Engine: 1.5-Liter V-Tech 4-Cylinder w/Electric Motor
Transmission: Electric Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Torque: 197 lb. ft.
EPA Ratings: 51/City 45/Highway 48/Combined
Base Price: $28,340
As Tested: $29,270
Overview: The Honda Insight hybrid is a compact sedan based on the Honda Civic. It boasts a hybrid powertrain delivering excellent fuel economy. It’s also comfortable and relatively roomy, and earns superb safety ratings.
Walkaround: Although styling is quite similar, the Insight softens the looks of the Civic it’s based upon. Both he Insight’s front and rear styling appear more Accord-like, with more relaxed curves than the Civic, fewer creases on the side, and more attractive wheel cutouts.
Interior: The instrumentation mimics the Accord — not the Civic — but does utilize the Civic’s low dash for better forward vision. The digital display is functional and easy to understand.
The low dash helps, because the seats are too. They’re also a bit thin, but not uncomfortable. There’s good headroom even with the moonroof, and the front doesn’t feel as small as compacts often do.
The hybrid batteries are efficiently located and don’t steal space from the rear. Rear headroom is adequate, with good legroom. Two passengers will fit comfortably in the 60/40-split folding rear seat — but not three. The trunk is a good-sized 15.1 cubic feet.
Behind The Wheel: The Insight’s ride is smooth and composed because the Civic structure and suspension — particularly the MacPherson front and multi-link rear — are at work. Fluid-filled bushings from the Civic also contribute to a way better ride than expected from a compact car.
The 11.1-inch front brake rotors stop the Insight quickly. The brakes also regenerate electricity to recharge the battery, seamlessly switching between friction and regenerative braking.
However, acceleration is lacking. The 1.5-liter powerplant offers just 107 horses of its own, but married to the 129-horse electric motor, it delivers 151 ponies. The 0-60 drill takes about 10 seconds.
The Insight features three driving modes: EV, Econ, and Sport. Econ relaxes the throttle response, but doesn’t put the car into all-electric mode. The EV mode is only good for a short time and low speeds. Sport mode makes throttle more responsive and increases engine revs. There’s also a “kickdown switch” under the gas pedal — reminding politically correct drivers that flooring it will use more gas.
Bottom Line: The Honda Insight boldly showcases numerous innovations — and teamed with the Insight’s good looks, roominess, great ride, fantastic fuel economy, and superior safety — it’s also a tremendous value for the money.