Tag Archives: 2019 honda insight

Much safer reading than the old manual way

Snow day in the Cuyamaca Mountains, San Diego County, 11/30/2019Snow Day in the Cuyamaca Mountains,
East San Diego County, 11/30/2019

When I was young, I used to carry around with me a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records. That was what I read when I had to wait, usually in some sort of line, like at the grocery store or post office. It was my emergency reading material.

The Golden Ratio by Mario LivioDare I say that I still do that?

My current emergency reading material is
The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, The World’s Most Astonishing Number, written by
Mario Livio (b. 1945) and published in 2002.

(Interestingly, as with my own book, it has an ISBN on the back cover and one on the copyright page. They are supposed to be the same. They are not. Ooopsy. Someone goofed.)

It has to do with my book Nature’s Geometry: Succulents and my 1-hour presentation on the same topic.

I’m 99% certain that I’m on the Speaker’s Circuit for cactus & succulent clubs now, but, as my wise old grandmother said in 1966: Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.

(Yes, we had a farm/ranch, and yes, I was counting the number of eggs so I would know how many chickens I would have….)

Two cactus & succulent clubs in the Los Angeles area have me tentatively scheduled for February 9 and February 13.

I did a presentation in June 2019 for the Palomar Cactus & Succulent Society in Escondido, California, a club to which I belong. However, that presentation is now six months old, so I’m updating it using material from my book which was published in October 2019 and with information garnered from my current emergency reading list.

Dare I say that I also read while sitting in stop & go traffic? It’s a skill I learned in 1977-1983 while actually working in an office 8 to 5 (something I rarely have done) and sitting in rush hour traffic in Houston, Texas. I drive with my left hand and hold my reading material at dashboard level with my right hand. The key to doing this successfully, though—with successfully being defined as “without having an accident”—is to only read when the car is at a complete stop. I don’t do it if the car is moving irregardless (one of my favorite non-words) of how slowly that movement might be.

My 2019 Honda Insight has “Brake Hold,” which is the Honda’s way of saying, Here, Russel. We’ve made it easier for you to read while you drive.

2019 Honda Insight

Brake Hold in the 2019 Honda Insight

Brake Hold only takes effect if the car is completely motionless, and it won’t release unless I press on the gas pedal. Much safer reading than the old manual way.

When I went to Julian, California, on November 30, 2019, to play in the snow, I do believe the whole city of San Diego (population 1.3 million) had gotten there before me. There is a high-traffic intersection coming out of the mountains and into downtown Julian. Traffic often backs up for 20 or 30 cars, and it can take 10-15 minutes to go one-tenth of a mile. Traffic on snow day was backed up 1.2 miles, and it took me 1 hour and 34 minutes to go that 1.2 miles. I got a lot of stop & go reading done!

Snow day in the Cuyamaca Mountains, San Diego County, 11/30/2019

Follow-up to my 2019 Honda Insight review

I live in my own little world

2019 Honda InsightMy original review was published in my blog on October 16. You can read it here: 2019 Honda Insight—A 5,000-mile review.

I got so frustrated with my car that I took it in again on October 18 and complained about the problems and inconsistencies. I had two pages of documentation to show them, having added three more items to the list that I had in my previous blog post. I asked them to do a factory reset. Again, they claimed they did. It didn’t help.

They also claimed that they took a “similar car” out for a test drive and everything was fine. Pardon my French, but that’s just stupid. Why not take my car out for a test drive?

I drove it for another two days and made more notes:

Computer reset, 10/18/19, 5895 miles

    1. 10/18/19 — Auto light setting did not work. I had to turn the headlights on manually. I got stopped in Santee at 10:40 p.m. because a police officer saw me repeatedly turning my headlights on and off over the course of a mile on Mission Gorge Road trying to get the Auto setting to work. The Auto setting also controls bright lights, something that is quite useful living out in Winter Gardens. I explained to the officer what was going on and he gave me a choice of taking a roadside sobriety test or going to jail. Since I had not been drinking, I took the roadside sobriety test and passed.
    2. 10/19/19 — Braking, such as coming to a traffic signal or stop sign, causes the vehicle to cancel EV mode. One can immediately re-engage EV mode, but why cancel to begin with?
    3. 10/19/19 — EV mode sometimes gets cancelled for no reason whatsoever. Trying to switch back to EV model provides an “EV MODE NOT AVAILABLE” message, even when the battery charge gauge is 50% or higher. A most useless message.
    4. 10/19/19 — EV mode was not available because ENGINE TOO COLD. After driving 3.9 miles, about 2 miles more than is usual for warming the engine, EV mode was available. After another few miles of driving in EV mode, EV mode was canceled. Attempting to re-engage EV mode provided the message, ENGINE TOO COLD. Makes no sense whatsoever.
    5. 10/20/19 — EV MODE NOT AVAILABLE for 6.9 miles of city driving. Battery charge was 50% to 100%. EV light indicating that EV mode was available, was on.
    6. 10/20/19 — With battery charge at 80%, EV light flashed quickly on and off for 1.2 miles during city driving.
    7. 10/20/19 — Car continues to cancel EV MODE during braking, especially hard or semi-hard braking as is done when coming to a stop at a traffic signal or stop sign.
    8. 10/20/19 — EV MODE CANCELED while turning. Battery charge at 50%.

It turns out that there are two different kinds of computer resets, a factory reset and a hard reset. A factory reset is when the factory resets the computer. However, when they do that, they use what is called smart memory, which keeps all the user settings. I was 99.999999999% sure that I had changed a custom setting on 8/19/19 which was causing problems, so I did not want a factory reset. What I wanted was a hard reset, which is what the computer would be like when it comes from the factory. Confusing….

The hard reset worked! My car drives like it did for those first 2,300 miles. When it drives like this, I’ll give it a 9 out of 10… 4½ stars… 4½ diamonds.

My only complaint when it drives like this is that the computer is smart enough to disengage EV mode when certain conditions are not met but is not smart enough to re-engage when conditions are met. As far as I have been able to determine, those conditions include:

    1. Battery charge too low (needs at least 3 bars on the battery charge gauge).
    2. Hard acceleration requested (Anything above the second long dash on the power required gauge).
    3. Speed too high (above 75 mph).
    4. Speed too low (below 20 mph).
    5. Cabin being heated (heating & cooling set at 71°F or higher).

FYI, the things I like most about the 2019 Honda Insight:

    1. It’s a hybrid. I love electric mode but I also need the range that gas provides me since I do a lot of driving out in the California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah deserts. I don’t have time to sit around at a charging station waiting for the car to charge. A hybrid car charges its battery while one is driving.
    2. I have more leg room on the driver’s side than any car I ever have owned, and that’s saying a lot since I have owned several land yachts.
    3. I have plenty of room to carry all my camera equipment in the trunk where it can’t be seen and tempt someone.Cover picture for 2020 cactus & succulent calendar
    4. I have plenty of room to carry a whole lot of cacti & succulents to plant shows, such as the Palomar Cactus & Succulent Society show coming up this weekend.
    5. The stereo system is the best stereo system I ever have had in a car, and that includes the $10,000 custom stereo system I had put in my 1989 Saleen Mustang GT.
    6. The stereo system reads USB flash drives, so I have all my non-classical music on a 2 TB external USB drive, allowing me to never have to listen to an AM/FM radio and their commercials never ever again in my life…. never ever again in my life…. never ever again in my life….

2019 Honda Insight—A 5,000-mile review

I live in my own little world

Jim and I traded in our 2017 cars (Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla) in July. He got a 2019 Honda Civic in cosmic blue (an awesome color) and I got a 2019 Honda Insight hybrid in black.

I have been out in the desert chasing trains for the last week, which means putting mileage on the car to get where the trains are. I passed the 5,000-mile mark on the Insight, so I thought it would be time for a review.

On a scale of 1 to 10, this car gets a 5.

On a scale of 5 stars, this car gets 2½ stars.

On a scale of 5 diamonds, 2½ diamonds.

2019 Honda Insight

This car has potential. I can see that, but Honda has some work to do. In my wise and unmatched wisdom, a car should not be this difficult to drive. It’s so difficult that it is almost dangerous.

In it’s defense, I believe something happened to the computer and/or software somewhere around the 2,300-mile mark. At 3,000 miles, I took it in for servicing, told them about the weird problems that had been occurring since 2,300 miles, and asked them to do a factory reset on the computer.

They claimed they did.

I don’t think so.

I have been working in and on computers since 1976, and never have I seen a factory reset that kept the customer’s custom settings. None of my custom settings were changed, which means that it was not a factory reset.

The first 2,300 miles were a pleasure to drive, even though I had some adjusting to do to understand how a hybrid works and how to drive it most efficiently.

EPA gas mileage rating is 55 in the city, 49 on the highway. At first that seemed weird since highway mileage always is more than city mileage since one is not wasting gas sitting at traffic lights. However, in the case of the hybrid, one can sit at traffic lights while in electric vehicle (EV) mode, so no gas is being used. Ergo, higher gas mileage in the city.

Once I understood that, it was very easy to get 50+ mileage in the city and 47+ on the highway. The best I ever did was 53.8 in the city and 49.1 on the highway. That was before the 2,300-mile mark (B2300).

Since then, I have never gotten better than 48.3 mpg in the city and 45.7 on the highway. Here are some other things that seem to have changed at the 2,300-mile mark (A2300):

    1. I live at the top of a hill. B2300, I could coast the mile down the hill in EV mode. A2300, it’s rare that I can back out of the garage in EV mode, much less coast down the hill, even if the battery charge is 50% or more.
    2. EV mode B2300 was always available with 3 bars on the battery charge gauge. A2300, it’s a 50/50 chance of being able to use EV mode with 3 bars on the battery charge gauge.
    3. The car B2300 was great at telling me when I could switch to EV mode, and it was consistent. A2300, it’s just plain weird. B2300, if I parked the car with 3 bars on the charge gauge, I would always be in EV mode when I started the car and started moving. A2300, hit or miss. No rhyme or reason. I hate inconsistency.
    4. B2300, I could always coast down a hill in EV mode. A2300, hit or miss again, even if the charge gauge says I have a full charge!
    5. Coasting down a hill B2300 always charged the battery. A2300, maybe yes, maybe no.
    6. B2300, I could not be in EV mode if hard acceleration requested. I grew up in the Muscle Car generation. I know what hard acceleration is, and Insight confirmed that B2300. A2300, I’m being kicked out of EV mode while coasting down a hill due to hard acceleration requested. Uh, no.
    7. B2300, I could not be in EV mode if engine too cold. A2300, I can have driven 500 miles, parked the car for a minute in EV mode while I reset Google Maps for my next destination, have a 50% charge on the battery, but can’t enter EV mode due to engine too cold. I don’t think so.
    8. B2300, I could not be in EV mode if cabin being heated. I was able to easily determine that cabin being heated was defined as turning the heat up to 71°F. Everything was fine at 70°F or lower. A2300, I have been able to be in EV mode with the heat set at 83°F. That’s cool, so to speak. However, A2300, I also have been kicked out of EV model due to cabin being heated but the heat was set at 66°F. Drat.
    9. B2300, I sometimes got the message EV mode not available. A most useless message. A2300, it got worse. I get the message while in cruise control, while coasting, while sitting at a traffic signal. Makes no sense whatsoever.
    10. B2300, I had great confidence in the computer’s estimate of mileage range. A2300, not so much. See #18 below.
    11. B2300, I had great confidence in the mileage. A2300, not so much. See #18 below.
    12. B2300, I had great confidence in the speed. A2300, not so much. See #18 below.
    13. B2300, I had great confidence in the miles per gallon. A2300, not so much. See #18 below.
    14. B2300, I could use EV mode while in cruise control. A2300, not necessarily.
    15. B2300, I has able to determine that EV mode was not available at speeds higher than 76 mph. A2300, I have used EV mode at 87 mph (this is California highway driving!) but at another time, at 43 mph, I was informed that EV model not available. Speed too high. WTF?
    16. B2300, hard braking, or even semi-hard braking, would recharge the battery, even if I was braking in EV mode. A2300, 90% of the time any kind of hard braking will cancel EV mode. Consequently, it’s more difficult to keep the battery charged when driving around the city, and much more difficult to get that 55 mpg EPA estimate!
    17. B2300, I had great confidence in the gas gauge. A2300, not so much. See #18 and #19 below.
    18. At 4,382 miles, the computer system crashed.
      I was driving home on the freeway, and even in stop-and-go rush-hour traffic, which is where EV mode really is useful on the highway, the speedometer always said I was doing 70 mph. I could not use EV mode in that stop-and-go traffic, which is where it’s really useful, even though I had about a 75% charge on the battery. Thus, I was using gas, but the range was stuck at 481 miles, even though I drove about 160 miles. I drove through my neighborhood at 5-10 mph but the speedometer still said I was doing 70 mph. I parked in the garage at 70 mph. Not sure how I got the car to stop in 450 feet at that speed….
      During this trip, the mpg was stuck on 43.1 mpg. Even if true, that’s poor mpg for a car rated at 49/55, and believe me, I’m a very conservative driver at my age, not like even 20 years ago when I had a 1998 Pontiac Trans Am with 308 HP.
      I was so angry at the vehicle that I simply put it in park, turned it off, and went inside. Didn’t even unload all my camera equipment and such. The next morning when I needed to go to the grocery store, everything seemed to be working again, at least in the A2300 mode. Still couldn’t coast down the hill like I did B2300.
    19. B2300, I found the range estimate to be quite accurate. A2300, not so much. The car holds at least 10.66 gallons of gas. I like to run my cars until there is very little gas left in the tank. That was difficult to do in the ’70s, and I did run out of gas a few times. Always had 5 gallons in the trunk, though. In today’s world, with computers telling us the mpg and the estimated range remaining, it’s pretty easy. In one instance I had 8 miles range left. That was the time that I put 10.66 gallons of gas in the car. Recently, A2300, I had 7 miles range left. I was only able to put 8.791 gallons of gas in the car. Hmmmm. Something’s not right.

I have to take my eyes off the road way too often and too much to check to see if I can switch to EV mode. If I can’t, I have to read the message to see what I am doing wrong. The EV mode button is in the middle console, next to the Economy mode button and the Sport mode button.

However, the positioning of the three buttons is all wrong. The button that one uses the most should be the closest to the driver. In this case, it’s Economy button, Sport button, and EV button. The Economy button needs to be pushed only once to be in Economy mode all the time. The Sport button needs to be pushed only once to be in Sport mode.

If one enters Sport mode, one has to push the Sport button again to exit Sport mode and then has to push the Economy button to get back in Economy mode. I can handle that, since I’m rarely out of Economy mode and rarely in Sport mode. The EV button, however, needs to be pushed so many times during a simple 5-mile trip that it should be closest to me, perhaps even with a button on the steering wheel instead of some of the other non-needed controls located there.

I find it interesting that the car B2300 was so smart that it could tell me everything about itself and was super duper at disengaging from EV mode when things weren’t right. Since I’m somewhat conversant in computers and computer software—I know what can be done, especially since we’re on the verge of artificial intelligence—it seems to me that this car would be much safer if the software engineers would program the car to be smart enough to switch to EV mode whenever possible, leaving me to pay attention to what’s happening on the highways and streets….

I don’t know if other hybrids have these idiosyncracies, but the next time Honda sends me a letter telling me WE NEED YOUR USED CAR! I think I’m going to take them up on it and at least check out the newest version of the Insight.

Meanwhile, though, I am quite addicted to the hybrid lifestyle, notwithstanding all the inconsistencies and problems, that I think I shall check out other companies’ hybrids and see what they are like.

If you have an insight (pun intended) into other hybrids, please let me know in a comment. As an aside, I definitely am not interested in an electric vehicle at this point. Since I do a lot of driving out in the southwestern deserts, I need the 550-mile range that this Insight gives me without needing to plug it in somewhere.