It seems that in the quest to sell the cheapest hybrid they possibly could — a “hybrid for everyone” as Honda’s tagline goes — Honda has majorly skimped on some truly essential bits. Have they made a critical strategic error?
As detailed in the just released August issue of Consumer Reports magazine, out of a crop of 22 small hatchbacks and wagons, the Insight — Honda’s much-touted all new Hybrid — came in 21st on the road test with one of the worst performances CR has seen from Honda in longer than many of the editors at the venerable publication can remember. The only car in that group to fare worse on the road test was the Dodge Caliber.
Although the Insight was rated very highly on fuel economy — garnering an overall 38 mpg rating in CR’s tests — the car fared badly in many things that are considered show stoppers to consumers including ride quality, handling, interior noise, and acceleration.
“The Insight is the most disappointing Honda Consumer Reports has tested in a long time,” said David Champion, Senior Director of CR’s Auto Test Center, in a statement. “The Insight is a noisy stiff riding car with clumsy handling that is nothing like the Fit on which it is based. Also, Electronic Stability Control is only available on the highline EX version.”
According to CR, “at its cornering limits, the Insight plows straight ahead early on in tight turns and the tail can slide out too quickly for stability control to completely prevent it.” To me this alone would be a deal breaker. No amount of fuel efficiency is worth taking a risk that in an emergency the car would leave you helplessly abandoned to the fates.
On the meager bright side, the Insight did score a Very Good rating from CR in the braking category. But I’m not sure how bright this is: if you can’t keep the car’s wheels on the road, no amount of good braking ability is going to help you. Trust me. I know.
Virtually every other car in the test group scored a “Recommended” rating from CR except for the Insight and the Kia Soul. In the case of the Soul, Kia gets a pass because the Soul is a brand new car and CR can’t recommend car models that have no reliability history. The Insight doesn’t get off so easy. It didn’t get recommended simply because it sucked so bad on the tests.
So, there you have it. I’m sure many of you will brush this off and say that the old school car testers just don’t get it and they are testing as if piddly little things like acceleration and handling even mattered anymore in the face of the impending climate crisis. And you may have a point.
But if you’re like me and you have a family that you care deeply about and have survived through a horrendous car accident, piddly little things like handling and acceleration do make a difference. In fact, they make all the difference.
Source: Press Release
Image Credit: Nick Chambers