CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Honda Insight in the snow?

My wife and I are considering buying a new Honda Insight Hybrid. We live in Western New York and deal with lots of snow. How does the Insight handle in the snow? Is it good or bad, okay or great? We hear about the great mileage. But the snow question is first for us.

The tires will be the biggest factor in the snow. Most hybrids are equipped with low rolling resistance tires, which are horrible in snow. If you get one, get a set of 4 winter tires mounted on their own rims for the best setup; visit tirerack.com for wheel/tire options

I totally agree with bscar.
A set of 4 high-quality winter tires is the way to go if you live in an area with a lot of snow.
I strongly recommend the Michelin X-Ice tires, as they have incredible traction on snow and ice while providing better dry-road handling and better tread wear characteristics than other brands of winter tire.

However, the OP has to be aware that switching from the original low rolling resistance tires to winter tires will likely reduce the gas mileage by…maybe as much as 3-5 mpg. But, since winter tires should only be used during the time of year when snow is a real possibility, the period of reduced gas mileage will only exist for a few months.

I have a 2011 insight. I am in PA and did not have any problems in the snow this winter, though it was mild. I agree that if you do have a problem, get 4 spare snow tires/rims… that should work, and if you have an air gun, you should be able to switch them out yourself,

BTW: I am averaging 44mpg over the last 10 months… much better then the EPA sticker.

“But, since winter tires should only be used during the time of year when snow is a real possibility, the period of reduced gas mileage will only exist for a few months.”

I imagine 6 months would be about right in Western NY.

High mileage cars often have poor ground clearance as well. I agree that winter tires should do the trick but only in depth up to or slightly more then the ground clearance. Don’t expect miracles if your car has clearance of about 4 plus inches and you want to drive through 6 inches of snow. I haven’t googled the clearance for the new ones, but older ones tested were considered poor. I woukd check it out and never buy a low car driven in snow frequently. They often float in deeper snow regardless of the tires and are good only on plowed roads.