Now leaving the paddle shifter realm, but only a brief diversion ... can someone explain the color zones on the "energy meter" which takes the place of a tachometer?
Green means you're solely charging the battery.
Solid blue means?
And then there are the two grey zones. What are they?
The green zone means energy is flowing into the battery (net gain), but we all know that. The ICE may run, but likely only when the engine is not at operating temperature.
The blue zone has several possibilities which would be determined by viewing the power i/o screen. In a nutshell, the blue zone is the most efficient zone for driving outside of the green. It is possible to run entirely on battery in the blue zone provided battery capacity exists and the engine is at operating temperature. Battery-only is possible if at/above four bars without the EV button engaged and above two bars with the EV button engaged. In the blue zone, the engine produces enough power to offset any battery used to drive the car (BooYa). If excess exists (say, driving at half blue bar) the remainder (if any) is sent to the battery to build reserve.
Dipping into the grey hash area will immediately kick in the ICE. This is the area where you may or may not see the gear on the power i/o screen (mainly highway >45mph). This is the second most efficient zone notwithstanding green. If battery exists, is may be drawn upon. If battery becomes low, engine whine may be present.
Should one bury the throttle and find themselves in the solid grey area, you are negating the reason for buying a hybrid. Energy out far exceeds what the ICE can provide, and the battery reserve will deplete rapidly. I have not yet seen what happens when one stays in this zone long-term, but I would suspect the 151 combined horsepower number would wane once the battery is depleted.
I've owned my Insight since last August. Over the last few months, I've trained myself to stay in the blue zone 90+% of the time. How? By leaving earlier and not being in a rush! I wish I had the instant MPG and per-trip re-settable gauges in my last cars I would have done much better with past rides.
With knowledge of the above, one needs to alter their driving style to achieve better results. I'm not preaching, but I'd ask everyone to try it for them-self. Don't be in a rush to get where you're going, and try to stay in the blue zone as much as possible for a tankful. The MPG gods will smile upon you. My last four tanks have been above 60mpg with marginal outside temps. If your drive involves a great deal of highway, stick to the right lane and reasonable speeds. You'd be amazed how little difference there is in destination arrival times at 55mph VS. 70mph. Five minutes can mean 60mpg vs. 40mpg.