Intro: In 1999, Honda introduced the Insight and became the first company to sell a hybrid vehicle in North America. The aerodynamically shaped Insight was sold in limited volume until 2006. For the 2011 model year, Honda is in its second year of the return of the Insight badge in the form of a 5-door hatchback hybrid, which seats up to five.
While similar to that of competitor's hybrid offerings, the new Insight's design is the most aerodynamic for a vehicle of this type. Although all new in 2010, the original Insight's taillights and smoked rear window are echoed on this model.
Performance: The power equation for the Insight starts with a 1.3-liter inline four producing 98 horsepower and 123 pound feet of torque. A 13 horsepower electric motor is fitted between the engine and transmission as part of what Honda calls an, "Integrated Motor Assist." Mated to a continuously variable transmission, this hybrid setup sends power to the front wheels. A nickel-metal-hydride battery pack located beneath the rear cargo area provides power to the electric motor.
Fuel Economy: Here are the highest and lowest EPA estimates for fuel economy:
Features: A two-tiered instrument panel keeps the driver informed of the status of the hybrid powertrain, indicating fuel economy, which hybrid components are engaged, and whether the electric motor is charging the batteries or assisting the engine.
The Insight comes with creature comforts found in many family vehicles including front bucket seats, a 60/40 split fold rear bench, 12-volt power outlet, front storage compartment, and a 160-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system.
Our test model also came equipped with a multifunction tilt-telescoping steering wheel, and a satellite-linked navigation system with voice-activated control.
Safety: Standard safety equipment on the Insight includes 4-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, side impact door beams, a tire pressure monitoring system and a full array of front and side impact air bags.
Pricing/Warranty: Base MSRP for the 2011 Honda Insight is $18,200. A range-topping EX-Navigation Package model starts at $23,265. The Insight is backed by a 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Summary: With popular features found in most family sedans and fuel-saving hybrid technology, the 2011 Honda Insight stakes its claim in the ever-growing hybrid car market.