The Insight (2000-2006)
This is the car Art drives. It was the first hybrid to market in the US. The Insight gets the best mileage of any of the hybrids owing to it's aerodynamic body shape and very light aluminum frame. If you want the insight, you'll have to be willing to trade some space for the better gas mileage. The Insight is a two seater with very limited trunk space, so it's not ideal for a family, but it's a very good choice for singles or couples. The insight come with a 5 speed manual or a Continuously Variable automatic Transmission (CVT), similar to the unit found in the 1996 - 2000 Civic HX.
What can go wrong:
We get quite a few complaints of the auto stop not working, but nothing is really wrong with the car most of the time. Click here if your Auto Stop has stopped working
We have had quite a few complaints of shuddering when taking off from a stop on Insights with CVT transmissions. This is usually caused by the start clutch, not because it's bad, but because the transmission fluid is degraded or the wrong type. The Insight must use the Genuine Honda CVT fluid. For a while, this was unavailable and Honda said to use ATF-Z1, but that turned out to be a bad idea. CVT fluid is now available again, and if your CVT develops a shudder, it can almost always be fixed with total CVT fluid replacement. (I'd call it a flush, but Honda recommends against using flushing machines :)
We've had one CVT with a failed intermediate plate bearing, which spun in the case, and loosed metal throughout the transmission, destroying the differential, intermediate plate, pump two sections of case, start clutch, and most of the bearings. Very bad news indeed. Honda does not currently have a reman program for the Insight CVT. They also do not sell a new unit. This leaves repair or used as the only options. We recommend a transmission fluid drain and fill at least every 15,000 miles.
The electronic EGR valves fail sometimes and cause surging when driving at light throttle. They're easy enough to fix, and not very expensive.
The engines sometimes leak oil from the timing chain tensioner O-ring, and we had one leak from the timing cover / head gasket joint.
There is a battery pack warranty extension and a campaign to replace two control units to prevent premature battery pack failure. These repairs are done with no charge to the owner if it applies to your vehicle and the mileage is under 150K.
Overall, the Insight has proven to be an *extremely* reliable car! Too bad they stopped making them in 2006.