Northeastern Ohio winters can be a hard time for driving and I've been interested in seeing how the 2010 Honda Insight (now at 15,000+ miles) would handle it. Last week we had a cold spell with several days in the low teens and the temperature bottoming out at +8 degrees (F) one night. The Insight, sitting outdoors for about 12 hours, started right up sounding only a little annoyed at having to stir in the frigid morning air; I complained more than did the car. Despite the cold, the big hybrid battery provided plenty of juice and the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) started the gasoline motor –rrrrrRRRRRRRRRR– just as if it was 70 degrees. That morning I let the car warm for a few minutes before driving which doesn't help mileage (see below) but does benefit both car and driver.
Today we dealt with about five inches of overnight snow and +20-degree temperatures. Our development's drive was barely cleared as I left for the office in the morning and local streets were reduced to slushy tire tracks. The Insight had no trouble pulling itself up the hill and out into traffic. Yes, the roads were a bit slick –really bad in some places– but there was no problem starting or stopping; I was worried about the snow performance of the car's low rolling-resistance tires. ABS buzzed more than once, though not severely, helping abate skids. Electronic stability control kicked in a few times helping me accelerate in a straight line and I never felt the wheels spin when starting from a stop. I took the freeway to make up for time lost in slow, slow local post-holiday traffic. Average speed was about 45 MPH on a highway that had clear, wet tire tracks in lanes separated by piles of plowed slush. Changing lanes across the heavy glop was no problem at all and the car was in good smooth control at all times smashing through the messy barriers.
The only negative impact I've seen winter have on the Insight (besides salt and goop on the car) is a substantial drop in mileage. Operating lights, heat, window defoggers near full-time kept the gasoline motor running 'most all of the time. Mileage on the current tank appears to have "tanked" itself to about 44 MPG. I've been able to say the average fuel economy for my commutes has been about 50 MPG on a tank with my summertime high (no AC running, no lights, etc.) was just shy of 60 MPG. Now 44 MPG sounds bad to me but it's still about 10 MPG better than our Honda Civic averages and, considering the EPA's estimate is only 41 MPG (combined) and my worst performance overall is now 44 MPG, I guess I'll be happy.
Can't say I won't be happier when winter has passed and the snow and deep cold stay put in the arctic.