Honda Insight

The Honda Insight is a five-seat hatchback gas hybrid that is meant to compete directly with the Toyota Prius. It’s a less expensive alternative to the class originating from Prius and offers fuel economy that no non-hybrid can touch.

Introduced in 1999 for the 2000 model year, the first generation of Insights were a bit ahead of their time and were mostly passed over in favor of the SUVs that many American buyers so prized. The first generation stopped production in 2006. With increasing gas price volatility and shrinking oil supplies making hybrids more and more popular, Honda reintroduced the Insight in 2010. Cars like the Insight are not just futuristic looking and technologically advanced in terms of engine design, but it's the future in world with a finite oil supply.

More on the Honda Insight
Honda Insight Origins

The problem with the original Insight design was a lack of so-called practicality when compared to the four-door Prius and non-hybrids. When the Insight name was revived by Honda, these issues were addressed. The Insight became a four-door, five-seat hatchback hybrid that is as useful as any in-class competition.

The original incarnation boasted an impressive 60-mpg highway rating. But the lack of any other serviceable quality made it a subcompact that two people could put to use as a means of getting themselves around and not much else. The next version added more cargo space, a small but usable backseat and traded off some fuel economy coming in at a rating of over 40 mpg highway. Such a trade-off made the Insight much more competitive and practical as it now qualifies to do anything that any other in-class hybrid can do.

About the Honda Insight

The design of the Insight is typical of a hybrid with an aerodynamic narrow front-end and a wedge back-end. Less resistance and thus less power used to move are part of the economical hybrid ethos.

Standard exterior features for all trim levels include: blue-tinted headlight -enclosures, LED brake lights, body-colored folding side mirrors, and a rear-window wiper.

The trim levels are Base, LX, and Ex. Standard equipment for the base model includes 15-inch steel wheels, anti-lock brakes, and stability control. All of the LX upgrades are interior based. The EX comes with 15-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, and a backup camera.

The 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine produces 88 horsepower and 88 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor then kicks in another 13 horsepower and 58 lb-ft of torque. A nickel-metal hydride battery pack keeps the electric motor running, it then adds back with regenerative braking. Honda calls this an Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. The engine hooks up to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Power is put to the ground though front-wheel drive.

The electric motor doesn’t operate on its own; it just assists the gas motor, so they both operate all the time. The original model produced had a three-cylinder engine and electric assist putting out less horsepower and torque but offering more economy.

Because the electric motor is an assist and doesn’t switch between gas mode and electric mode, the Insight drives like a typical gas automobile and requires no adaptation on the part of the driver. The acceleration is better than others in class. The steering is responsive, and the suspension is set-up to be rather sporty making for a fun drive. This exceeds the quality of the competition, but the Insight suffers in comparison when factoring in cabin noise and somewhat rough, unsophisticated ride.

Honda Insight Features

The Insight is a bit cramped inside, even compared to other cars in its class. Other than that, the interior is laid out well and affords enough room in the front. The Original model had only one trim level that came with a CD player and full-power accessories. Automatic climate control with air-conditioning was optional. Later models of the four-door variety have more to offer in terms of options and standard equipment.

These later Insights come in three trim levels: base, LX, and EX. The base comes with automatic climate control, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and a two-speaker sound system. An interesting standard feature that keeps with the hybrid/economical theme is an Eco Assist driver-feedback system. Upgrading to the LX adds cruise control, four speakers for the sound system, and an iPod/USB audio interface. The EX has steering-wheel audio controls and six speakers. The EX can also be equipped with a navigation system and Bluetooth. Synthetic leather or premium fabric upholstery is an option across models.

Front and side airbags combined with stability control and anti-lock brakes make this hybrid a good scoring vehicle in the safety department.

The exterior was restyled in both the front and rear with updated head lights. Inside, the backseat area has additional leg and headroom, and the gauge cluster's appearance has been updated. The center console cup holders are bigger, and there's a new seat fabric for LX models. A lower rear window offers better views, and there’s more insulation for sound dampening.

Select a Honda Insight Year

2019 Honda Insight

Compact, Hybrid, Sedan

2014 Honda Insight

Compact, Hatchback, Hybrid

2013 Honda Insight

Compact, Hatchback, Hybrid

2012 Honda Insight

Compact, Hatchback, Hybrid

For 2012 the Insight gets a powertrain update and a minor facelift that don't just look new: a revised tail and larger glass help improve fuel economy and rear visibility. Up front, a chrome bar outlines the grille, and blue-tinted covers over the headlights give it a cooler effect. Inside, Honda targets one of the Insight's biggest complaints: its interior gets nicer materials and cushier seat fabric.

2011 Honda Insight

Compact, Hatchback, Hybrid

There has been much speculation that Honda will boost the Insight’s battery range and electric motor output in an attempt to improve fuel economy. How that would be possible, while keeping the price down is unclear. Other areas that will likely be addressed include the suppression of wind noise and road vibration. Look out for more details in the fall of 2010.

2010 Honda Insight

Compact, Hatchback, Hybrid

2006 Honda Insight

Compact, Coupe, Hatchback, Hybrid

The Honda Insight debuted in 2000 as the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle available on the U.

2005 Honda Insight

Compact, Coupe, Hatchback, Hybrid

The Honda Insight is a hybrid engine hatchback model designed with fuel efficiency in mind.

2004 Honda Insight

Compact, Coupe, Hatchback, Hybrid

The 2004 Honda Insight marks the first gasoline/electric hybrid on the roads in the U.

2003 Honda Insight

Compact, Coupe, Hatchback, Hybrid

The 2003 Honda Insight is perhaps one of the most technologically-advanced vehicles ever made by the company.

2002 Honda Insight

Compact, Coupe, Hatchback, Hybrid

The 2002 Honda Insight made the environmentalists happy when it introduced itself as the first electric hybrid vehicle to the U.

2001 Honda Insight

Compact, Coupe, Hatchback, Hybrid

The 2001 Honda Insight manages to offer exemplary fuel efficiency while still offering a fun ride.

2000 Honda Insight

Compact, Coupe, Hatchback, Hybrid