The original Honda Insight two-door, sold between 2000 and 2006, was the first mass-market hybrid vehicle available in the United States. Its place in history, however, was overshadowed by the success of the Toyota Prius. Not content to leave the hybrid market to its rival, Honda re-launched the Insight in 2009 as a practical and affordable four-door hatchback.
Honda recently refreshed the Insight with a number of subtle interior, exterior and mechanical revisions, the last of which gives the hybrid slightly improved fuel economy.
Priced below the Honda Civic, this Japan-built hybrid carries over much of the hatchback styling from the FCX concept. Inside, the Insight appears similar to the Prius with a flat floor and large space, as well as a futuristic dashboard.
Although the Insight is loosely based on the subcompact Fit, it measures in at 3 inches longer and 1 inch wider than that gas-powered model for a slightly roomier interior. The recent refresh included tweaks to the Insight's cabin to give rear seat passengers a bit more head and leg room. Honda also addressed complaints about intrusive road noise by increasing the thickness of the hatchback's existing noise-insulation materials and adding new insulation panels in the cargo area, which still boasts 15.9 cubic feet of space.
The Insight's hybrid powertrain features a 1.3-liter eight-valve, i-VTEC four-cylinder engine paired with a DC-brushless electric motor, and is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The gas engine provide 98 peak horsepower at 5,800 rpm, and 123 lb-ft of torque in the range of 1,000 to 1,700 rpm. the electric motor adds 12 horsepower at 1,500 rpm, and 58 torque at 1,000 rpm.
Fuel economy is rated at 41 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway. Both figures increased by one mpg due to aerodynamic tweaks that came as part of the recent update, but some competitors can still return nearly 10 mpg more in both cycles.
Other updates included a revised lower front fascia with restyled foglights, a new grille, new bumpers front and rear and restyled wheels.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Insight in available in base, LX, EX and EX with Navigation trim levels.
The base trim comes standard with automatic climate control, power windows and locks, a 160-watt AM/FM/CD sound system, a multi-information display and 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.
The EX ups the content level with cruise control, keyless entry and an anti-theft system.
The LX brings Bluetooth connectivity, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, paddle-shifters, auto on/off halogen headlights, interior map lights, interior vanity mirrors, heated exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals and 16-inch alloy wheels.
As its name suggests, the LX with Navigation adds a nav system in addition to a rearview camera.
All Insight models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and electronic brakeforce distribution.
The Insight faces strong competition from the similarly priced Toyota Prius c, which offers 53 highway mpg, as well as more expensive all-electric green machines like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i.