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Honda Insight Hybrid - Shakedown

A Hybrid Review

Jul 1, 2009
Htup_0907_02_z+honda_insight_hybrid+front_left_view Photo 1/3   |   Honda Insight Hybrid - Shakedown

From Somebody Who Knows Nothing About Hybrids
After months of waiting, the all-new Honda Insight finally arrived for me to test drive, and though it's not the fastest, best-handling road machine out there, it still afforded me a nice trip down the coast-at a price that no one can complain about. With the Insight at my disposal, I hit the open road and headed down to nearby San Diego to see just how well the nation's "most affordable hybrid" performed on such a journey.

After loading up on coffee, snacks, and gas (four bucks, to be exact) I was off-just me, the freeway, and the endless gadgetry that makes up the Insight at my fingertips. It has it all-navigation, multi-screen gauges and information displays, a digital speedometer, and iPod hookups. The car itself is just about the quietest vehicle I've ever been in; I could barely even hear it start, and once I was on the road, it felt like there was no one else around me. The engine is something to pay attention to though, what with its alternating gas/electric combination that switches to the latter and shuts down the gasoline side every time the car comes to a complete stop and then draws gasoline and electric power to accelerate. This can all be summed up into two words: fuel efficiency. Of course, I've got to wonder how hard all of this is on that starter, but we'll let Honda worry about that.

Though not the quickest one off the line (I hope no one would buy this car expecting it to be), if you can get past the Insight's sluggish acceleration, the little hybrid moves...sort of. I found myself zipping through traffic on Intersate 5, forgetting I was driving a car with hardly enough power to tow a peanut.

And after 101 miles and an easy hour and 42 minutes (as calculated by the Insight) I found myself at my destination, still with more than half a tank of gas to get me back home. My short vacation with the Insight showed me a new side to the hybrid car-one that can be quick and sleek but efficient at the same time, and all without making you feel like some eco-nerd.
-Andy Anderson

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A Brief Word From Ht's Editorial LackeyEgos.
What are we to do with them?

Almost everyone thinks his or her car is ready for the magazine, and nearly just as many feel theirs is cover material. But the truth is, yours just might not be. I know, some of you are going to flame me for speaking my version of the truth, and if you do, that's fine. It's my soapbox-go get your own. But here at HT, things like covers and pages are at a premium; we do only have nine issues per year after all. We work hard to bring something new to the cover each month. Look back over the last year's worth of issues and you'll see few covers that feature the same chassis. Don't sweat it-variety is good for you. Of course, all of this is nothing new for our editors, but apparently even I'm no longer exempt from such ego-driven requests. It seems as though everywhere I go I get the ol' "Hey, my Civic really should make cover." Even my own buddy, whose Civic hatchback we recently featured in the magazine, hit me up about this. Yes, my friend has a dope-ass Civic-it's boosted, makes tons of power, and rocks old-school TE37s, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee him the big spot up front.

Honestly, I wish there were more cover spots to go around. But there aren't. To be fair though, it's an honor to be recognized in the world's only all-Honda magazine, and gracing these pages is reward enough. Yeah, there are other import-related titles out there, and you might be able to squeeze your way into one of those for a whopping two- or three-page feature, but the truth is, despite their circulation rates, you'll never have as many Honda enthusiasts' eyes on your car by going anywhere other than HT. It's really very simple: Honda Tuning is the Honda magazine run by Honda enthusiasts for Honda enthusiasts.

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ZDX Prototype
A prototype of the provocative Acura ZDX luxury four-door sports coupe made its world debut at the New York International Auto Show earlier this year. The production version of the dramatically styled prototype goes on sale this fall. The segment-bending ZDX features stunning coupe-like styling but with a commanding presence and the flexibility of a utility vehicle. The ZDX is designed to break new ground for Acura in the areas of styling, contemporary luxury, and meticulous refinement. With its sensuous curves, sharply raked roofline, and bold fender flares, the ZDX blurs the distinction between coupe, sedan, and sport utility vehicle. Clean, flowing lines start from the headlights and run the length of the car, accentuating the car's presence and grace. In keeping with the coupe-inspired styling, the rear door handles are cleverly concealed into the C-pillar. The all-glass tailgate opens wide to reveal a highly functional cargo space with integrated under-floor storage. And the prototype is finished off with stylish, dual chrome exhaust outlets, and nine-spoke machined wheels fitted with 20-inch Michelin tires.

Inside, the ZDX exudes modern luxury while focusing on pampering the front passengers. The cabin is enveloped in leather, which gives the interior a luxurious and inviting feel. The hand-stitched leather dash and instrument panel sweep down to form a dual-cockpit layout, creating a personal and intimate experience for front-seat occupants. The premium leather seats are bolstered to support the passengers during sporty driving and at the same time provide comfort. A black monochromatic center stack leads to the textured metallic center console, which complements the black and pearl white leather trim. The thick leather-wrapped steering wheel provides ample grip and is framed by racing-inspired paddle shifters for the ultimate in driver control. The cabin is enclosed by a panoramic glass roof, which runs the entire length of the vehicle, providing occupants with a view of the world at any time.

Once released, the ZDX will deliver sports sedan performance on the road with its powerful V-6 engine mated to an all-new, smooth-shifting, six-speed automatic transmission. The potent powertrain will also be coupled with Acura's exclusive Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, giving the ZDX outstanding handling and cornering capabilities in all-weather conditions.

In typical Acura fashion, the ZDX will be available with the latest in customer-enhancing technologies and advanced safety features including an all-new blind spot information system, which will help drivers change lanes more confidently. A new multi-view rear camera makes parking even easier with the added enhancement of both a wide-angle and top-down view. Acura signature technologies like Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition, AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic and Weather, Acura/ELS Surround premium audio system, and Bluetooth connectivity will also be available on the all-new model.

What's The Deal?
FRP Vs. Fiberglass Vs. Carbon FiberSo you're in the market for a new front bumper or lip, but you're not sure what the difference is between these three materials. Know what you're getting into before you spend, and figure out how much that next big speed bump might actually cost you.

Fiberglass: Used throughout the aftermarket for decades, fiberglass is cheap to manufacture and easy to repair. It doesn't take well to driveways or speed bumps as it tends to crack or shatter upon impact, and thinner versions can crack at their mounting points. Home patch-up jobs are common and repair kits are available at most hardware or automotive stores.

FRP: Also known as "fiberglass-reinforced plastic," FRP is similar to plastic, but with reinforced fibers for added rigidity. It's become increasingly popular with the aftermarket, especially the knock-off companies. But beware; although FRP is known to be much stronger than fiberglass, lower quality versions are prone to snap on impact. Quality examples will bounce back and can be twisted prior to installation to prove their resilience.

Carbon Fiber: By far the most popular among the Honda crowd, carbon fiber is extremely lightweight, and most don't prefer to color-match it. Though it's known for its strength, a carbon-fiber lip will crack and fray upon impact-even the expensive, high-end ones.

Prepare for the worst, most lips and low-slung bumpers won't last forever on a lowered Honda. Repainting and repair or replacement can become costly over time and is likely inevitable.



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