The 2004 Honda Insight marks the first gasoline/electric hybrid on the roads in the U.S. It serves as a two-seat hatchback coupe that contains a gasoline engine assisted by a battery-powered electric motor. The car recharges the batteries when coasting or decelerating so you don’t have to plug it into any outlet. Aerodynamic styling and aluminum-intensive construction contribute to industry-leading EPA fuel economy ratings.
Body Styles: hatchback
Engines: 1.0-liter three-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Honda Insight
The 2004 Honda Insight has a new CD-equipped audio system with four speakers as standard equipment, and the fuel consumption gauge illuminates green or red. Honda gives all of its cars a new seat belt reminder system.
The 2004 Honda Insight comes aero-profiled for efficiency. Even though the Insight roughly resembles a Civic in the front, the hatchback body has a distinctively smooth, rounded teardrop shape. Flared rear fenders cover the top half of the wheels. The Insight’s sleek skin yields a 0.25 drag coefficient, which marks one of the lowest of any mass-produced automobile. In addition to the body, Honda makes most suspension components with lightweight aluminum.
Mounted on a 94.5-inch wheelbase and measuring 155.1 inches long overall, the Insight stands 53.3 inches tall. Special low-rolling-resistance tires help it consume minimal fuel.
Two bucket seats give adults ample room, but the Insight’s seating capacity stops there. The unusual exterior styling results in a long, tunnel-like view out the rear because of the large window in the hatch lid and a smaller pane below it. A large digital speedometer provides the main focal point in an otherwise small and somewhat cluttered gauge cluster. Smaller gauges and warning lights display instant and average fuel economy, and they indicate when the electric motor operates.
Even though the controls and gauges look well-laid out, the climate-control display and bar-graph gauges remain too small for easy reading. The 2004 Honda Insight pays fine attention to detailed assembly and functionality with no fancy interior decor. It proves roomy enough for tall adults, mostly because the seats sit quite low. The seats feel well-shaped but lightly padded, making long trips uncomfortable. Sitting in the cabin gives you the feeling of sitting in a bathtub and this position makes entry and exit difficult, though visibility remains good except with bulky cargo aboard. The hatchback offers 15 cubic feet of storage space beneath the hatch and an additional 1.5 cubic feet in a covered floor well. The high load deck and sloped roofline preclude carrying bulky items.
Performance & Handling
The drivetrain consists of a 67-horsepower, 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine supplemented by an electric motor that adds six horsepower. The gasoline engine provides the primary power source, and the electric motor kicks in to deliver power for highway passing. A 48-pound battery pack mounts behind the seats. A five-speed manual gearbox comes standard and a CVT remains optional.
The gas engine recharges the batteries while cruising so that owners never have to plug the 2004 Honda Insight into a charger. The Insight delivers good acceleration, even from a complete stop. It accomplishes a zero to 60 mph sprint in 11.3 seconds with the manual transmission and 11.5 seconds with the CVT. But freeway merging and two-lane passing demand care, and speed tapers off fast on long, steep upgrades. The CVT always feels smooth and responsive but provides the best performance in ""S"" range.
The ride quality feels choppy except on smooth roads because of the short wheelbase, high-pressure tires, and low weight. The Insight has the bare minimum of soundproofing to save weight, and wind noise sounds prominent. However, the engine seems a bit quieter with the CVT.
The 2004 Honda Insight receives good crash test results from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. The NHTSA gives the Insight four stars in frontal crash protection for the driver and passenger, side-impact protection for the driver, and rollover protection.
EPA Fuel Economy
Honda Insight: 48/58 mpg city/highway
- Great fuel economy
- Good performance from automatic transmission
- Good maneuverability
You Won't Like
- Rear visibility
- Poor ride quality
- Modest acceleration
- Meager interior storage space
- Excessive road noise
- Only seats two
Saves money on fuel, but droning wind echoes throughout the roomy cabin.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Toyota Echo
- Honda Civic
- Chevrolet Monte Carlo
- Toyota Solara
- Honda Accord