2021 Honda Insight: The crucial difference is the Insight’s combination of a gasoline engine and electric motors, which supply power in a non-traditional way in the name of efficiency.

The hybrid system is seamless during everyday driving but can occasionally be noisy when accelerating hard. But the 2021 Honda Insight’s minimal price premium over the Civic and superb fuel economy make it a smart buy.

ENGINE AND IMPLEMENTATION

2021 Honda Insight: The Insight does a better job than most hybrids of balancing spry acceleration with miserly fuel economy. It’s about as quick as many conventionally powered compact cars—and way quicker than the hybrid competitors we’ve tested.

Its combination of a gas engine and electric motors provides a combined 151 horsepower, which motivates the Insight from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds.

It can run on its electric motor alone for roughly one mile at lower speeds but request brisk acceleration and the gasoline engine will kick-in seamlessly.

You might notice the engine getting loud under hard acceleration, but the 2021 Honda Insight’s powertrain is otherwise quiet and refined. The Insight is an exceedingly pleasant vehicle to drive. It is quiet, comfortable, and refined, and it handles confidently.

That’s no wonder, considering it’s in many ways mechanically similar to the Civic sedan, which shares those attributes. Although it’s not overtly sporty, the Insight has a nicely controlled ride and solid handling. Its supple suspension soaks up bumps well, and its quick steering helps it change direction responsively.

The predictable and progressive brake pedal in the Insight suffers from little of the clunkiness that plagues the brakes of other hybrids. The Insight’s brakes feel just as confident as a traditional, gas-powered vehicle’s.

ENERGY AND REAL-WORLD MPG

2021 Honda Insight: Honda provides two separate EPA ratings for the Insight: 55 mpg city and 49 highway for the lighter LX and EX trims and 51 city and 45 highway for the Insight Touring, which is better-equipped and comes with larger wheels. All three Insight models fall a few miles per gallon short of the Toyota Prius and the Hyundai Ioniq’s EPA ratings.

 But the Insight Touring achieved 47 mpg on our real-world highway test, 2 mpg better than its EPA rating. Drivers who spend more time in stop-and-go driving can expect even better results; hybrids typically are more efficient in city driving conditions than on the highway.

INTERIOR, CONVENIENCE, AND BOOTH

The interior’s features and finishes occupy a well-judged middle ground between bargain basement and premium. The 2021 Honda Insight feels a bit more upscale than the closely related Civic, and it measures up well to other hybrid competitors.

A customizable digital gauge in the instrument panel can display a variety of information, from fuel-economy data to speed-limit info. You sit low in the Insight’s front seats, but there’s plenty of space to stretch out.

Adjustable lumbar support is missing from the driver’s seat, however, which is disappointing. The rear seats have plenty of room for two adults. The Insight’s battery pack is located under the rear seat, so it doesn’t infringe on cargo capacity at all; the rear seats still fold mostly flat to accommodate larger items.

Several of the Honda’s competitors are hatchbacks—the 2021 Honda Insight is a conventional sedan with a separate trunk—which means they can hold more stuff and their large cargo areas are easier to load.

The Insight does have a very useful and configurable center console that can hold tons of personal items. There are also a few bins in the cargo area.

IN-VEHICLE INFOTAINMENT AND INTERCONNECTIONS

Honda’s infotainment system incorporates a most modern and usable interface—and we’re glad that it has a volume knob now—but some of the menus can get overly complicated, and a tuning knob is still missing.

The base 5.0-inch screen in the lower-trim Insight LX is a fairly basic affair, lacking even SiriusXM satellite radio, but at least it’s simple to use. The EX and Touring models have a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen with lots more features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration and available built-in navigation.

PROTECTION AND DRIVER-ASSISTANCE ASPECTS

2021 Honda Insight: The Insight earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and it was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

All Insights come with a comprehensive package of driver assists called Honda Sensing. Blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert come standard on EX and Touring models.

PHOTOS

2021 Honda Insight

2021 Honda Insight

2021 Honda Insight

2021 Honda Insight

2021 Honda Insight

FULL SPECIFICATIONS

2019 HONDA
INSIGHT TOURING

VEHICLE TYPE
front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

PRICE AS TESTED
$28,985 (base price: $28,985)

POWERTRAIN
permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor, 129 hp, 197 lb-ft; DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 1.5-liter inline-4, 107 hp, 99 lb-ft; combined output, 151 hp; 1.2-kWh lithium-ion battery pack

TRANSMISSION
1-speed direct drive

CHASSIS
SUSPENSION (F/R): struts/multilink
BRAKES (F/R): 11.1-in vented disc/10.2-in disc
TIRES: Continental ProContact TX, 215/50R-17 91H M+S

DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE: 106.3 in
LENGTH: 183.6 in
WIDTH: 71.6 in
HEIGHT: 
55.6 in
PASSENGER VOLUME:
94 cu ft
TRUNK VOLUME: 15 cu ft
CURB WEIGHT: 3072 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS
Zero to 60 mph: 7.7 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 23.8 sec
Zero to 110 mph: 33.6 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 8.3 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.4 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 6.1 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 16.2 sec @
86 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 114 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 183 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.83 g
*stability-control-inhibited

C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 43 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 47 mpg
Highway range: 490 miles

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 48/51/45 mpg

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