A new version of normality


I have had several foreign cars (Honda, Nissan, and Toyota) since I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993. I grew up in the muscle car generation in South Texas, so if you would have told me in early 1993 that some day I would be dedicated to foreign cars, I might have gone down to my uncle’s house in Kingsville, Texas, borrowed 40 or 50 of his guns, and went-a searchin’ for ya. That’s how dedicated I had been raised to American automobiles.

I never really regretted buying foreign until I got a 2019 Honda Insight Hybrid on July 21, 2019. To read about my problems with that car, see these two previous posts:

A 5,000-mile review


The problems never got any better. With nothing to do during the pandemic except reading, watching TV/movies, gardening, and, of course, playing with Little Queen Olivia, I decided to trade the 2019 Insight Hybrid in on a 2021 Insight Hybrid . I figured that with my monthly letters to Honda concerning all of my problems, two years should be sufficient for them to get the problems fixed.

I got the 2021 car on July 9 with 63 miles on it. The 2019 was black while the 2021 is cosmic metallic blue.

2021 Honda Insight Hybrid in cosmic metallic blue

2021 Honda Insight Hybrid in cosmic metallic blue

I ended July 2020 with 317 miles on the car, not enough miles to determine if it’s going to have the same problems as the 2019 car.

However, the 2021 has a much bigger problem, in my opinion, concerning cruise control.

I bought my first car, a 1976 Chevrolet Impala, in August 1977. It had a little over 4,000 miles on it and was a test-drive car. In today’s world, there is no such thing as a test-drive car because you only get to test drive the car that you are thinking about buying. In early 1978, cruise controls were making their inroads into cars, mostly as options. I found a cruise control at Sears, bought it, and installed it. My gas mileage in the Impala with its big 400 cubic inch engine climbed from 7.7 miles per gallon to over 10 miles per gallon. I was sold! I have had cruise control in every car since then. I’m pretty addicted to it, especially in long drives.

Sadly, the cruise control in the 2021 Honda Insight Hybrid absolutely sucks.

With the 2019 car, I could use cruise control everywhere, even down to 25 miles per hour in slow rush hour traffic. Cruise control in the 2021 is completely useless unless I’m all by myself. It’s the damned “driver assist” functions, and the “necessary ones” cannot be turned off.

The problem is that driver assist has many options. The ones that cause me problems are related to cruise control, and they cannot be turned off, only modified with Honda-programmed options.

One option is when following traffic. I can set how far behind the traffic I can use cruise control before the car takes over. Even if I set the option for short, I cannot make the distance short enough to allow me to use cruise control at slower speeds in rush hour traffic.

Another option is to set the width of the area that the car monitors for traffic. It has normal, narrow, and wide options. Definitely do not set it for wide. It looks at the whole freeway and won’t let cruise control work if there’s another car within a hundred miles of me. Narrow works best, but if another car pulls in front of me, my car slams on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes in anything other than an emergency can be dangerous, especially on the highway with traffic doing California highway speeds.

An additional problem is that the car does not understand what a curve is. I can be on cruise control on a straight stretch with cars in lanes to both sides of me. As soon as I begin to go around a curve, the car thinks I’ll be going straight and that the cars in the lanes to both sides of me now suddenly are in my lane. Once again, the car slams on the brakes.

The 2021 Honda Insight Hybrid is so dangerous on cruise control that I have decided not to use it unless I’m pretty much the only one on the highway. I’d be willing to bet that all Honda cars with cruise control have the same problem, but I can only speak for my car. Perhaps I have another lemon like my 2019 car.

I was hoping that this car might be my last car purchase but now I’m thinking that I’ll only have it for one to two years, especially if the pandemic ends or we get a viable vaccine and I get to go cruising out in the wide open again. I won’t be able to drive long distances without cruise control, like to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tucson, and Atlanta, where the cactus & succulent clubs want me to do presentations on Nature’s Geometry: Succulents once things return to some semblance of pre-pandemic normality.

I’m actually thinking that there’s going to be a new version of normality.

11 thoughts on “A new version of normality

  1. Pit

    It’s somewhat like many features on a computer, when engineers at their desks try to think for us and add “useful” features that – in fact – only make life more difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          Part of the problem with WordPress is that it’s an open source system, so anyone can contribute to it, and many do. Unfortunately, there are more programmers and developers than there are testers. So something looks cool initially and gets implemented into the system. You and I then become the beta testers.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. photobyjohnbo

    Interesting issue. I’ve got a 2019 Toyota Avalon with “adaptive cruise”. It’s taken a bit to adjust to its functions, but it seems to be better thought out than the one in your car. Only once (so far) in 18 months did a vehicle in the left lane cause my car to apply braking as we entered a tight curve with that car slightly ahead of me.
    My wife likes Hondas, her 2013 is getting ready for an upgrade. thanks for the tip on being sure to test the cruise control before she buys. Other than the cruise, have you noticed other issues we should be aware of? Also, how is the hybrid functionality?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      It took some getting used to. There are a few things I do not like.

      First, the damn car is so smart that it knows when EV mode is available, but it makes me push a button in the console to engage EV mode. Seems to me that a couple of good software engineers could program it so that when EV mode is available, the car engages it. Otherwise, really, what’s the purpose of having it?

      It is so smart that it knows when to disengage EV mode because of low battery charge, hard acceleration requested, cabin being heated, speed too high, or engine too cold. Sometimes the message is totally useless: EV mode not available. Sadly, though, it’s not consistent. In both cars, I can be coasting down a long hill and the car cancels EV mode because “hard acceleration requested.” I WAS COASTING! I grew up in the Muscle Car generation. I know what hard acceleration is, and coasting down a hill at 45 mph is NOT hard acceleration. Sometimes I have the heating & cooling system off but the car cancels EV mode because “cabin being heated.” THE HEATING SYSTEM IS OFF! Sometimes, I can use EV mode when I have the heating system on HIGH, which is more than 84°F. Sometimes, the car won’t let me use EV mode because “cabin being heated” but I have the cooling system on 52°F. Sometimes, the car cancels EV mode because “speed too high.” I WAS DOING 55 MPH! Sometimes, I can use EV mode when I’m driving in California traffic doing 85 mph. Sometimes, I can use EV mode even though it’s 50°F outside and I just started driving. Sometimes, I can use EV mode even though it’s 100°F outside. Sometimes, I can drive for an hour using EV mode, stop and turn the car off for 30 seconds, and when I start up again, EV mode not available because “engine too cold.” I could handle all of these idiosyncracies if they were just consistent. I HATE INCONSISTENCY.

      The car handles extraordinarily well and has more driver leg room than any car I’ve ever had. Just the inconsistencies. They were there in the 2019 and they still are there in the 2021.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. photobyjohnbo

        Thanks for your comments. The Avalon has an EV mode that I never use because it’s limited to less than 25 MPH. There’s hardly anywhere I go that I dare go slower than that. Clearly, it’s an option that needs some further development. >grin<

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I had a Maxima and an Altima. Loved them both. Whenever I decide to get a new car, I give the manufacturer of the old car the first opportunity to sell me a new car. If the new car is too expensive, financing is too expensive, trade-in value is too low, or the new car doesn’t have the options I want, I’ll go to a different manufacturer.



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