Plenty to like regarding Honda Insight
Roseville, CA- Gas-saving hybrid sedans have lost some of their edge in recent years due to an influx of so many subcompact hybrid sport utility vehicles.
The tiny SUVs offer more versatility and generally are more appealing looking than the standard hybrid sedan.
The Toyota Prius, easily the top-selling hybrid historically, has seen its popularity greatly diminish since 2012 when sales reached 236,655, an all-time high. Sales have diminished every year since, plummeting to 69,718 for 2019.
One of Prius’ top competitors from a quality standpoint is the Honda Insight. Although Honda might have put together a terrific looking hybrid sedan with a far more appealing exterior than the Prius, sales for 2019 (23,686) were still not impressive even though they nearly doubled 2018 sales.
Unlike the Prius, which caught on immediately, it’s been a struggle for the Insight. In December 1999, Honda unveiled the Insight as the first-ever hybrid in North America. Touting its outrageous fuel economy and banking on its quirky appearance, Honda was prepared to reap the benefits as the new millennium crept closer.
But the onslaught of Insight sales never materialized. The Toyota Prius came along seven months later and became the hybrid of choice in the U.S. Prius had sales of 15,556 by 2001, more than triple the number of Insights sold that same year. By 2005, the Insight was practically invisible, its sales plummeting to 666, while the highly acclaimed Prius skyrocketed to 107,897.
Retooled as a five-door, five-passenger liftback in 2009, the Insight had a short-lived rebirth, combined sales of just over 77,000 for a three-year period. By 2012 another dip occurred with sales of 5,846, and the end of production arrived by 2015.
Despite its historical lack of success, Honda has reinvented the Insight and finally seems to have gotten it right. Thanks to its terrific fuel economy (48-55 mpg), top safety ratings and affordable price, the Insight is now compelling.
We feel the 2020 Honda Insight is a far more attractive vehicle inside and out than the Prius. It has the conventional physical appearance of a sedan, features a spacious, well-designed cabin, and has peppy performance to give it buyer appeal.
The third generation Insight definitely stole a few qualities from the Honda Civic sedan, especially the car’s measurements. And like the Civic, the Insight has some formidable rivals in the Hyundai Ioniq, Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max, and yes, the Prius.
AT A GLANCE – 2020 HONDA INSIGHT
- Performance: hybrid 1.5 -liter, four-cylinder, 151 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 48-55 mpg
- Price estimate: $23,100 to $28,500
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 3 years/36,000; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited
The Honda Insight has a 1.1-kilowatt, lithium-ion battery and employs a hybrid powertrain (1.5-liter, four-cylinder) that acts as a generator, delivering power to the electric motor. The combined system results in 151 horsepower and 197 pound-feet of torque. For a hybrid, the Insight is fairly quick, going 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds.
Driving an Insight feels more like getting behind the wheel of a conventional sedan and not a hybrid. It has good initial, smooth acceleration. The Insight has other fine traits – precise steering, agility to take challenging turns, and it grips the road efficiently. For this driver, it outperforms the Prius in these areas.
Inside, the Insight has a spacious cabin and is set up pretty smartly. There is a 5-inch touchscreen that is sharp, quick and doesn’t require a techy mind to figure out. The center console provides good storage, along with the door area compartments. Note that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto doesn’t come standard with the base model.
Seating is comfortable up front, where leg and head room are not an issue. Because the hybrid battery resides under the seat, the second row will be cramped if trying to accommodate three adults. Cargo area is average at 14.7 cubic feet, a lot smaller than the Prius (24.6).
We feel that Honda has got it right this time regarding the 2020 Insight. It offers considerable upside and should appeal to many hybrid shoppers who want a more conventional sedan that still delivers the excellent fuel efficiency of a hybrid.