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Honda Insight MPG-Real World Numbers

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  • Many thanks for that tip, and I will look forward to the next twist.
    I'm convinced the Insight ought to be rated higher by the EPA. If these tips are very usable by the average driver, and if these immediate-feedback mechanisms are almost hard to avoid, it seems to me the EPA testers ought to use these mechanisms when they test the Insight. This makes me believe the Insight mpg rating ought to be roughly equivalent to that of the Prius. Of course, I imagine the Prius will soon have such tools if it doesn't already.
    I also find it disappointing that Honda seems to have essentially abandoned marketing the Insight. Personally, I'm convinced it's a great car. I consciously chose it over the Fit and Prius (one for appearance/mileage reasons, one for cost reasons) and it seems to me that Honda ought to capitalize on these clear advantages.
  • My next tip is to take what was discussed in my last two posts (#s 38 & 40) and apply it to acceleration.

    When you start off from a stop light and accelerate to your final speed, you'll notice on your instantaneous gas milage display that you only have two or three bars (10 or 15 MPG at that moment). It makes sense to be this low because you are doing a lot of work to accelerate a heavy hunk of metal. It will stay that way until you approach your final speed and relax the gas pedal. So perhaps that's maybe, 15 or 20 seconds of really low gas milage that will get averaged into your total MPG number. What if you could increase the poor milage for at least part of your acceleration time, that way it would cause less of a toll on your overall milage. Here's how.

    Use the same technique I've previously discussed where as you let up on the gas pedal momentarily to coax the CVT transmission into a higher gear ratio, and then gently reapply. Repeat this every 5 seconds or so while accelerating. On the first lift and reapplication, you'll notice that instead of only two or three bars, you'll now have three or four bars. The next time you do it (five seconds later) you'll have maybe five or six bars, and so on. You will allow the instanteneous milage to creep up from the basement during the acceleration period. It will take less of a toll on your overall milage.

    There's more tips to follow. Stay tuned.
  • Great, I am totally interested. Thank you for posting these.
  • cjl49cjl49 Posts: 4
    It would be nice to know what "instantaneous" really means in terms of sorting out what the readings are really telling you. It is likely a time-averaged reading that is over a period longer than some of the manipulations being done to affect that reading.
  • You're probably right -- I am no engineer or car expert at all. Have you driven an Insight? The instantaneous mileage graph we're talking about is a horizontal white bar that gets longer as your mpg gets better. And it does seem to react almost instantaneously to accelerating or easing off the accelerator. So these tips (of easing off accelerator periodically while maintaining speed) do in fact immediately affect what the graph shows your current mpg to be.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    "I think it has to do with the Constant Velocity Transmission."

    CVT = Continuously Variable Transmission
  • CVT - ahh, yes. Good catch. Thanks for the correction.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    edited November 2010
    Letting up on the gas momentarily when accelerating with an automatic or CVT will cause it to "upshift" to a higher gear or band for the CVT. I had a Ford Freestyle with CVT and currently own a Prius, as well as a Honda Fit with an automatic transmission. For all three, it's a good idea when accelerating from a stop to let off the gas slightly and not just hold it down until you reach your desired speed.

    BTW...I bought a used '07 Prius and I average 50mpg (highway/city and everything in between). For me I'd rather have a used Prius than a new Insight mostly because the Insight was too small inside for passengers & cargo. My Fit averages in the mid to upper 30s MPG and has even more cargo space.

    But I think the Insight would be great for those who don't need a lot of back seat or trunk space.

    As far as the VW TDI. For me the problem with diesels in this country is that the cost of diesel fuel makes the cost per mile to drive a diesel too low in comparison to a hybrid. If diesel cost the same as 87 octane, then I'd consider them.
  • The bar graph we are talking about is really instantaneous. We know this because it swings wildly from 0 to 100 in less than a second, depending upon what you're doing. If it were a time-averaged reading, it wouldn't be able to change that far that quickly. "Averaging" would tend to mute wild swings. This particular bar graph is only concerned with the "right now", with no memory of what happened in the past or prediction about the future.

    What this is good for, is to show you what you're overall milage *would* be if you could continue to keep the bar graph at that number for an extended period of time. And it can teach you how and what driving styles or road conditions affect your milage, and by how much. For instance, if all I did all day was accelerate, the graph shows me that my overall milage would be about 15 MPG. But if all I did was coast, my milage would be 100 MPG (or higher - the display can only go up to 100 though). And because I know that the overall milage for a tank of gas is the average of all of the instanteneous readings during that tank, I can see and try to avoid the things that make it go lower. The other displays are tougher to interperet because if you get a lower number you might not know what caused it. Whereas the instantaneous graph gives you immediate feedback and shows the severity of the penalty or reward (unlike the green/blue dash color change, which may also be instantaneous, but doesn't show severity very well.)

    Don't be confused by the large numerical display above the bar graph. THAT is not instantaneous - it is an average since you last reset your trip odometer. As such, it is not related to the bar graph. It just happens to be on the same display screen.

    I'll try to get to my next tip next time...
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    "Letting up on the gas momentarily when accelerating with an automatic or CVT will cause it to "upshift" to a higher gear or band for the CVT. I had a Ford Freestyle with CVT and currently own a Prius, as well as a Honda Fit with an automatic transmission. For all three, it's a good idea when accelerating from a stop to let off the gas slightly and not just hold it down until you reach your desired speed. "

    This technique is know as the "Fake Shift", and I used it on my 2006 Freestyle and current 2008 FEH.
  • Next tip -- Drive using only stored battery power (no gasoline) for as long as you can and as frequently as you can. Some of you may have already figured out how to do this. Others may be doing it without even knowing. Here's how to do it, and here's how to tell when you are doing it. (And, no, -- when this happens, the egine doesn't shut off like a Prius does. The gas engine will continue to idle, but won't use gas for propulsion purposes - which means it barely uses any.)

    It is relatively easy to do on lower speed roads (i.e. 25 - 30 MPH) and much more difficult to do (or to maintain for any appreciable length of time) on highways. It also needs the hybrid batteries to be at a sufficient charge level.

    When you back off the accelerator as I've described in a previous post, and gently reapply, you might notice that the instanteneous bar graph display reaches full (100 MPG) and stays there while you maintain speed. If you look at the needle display on the far right hand side of the dash you'll see that the needle is in the "Assist" area on the top half of the display (the blue area). The means the hybrid batteries are assisting with propulsion. The reason the instantaneous MPG display is full is because you're not using gas for propulsion and only using the batteries. If you quickly page over to another display, you can see what I'm talking about. Go to the display that shows the level of your battery charge. It shows a gas pump, a car, and a battery. There are arrows that show where the power is coming from. At the moment you are only using battery, you will see an arrow out of the battery to the car. But you won't see an arrow out of the gas pump to the car. If you step on the accelerator a little more, or if you've keep doing this to the point where the battery depleats and can no longer supply the needed power, you'll feel the engine change slightly (it will feel a little like a gear shift). At that point, you are back to using gas for propulsion, the arrow will point out of the gas pump towards the car on the battery display, the instanteneous MPG display will no longer show full, and the needle on the far right display will return to the middle or green area (unless you're trying to accelerate, in which case it may stay in the blue area).

    More about this later. Let me know if you've found this on your own or if its new to you.
  • Aha, because this is new to me. This makes perfect sense, though I didn't realize the battery was powering the car at that point. I suspect these tips will further increase my mpg.
    Lately I have been getting only an average of 45-46 mpg per tank by the display, though I suspect that is mostly because I have been doing so many 1- or 2-mile trips, stop and go, and because the weather now is in the 40s. But I still have been getting 51 or so highway by the display and as much as 53 to 61 on suburban drives of 40 to 50 miles per hour with fewer stops.
    I'm going to check my mpg more precisely this time by the old-fashioned method of dividing miles by gallons used. What do you get when you calculate this? How much is a reasonable goal to shoot for?
    And why in the world doesn't Honda (or the EPA, or a consumer magazine) let potential customers know that these rates are very attainable?
  • "How much is a reasonable goal to shoot for?"

    Well, with the cooler weather, with temps in the 40s, my display has come down to 57 MPG (translates to 53 MPG calculated) for almost exclusively highway driving. In the summer, almost every trip was at 62 MPG on the display. That's the highest the display can go for the screen that shows your present and last 4 trips. Which means that those trips probably registered higher but the display was "pegged".

    "And why in the world doesn't Honda (or the EPA, or a consumer magazine) let potential customers know that these rates are very attainable?"

    They do. They say what all manufacturers have to say... "your milage may vary". I'm sure there are some Insight drivers that are getting in the 30s for MPG, due to the conditions of their commute and their driving style.
  • Back to driving on battery only:
    To get the best gas milage, do this as often as possible. If the car kicks back to using gas, then back off the accelerator and gently reapply again. On a 25MPH level road, I've been able to sustain this for over a minute. Sometimes when the battery gets to about half charge the car will switch back over to gas. But if I keep trying I can get it back to battery-only for another 10 seconds or so -- several times over again. At some point, it just won't do it anymore until it has a chance to recharge. But after a few miles of driving on gas, it has recharged enough to do it again for a short period of time.

    Doing this is like a coupon for free milage. Anytime there's enough battery charge and the right conditions to do it, you should or you're leaving money on the table.

    Next time, I'll relate a story that shows why you should not be trying to save-up your battery charge.
  • Here's my story on saving-up battery power -
    While watching the battery display, I used to try to get as close to a full charge as possible, thinking that the more I had, the better my overall milage would be. I hadn't yet discovered how to drive on only battery power and thought that hard acceleration was the only way to depleat the energy stored in the battery - and I didn't want to be wasteful by accelerating hard. So I was near full charge and driving in a hilly part of eastern Pennsylvania. The road I was on was going down a hill. A *long* and somewhat steep down hill. I was not on the gas pedal, but the car was accelerating quickly. When my speed climbed too high, I began to press the brake to stop from gaining any more speed. And like a good little hybrid, the car converted my momentum into electrical energy which got stored in the battery, thus slowing me down. No energy was wasted, and all was right with the world -- at first. Until the battery became too full to accept any more charge (remember I started out nearly full charge, so it topped out rather quickly.) And now my hybrid could no longer be a hybrid. With no more battery capacity left to store energy, the only way the car could slow down was to use the conventional friction brakes - like any old "ordinary" car would. Wasted energy spilled out all over the place in the form of heat into the atmosphere. I knew this because my gauge on the far right of the dash was no longer in the green to show that I was charging. Instead it was in the center. I knew then that had I used more of the battery earlier, I would have been able to recover this lost energy for future use and gas savings. And I wouldn't of had to use up as much brake pad life thus prolonging the time until my next brake job. The End.

    Moral -- Use up that battery power. It won't let you depleat it so much that you won't have enough for your next acceleration. It stops letting you drive on battery-only long before that point.

    So far, all my tips (at least three or so) have revolved around how and when to let up and reapply the gas pedal. Next time, I'll move onto some tips that don't involve that.
  • accordguy0325accordguy0325 Posts: 169
    edited November 2010
    """I hadn't yet discovered how to drive on only battery power""""

    In the coming year - you'll be able to do so with Honda's 2012 Civic hybrid that uses two electric motors instead of one, and a lithium Ion battery instead of the current nickel-metal hydride batteries.

    You can expect the 2012 Civic hybrid to be rated at 50MPG - and can view some more information about Honda's new hybrid technology through Honda's main webpage - honda . com - under news, although information is limited.

    imageSee more Car Pictures at CarSpace.com

    imageSee more Car Pictures at CarSpace.com">
  • A couple last points I should mention before leaving the topic of driving on only battery...

    Keep in mind that you can't usually do it until the car has warmed up. So for those of you who do frequent short trips, this may not help get your milage up as much as those who have long commutes.

    Also, I should have pointed out that when you do this and your instantaneous milage reads 100 MPG, your actual instantaneous milage is much higher. But you can't see how high it really is because the display only goes up to 100 MPG. (I wonder what it would read if it could display the real number...) Because that the milage is so high, it has a really positive effect when averaged into your overall milage, even when only done for a short period of time (like 30 seconds or so).

    Okay, next time I'll move on to something else.
  • All my tips thus far have been specific to the insight.

    [With the exception that someone pointed out that you can "fake-shift" on any automatic transmission. Well, one last word on that. On an ordinary (non CVT) automatic transmission, it only works if you are already close to being at the shift point, and by backing off the accelerator you can coax the transmission to shift slightly earlier than it would have -- and that's all. But if you're not near the shift point you will probably just remain in the same gear. And when you're in the top gear, it can't be done anymore 'cause there are no more higher gears. Because of these limitations, it will hardly effect your gas mileage on that car. However, with a CVT car (like the Insight), there are in essence soooo many gear ratios (let's call it infinite for discussion purposes) that you are always close to the next gear, so it's easy to coax to a more economical gear ratio, and do so often enough to cause gas mileage to go up. And even at cruising speed, there are still more higher gears for you to continue to push to so you can boost mileage. ------- But I digress.]

    Anyway, the point of this post was to take a moment to discuss one tip that I've been doing on my Insight that can be done on any car. But I confess that it isn't something new or original, but I still want to divulge it since it is one of the many ways I've gotten my mileage to be as high as it is. --- I slightly overinflated my tires.

    The tires on my Insight say on the sidewall that the maximum pressure they can continuously handle safely is 44 psi. Now, I wouldn't want to push right up to that limit, but the car's driver's door nameplate states that 33 psi is recommended pressure for these tires on a car of this weight. That's a big range in between those two numbers.

    I've been inflating to 37 psi on my Insight. The tires being slightly harder at that pressure causes the rolling resistance to be less, and less energy therefore is lost to heat from friction, causing the tires to run cooler (in theory, but I haven't measured the temp for comparison) and allows longer coasting with less speed loss. This helps boosts mileage. I'm not sure how much it is contributing since it would be difficult for me to keep all other conditions constant for comparison sake, but I've heard numbers like 1 or 2 extra MPGs per tank from doing this on other cars. I expect that on the Insight it would be on the lower side of that range because they are already low rolling resistance tires to begin with. But I figure, every little bit helps.

    The other advantage I find from doing this is that with firmer tires, the car becomes more responsive and handling is improved. It has similar effect on performance as does changing to a lower profile tire, but maybe to a lesser degree. Braking performance has not seemingly degraded either, in fact I understand that it is usually slightly improved by doing this.

    So what's the downside? Everything comes at a price, right? Well, with more responsive handling comes a harsher ride. The tires, being harder, absorb less bumps, so more of that energy is passed through to the cabin. But that doesn't bother me because I don't like driving cars that feel like their floating on a cloud anyway. That's why I didn't buy a Prius (That car drives like a hover craft -- you don't drive a Prius, you *guide* a Prius). I like the feel of being "connected" to the road. And I find that the Insight's suspension is rather compliant and can absorb much of these bumps, so it's not too harsh for me.

    The only other downside I'm aware of is tire wear. Over-inflation can cause uneven wear such that the center of the tread wears out more quickly than the edges. But I expect it to be quite mild at this pressure. I will monitor this frequently to see if it's the case, but so far I'm over 12K with no signs of any trouble. I can always back down a little if it becomes an issue, but for now I'm staying put.

    Disclaimer time -- I'm not suggesting anyone else over-inflate their tires. I'm merely telling you what *I* have done on my Insight (and I also slightly over-inflate my Accord too). I'm NOT recommending that you copy my example, even to a lesser degree. So if you decide to do this, then you do so at your own risk. Use your own judgment. I nor Edmunds shall be held responsible for any consequences of not following the maker's recommendations. 'Nuff said.

    Coming soon... I'll go back to more Insight specific tips.
  • A question or two: I've been trying your techniques to good avail, I think. But how can you tell if the battery is actually powering the car -- as opposed to the car just coasting? I've driven several times for 10 seconds or so with the horizontal mpg bar at 100, and staying more or less up to speed. Does this mean the battery is being used at that point?
    Also, with weather in Chicago having gone down to the 20s, 30s and 40s, my display mpg has been lower. Yesterday on a highway, though, I got 50-51. On a suburban road driving about 40 miles per hour, I got up to 52 for that trip, and am at 47 for the entire tank so far because of lots of short, one-mile drives with lots of stops. Is this going to be the best I can do (which is great, by the way), or are there ways of getting it higher still, do you think? Is your mpg higher mostly because it's longish distance? Or is there more for me to do? (I have kept tire pressure at constant 33 all along.)
  • spunjornospunjorno Posts: 45
    edited November 2010
    How do you know when you're on battery only?

    Well, when your instantaneous mileage is at max it may mean you are using only battery, or it may mean you are coasting. Look to the meter on the far left of the dash to tell which it is. The tell tale sign is that while the instantaneous mileage is max (100 MPG), the meter on the far left side of the dash is in the blue (assist) region. Both must happen simultaneously. If the battery is "assisting" then by definition you are not coasting. Besides, when coasting you'll notice that the meter is in the green "charging" area. So when you're getting 100 MPG, look at the meter. Green means coast and blue means propulsion on battery only. The double check is to click up five display screens to see the battery charge display. It will tell you the direction of power flow and from where. Try for no arrow from the nozzle to the car (meaning no use of gas for propulsion) and at the same time an arrow from the battery to the car (this means using battery).

    Is my mpg higher because of driving mostly long distance trips or is there more you can do?

    The answer is "yes" to both. I still have more tips to devulge which may help. Also, my mileage has recently tumbled to 50 (down 7 MPGs) on the display as a result of driving to see family in the city on Thanksgiving and with temps in the 20s. It's starting to climb again though.
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