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So, I finally got it. After four years of reading about the Insight, the price on used models after the "work out the bugs" 2000 model year dropped to the point I could afford it.

Picked it up last night in Spokane, WA, for a 784-mile trip back home to Tooele, Utah. Spent the night in a hotel, wishing I could already be on the road, but I was tired from the flight up. I'd effectively purchased this one "sight unseen", except lots of pictures and my pointed questions. The folks up at Soupy's Auto Sales in Post Falls, Idaho (right across the river from Spokane, Washington) were exceptionally helpful the entire time.

The car cost $10,895 used. With taxes, I took out a loan for $11,700, which is still less than the insurance company would pay if I were in an accident ("good" condition Kelly Blue Book plus options is what GEICO goes by). The 2001 was originally sold in April of 2002, driven for 18 months and 25,000 miles, then when the Honda dealer couldn't sell it for two months, they put it up at auction. Soupy's got it, listed it, I had a plane ticket to get it two days later :)

Anyway, the next morning (this morning), I woke up, eage to get on my way on my long drive. Here's the relevant info:

Total miles driven: 784

The first leg of the trip (about 350 miles) was between Spokane and Butte, Montana. Temps ranged from a high of about 38 near Spokane, to a low of -10 Farenheit in a town near a pass in Montana. Snow was mostly cleared off the road, piled higher than my head in the Insight... it gave the feeling of driving in a video game at times.

Tire pressure: 38 front, 35 rear.

Anyway, I only got 44.1 MPG on that leg, averaging around 73-78 mph. MANY mountain passes, lots of assist, and even with the CVT, the battery frequently got quite low and forced a 3-4 bar charge from time to time on uphills. Only one lane was plowed in many spots, so I felt the need to keep up with traffic rather than allow myself to slow -- it felt really, really dangerous passing in the unplowed icy lane. The Insight handled it a couple of times fairly well, and was quite responsive, but the stock tires definitely don't handle icy, slushy passes as well as the all-seasons on our van. I'm not sure yet if I need to bother with snow tires for my daily commute, but I'm guessing that if there's snow on the ground, I'll be asking my carpool partner if we can use his car instead.

Once I hit Butte, it was dry roads, sunny, and only about 10 degrees below freezing. I made it all the way to Idaho Falls (over 500 miles) on that first tank of gas, though I was a little concerned as I was getting closer and down to about 4 bars of gas. The little car made it fine, though, as I worked to keep my speed down, drafted a little here and there, and generally tried to keep my instantaneous MPG above 55 rather than going for "a fun ride" like I did in the snowy portion of the trip. A little better on this stretch; despite a stiff headwind of about 15 mph, I still managed to eke out 48 mpg in sub-freezing temperatures on a stock Insight CVT running 75-80 miles per hour on mostly level terrain with two multiple-mile uphills.

Once I reached Idaho Falls, I stopped for gas and food, and decided to take the tires to 50 PSI. There was no headwind for this last 150-mile run, traffic was heavy, and the speed limit wasn't 75 the whole way. I decided to try to "let the road drive me", and slow down a bit on the uphills to maintain my MPG. It was not quite possible, with one steep pass (Malad pass) and a couple of other ones... I gave into temptation, hit the "S" button, and sailed past the minivans and tractor-trailers laboring along in the right-hand lane. I'd learned to try to avoid getting the Assist involved on longer hills by this point so I didn't get hit with a recharge, and it seemed to do better.

Overall mileage on the last leg: 53.5 miles per gallon, running 60-75 miles per hour.

What I learned: 50 PSI in all four tires on dry pavement, plus a disciplined right foot, makes a huge difference. Even in the dead of winter here on this Washington/Idaho/Montana/Idaho/Utah run, the Insight stretches the gas tank nicely when considerately driven. I purchased a 12 volt air pump and locking pressure gauge so that, if I found myself in less ideal conditions, I could reduce pressure down to 30 psi in each tire for improved traction, but found I didn't need to after the first leg.

Not bad for my first day, I think. The Insight proved really comfortable, but my main complaints:

* At 50psi, road noise nearly overpowers the radio
* I now know why people think the radio isn't very good -- bass at certain frequencies causes higher frequencies to "waffle" terribly, and while recducing the bass level diminishes the problem, then it sounds a bit like a tin can.
* I learned what people mean by the Potenza tires "tracking every gouge in the pavement" -- there were a couple of times, on uneven pavement, that I nearly overcorrected for a really hard jerk on the car going over the edge.
* Mud and spray severely limit the brightness of the front lights. They seem to collect dirt much more easily than other vehicles I've driven. She got a nice whole-body wash once I got home :)
* The stock tires, while almost passable in snow/ice at factory pressures, are totally inadequate for icy conditions, really, which is amplified at higher pressures. Underinflated, they are dramatically better on the ice & snow (tooling around town around 32 psi per corner was just fine on icy surfaces).
* No floor mats. Ugh.
* No rubber/steel stop for the driver's left foot -- I seem to remember someone on this forum mentioning they had some to sell at one point?


All that said, though, the sides of my face hurt from smiling all the way home. The car accelerates like a dream, gets amazing gas mileage even at lead-footed interstate speeds, has a very comfortable seat that does fine for long drives, has plenty of cargo room despite the lack of a back seat, and attracts looks & questions on the road and off.

On my way home, some unique things happened due to the car:
1. By a gas station attendant: "What kind of car is that?"
2. By a fellow driver, motioning me to rol down the window, shouting "Nice Insight!" (it was extremely muddy from top to bottom at this point from the Idaho rock-slush road treatments)
3. By another driver, honking and giving me a big thumbs-up.
4. I spoke to another Insight owner that happened to be sitting next to me on the plane trip up; she was very nice, and loved her 2001 Blue Insight CVT. She mentioned, though, that she was disappointed that it "only" went 109 mph when she pushed it :)

All in all, I'm excited beyond belief. My wife is putting a big bow on my car on Christmas day. I've been wanting an Insight for five years; only now did income meet opportunity!

Sorry for the really long post; as you can tell, I'm enthused. I do have one question, though: is there *any* way to get 65 mpg on level ground at 65 mph in the cold in an Insight CVT? I could *almost* maintain it, but the speed would slowly but steadily decrease unless I went down to around 56/60 instantaneous MPG at 65 MPH.

I've read posts that mention piping hot air from the catalytic converters, blocking part of the radiator, etc. but those changes seem focussed on increasing the "lean burn window", which just doesn't seem to apply to a CVT...
 

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Congratulations, You had me chuckling a few times reading your post.

It sounds like you and the Insight already have a bit of an understanding going on. Synthetic oil and a hot air intake might just push you over the top. Gasoline and air do not mix well at really low temperatures so I think the hot air intake will help somewhat regardless of the lack of lean burn. When air and gas mix the temperature of the mixture goes below the ambient temperature. On airplanes they have a control to thaw out the carburetor in the event it ices up. :shock: Synthetic oil improves mileage regardless of the engine.
 

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Utah eh?

Hi there;

Congrats on your new car! I am in the shopping stages myself and am also in Utah. One big concern I have is how well this car will cool the cabin in the summer in stop-and-go traffic. Have you researched this much or have any insight (ha ha) on this?

My current commuter is a convertible and one of my big reasons for looking at something else is the a/c's inability to cool me down in 100+ degree weather in stop-and-go traffic.

Thanks and congratuations again!

Damian
 

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Discussion Starter #4
As far as I can tell...

As far as I can tell, the Insight cools very well during the summer if the AC is charged. However, if in stop-and-go traffic, many turn on the "econ" mode on the climate control system, which shuts off the AC when you come near to a stop and the engine shuts off in "auto-stop" mode. If your climate control is set to "auto", while it does an excellent job managing interior temperature, even taking into account available sunlight, the engine is not allowed to go into auto-stop mode because it assumes you value your comfort more than your gas mileage.

So, from what I've seen, the climate control is more than adequate, but you get to choose how you want to balance your comfort versus your car's gas mileage. However, the only chance I had to exercise the air conditioner was on a test drive on a 65 degree day -- and it was tooth-chatteringly cold!
 
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