The Insight isn’t the most fuel-efficient hybrid of the bunch, but it scores points on price.
The 1.3-liter gas engine combined with a 13-horsepower electric motor is now pretty dated; a continuously variable transmission transmits power to the front wheels.
Hybrid technology is quickly evolving and no automaker understands this more than Honda. Its regular and plug-in gas-electric Accords represent the tip of the hybrid spear that will soon trickle down to other Honda models. Meanwhile the hybrid-only Insight gets one more year of live using the current Fit hatchback platform and sharing the CR-Z hybrid’s power team. The result is a car that gets 41 mpg in the city and 44 highway. In real-world driving, the Insight has proven itself a comfortable, capable and reasonably pleasant way to get around. Motivation is supplied by an 88-horsepower 1.3-liter gasoline engine mated to a 13-horsepower electric motor for a net total of 98 horses. By comparison, both the current Prius and the Honda Civic hybrid are rated at 134 and 110 horsepower, respectively. The Insight’s power system is connected to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) of a type still favored by most hybrid-building automakers. Dash-mounted monitors encourage drivers to be light on the gas through the use of an “Eco Assist” speedometer that changes background color from blue (inefficient) to green (most efficient), depending on your driving style. The Insight also comes with an ECON button that, when pushed, induces the gas engine to shut down sooner when stopping, limits power and torque by four percent and runs the air conditioning and fan motor more efficiently. Finally, an Eco Guide display rates driver performance by displaying an increasing number of “tree leaves” earned per trip as an indication of an efficient driving style.
Base price (incl. destination): $19,400
Type: Four-door hatchback
Engine (hp): 1.3-liter DOHC I4 combined with a 13-horsepower electric motor (98)
Layout: Front-engine/integrated electric motor, front-wheel-drive
Transmission: Continuously variable
MPG (city/hwy): 41/44
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control
Weight (lb.): 2,750