IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
The Honda Insight is a fuel-sipping hybrid sedan that doesn’t look or feel like one. It boasts attractively conventional styling inside and out, respectably peppy acceleration, and an upscale ambiance in addition to its 50-mpg-plus fuel economy.
The engine gets intrusively noisy in fast acceleration, and the traditional four-door-sedan body style is slightly less practical than the rival Toyota Prius or Hyundai Ioniq four-door hatchbacks.
The Insight’s 1.1-kWh hybrid battery is located under the rear seat, which allows for a spacious trunk and the flexibility of available 60/40 split-folding seat backs.
WHAT IS IT?
The Insight is Honda’s gas/electric-hybrid compact car. This model, which debuted for 2019, is actually the third-generation Insight; Honda previously used the name from 2000-06 and from 2010-14 on earlier hybrid compacts. The 2020 Insight shares its basic platform with the Honda Civic (which no longer offers a hybrid model), but it has a completely different body and interior and, of course, a gas-electric powertrain. The Insight’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is paired with two electric motors, one of which serves as a generator. There is no traditional transmission; instead, a lock-up clutch connects the gas engine directly to the electric drive motor when circumstances warrant. From the driver’s seat, this setup feels very similar to a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Insight’s trim levels ascend through LX, EX, and Touring models. Forward collision warning and mitigation, lane-keep assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and a driver attention monitor are standard on all. LXs come standard with features such as automatic LED headlights, keyless starting, automatic climate control, and active noise cancellation. EXs add split-folding rear seat backs, keyless entry, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, and Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot camera. Tourings add leather upholstery, sunroof, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, navigation system, WiFi hotspot, and a premium sound system.
After its debut last year, the Insight sees no significant changes for 2020.
The EPA rates the Honda Insight at 55 mpg city/49 mpg highway in LX and EX trim, and 51/45 in Touring trim.
VALUE IN CLASS
The Insight might not match the Toyota Prius or Hyundai Ioniq in overall fuel economy, but its EPA numbers are close—and, it’s quicker and more pleasant to live with day to day than those two rivals. Plus, the highly competitive pricing is right in line with the Ioniq and a bit more affordable than the Prius. The Insight’s styling is pleasantly devoid of the typical green-vehicle quirkiness, and its cabin materials are a clear step above the competition. Though its engine can get unpleasantly loud, the Insight is otherwise dynamically proficient, with excellent ride quality and steering feel. If you’re interested in a compact car that gets standout fuel economy but don’t want to be reminded of that fact at every turn, the Insight is for you.