Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door coupe
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $3,200 – $8,800*


2000 Honda Insight


2000 Honda Insight


2000 Honda Insight interior


2001 Honda Insight


2002 Honda Insight

Pros:
  • Automatic-transmission performance
  • Fuel economy
  • Maneuverability
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Acceleration
  • Interior storage space
  • Rear visibility
  • Ride
  • Road noise

Far more practical than any pure electric vehicle, the Insight is compromised in too many ways by its maximum-mpg design. Relatively costly for an “economy” car, seating only two, it cannot rank as a great value.

Overview

Advanced technology ruled when Honda introduced a new and completely different model for 2000. A hybrid gasoline/electric powertrain went into the Japanese automaker’s sleek new two-passenger hatchback coupe. Not only did the front-drive subcompact function differently from any car on the road, it looked wholly different as well. Aerodynamic styling teamed with lightweight aluminum-intensive construction.

The Insight soon earned the Environmental Protection Agency’s top fuel-economy ratings. In terms of the powertrain, the only competition came from Toyota’s five-passenger hybrid Prius. Rivals in other respects might include the Ford Focus ZX3 and Toyota Celica.

The hybrid powertrain uses a small electric motor to assist the three-cylinder gasoline engine during hard acceleration. At other times, the gas engine is dominant and the electric motor is often idle. When coasting or braking, the engine recharges the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. Therefore, unlike an electric vehicle, no external recharging ever is needed.

A fuel-saving “idle-stop” feature shuts off the engine when the car is stopped (provided that the engine is fully warmed up). Toyota’s somewhat larger Prius uses a different type of hybrid system, in which the electric motor is dominant and any combination of gasoline and electric power might be employed, depending on driving conditions.

For the Insight’s first year, the sole transmission was a five-speed manual. Air conditioning was the only option. Standard equipment includes variable-assist power steering, power mirrors, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, a cassette stereo, intermittent wipers, and 165/65R14 tires on alloy wheels.

Yearly Updates

2001 Insight
Although the Insight was unchanged as the 2001 model year began, a new transmission became available the following spring. Functioning in a manner similar to an automatic, the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) furnishes variable drive ratios rather than conventional gear changes. Steering-wheel “D” and “S” buttons can select normal or higher-performance range.
2002 Insight
Still leading the league in EPA mileage estimates, the Insight had no significant change for 2002. Air conditioning remained optional, and antilock braking was standard. In spring 2002, Honda launched a brand-new Civic Hybrid with five-passenger seating, to compete more directly against Toyota’s Prius.
2003 Insight
No changes for 2003.
2004 Insight
Minor changes for the 2004 Insight include a standard CD player and a beige interior, instead of last year’s gray.
2005 Insight
The Insight is unchanged for 2005.
2006 Insight
There are no significant changes for 2006 Insight.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Honda’s hybrid powertrain consists of a three-cylinder gasoline engine, along with an electric motor that provides extra propulsion power when needed. Only a manual transmission was available initially, but a clutchless CVT unit was added during the 2001 model year. With manual shift, the gasoline engine produced 73 horsepower and 91 pound-feet of torque, but the ratings dipped to 71 hp and 90 pound-feet with CVT.

dohc I3/electric
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.0/61
Engine HP 71-73
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 90-91
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
CVT automatic
61/70
57/56
57.3

Road Test

Like the low-power gasoline-engined Civic, the Insight is fun to drive but can get tiresome after a while. Although the hybrid powertrain functions as promised, performance is on the sluggish side. A manual-shift Insight took a yawning 11.3 seconds to reach 60 mph–a marginal pace for passing and safe highway merging. Even on slight upgrades, the Insight tends to slow considerably. On the other hand, that same car averaged a remarkable 57.3 mpg overall, peaking at 71 mpg in mostly city driving.

Trouble is, such impressive thriftiness comes partly through low weight and minimal soundproofing, resulting in mediocre crosswind stability and relatively high noise levels. Ride quality suffers, too. Except on glass-smooth pavements, it’s choppy and thumpy, overly vulnerable to potholes, aggravated by a short wheelbase that also makes the cockpit cozy–though far from cramped. Handling is on the sporty side, with quick steering.

Merit points are earned for decently comfortable seats, clear and convenient minor controls, acceptable all-around visibility, and attractive (but hardly lavish) interior trim. Cockpit storage space is meager. Luggage must be lifted onto a high deck that limits cargo to grocery-bag height.

Occasionally, manual-shift Insights have failed to restart immediately at a stoplight in “idle-stop” mode, when the selector was placed into gear.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Honda Insight

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 2
20%
Fuel Economy - 10
100%
Ride Quality - 2
20%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 0
00%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 2
20%

Total: 34

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
94.5 155.1 66.7 53.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
NA 10.6 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.8 42.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The air-conditioning suction hose can collapse internally causing poor A/C performance. (2000)
Cold-starting problems
Description: The engine may not start in temperatures below 0 degrees (F) so the carmaker was replacing the engine control modules, but some customers living in warm climates may not have had the work done. (2000)
Audio system
Description: Noise in the radio caused by the rear wiper is repaired with a new subharness wiring assembly. (2000)
Paint/body
Description: Using a bra can cause the paint to cloud, especially if it is installed wet or moisture gets between the bra and body. (2001-02)
Hood/trunk
Description: If the hood release is pulled up instead of straight out, it gets bent making hood release very difficult and replacement of the release necessary. (2000)
Check-engine light
Description: “Check Engine” light may glow on vehicles used where salt is used on the roads because the EVAP solenoid fails. (2000-02)

Recall History

2000-02
Description: The headlight wire harness may overheat and cause the low beams to fail. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2001
Description: Some passenger airbag modules were not properly welded and may not deploy in a crash.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.