Overview & Reviews
When the Honda Insight two-door hybrid-powered hatchback first arrived on American shores, few people knew what to make of it. Dwarfed by the day's massive SUVs, this two-seater's oddball styling made it look as if it came off the set of a futuristic movie. Little did we know that it really was the car of the future -- thanks to the volatility of gas prices in the following years, hybrids soon became prized for their superior fuel economy. However, while the original Insight was remarkably fuel-efficient, it ultimately lacked the practicality found both in "real cars" and Toyota's four-door Prius.
Years later, Honda revived the Insight name, determined to rectify the original Insight's shortcomings. Like the first Insight, the current-generation model combines a small gas engine with an electric motor that's powered by a battery pack. The current powertrain falls short of its predecessor's impressive 60-plus-mpg potential on the highway, but the second-generation Insight is a superior car in all other respects. Its convenient four-door hatchback design provides decent cargo space and a tight but usable rear seat, and it still returns around 40 mpg combined. Compared to other modern hybrids like the Ford C-Max and Toyota Prius, however, the latest Insight comes up short in fuel economy, features and overall refinement.
Current Honda Insight
The latest Honda Insight, a four-door hybrid hatchback with seating for five, is available in base, LX and uplevel EX trim. Standard equipment for the base model includes 15-inch steel wheels, antilock brakes, stability control, automatic climate control and a two-speaker sound system. The LX adds cruise control, four speakers for the sound system and an iPod/USB audio interface. The EX comes with 15-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, steering-wheel audio controls and six speakers. The EX can also be equipped with a navigation system (that includes a rearview camera) and Bluetooth.
Under the Insight's hood is Honda's familiar Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. IMA starts with a 1.3-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 88 horsepower and 88 pound-feet of torque that's supplemented by an electric motor that kicks in when needed to add another 13 hp and 58 lb-ft. A nickel-metal hydride battery pack keeps the electric motor whirring, and regenerative braking helps keep the battery pack charged. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) directs the power plant's output to the Insight's front wheels.
In reviews, we've found that the current Honda Insight delivers on the promise of miserly fuel economy. However, that fuel economy is still below what rivals like the C-Max and Prius achieve. Other downsides to the Insight include an unsophisticated ride, mediocre rear seat room and elevated amounts of road noise.
Used Honda Insight Models
When the current second-generation Insight debuted in 2010, it was only offered in LX and EX trim levels. The base trim was added the following year. Notable updates occurred for 2012 and included refreshed front and rear styling, more sound insulation, a bit more rear seat headroom (via a reconfigured rear seat), a redesigned gauge cluster and an updated navigation system (with rearview camera). Since then the Insight has been unchanged.
The first-generation Honda Insight was produced from 2000-'06. It was powered by a 1.0-liter inline three-cylinder engine that put out 67 hp. A lightweight electric motor supported the gas engine with low-end torque and provided extra power under acceleration. Combined, the IMA hybrid system was rated at 73 hp and 91 lb-ft of torque when coupled to the five-speed manual transmission. The optional CVT dropped these figures a bit.
Available in just one trim, the Insight came standard with full power accessories and a CD player. Automatic climate control (with air-conditioning) was optional, and many Insights had a dealer-installed CD changer in the hatch area.
In reviews, we found that the original Honda Insight wasn't very practical as a daily driver. It had a small cargo area, a paltry 365-pound payload capacity, a battery pack that drained fairly easily and rather pokey acceleration. The first Insight was also plagued by excessive road noise at highway speeds, and its ride was uncomfortably stiff. With regard to maximum fuel efficiency, though, the original Insight certainly delivered the goods -- manual-transmission models were EPA rated at 52 mpg in mixed driving, and 60 mpg or more was quite feasible in highway driving.
As a used hybrid, a first-generation Honda Insight could make sense for a buyer keen on the car's high fuel economy and distinctive look and willing to put up with the car's faults. Based on our own experience and anecdotal evidence, reliability for first-generation Insights should be similar to that of other Honda products. Since the Insight didn't change much over the years, shoppers can likely pay more attention to actual condition or mileage than model year.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 447.00
Great little car, not up to brutal winters - 2010 Honda Insight
By Johannes Smith - January 17 - 10:56 am
So, I should start with the positive - bought a 2010 Insight EX in 2015. On the used market, they're going for sub 10K, and that means that entry level combustion engine cars are the same price as entry level hybrids. I had to give the hybrid a shot! In all the classic measurements of a car, the Insight excels. Acceleration is solid, it gets on the highway comfortably and can speed up to avoid hazards. Food for thought here, this car does 0-60 in 11.9 seconds. That compares to the gasoline Lancer of the same year at 11.4 seconds. The difference in fuel economy is a staggering 26MPG vs 43MPG. I'll leave you to do the cost/benefit analysis there. The interior is very comfortable, I love the seats. Safety features are cool (I'm upgrading from a cromagnon car with 1 airbag, so I'm excited to see 5 obvious airbags). The headlights on the EX are dazzlingly bright. For issues, there are 2 minor design flaws. Cabin view is not great - rearward visibility could be better with better pylon placement. The hatchback could also be roomier, it gets pretty tight back there. These are minor flaws - the view is most of the way there, and the hatchback is a great feature decently executed. The most perplexing issue with this overall great car is the winter performance. I am a Chicagoan. Sometimes, Chicago winter is colder than the dark side of the moon (seriously). This winter has been average. The Insight's electric engine does not engage below a given temperature, usually below 20-30. The gasoline engine provides decent to good driving performance, but a much lower fuel efficiency. I'm averaging 31MPG in January. Also, the A/C unit is relatively weak, so it takes a significant amount of time to get the car hot. Maybe it's attempting to route heat to the hybrid drive's battery, I'm not sure - in either case, winter performance is out of line with general performance.
You'll be sorry - 2013 Honda Insight
By judy - November 30 - 4:52 pm
This is the most uncomfortable, loud, gutless car you can buy. The mileage is not worth it, and goes down quickly if you have to do even small inclines. (not hills, just normal on the freeway or average road inclines) There is no way to get your money out of it if you buy it new. You can't hold a conversation without yelling in the car because of the noise. The car is so gutless, you put yourself at risk to pull out of your street if you see another car coming. Not to mention you can't see out of the car easily at all. A lot of blind spots. Don't get the light fabric seats. They stain with water. You may not listen to this. That's fine, but be warned, you will not be happy.
An exceptional car - 2001 Honda Insight
By Ricky C. Savage - November 21 - 11:45 pm
This car produces exceptionally good fuel economy. I average about 50-54 mpg regardless of how I drive and I drive it most of the time in the 60-75 mph. My Insight is a 2001 that I bought in March 2012 when it had 16,095 miles on it. I bought it from a dealer who told me the older lady who owned it got ill shortly after she bought it and it sat in the garage for most of the time between 2001 and 2012. My mileage now (Nov 2015) was 75,926 at my last fill-up so I have put almost 60,000 on the car in the last 3 years and 8 months. I needed to replace the main battery shortly after I bought the car probably because it sat around for much of the 11 years the lady owned it. When I first bought it, the gas mileage ranged from a low of 47.7 to a high of 60.3 mpg. I would guess the average mileage was about 53-54 mpg. I calculated the gas mileage by keeping meticulous records of when I filled the gas tank and I compared the Insight's mpg with that calculated by hand. The results were within 1 to 2 mpg of what I manually calculated so the readout gives a pretty honest record of the mpg actually achieved. The largest discrepancy was about 3 mpg but it did not happen very often (it happened about 3 times). The gas mileage was as low as 42.4 mpg on a hot day in July (when I use my a/c alot) and the average gas mileage now after all those miles is around 51 mpg. I do drive pretty fast now so that could be a factor because I generally drive 70-75 mph on the highways and I spend a lot of time on the highway. I have not had too much problem with my Insight and I really love this car. I take the Insight on long trips because I prefer better gas mileage with my Insight as compared to my Lincoln Town Car (although the Town Car is much more comfortable!).
133,081 miles, $3,000 warranty refunded, no probs - 2010 Honda Insight
By Doc - October 20 - 6:22 pm
This was the most undervalued vehicle from 2010. Bought new. Get 41mpg still with Eco on. Driven all over US. Highway excellent. Safe. Still have original rotors. No problems except when 1st bought recall on a rubber trim. Just bought a Pioneer radio with Carplay. Amazing vehicle. I expect will see 200,000 miles plus. Got $3,000 back from extended warrantee because I never used it. Mine made in Japan before tsunami. Best investment. Replaced a crappy BMW convertible that nickled and dimed me.
One of the best cars I have ever owned. - 2011 Honda Insight
By Chris P - August 4 - 8:38 am
The Insight is hands down one of the best cars I have ever owned. I own and operate a small courier business and drive over 40,000 miles a year and this car never stops impressing me. Even at 148,000 miles this car has never asked for anything except basic maintenence and one set of front brakes. The ride and handeling are very good for the cost of the vehicle and the driver's seat is exceedingly comfortable even for long trips. It is a basic car in terms of luxury but it has a lot of nice features that overall make it comfortable, and the handeling and overall driving experience is impressive for a vehicle I'm this price range. I always get better mpg than the car is rated for without really trying. You get a lot for your money with this vehicle.
This is a fun car to drive - 2000 Honda Insight
By allsmiles277 - June 23 - 9:50 pm
I love this car. It may not carry but 365 pounds but it is fun to drive. The battery pack was the biggest drawback with this vehicle but time has made prices come down so I am not as concerned about the price of the a battery pack now. My IMA light has been on for the past 5 years and I am still driving it around. More and more people are knowledgeable about hybrid vehicle. I have watched many videos on the internet which show how to remove battery packs.
Just passed 90k miles - 2010 Honda Insight
By supermiles - January 5 - 7:33 pm
Bought new in 2010, after losing my Camry to a head on collision. Have about 91k miles on it now. I love the car for what it is. Never any mechanical problems, I put tons of stuff in the hatch. Would buy another...if they still made them when I finish with this one. Never less than 40 mpg, never better than 45...but I run it pretty hard
Insightful Overachiever - 2013 Honda Insight
By theshenami - November 12 - 4:43 pm
Have had my Insight EX for 6 months now, and after ~6k miles driven I have come to love this little hybrid. I consistently get over 50 MPG driving through Los Angeles rush hour traffic (based on miles driven/gallons filled), despite an EPA estimated 42 MPG, while a cursory review of fuelly-dot-com or fueleconomy-dot-gov suggests the Prius tends to get below its EPA rating. This fact, combined with much better handling and brakes than Prius family members, makes me love it! It is a bit lacking in rear seat space, but it has plenty of room for my daily commute, and running about town with wife and son in tow (can fit stroller and week's worth of groceries with ease in the cargo bay).
Great car, great mileage, but... - 2010 Honda Insight
By manihondas - October 25 - 9:43 pm
I bought this fully equipped 2010 model as a Honda Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle with 42K. I needed to add to my honda family, the Element getting higher in the mileage dept, 188K and I needed a fuel efficient car for commuting to my place of work.
This car is the best at its price! - 2010 Honda Insight
By jpaule - October 17 - 2:45 pm
Yes, the Prius is roomier and even more fuel efficient, but, after five and one half years and 71,000 miles, our Insight is a great value for the price, which was about $ 4000 less than a comparable 2010 Prius. We have replaced only tires at 30K and are still running safely with the original brakes at all four wheels. We have had no warranty, recall or parts replacement issues and fully expect to get another 70000 miles with only normal maintenance. Honda builds quality and it shows!