2010 Honda Insight - good value?
December 1, 2012 11:22 AM   Subscribe

How's the reliability and driveability of the 2010 Honda Insight?

I found a 2010 Honda Insight with 43k miles for 15k at Carmax. I was impressed with the dealership and my salesman, and really liked the car on the test drive.

What's I'd really like to know is if the Insight shares the Honda traits of long-term reliabilty and value. I'm looking for a car to commute 40 miles a day with but pass on to the kids in 5 years or so.

What's the deal with the battery? I suppose it's costly to replace. But when does this need to occur?

Thanks mefites.
posted by toastchee to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
I have one. I don't care for it.

It gets great fuel efficiency, has a great console layout, and handles well even in the snow. That about covers the "good"s. It has awful visibility (I've removed all the headrests to reduce the blindspots to "only" half my field of vision); the heat doesn't get hot enough to defrost the window on a really cold snowy day and even in moderately cool weather the windows fogs at the drop of a hat (you will leave it set to the highest temperature, highest blower, front defroster, always - Even though that will leave your eyeballs feeling like you've crossed the Sahara - Except in the summer, when the AC turns itself off every time you stop in traffic); the tire pressure sensors will nag you all winter long, no matter how often you top off the tires; you cannot turn off the seatbelt alarm (which wouldn't matter if you don't wear a seatbelt, because you can just buckle it from behind, but if you do usually wear one, it'll scream at you every time you need to reach out to get the mail or stop at a drive-through or the like); and a bit less easy to describe, it just doesn't feel comfortable for long trips, the miles will really wear you out.

That said, I have had zero reliability issues with it, and so far, the entire line has held its value very well over time.

As for the battery, you'll get tons of contradictory stories on that. Basically they don't wear out completely over the useful life of the car - You can expect it to still give 75% after a decade. But the Insight doesn't depend on its hybrid battery to work, you can use if just fine (albeit at 88 horsepower) as a normal gas-burner.
posted by pla at 11:43 AM on December 1, 2012

My Insight is ancient, but the battery issues haven't changed. Mine was guaranteed for 100K. It died at 100k and Honda replaced it for free. The price on the replacement battery would have been $3600. Factor this into your calculations.

On other issues, I keep accurate records going back to when I bought mine (it's a 2000 Insight.) Cost has been $0.25 a mile, based on an average cost of fuel of $2.50 / gallon over the life. This is the approximate midpoint. I have 139,000 miles.

Tire use has been bad. Car itself is typical Honda. I have owned/leased 6. Never so much as run out of gas. Highest quality of any vehicle maker I know.

I know, I know... my unit is a 2000 Insight. YMMV. (Mine has been about 50, over all the miles, BTW.)
posted by FauxScot at 11:45 AM on December 1, 2012

I'd be cautious of the long term costs of a hybrid, to be honest. If you're keeping it for 5 years and handing it down, that means your kids will be expecting the costs over a 10-12 year servicing life. The batteries currently cost $3,500 and there's no way they'll last 10 years with current technology. Reports suggest 170,000 miles at the most and I've heard 5-10 years quoted (which really means 5-7 to my mind).

Spending $3,500 on a 5 year old car before you even consider mechanical issues (it still has an engine after all) is crazy, to my mind. They won't be cost effective to keep on the road.

Essentially you're looking to consider a car, based on your expected use of it, that is cheaply serviceable over a 12 year life span and I really don't think hybrids are there at present. Hybrids are on a very steep development curve and being as the newer ones will continue to be much better than the old ones I think the 7-10 year resale value of hybrids will tank.

I think you're better off considering a more efficient standard IC engine car. I really don't think that Hybrids make any sense at this point in their development cycle, especially if you're not changing your car on a 3 year cycle. Hybrids really aren't good enough compared to a standard small capacity car in my opinion when you consider the loss of interior space (because of the battery) and the extra costs even just from the battery cost itself over that life span (never mind the expensive control systems that are also potentially unreliable over that kind of life span).

You can expect it to still give 75% after a decade. But the Insight doesn't depend on its hybrid battery to work, you can use if just fine (albeit at 88 horsepower) as a normal gas-burner.

This is a good point - it's still going to work after the time involved (most likely) but what's the point of having a 10 year old car that is lugging a massive pointless battery around and 88hp to get poor fuel economy with? Again, I still think you're better off with a small IC engined car. Hybrid's are just not there yet.
posted by Brockles at 11:52 AM on December 1, 2012

We have a 2010 and basically love it. Zero reliability issues so far at around 30,000 miles. The visibility isn't the greatest, but you just have to learn where your blind spots are. Where I live gas has frequently been over $4 a gallon lately, so we love the great mileage it gets.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:54 AM on December 1, 2012

Another 2010 Insight owner with nothing but good things to say. I commute 25 miles each way every day in Atlanta traffic. I have had absolutely nothing go wrong with the car thus far. The original Insight is now 13 years old and the IMA battery systems still have a very low failure rate (that story was from 2008, but I haven't seen newer numbers).

Also, I love driving this car. I go zip zip zip around the massive, unmaneuverable, and slow-accelerating vehicles around me, while sipping gas at 46 mpg (43 with A/C).
posted by hydropsyche at 12:36 PM on December 1, 2012

I have a 2010 Insight and love it. I drive a lot for work (500+ miles per month, not including my daily commute), and I find it to be very comfortable and reliable. I'm not sure when the hybrid battery will need to be replaced, although I did recently have to replace the regular battery, which surprised my mechanic because it's still a young car. *shrug* It does have high mileage (61K).
posted by southern_sky at 1:53 PM on December 1, 2012

I was just at the Honda dealership this morning because my IMA light on my Civic Hybrid came on at 114,000 miles.

What state are you in? I'm in California and the California Air Resources Board extended the warranty on emissions systems for hybrids (which the battery is a part of) up to 10 years or 150,000 miles. When I bought my Honda Civic Hybrid new in 2004 the warranty on the battery was 8 years/80,000 and it still says that on the Honda website.

Apparently NY, VT, ME, MA, RI, CT, NJ, OR, WA, ME, PA, NM, FL, CO have adopted the same standards as California: http://www.hybridcars.com/forums/ima-battery-and-fix.html

From my research on various hybrid owner sites, it seems that the car would need to be originally registered and operated in one of these states, but it's been hard to get any concrete information. I called the CARB yesterday to confirm that it was still under warranty (I was half-expecting the dealership to hope I wasn't aware of the extended warranty based on what I've read of other people's experiences.) However, the dealership brought it up on their own and they are ordering me a new battery next week.
posted by fozzie_bear at 2:26 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I feel like they drive like a tin can compared to the Prius. Also, I don't like how the hybrid system works where the engine is always on except for when you come to a stop. The engine starting up again is really rough.
posted by reddot at 6:43 AM on December 2, 2012

It's not uncommon at all to find Prii serving as taxis in San Francisco that have clocked 200k and 300k miles. The one thing that needs to be watch out for is overheating of the battery, which will shorten it's life. In the Prius, there's a vent over the rear passenger's shoulder that can clogged with dog hair or pollen and keep your battery from getting the necessary air flow. Keep that clean, replace the alleged "lifetime" transmission fluid every once in a while (or risk needing a new transmission), and the things will basically run forever.

The Insight is a different bird. I've not heard of model specific issues, but I didn't look that hard. I liked the ones I've driven via zipcar, but ultimately chose to buy a used Prius instead. My main objection was the Insight seemed to be mainly engineered to be cheaper than the Prius - and not only do you feel the cost cutting more than you'd expect, if you haggle and shop around enough, ultimately the price difference works out to be not much at all.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:13 PM on December 2, 2012

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