Image credits: © Honda.

2012 Honda Insight

Upgraded 2012 Honda Insight Hybrid Offers New High-Tech Look, Improved Fuel Economy and More Features

44-mpg Insight offers highest fuel economy of any new vehicle under $20,000

A significantly updated 2012 Insight hybrid debuts today with new exterior styling, an enhanced interior, additional features on select models and an EPA fuel economy-rating1 improvement of 1 mpg.

The Insight's city/highway/combined EPA fuel economy rating1 of 41/44/42 mpg, up from 40/43/41 on the prior model, continues to offer the highest EPA fuel economy rating of any new vehicle currently available with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting under $20,000.

The aerodynamically styled, five-passenger, five-door dedicated hybrid vehicle receives extensive changes inside and out for 2012. Exterior changes include a more distinctive grille design that introduces a thin, blue accent bar representative of the Insight's high-tech hybrid identity. Restyled front and rear bumpers, along with changes under the vehicle, contribute to a 2-percent increase in aerodynamic performance. New designs for the headlight and brake light internal reflectors further complete the refreshed look. Insight and Insight LX models have new 15-inch wheel covers and the Insight EX has newly styled 15-inch alloy wheels. Slightly wider 185/60R15 tires, up from 175/65R15 tires on the prior model, contribute to confident driving performance.

The Insight's interior refinements for 2012 include a reconfigured rear seat area for better leg and head room; a redesigned gauge cluster background with a more technically sophisticated appearance; reshaped center-console beverage holders that accommodate larger drinks; and a more supportive front armrest (Insight LX and EX).

2012 Honda InsightThe Insight LX has new, more premium seat fabric, while the Insight EX is upholstered with a combination of synthetic leather (new) and premium fabric. Rear-seat headroom improves by 0.6 inches with changes to the rear headliner shape and deeper sculpting of the rear seat cushion to improve rear passenger comfort. Rearward visibility improves with a more compactly mounted rear-wiper motor housing and a thinner rear spoiler that creates a larger viewing area out the lower back window. The Insight becomes quieter for 2012 with increased thickness to the vehicle's existing noise-insulation materials and additional insulation panels in the cargo area.

Available on Insight EX models, the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with voice recognition2 receives several notable upgrades including the addition of a rearview camera. The system provides routing and guidance to individual addresses and more than 7-million points of interest within the continental Únited States. A 16-GB flash memory system replaces the 4.7-GB DVD-based system used on the prior model. The new system offers faster route calculation and includes FM traffic, a subscription-free service that alerts drivers to traffic conditions.

The Insight is powered by an Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system comprised of a 1.3-liter i-VTEC gasoline 4-cylinder engine and a 10-kilowatt electric motor. The combination develops 98 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 123 lb-ft. of torque at 1000-1700 rpm. For 2012, friction-reducing measures in the engine and the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) contribute to the new model's increased fuel economy. A 10.6-gallon fuel tank provides an estimated maximum driving range exceeding 400 miles.

The Insight features the Eco Assist System, an innovation that can enhance efficient vehicle operation while providing feedback related to individual driving styles. Eco Assist can help drivers improve fuel efficiency, both by altering vehicle functionality and providing driver feedback, with fuel economy dependent on their given set of driving conditions. Pressing the ECON button can further enhance the efficiency of multiple vehicle systems: throttle control, CVT operation, idle-stop duration, air conditioning and cruise-control operation (if equipped). Eco Assist also provides feedback about driving style via a 3D-like background within the speedometer. The background changes colors from green to blue to reflect how efficiently or inefficiently the driver is accelerating or braking (green is more efficient).

Aerodynamic refinements for 2012 include changes to the shape of the engine bay underbody cover and the addition of air diffusers under the rear bumper to smooth airflow exiting behind the vehicle. The strakes ahead of the front wheels have been extended by 0.4 inches to better direct air around the wider front tires.

Standard safety features on all Insight models include dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; front-side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); side-curtain airbag system; anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution (EBD); driver's and front-passenger's active head restraints; and a front body structure designed to mitigate pedestrian injuries. The Insight also features Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which provides improved occupant protection and crash compatibility between vehicles of different sizes and ride heights in frontal crashes.

The 2012 Insight is offered in three distinct models. The value-oriented base model, simply designated as 'Insight,' is well equipped with a 160-watt, two-speaker audio system, automatic climate control, power windows, remote entry and more.

Vital Stats and Specifications
Vital Stats
Engine : 1.3 L., 4-cylinder
Power: 98 hp
Torque: 123 ft-lbs

The Insight LX adds a four-speaker audio system, ÚSB audio interface, armrest console, floor mats and a security system. New for 2012, the LX has map lights and steering wheel audio controls.

The Insight EX adds alloy wheels, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, an audio system with six speakers, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals and much more. For 2012, the EX gains Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink3, automatic headlights and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The Insight EX is available with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with voice recognition and rearview camera.

New exterior colors include Frosted Silver Metallic and Truffle Pearl, which replace Clear Sky Blue and Crimson Pearl.

2012 Honda InsightInsight accolades include J.D. Power and Associates 'Highest Ranked Compact Car in Initial Quality in a Tie' in their 2011 Initial Quality Study SM (IQS) (the Insight tied with the Civic). The IQS names the highest performers within the first 90 days of vehicle ownership. And for the past three consecutive years, the Insight was named a Top 10 Green Car by Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com4. The Insight was also named one of the 'Greenest Vehicles of 2011' by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Honda is a leader in developing cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicle technologies, including the original Honda Insight, introduced as America's first mass-produced hybrid car in December 1999. Honda is also a leader in the development of advanced alternatives to gasoline, including the zero-emission, hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity fuel-cell electric car, the world's most-advanced production fuel cell automobile.

Honda's diverse lineup of environmental vehicles also includes the Civic Natural Gas sedan, the only retail CNG passenger vehicle currently available from any automaker in the Ú.S., and three distinct gasoline-electric hybrid models: Civic Hybrid, CR-Z sport hybrid and Insight hybrid.

Honda was named America's 'Greenest Automaker' for the fifth consecutive time by the Únion of Concerned Scientists (ÚCS) in late 2010. The award is earned by the company with the lowest combined score of its smog-forming and greenhouse gas emissions (primarily CO2) in its Ú.S. automobile fleet. Honda has led the ÚCS rankings of overall vehicle environmental performance since the first ÚCS study in 2000, marking a decade of Honda leadership in reduced vehicle emissions. Honda earned the recognition with an industry-best score based on model year 2008 data, the latest available for analysis.

Insight Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price*
Insight: $18,350
Insight LX: $20,125
Insight EX: $21,815
Insight EX with Navigation: $23,540
* MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, $770 destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

Source - Honda
The first production Hybrid electric vehicle to be available in the U.S., Honda's Insight was something very remarkable. Unveiled in 1999, the Insight earned the highest combined EPA rating for fuel economy in a passenger vehicle at 60/66 mpg (city/highway) for five years in a row.

Nearly identical to the VV in technology and engineering, the Insight's most dynamic changes are at the surface level. A rear wiper was added, the headlight shape was refined, the aluminum wheels lost their plastic covers, and interior appearance was modified slightly. The final production Insight is incredibly innovative with much more advanced and sophistical features than the original concept vehicle.

The chief engineer behind the Insight was Kazuhiko Tsunoda, who wanted to create a production vehicle based on the J-VX, as well as creating a vehicle that consumers would actually want to buy. The Insight was created to be ‘a real world product for the global market'. Some of the goals behind creating the Honda Insight were to make a vehicle that was fun to drive, as well as creating the world's most efficient production vehicle, and to achieve extremely low emissions. Designers also wanted to achieve the levels of safety and comfort that consumers had come to expect, along with to be able to sell this vehicle at a reasonable price.

Honda took the basic concept of the J-VX as a beginning point, but explored further options for the body shape and interior styling. Designers knew that the J-VX was amazingly designed as a show car, but a production vehicle would have to have a more conventional appearance to be accepted by customers. By eliminating the rear seats, the Insight began looking more like the Honda CRX.

With a long history of creating innovative, low emission, fuel efficient, engine technology, Honda produced the front wheel drive, 2-person, 3-door coupe Insight. Attempting to create a vehicle incredibly fuel efficient with low emission, the Insight was a ‘commercially viable stepping stone between today's combustion engine vehicles and the potential ‘super green' vehicles of the future.

The Insight could achieve 0-60mph in just 11 seconds, had a five speed manual transmission, and had a body construction of aluminum alloy. With a curb weight of 1887 lbs, the Insight could be purchased for $20,080.

A hybrid gasoline-electric vehicle, the Honda Insight was capable of an impressive 70 miles per gallon. Very similar in appearance to a modernized Honda CRX, the Insight is completely full of materials and technology not found in conventional vehicles. Powered by a compact electric motor and a highly efficient 1.0 liter combustion engine, the Insight doesn't need to be ‘plugged in' like a standard electric vehicle since the batters are charged by regenerative braking and the gasoline engine. The Insight features a much higher energy density than batteries, and since the Insight runs primarily on gasoline, it had a much further cruising range than any electric vehicle, nearly 600 miles on a full tank. The Insight was a godsend at the time, as gas prices were at an all time high since the 1970's.

The Honda Insight featured a ‘parallel' hybrid propulsion system, and in this system both the gasoline engines and electric motor are able to directly drive the vehicle. A series hybrid is unique because the vehicle can run the gas engine at its highest efficiency, while a regular car or parallel hybrid, the engine has to be used less efficiently over a wide range of speeds.

The engine bay of the Honda Insight is much smaller than a Civic, but the engine is actually quite compact. The electric motor normally starts up the combustion motor, but in case of emergencies, the small 12 V battery will drive a starter motor to turn over the engine.

The primary power plant of the Insight is a 1.0 liter, 3-cylinder, SOHC, 12-valve, gasoline engine. Very advanced in its design, the Insight came with 67 horsepower, and 66 lb-ft of torque and featured weight-saving materials such as aluminum, magnesium and plastic, along with Honda's VTEC technology to maximize efficiency. The VTEC works by switching between various sets of lobes on the camshaft. The shape of the lobes in the VTEC determine the timing and lift of the intake and exhaust valves. The VTEC technology was originally used to increase engine performance, switching to an aggressive cam profile at high rpm to increase torque and horsepower before returning to a more traditional profile at lower rpm.

A variation of VTEC technology, the VTEC-E was used to increase efficiency while maintaining adequate performance. Controlled, the valve timing and lift give a lean fuel/air mixture at low-rpm to produce high fuel efficiency and a relatively high torque output. All of this is achieved by closing the secondary intake valve nearly shut, which reduces the fuel input to the cylinder. The lift of the secondary intake valve is increased when the engine is called on for more performance at higher rpm, and the engine runs like a conventional 4-valve per cylinder motor.

The AC electric motor was a 10-kilowatt, permanent magnet that was mounted between the engine and the transmission. The magnet was both small and thin, and measured 2.3 inches thick, and was 16 inches in diameter while providing up to 25 lbs – ft of torque. Stored in the cargo area of the vehicle, the 120 nickel-metal hydride D cells powered the motor at 144 V. The battery pack was kept cool using active and passive cooling, while a power control unit regulates the charging and conditioning. The guarantee on a battery pack from Honda was 80,000 miles or 8 years.

The hybrid system is named the Integrated Motor Assist, and the primary power comes from the gasoline engine, but under hard acceleration, while the electric engine assists with secondary power, providing a total output of 73 hp at 5700 rpm, and 91 ft-lbs of torque at 2000 rpm.

Used as an regenerative brake, the electric engine kicks in when one partially steps on the brake pedal, and the electric motor is used as a generator to recharge the battery while slowing down the vehicle. The hydraulic brake slows down the car even further if you depress the brake further. Feeling much like conventional braking, the transmission is very smooth.

The Idle-Stop feature is yet another gas saving technique of the Honda Insight. Once the Insight slows to a stop, the clutch is disengaged and the transmission is put into neutral, while the gasoline engine shuts off completely. The engine restarts as soon as yo put the car into gear and press down on the gas.

The Insight has the lowest aerodynamic drag coefficient of any commercially mass-produced vehicle, with just a 0.25 cd. Only weighing around 1800 lbs, the use of aluminum construction by Honda makes for a very light vehicle.

47% lighter than a comparable steel body, the Insight features a single body aluminum frame, though it features better bending and torsional rigidity. The Insight's front brake pad calipers and rear brake drums are also made of aluminum as well, in addition to the frame. Only weighting 124 lbs, the gasoline engine itself it quite compact.

Much like a mid-level Honda Civic, the Honda Insight interior is considered Spartan, yet functional. The Insight's electronic display is easily laid out and quite easy to read.

By Jessica Donaldson

Concepts by Honda

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