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2011 Honda Insight

Overview
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2011 Honda Insight Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 5.9

Despite Toyota's dominance as the largest volume seller of hybrid automobiles, Honda has been in the segment since the 1999 introduction of the original Insight. A two-passenger, CR-X-type runabout with an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 61 city/70 highway, its launch was in response to a question few consumers (at that point in time) had asked; a decade later, everyone is seemingly asking. In its second iteration Honda targets the sweet spot of the hybrid marketplace with a 4-door hatchback, a simplified powertrain and an under-$20,000 base price. The product is compelling, but has failed to slow the momentum enjoyed by the Toyota Prius or, for that matter, matched the market mojo of its predecessor on the Honda showroom, the Civic Hybrid. Updates for the Insight in 2011 might move the market, as will the rising price of a gallon of gas.

You'll Like This Car If...

With an EPA rating of 40 city/43 highway the 2011 Insight fails to join the 50 miles per gallon ranks, but its real-world utility – in combination with a well-equipped base price of under $20,000 – should prove compelling to the existing Honda enthusiast. In short, if you like Hondas you'll like the Insight.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Despite the complexity of a hybrid drivetrain, the estimated mileage fails to significantly exceed the best of the new entries in the subcompact segment. Forty mpg would seem to be the new thirty among economy-minded shoppers, and entries from Ford (Fiesta), Chevy (Cruze) and Hyundai (Elantra) might – and possibly should – prove a distraction for the Insight prospect.

What's Significant About This Car?

The addition of a new, value-oriented model – with a base price of just under $19,000 – is the big news, along with additional features in the well-equipped Insight LX. The Insight EX remains available, and is the only Insight with (optional) navigation.

Driving the Insight

Driving Impressions If kept in perspective, Honda's Insight fully delivers on both its promise and premise. It is 98 horses assisted – strategically – by a 13-horsepower electric motor; all of that...

is delivered to the front wheels via a continuously-variable transmission (CVT). Nowhere in the above menu is there even the suggestion of excitement; only day-in/day-out competence. With that, Honda typically delivers well-connected steering in combination with a well-controlled ride, and despite low-rolling resistance tires the Insight delivers a commendable performance. For driving enjoyment and the promise of decent fuel efficiency, Honda's Fit is undoubtedly the more involving experience. Its estimated mileage, however, is 27 city/33 highway with its 5-speed automatic.

5-Door Profile
Boasting hatchback access and (with rear seats folded) an expansive load floor, the Insight is the new SUV: Sensible Utility Vehicle. With the rear seat folded, the Insight offers over 31 cubic feet of cargo volume – and does so within an overall length of but 172 inches.

Eco Assist
As a driver-selected fuel efficiency feature, you don't have to do it. But given your purchase of Honda's Insight hybrid, why wouldn't you? In the fuel efficiency equation, Eco Assist makes you smarter by teaching you how to drive more efficiently. And smarter saves you money while reducing your environmental impact.

2011 Honda Insight Details
2011 Honda Insight photo Interior

The 2011 Honda Insight's interior space is defined by its 5-door configuration. And like other small hatches, the end result – in both design and utility – far exceeds expectations. Your initial impression, however, is formed by the instrument panel, which does exactly what a panel for a hybrid should do: Familiarize you with the here-and-now, while communicating a futuristic perspective on what's to come. And with what Honda calls Eco Assist, drivers are provided feedback designed to enhance their real-world fuel economy. An ECON button enhances that efficiency by adjusting throttle control, the CVT's operation, idle-stop duration and a/c operation. Of course, if while monitoring the dash you happen to hit something, you'll be protected by a competitive assortment of airbags: front, front-side and side-curtain.

Exterior
2011 Honda Insight photo

If, when planning the original Insight, Honda had a CR-X in the styling studio, no one would fault them. If, however, while planning the current Insight Honda had a Prius in the styling studio, no one would be surprised. In its wedge-like exterior profile the Insight is a dead ringer for the 2nd generation Prius, and while 5-door profiles will typically share styling elements based solely on the number of doors and approximate size, the Insight comes closer to looking like a Prius than looking like any contemporary Honda. We'll note – as Honda does – some similarity with Honda's FCX fuel-cell concept in the nose, but the similarities essentially end there. If you like Toyota's Prius from fifty feet away, there's no reason to dislike the Insight from the same perspective.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

As with most Honda offerings in the U.S., the marketing execs have worked to keep the purchase of an Insight very simple. The new-for-2011 base model is (obviously) more spartan than LX or EX, but still comfortably equipped (automatic climate control, power windows with auto up/down, tilt-and-telescopic steering column, manual height adjustment for the driver, etc.). The LX ups the ante with cruise control, a USB audio interface, center armrest storage and floor mats.

Optional Equipment

The EX moves the Insight several steps north with steering-wheel mounted audio controls, alloy wheels, six-speaker audio system, heated side mirrors and – exclusive to the EX – available navigation. With a 6.5-inch screen and voice recognition, the system also includes Bluetooth hands-free operation of your mobile phone, along with relevant steering wheel controls.

Under the Hood

Whereas the original Insight went for three (cylinders), today's Insight goes for four. All 2011 Honda Insights – regardless of trim – are powered by a 1.3 liter SOHC four cylinder boasting i-VTEC, in combination with a 10-kilowatt (13-horsepower) electric motor incorporated via Honda's Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system. The compact (nickel-metal hydride) battery pack recaptures and stores energy from vehicle braking and deceleration. The electric motor will provide additional power for acceleration, and can propel the car exclusively on electric power in some low speed conditions. The engine itself – boasting but two valves per cylinder – is relatively low tech; everything else is appropriately high tech.

1.3-liter in-line 4 (plus 10-kilowatt, 13-horsepower electric motor)
98 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
123 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 40/43

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2011 Honda Insight Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.3
Out of 10

Based on 129 Ratings for the 2010 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.8/10
    Quality
    8.3/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    8.1/10
  • Comfort
    7.8/10
    Styling
    8.3/10

Great car--does what I expected

By on Monday, March 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,812

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Well designed interior, comfortable to drive"

Cons: "Not a car for hotdogs"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I've driven this car over 55,000 miles; replaced the original tires at 48,000+ with a little tread left before the wear bars, but it was December and winter was coming. On the highway, at speed limit I get around 50 mpg (I drove TX with 80 mph speed limits); in town about 43 mpg. Ten years driving hybrids has taught me that driving is a science and the driver needs to use the car as a designed tool--operator and machine contribute to performance."

High Maintenance

By on Friday, January 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 67,000

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
4/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
3/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Easy to handle, pretty comfortable car"

Cons: "A commuters nightmare.."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"This car feels good on the road, but eats tires like candy. It also is an oil burner. In addition, it does NOT get the mileage that it is rated at. It gets no better gas mileage than a non Hybrid car. Maintenance is constant and expensive."

11 people out of 22 found this review helpful

VERY VERY SMOOTH AND RELIABLE CAR.

By on Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 118,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"GREAT CAR. ABSOLUTELY ZERO PROBLEMS WITH THIS CAR. IT WAS DRIVEN EVERY DAY AND NEVER HESITATED TO PERFORM. GAS MILEATGE WAS SUPERB AND WOULD RECOMMEND THIS CAR TO ANYONE. GETTING UP IN AGE AND NEED A CAR THAT IS NOT AS CLOSE TO THE GROUND. BUT IT WAS A DANDY AND WILL BE MISSED!"

8 people out of 13 found this review helpful

Good car

By on Friday, January 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 140,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great on gas."

Cons: "Not so good in snow"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought this car new in late 2009. It now has 140,000 miles on it. The ONLY things I've had to replace are tires and 1 set of break pads. Great mileage, not bad in the Colorado mountains and averages about 43 MPG. My only gripes are it's not very good in the snow and on a super hot day the air conditioner could use a little help."

8 people out of 13 found this review helpful

the 2012 insight ex model great miles 50 plus

By on Monday, December 08, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,123

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "fun car"

Cons: "cup holders not good placnent for us"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"the overall car is great wife drives 80 miles a day just loves the car from driver seat every thing is total reachable but at about 60000 miles car is burning oil wish i could a fix.do not want to give up car"

10 people out of 16 found this review helpful

Great commuter car

By on Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "EPA-beating MPG, low cost, more "fun" than a Prius"

Cons: "No AC when stopped, engine wheezes on hills"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"We've had our 2011 Insight EX since new. It's had 50,000 trouble-free miles, with only normal maintenance like oil changes and a new set of tires (factory ones wore out after 15k miles). First off, fuel economy: we have a 20 mile commute roundtrip, with a mixture of hwy and city roads. We average around 46mpg, (calculated after refueling), soundly beating the EPA rated figures. On longer roadtrips, we've gotten 55-60mpg. Following the built-in efficient driving guides, you should absolutely get better mileage than the EPA figures. It's also a much more engaging car to drive than the Prius. We test drove both back to back, and the Insight has much more direct handling, and the manual shift paddles on the EX trim snap through pre-set CVT ratios instantly. It feels like a dual-clutch box in that mode. The car has no troubles getting up to freeway speeds and passing, although I'd recommending a few "downshifts" on the paddle shifters before passing. That said, the paltry 98hp does make hill climbing a chore, as the car will drone away at 5000rpm after the electric boost charge is used up. Even worse, the car has an alarming tendency to roll backward if you're stopped on a hill, and the start-stop system kills the engine. After you let off the brake, the car lags in getting enough torque to start rolling forward. This caused some hair-raising situations during a drive through San Francisco. At level grades, though, the stop-start function is seamless. The car does great in light snow. The skinny tires cut through light snow very well, and the car tracked great. I did have problems getting up an icy hill, but made it to the top after turning off the traction control. With judicious driving, the car can manage mild snowstorms without issue, just stick to plowed roads. The interior is comfortable, and the EX stereo has USB input and sat radio. It sounds decent for a car in this class, and has no problems connecting to an iphone, USB stick, or Android phone and navigating through playlists right from the dash. On our car, bluetooth was only available with the navigation, which we don't have. Later models changed that. In an obvious cost-cutting measure, the air-conditioning compressor is powered off the engine accessory belt, like a conventional gas car. However, this means the AC turns off when you stop at a stoplight, and can be very uncomfortable on hot days. There doesn't seem to be a way to force the car to idle, as it will shut off in both normal and ECO modes. The competition uses electric AC compressors to get around this, but also cost quite a bit more. The automatic single-zone climate control works great when the car is running. The sloped roof can make the back seat hard to get into for taller passengers, although there's plenty of headroom once they're seated. There's a sizable cargo space with the rear seats up, and this becomes massive with the seats folded down. I've gotten a full garage cabinet set in the back with the hatch closed. Overall, we really like this car, despite its relatively minor faults. It's never had a single problem, gets great mileage, and isn't entirely soul-sucking to drive (this coming from a Subaru WRX owner)."

25 people out of 43 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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