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I'm a new poster here. I just learned about the Insight; I was under the mistaken impression it had gas mileage similar to the Prius, but it appears that's wrong. I bought a 2005 Mini Cooper with CVT a year ago. My driving is about 90% city. My experience with the MC has been horrible on the mileage. I can't seem to break 20 mpg just driving around town. I've hit up to 34 mpg on long freeway drives. I spoke to the dealer about it a few months in, but his only response was that city driving was terrible on gas mileage, especially with CVT. Part of my problem is my car is parked five floors up in a highrise condo building, which is 5 miles an hour up and down several times a day. Then my driving is stop and start around town.

Now I'm thinking of trading in and would like some advice. Do I just walk into a Honda dealer and tell them I want to trade in? Is the Insight buying process similar to the Mini, where you pre-order what you want and wait for it to come in? Should I buy a used one if it is available? I don't drive a stickshift and will need CVT - will this affect gas mileage. I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area - are the Insights easier to buy around here?

No offense to any Mini Cooper drivers here, but the "cuteness" of this car wore off long ago when I discovered my gas bills weren't decreasing!

Thank you for any advice you can offer.

ultra
 

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Thought they wuz cute

I'm a mini-fan (from a distance!) but I thought they were way pricey for even all that cute, with some performance thrown in. :)

I'm betting that Insights will now be harder than ever to get. But since I bought mine used, I can't speak for new car availability. If you want to save some bucks and get your milage too, you might try internet searches for used ones, even eBay ( with extra caution!) Keep your market search for a 2002 or newer only, with good maintence records. If you do track down a new one, don't give in to any price gouger tactics. The price range, I believe, is around $22k + or so for a CVT. Anyone with latest prices, please jump in.

The milage will be less than with a 5 speed, but most CVT Insights seem to hover around the 50+ mpg? Any CVT folks out there want to put in their milage? These cars give you constant feedback for optimum MPG, but you have to learn new driving habits the car will teach you. My MPG has steadily improved as I 'become one' with the car. The best advice is to stay out of the 'assist' mode as much as conditions will allow. Back roads work great for me, as there's less traffic and tailgaters that want to push you along. Settle into the 'groove' and get your foot locked onto the gas pedal when the instant MPG bar hits 75 MPG (or better!) uphill and down, keep it right there and watch that average figure climb on up 8)

Good luck with your quest!
 

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I have a CVT Insight, and I also live in the Bay Area. Welcome to the forum!

Here's a rough idea of the mileage to expect. While driving non-aggresively on the highway you'll get around 55 - 58. If you drive more aggresively, or use the AC a lot, then you'll get around 50 - 54. Driving around town is harder to predict. I get anywhere between 40 and 55 depending on the conditions. If you make a lot of short trips, then you might get in the low 40's. Every now and then, you'll have a glorious day, and get over 60 MPG on the freeway. Once I got 61 MPG going round trip from Cupertino to Carmel.

The Insight buying process is pretty simple. Just walk into a dealer and ask to order one. I think the wait time is roughly 2 - 3 months. I think the only options are the alarm system and floor mats. If you keep your eyes peeled you might find one in stock. I bought one about 2 months ago from SF Honda. I was really surprised when they had it. I had been searching AutoTrader.com for months, and suddenly one day SF Honda reported having 2 of them. You should definitely use AutoTrader.com. It's a great web site for finding both new and used cars.

Before I bought my Insight I also test drove a Mini, and even rented one for a day. I really liked the Mini, but I decided not to get it because I thought the seat was uncomfortable. It just didn't fit my body well.

Comparing the two cars, obviously the Mini has more power. The Insight is a bit sluggish at highway speeds. However, it has a surprising amount of pickup at lower speeds because of the electric motor. Both cars are fun to drive. The Mini is fun because of it's go-kart-ness. The Insight is fun to drive, well, for reasons that I can't quite put my finger on. It handles reasonably well, makes a space age humming noise, and well, I just like it. Best of all, you can drive from San Francisco to San Jose using just 0.75 gallons of gas.

I say go for it!
 

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We drive a MINI Cooper S and an '00 Insight. Both manual tranny. Around town, the MINI does have a tendency of getting poor mileage although I still can manage upper 20's in the S. Not many people can. In these conditions, the insight's going to be a little hard to keep charged and your mileage should be in the 40-50 range. On the highway, I've gotten upper 30's in the MINI and around 70 in the Insight. Driving the Insight for two years prior really helped when we got the MINI.

Your main problem is the 90% city driving. Even the Insight is going to have trouble getting real good mileage but it will be a big step up from the MINI.
 

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kapps said:
In these conditions, the insight's going to be a little hard to keep charged
Actually, since he's interested in the CVT, I doubt he would have any problem with the charge. The CVT's are extremely easy to keep charged. Mine rarely goes below 4/5.
 

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51.2 LMPG with a CVT for 32k miles....never had a problem with battery charge level...barely ever goes down more than 2-3 bars. You have the benefit of warmer winter temps which hit my mpg pretty hard here in the northeast. I would probably guess you should be able to get 45-50 around town without A/C.
 

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Ultra-

I love my Insight and would certainly recommend it, but have you calculated the amount of money you would (or would not) save by switching? For example, if you drive 12,000 miles per year and get 20 mpg in the Mini and if gas is $3.00 per gallon, then you would spend $1800 per year on gas in the Mini. If you get 50 mpg in an Insight (optimistic?), you would spend $720 per year on gas.

With those numbers, the Insight will save you $1080 per year.

But it may not be that simple. Some of the questions are:

Will other costs outweigh the gas savings?

Do you drive that many miles per year (fewer miles would mean less savings)?

Will gas stay at $3.00 per gallon?

How much of a depreciation hit will you take by switching (Mini's seem to hold their value pretty well, the Insight did not until the recent gas price spike)?

How do the maintenance costs compare? I've heard that Mini's have small problems (electrical?). My Insight (like most Honda's) has been almost perfect - the one great unknown is the battery lifetime.

Do you ever need to carry more than 2 people?

etc., etc.

Finally, if you can find a used Insight in good condition, it can be a real bargain.

Good luck with your decision.

Jim
 

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Hey, Ultrarunner.

I'm a relatively new Insight/CVT owner and can offer some perspective. You ask about new vs. used. I bought my 2002 used from a Honda Dealer surfing off autotrader.com. Had to drive about 2+ hours away for the purchase. The next closest one at the time was 8-10 hours away. I'm very happy with purchasing used for a variety of reasons; but admit I'm happy I got the Honda Certified warranty and I purchased the extended "Honda Care" to cover me till 100k or Nov2009. Great peace of mind.

I've only driven about 4k miles and my LMPG is 50.7. I drive a blend of local and highway - half solo and half with my partner. Now we're both big guys totalling 450lbs. Yes, supposedly over the "limit" of 400 lbs referenced in the Manual; but many posts here have said that this "limit" is negotiable. And with 2 big guys and our tiny dog, the highway is pretty consistently at 55mpg highway (at 60-65mph with 40psi on the tires) and the city is lower fluctuating anywhere from 48 to 53mpg - depending on 1 or 2 people and a/c on or off.

The very worst trip I ever got was 45mpg. But that was 1x. I should also note that my driving "style" is as others have written - from a red light to green, I do accelerate very fast forcing the assist. When I get to speed (in seconds) I back off to the limit and watch the dials to keep the best effeciency. Have heard that San Francisco is hilly and I think your biggest challange to mpg will be city hills. Can't predict your mpg without knowing the frequency you hit hills and the up/down/height of them. As for your garage driving in/out those levels... well, yes. That will negatively impact mpg. But depending on the time/miles of your daily trips, I can't predict the negative impact.

So even at my all-time worst of 45mpg, you'd be better off with the CVT Insight than your Mini. Also... I never have problems keeping the charge. Always stays 1-2 bars from full.

So I would agree with others who have suggested to look for a 2002 or better. Again, I'm very satisfied with used. But bottom line, I think you'll do fine w/an Insight. Good luck in your search/decision.
 

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Greetings Ultrarunner,
I would look for a used one on auto trader.com shoot for a 2002 - 2004 so you can get a carpool lane sticker. your gas bill should be cut in half, more if you can get a MT
 

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JTMCO makes an excellent point. Consider actual cost of trading vs. holding on to your Mini (not that I want you to).

Me? 30,000 mi. from new, 55.4 LMPG. I just got back from a 40 mile commute today with temps in the 90s, driving intelligently, mostly under 50mph on reasonably flat North Dallas secondary roads, probably twenty stoplights that I misjudged the green and had to actually stop... 71.2mpg. But I consider myself a smart Insight driver now, and I can get 60-65mpg with no sweat under the above conditions, day in and day out. Your hilly commute will cause your mileage to drop. A lot.

Also: MCs take premium gas, don't they? Or is that just the CooperS? Insights burn the cheapest gas out there. Another item to factor into your spreadsheet: the 20-30 cent difference-per-gallon costs between cheap and high-test gas.

Bottom line: MCs are driven more aggressively by drivers, it's the nature of the beast. Insight drivers are more conscious of their mileage, and the video game display helps tremendously. You'll lover the mileage, the reliability, and the [still] uniqueness of your ride. People still want Minis, you'll get a good price for it. Then... To misquote Lido: "If you can find a better car [meaning: Insight]... buy it!" :wink:
 

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Re: Thought they wuz cute

Wayne M said:
If you want to save some bucks and get your milage too, you might try internet searches for used ones, even eBay ( with extra caution!) Keep your market search for a 2002 or newer only, with good maintence records.
Why 2002 and newer only? Is there something wrong with 2000-2001 models that I don't know about?
 

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SamuraiSam said:
Is there something wrong with 2000-2001 models that I don't know about?
Nope :!: Not if you've been reading here for long :p

But AFAIK its the 03's that come factory equipped with the newer MCM & BCM that will _help_ reduce the number of recals. However, any older model _may_ have had this done as part of an IMA "repair".

HTH! :)
 

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Scott said:
51.2 LMPG with a CVT for 32k miles....never had a problem with battery charge level...barely ever goes down more than 2-3 bars. You have the benefit of warmer winter temps which hit my mpg pretty hard here in the northeast. I would probably guess you should be able to get 45-50 around town without A/C.
Ditto. I have a LMPG of 51.2 at about 40k miles. :D
 

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Hi Ultra

I just purchased a used 03 about one month ago. I found it on Craigslist. I watched Craigslist, ebay, autotrader... etc. for several months. There are a few listed every week or so both new and used. I have been very pleased with the car. I was in San Francisco the other day and I got around 40-50 MPG. Hope that helps :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for your help! :)

Everybody offered great advice, and I really appreciate it. I've had the Mini since August 2004, and it has about 6,000 miles on it. I really just don't do a lot of driving, and the comments about the costs v. amount of driving, etc., are something to think about. Yes, the Mini does take premium (I more often use the middle grade), and gas where I live is up to $3.29 for premium. About 95% of the time, I'm in my car alone, so a 2-seater is fine for my purposes.

I put myself on a list with Berkeley Honda to test drive an Insight when they come in. The sales guy I spoke to said even with gas prices, they are not getting very much demand for Insights, and he had none on the lot when I called a few days ago. (He tried to talk me into a Civic Hybrid, which I don't want.)

I'd like to try driving it and see how it feels. I'm a very conservative driver, I don't speed (there's nowhere to speed around town in traffic!), and I'm just not interested in learning a stickshift, so if it didn't have CVT, I wouldn't even consider it. Like I said, I've been so disappointed with the Mini's gas mileage that I will give serious thought to trading. Money is not a big issue in buying new v. used, maybe a bigger factor for me is the guilt of driving a new small car that is getting ridiculously lame gas mileage. I drove a 1984 Volvo before this car that did better. Also, I would be interested in a used car if it were on a car lot. Otherwise, I don't have a lot of time to check ads, call around, driving around looking at used cars, etc. And I just don't have a lot of interest in doing that. Buying new is fine and financially is not a big deal.

But I appreciate all of the comments, I printed everything out to refer back to. I'm not car savvy so I may come back with more questions, if that is okay. (BTW, I'm a girl, someone called me "he," but that's okay!) Thanks so much again, I'll probably check back after I drive it. :D

P.S. Question for those of you who have driven the Mini, what is your opinion on visibility in Insight v. Mini?

Ultra
 

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Visibility is a tad bit better in the MINI. The Insight has a decent sized blind spot due to the high side panels that flow all the way back. It's not bad once you get used to it. Other than that, they're about equal.
 
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