unsure if the battery life would degrade faster if the temperature never allows it to "thaw out". I know my Lithium ion powered smart ForTwo electric car SHUTS DOWN at a certain temperature (-25F maybe) to protect itself. In this case the car cannot be started up until it is plugged back in and warmed up. Hopefully someone more knowledgable like Peter, or EQ1, or Mike D, or JimE etc can chime in and discuss the NiMh cold weather effects.

There are many Chevrolet models that are non-US made cars and can only be found in European, Middle Eastern, or Asian markets. Chevy Vectra is one of them. But according to Wikepedia, it is similar to our Saturn Aura, Chevrolet Impala and Pontiac G6. (Saturn and Pontiac are now history.)

I forgot to mention the most amazing visit in Poland was to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. (Salzburg has nothing in Wieliczka!) Home Page - Kopalnia Soli "Wieliczka" Unbelievable: there is even an underground Chapel and pulpit carved out of salt rocks,complete with 3D murals on the walls. Amazing!

Best wishes with the car shopping!
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Same thing happened to me... you buy your wife a hybrid for a long commute, and she goes and switches jobs and now has a 2.5 mile commute... she may as well have the old RAV-4 again.
I don't see much problem with an Insight in Winter. Here in Maine, I've seen plenty of them commuting when temperatures are cold and snow is piling up.

You really need to drive any car whether hybrid or gasoline a little farther than 3 miles each time you commute to keep up starter battery. Your engine is also not going to reach full operating temperature in that short a distance, unless you're on the road over 15 minutes or so with the engine running, so it will definitely not be as efficient as it could be, no matter what you drive.

I knew a teacher that had a Honda CR-V that she used for her commute of 3 miles. Why she didn't walk it or use a bicycle, I'll never know. Anyway, she was replacing her 12V battery every two years or less. Not enough charging time when she ran the car, so the batteries would die prematurely.

I would pick a coulple of days a week and do an errand that keeps you on the road 15 miles or so. That way, you would probably extend the life of your batteries, 12V and the hybrid battery.

Your English is great. My Polish is horrible, so you're way ahead of me!

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I've been very happy with my Insight in snow with a decent set of winter tires on it. In my case that's Continental WinterContact TS850.
Doesn't the gen 2 Insight have an optional plug-in engine block heater? Am I imagining this?
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