This cycle is repeated throughout the period the vehicle or battery is inactive

The interior environment is not only nice to look at, it is exceedingly quiet, thanks to spray-on sound deadener, laminated steel and glass and composite wheel liners. Testing by GM showed interior sound levels better than many luxury cars.

And the cabin stays quiet no matter which engine is under the hood. The base engine is a 16-valve, dual overhead cam 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 169 horsepower and 160 lb.-ft. of torque. Optional is a 3.6-litre V6 engine, also with four valves per cylinder and dual overhead cams. This engine is rated at 252 hp and 251 lb.-ft. of torque.

Standard features are a feast for the hedonistic senses, and so, again, a list: 16-way adjustable powered driver’s seat; 12-way adjustable powered front passenger’s seat; power assist doors; an automatic powered opening and closing trunk; wallet sized smart card key and push button start; a hard-disc based navigation system with voice recognition; power rear window sunshade and rear side window auto sunshades; a clearance and back-up sensor and back-up camera; accessory power outlets and LED map lamps; and four-zone independent front and rear climate control with air purification, soft-touch heater controls, and rear seat heater ducts.

A word about fuel economy: the figures given below are supplied by Natural Resources Canada’s “Energuide” program. Fuel consumption is affected by a range of factors, including driving style, the outside temperature, wind direction, tire inflation, vehicle type, vehicle aerodynamics (coefficient of drag), and, of course, speed. Therefore, the Energuide ratings are regarded as a guide, rather than a guarantee.

Not quite so simple as it sounds though, as the car must be in neutral or any gear other than first for the gas engine to shut down. I soon got into the habit of putting the car in neutral when coming to a stop. Tapping on the throttle and/or slipping it in gear instantly fires up the engine and you’re on your way.

Another strategy in fuel conservation is the auto stop feature, which has you sitting in eerie silence at stoplights while the rest of the world buzzes all around. The Insight was available with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) in the US, but not here.

With consumers significantly elevating the importance of fuel economy when purchasing a new vehicle, you can expect that the range of “alternative” fuel options and fuel efficient technologies will proliferate. If vehicles that utilize such technologies are made more affordable — which is now the trend as hybrids and sophisticated engine management systems like Honda’s VCM become more widespread — many more consumers will have the means to buy into “green” technology, even if they don’t think of themselves as “environmentalists.”

Steering in the four-cylinder and hybrid models is electric. It is one of the best examples of this new technology that I’ve driven, with a good weight and decent on-centre feel. It was not twitchy, like I’ve experienced with some smaller cars, only wandered off centre gradually and did not feel significantly different from the six-cylinder model’s traditional hydraulic steering.

Considering the fuel saving, the four-cylinder Malibu is well worth a look. Cost is lower and fuel savings are significant – 9.6 L /100 km city and 6.5 L/100 km highway, compared to 12.2 and 7.8 for the V6 – and you don’t have to give up creature comforts to drive a four.

Okay. The part you’ve all been waiting for. After covering 900 km of mixed driving, my wind cheating eco-mobile turned in a painless 3.8 L/100. That’s better than the other fuel-economy champions I’ve driven which include the Smart Fortwo, Toyota Prius and VW Jetta TDI.

Strangely, the Insight went largely unnoticed during my week of buzzing around the GTA. A younger and hipper musician friend of mine may have hit it dead on when he said, “It’s not futuristic enough to be cool. It just looks lame.”

Most of them, including the i-MiEV, use lithium-ion battery packs because of their slower discharge rate, better energy-to-weight ratio and lack of memory effect (they can be recharged at any time without losing capacity) when compared with other automotive batteries such as nickel-metal hydride and lead-acid.

It’s that time of year when many of us are putting away collector/hobby cars for the winter. One thing that many of us overlook is maintaining the battery when in storage. Yes, we can take it out of the vehicle and store it in a cool dry spot for the winter, but that just isn’t always convenient. There is an easy way of keeping your vehicle’s battery in near-perfect working condition over long periods of inactivity, and that is to use a charger/maintainer.

What is really unique about a battery charger/maintainer is that it will charge up your battery as well as keep it in topped-up and then turn itself off when not needed. The unit does this by monitoring the battery’s voltage and automatically turns the charger on when it senses any drop in the voltage. This cycle is repeated throughout the period the vehicle or battery is inactive.

This time of year, most enthusiasts have put their summer toys away for the winter. Bikes, boats, RV’s and classic cars are all hunkered down for a long winter sleep, awaiting a spring awakening. One common element amongst all these playthings is the battery.

A battery is a series of galvanic (voltaic) cells used for the production and storage of electricity. Batteries don’t last forever – their lifetimes are measured in cycles, or how many times they can be discharged and recharged. Maintaining the battery and using the proper charger will dramatically increase its life, and when spring arrives you won’t have the click-click blues.

Your battery is only one small part of your vehicle, but nothing has a harder job to do during cold weather. A good battery will supply power to crank over a frozen engine with ease. A poor battery doesn’t survive long in our winter climate, but even good batteries can become weak and need a little extra care. Here are some tips to keep your battery doing its job when the temperature plummets.

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