We recently got the opportunity to drive the new Honda Insight through the gently rolling hills just north of Phoenix, AZ, and managed to score 63.4 mile per gallon on one particular efficiency run. That's impressive, and it's also much higher than the Insight's official EPA rating of 40-city and 43-highway. In fact, even the older Civic Hybrid scores better under the EPA's testing procedure, leading many to wonder what's up. Isn't the IMA drivetrain for the Insight the latest and greatest? As a matter of fact, it is, and Honda believes that real-world mileage will be much better than the official ratings. Still, it uses a less powerful electric motor and a smaller battery pack. Why?
According to Hideharu Takemoto, assistant chief engineer for Honda, the team was after much more than just a high mileage rating, with an emphasis being placed on a low price point (Edmunds says "well under 18K") and an enjoyable driving experience. Indeed, the Insight will be the least expensive hybrid in America when it goes on sale, and our own Sam Abuelsamid found that the car was much more fun to drive than most green vehicles. The question remains, though, is this a good strategy? Real-world mileage statistics and sales figures will soon tell, with the Insight set to invade dealerships on April 22, 2009. Fittingly, that's Earth Day.