The Honda Insight debuted in 2000 as the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle available on the U.S. market. With government pressure and consumer desire for more fuel-efficient and cleaner engines rising through the 1990s, the Insight fit the gap left between impractical electric cars and traditional gas-powered autos.
While the 2006 Honda Insight no longer serves as the premiere hybrid vehicle on the market, its advanced construction and insightful technology continue to make it one impressive option. Its aerodynamic aluminum body comes with a drag coefficient of just 0.25, and Honda claims the Insight uses 30 percent less power than the 1996-2000 Civic at highway speeds. The 2006 Insight also represents the most fuel-efficient car on the market to date and boasts a range of about 500 miles.
Honda has chosen to keep outstanding fuel economy as the focal point of the Insight’s profile over the years, though this often sacrifices other important features. While the Insight’s lightweight, two-passenger design and limited muscle provided the only option for hybrid buyers back in 2000, the 2006 Insight faces more versatile competitors such as the Toyota Prius, not to mention Honda’s own Accord and Civic Hybrids. Still, drivers with an eye for ultimate fuel economy and a taste for exotic body style and exclusivity continue to be pleased with the Honda Insight.
Body Styles: hatchback
Engines: 1.0-liter three-cylinder hybrid
Transmissions: five-speed manual, continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT)
Models: Honda Insight
2006 brings no significant changes to the Honda Insight.
The 2006 Honda Insight offers only one body style–a sleek, exotically profiled two-door hatchback. Its eye-catching, aerodynamic design recalls a luxury European sports car, but this makes a misleading image; the Insight’s unitized body is constructed with lightweight aluminum, and it lacks real muscle. As fresh and attractive as it looks, every inch of the Insight’s design intends to increase the car’s overall efficiency. The Insight sits on a flat underbody, with alloy wheels and low rolling-resistance tires. Other exterior features include power-adjustable mirrors, interval wipers, a rear window defogger, and a front air dam.
The two-door, two-passenger Insight looks as tight on the inside as one would expect. Though underneath the ultra-modern, exotic styling sits a functional, thoughtful layout. A digital instrument cluster on the dashboard shows you everything you need to know about the happenings under the hood, with indicators for instantaneous fuel economy and average mpg and notification for when the electric motor provides assistance or charges the battery.
The otherwise short list of standard interior features includes a radio with a CD player, an optional CD changer, a trip computer, a tachometer, and power windows, mirrors, and locks. Manual heating comes standard, with automatic climate control air-conditioning remaining optional.
Performance & Handling
The 2006 Insight uses Honda’s revolutionary Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system. This efficient gas-electric hybrid powertrain pairs a one-liter, 12-valve, inline three-cylinder gasoline engine with a lightweight, permanent-magnet electric motor that recharges its own power supply. The electric motor offers only supplemental power to the primary gas engine but it results in a reasonable amount of strength and an outstanding fuel economy. With the standard five-speed manual transmission, the Insight puts out 79 lb-ft of torque, while the optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) provides 89 lb-ft of torque. The Insight rates at 73 horsepower with the manual transmission and 71 hp with the CVT.
With the manual transmission, the Insight’s battery power drains pretty quickly under sustained high speeds with heavy IMA assist. The CVT makes a better match for the IMA assist, as it automatically controls the balance of gas and electric power.
Despite its exotically sporty appearance, the 2006 Insight is neither a speed demon nor a muscle car. Its power merely remains adequate under most conditions, although its small size and lightweight build do allow for precise steering and easy maneuverability. On the other hand, heavy crosswinds cause a hassle.
Standard safety equipment for the 2006 Honda Insight includes two- or four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, a vehicle anti-theft system, power windows, and power locks. Honda offers no side airbags or traction control or stability control. The Insight earns four out of five stars in government crash tests for both frontal- and side-impact safety.
EPA Fuel Economy
Honda Insight Base: 48/58 mpg city/highway
- Outstanding fuel economy
- Lots of standard features
- Exotic design
- Exclusive reputation with low production numbers
You Won't Like
- Batteries drain quickly with manual shift at high gears
- Unstable in high crosswinds
While not the best hybrid on the market today in terms of power and technology, it continues to stand out in body construction and overall fuel efficiency.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Toyota Prius
- Suzuki Aerio
- Honda Civic Hybrid
- Hyundai Accent
- Chevrolet Aveo