Compare Dealer Clearance Prices and SAVE
2003 Honda Insight Review
A technological marvel.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The 2003 Honda Insight is perhaps one of the most technologically-advanced vehicles ever made by the company. It was the first gasoline and electric hybrid produced in the United States when it was introduced in 2000. It is a vehicle made for and by environmentalists.
Engines: 1.0-liter three-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, CVT
Models: Honda Insight
The Honda Insight remains unchanged for the 2003 model year.
The 2003 Honda Insight is a hatchback with a very peculiar design. Flared wheel covers that give the vehicle an aerodynamic appearance cover the rear wheels, not unlike the wheel covers seen on racing bicycles. The aerodynamic design produces a 0.25 drag coefficient, one of the lowest in the world at the time. This helps keep it moving even though the engine does not produce a large amount of horsepower. However, the covered wheels are more susceptible to side winds that cause it to whip back and forth during windy days. Most of the Insight’s components are made of lightweight aluminum, helping reduce gas waste and drag, but also adding to the side wind problem. It has a 94.5-inch wheelbase and measures 155.1 inches overall. It only stands 53.3 inches tall. It also weighs very little, measuring 1,967 pounds overall. This helps reduce fuel waste and makes it move faster.
The 2003 Honda Insight comes equipped with two front bucket seats that offer plenty of legroom for passengers. Unfortunately, that’s all the space there is. It is not a cargo vehicle. The cargo area that is behind the back seat, covering the battery pack, only offers 16.3 cubic feet of space. A small covered bin in the back holds an extra 1.5 cubic feet. The rear hatch window is large enough to see out of properly. The gauge cluster is a bit cluttered, but the large, digital speedometer is quite nice to look at. Other digital warning lights and gauges give the dash a futuristic look and also indicate when the electric motor is running.
Performance & Handling
The 2003 Honda Insight is powered by a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine that produces 67 horsepower. It is assisted by an electric motor that produces an extra six horsepower. This means that the gasoline engine is still the primary power source. The big battery pack is 48 pounds and is mounted behind the back seat. The engine is wed to a standard five-speed manual transmission or a CVT transmission with infinite gear ratio possibilities. When it is going at speed and cruising, the gasoline engine works to recharge the energy. Even so, electric engine’s energy wears down rather quickly on these models. When the manual transmission is in neutral and the engine is stopped, it shuts off the gas supply. Driving the insight is fun, although strong crosswinds can cause some hairy moments. Acceleration isn’t lively, but the Insight is more geared towards saving emissions than providing a sport-like ride.
The 2003 Honda Insight comes with standard anti-lock brakes. Unfortunately, side-impact airbags are not available.
EPA Fuel Economy
- Stellar gas mileage
- Technology is marvelous
- Lots of standard features
You Won't Like
- Batteries don’t hold up under continual electric motor use
- Crosswind dangers
- Not a lot of power
A technological marvel.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Hyundai Accent
- Kia Rio
- Mini Cooper