This 2000 Honda Insight With a VW Turbo Diesel Swap May Be the Ultimate Fuel Saver

In the Bay Area, a Craigslist seller is looking for $6,000 cash or trade on his modified 2000 Honda Insightwith a turbo-diesel engine. It’s advertised as smog free (which is perfect for Californians) and gets 60 to 70 miles to the gallon. 

When fuel economy is your number-one criteria for a vehicle, a Honda Insight is generally a good bet. For about $23,000, you can get a nice-looking 2021 Insight that the EPA says will get 55 miles per gallon in the city and 49 on the highway. It’s changed quite a bit from the first-gen Insight inside and out; for starters, the 2021 Insight has a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder powertrain compared to a 1.0-liter three-cylinder 12-valve system on the 2000 version.

Touted as the first production gasoline-electric hybrid automobile sold in America, the 2000 Insight has a lightweight aluminum and plastic body, an interesting aerodynamic shape, and came with all-season, low-rolling-resistance Blizzak tires for just under $20,000. Available only with a five-speed manual, the transmission in the first-gen Insight has short first, second, and third gears and taller overdrive gearing in fourth and fifth. Unique gears reduce rotational mass, further enhancing fuel economy.

This particular 2000 Insight is a little extra, with a 2003 Volkswagen TDI ALH 1.9-liter turbo diesel engine with a five-speed manual. The seller says it gets about 62 miles per gallon in the city and on mountain roads, and he thinks he can probably get 65 to 70 mpg on long highway stretches. Car and Driver tested a 2000 Insight for 40,000 miles back when it was new, anticipating good fuel economy, as the Insight was rated for 70 mpg on the highway and 61 in the city by the EPA. They achieved only 48, so maybe the VW swap makes up the difference.

The seller’s Insight could probably to Los Angeles and back to San Francisco on a single 10-gallon tank of gas; that depends on gridlock, of course. Read More

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