From Honda press: As the first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid passenger vehicle sold in the U.S., the Honda Insight remains America's most fuel-efficient car for the 2003 model year.
The 2003 Insight is available with either a 5-speed manual transmission, or an advanced continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), achieving EPA city/highway fuel economy ratings of 61/68 and 57/56 mpg, respectively.
One of two hybrid vehicles offered by Honda, "the Insight continues its popularity with customers seeking the ultimate expression of fuel-efficiency and advanced technology," said Tom Elliott, executive vice president, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "It remains an example of Honda's commitment to technological and environmental leadership."
The Insight was designed from the ground up to deliver world-class fuel economy and ultra low emissions. This was accomplished in part by using a lightweight, aerodynamic, aluminum-intensive body and chassis combination that delivers a low 0.25 coefficient of drag, and contributes to a range of more than 500 miles on a single tank of gas.
For enhanced fuel economy and added power when accelerating, the Insight employs Honda's unique Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system that couples a 1.0 liter, 3-cylinder, gasoline engine with a thin and lightweight electric motor. The system recaptures energy from the car's momentum during braking and deceleration, with the electric motor acting as a generator that automatically recharges the batteries so that it never needs to be plugged in.
The Insight's IMA system also uses a unique "idle stop" feature that automatically turns off the engine when the car is not moving to reduce unnecessary fuel consumption and emissions. On models equipped with CVT, the engine automatically restarts when the driver's foot is removed from the brake, and on 5-speed models it restarts when first gear is engaged.