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Honda Insight

April 6, 2012

Hey, I’ve got the “I Just Bought a Car” thrill!

It’s a 2000 Honda Insight. The world’s first (okay, don’t Google it and prove me wrong) hybrid. I have admired the first generation Insight for a while now. It’s as if the Honda engineers snuck off into the basement and crafted the Ultimate Gas Sipper, without worrying about what the marketing department thought. They pulled out all the stops on this one. I have to admire them for that singularity of purpose.

So how do you make a car more efficient? Well, for starters, you keep it small. A small car can run efficient little circles around a Hummer-sized vehicle any day. The small size is advantageous in several ways. For one, it has less “frontal area”. Think of frontal area as the perfect silhouette of Wile E. Coyote after he crashes through a brick wall. Every object that moves through the atmosphere has to punch a hole in it to proceed, and that creates drag. Not only that, but how much it ruffles up the air and how it leaves the air behind it also affects the drag it experiences. Which is another reason the Insight shines. It has many aerodynamic features that make it quite slippery. It has smooth panels underneath the car. You may not see under there, but the air does. It has smooth wheel covers and fender skirts. And the thing that I think is really cool, and shows how aggressive those Honda engineers were, is how the bodywork behind the front wheels “carve in” to keep the airflow smooth as it exits the wheel well.

Not only is it small, it also sits very low to the ground. This is an aerodynamic feature, as well. The lower the car is, the less air that can get underneath it. It’s much better to get the air going up and over the car. That way, the car is not trying to smoosh the air against the road. I realized the other day just how low this car is, when I was sitting in traffic and looking UP at the bumper of a Ford Taurus!

I knew this car was capable of insane fuel mileage, but I was still unprepared for it when I calculated my first tankful. I had driven the car pretty normally, i.e. I hadn’t used any “hypermiling” techniques. I decided to let the car show me what it could do on its own. The first tank of gas took me 539 miles on nine and a quarter gallons. That’s 58.2 miles per gallon!


From → Blog

  1. Jessica permalink

    Well, you sold me!

    • Ha ha! I didn’t start out to write a motivational speech, but it kinda ended up that way, didn’t it? I’m just so freaking excited with 58.2 MPG!

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