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2012 Honda Insight

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2012 Honda Insight Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 6.6

When Honda reintroduced the Insight hybrid in 2010, the company was sure the car's 5-door hatchback configuration coupled with its sub-$20,000 price tag would be all that was needed to knock the Toyota Prius from its lofty perch. But, for whatever reasons, sales still haven't boomed, which is why the 2012 Honda Insight hybrid has been given a refreshed look, revised interior styling and a few new options aimed at drawing in younger buyers. What hasn't changed is the 2012 Honda Insight hybrid's impressive fuel economy, up by 1 mpg this year to 41 city/44 highway. It also doesn't hurt that you can get into a nicely equipped model for around $20,000 and a fully loaded model for less than $25,000. Perhaps the Insight's problem connecting with the public is that it looks a bit too much like the Prius, or maybe it's just that Honda hasn't really promoted the car, at least not in the way Toyota did when they launched the Prius. We know from the hot-selling Civic Hybrid that consumers know about and like Honda's hybrid technology, so the market is there. It remains to be seen, however, if the enhancements are enough to bring in the crowd Honda is hoping for.

You'll Like This Car If...

While its fuel-economy figures are not as impressive as the Toyota Prius, the 2012 Honda Insight hybrid nevertheless is a gas mileage champ. And, unlike some hybrid cars, the Honda Insight is priced competitively enough as to be able to justify the added hybrid cost relative to future gasoline savings.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're looking to a hybrid car only to save on gasoline, there are actually some non-hybrid alternatives that come pretty close to matching the 2012 Honda Insight hybrid's fuel consumption. Among the more notable cars are the 40-mpg Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze, and the 42-mpg VW Golf TDI clean diesel.

What's New for 2012

For 2012, Honda gives the Insight hybrid hatchback a refreshed front end, new headlights and taillights, a cool backlit blue bar running across the grille, more rear-seat headroom and legroom and a revised interior with a more tech-centric instrument cluster. Also new is the addition of a rearview camera to navigation-equipped models.

Driving the Insight

Driving Impressions With the 2012 Honda Insight hybrid, Honda has created a fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle that will deliver savings at the pump without requiring you to fork over an arm and a...

leg at the dealership. A 1.3-liter engine developing 98 horsepower is aided by a 13-horsepower electric motor sandwiched between the gasoline engine and the continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic. The electric motor assists the gasoline engine when passing or climbing hills and in certain situations (namely low-speed driving) can even move the car on its own. Of course, nothing in this powertrain setup suggests a thrilling day of driving fun (unless you consider saving gasoline to be fun), but in normal day-to-day driving, the setup is more than sufficient. However, we must admit we do appreciate the EX trim's steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters that make the driving experience somewhat sporty. We like the 2012 Honda Insight hybrid's well-connected steering and well-controlled ride. And, despite the need for low-rolling-resistance tires, the 2012 Honda Insight delivers 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, falls far short of the 2012 Honda Insight hybrid's 40-plus mpg figures.

5-Door Profile
Boasting hatchback access and (with rear seats folded) an expansive load floor, the 2012 Honda Insight hybrid 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.

2012 Honda Insight Details
Interior

The 2012 Honda Insight hybrid takes a good interior design and makes it better. By carving out deeper sculpting in the headliner and front seatbacks, Honda has increased rear-seat headroom and legroom to better accommodate the very tall. New seat fabrics on the LX trim look handsome, as does the new synthetic leather-and-cloth setup on the EX. The 2012 Honda Insight hybrid's interior is made versatile by the car's 5-door configuration that includes a large rear hatch and folding 60/40 rear seats. From the driver's point of view, the Insight's instrumentation is both functional and futuristic, with lots of little LCD readouts and gauges to monitor your use of fuel and even help you attain better fuel economy. By using what Honda describes as Eco Assist, the driver is given feedback via the varying-color cluster background and by way of an Assist/Charge meter. The 2012 Honda Insight hybrid is also equipped with an ECON button that enhances efficiency by making adjustments to the throttle, CVT, idle-stop duration and air-conditioning on/off mode.

Exterior

While we really like the new face and blue lighting theme on the 2012 Honda Insight, it still clearly looks like a Prius knockoff rather than an original Honda design. The Insight's wedge-like profile and fastback rear hatch are its strongest selling points, that and the cool split-glass rear window a la the second-generation Honda CRX. We actually like the new grille and headlight setup that includes cool blue lighting surrounds inside the headlight casing, which also runs between the horizontal chrome grille bars. Honda says the new bumper, headlight and grille design led to a 2-percent increase in aerodynamic efficiency. New wheel and wheel-cover designs this year give the 2012 Honda Insight a more sophisticated look.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

As with most Honda offerings in the U.S., the marketing execs have worked to keep the purchase of a 2012 Honda Insight hybrid hatchback very simple. The base model is (obviously) more Spartan than an LX or EX, but still comfortably equipped with automatic climate control, power windows with auto up/down, tilt-and-telescopic steering column, and manual height adjustment for the driver. The LX ups the ante with cruise control, a USB audio interface, center armrest storage and floor mats, while the EX models gain steering-wheel paddle shifters, faux-leather and cloth seats, heated side mirrors, alloy wheels, 6-speaker audio and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.

Optional Equipment

The only option offered is the EX's available navigation package that includes a 16 GB flash memory system (as opposed to last year's DVD data file setup), 6.5-inch display screen radio, voice recognition, rearview camera, and FM traffic.

Under the Hood

All 2012 Honda Insights – regardless of trim – are powered by a 1.3-liter SOHC 4-cylinder gasoline engine 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 @ 5,800 rpm
123 lb-ft of torque @ 1,000-1,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 41/44

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2012 Honda Insight Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.4
Out of 10

Based on 135 Ratings for the 2010 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.8/10
    Quality
    8.4/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    8.1/10
  • Comfort
    7.7/10
    Styling
    8.3/10

Great gas mileage..

By on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Cons: "needs a map light../driver mirror"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I love my Insight..so easy on gas and I like driving it.Just the right size for me and hatch back great for loading stuff."

6 people out of 7 found this review helpful

If you hate it, don't buy it as will last forever.

By on Sunday, May 10, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 212,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
4/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Probably cheapest car too own."

Cons: "Where is the fun?"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

"My 2011 Insight base has 212000 miles and not a single problem other than normal wear and tear. Averaging 48mpg over life of car. Build is so solid as if car was molded from one piece. Nor squeak nor rattle of any kind. Car has been cheap to maintain. Oil changes come about 12k. Serpentine belt changed at 200k. Brake pads and shoes also lasted 200k. Oem tires worn out at 30k. Replacement Ecopias lasted 100k. I use Nitto SN2 winter tires, excellent traction over frozen stuff.. Battery still strong. Cvt still sliky smooth. Now the bad. Eight, yes eight spark plugs on 4 cylinder engine only pricey maintenance at 105k and 210k. Handling like driving in mud.Car cant even hold a straight line. Slow slow and slow. Above 65mph engine makes a racket. Cramped interior especially back seats."

27 people out of 41 found this review helpful

Highway milage 52 mpg

By on Monday, May 04, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,600

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Like that mpg"

Cons: "Driver blind spot"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Wanted good mpg and got it! Averaged 52.3 mpg Spokane to Seattle via North Cascades highway. Around town 38-42."

8 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Love it!

By on Saturday, April 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "good price, runs FOREVER"

Cons: "Blind spot, WORTHLESS cup holders."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Great little car. I get 47-54 MPG ALL the time. I find that the ECO mode is only good for the HWY makes my MPG go down on hilly country roads. Cup holders are WORTHLESS and it does have a bad blind spot on the pass. side but you get used to it. Great car for work and school not recommended for busy parents running high school kids to sporting events with lots of gear."

5 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Great hybrid for the money!

By on Monday, April 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "great price and mpg and is fun to drive."

Cons: "styling more generic and interior needs upgrades."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I have had no problems with my car so far and average around 50mpg. For the money, it is difficult to find a better hybrid for return on investment. It has a more engaging driving experience than other hybrids I test drove, and the purchase process was a breeze. Other than oil changes once a year I have had no need to return to the dealer. Job done."

4 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Drive 85 miles one way every day- Love this car!

By on Saturday, April 04, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 170,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Pleasent car to drive, great gas mileage"

Cons: "There are some blind spots, the back seat is tight"

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

"I have owned this car for 150,000+ miles. I drive both secondary and highway miles. I find this car to be very comfortable for the driver, maybe not so much for back seaters. I was surprised that people didn't find it peppy, I find it likes going 70 + and I have to keep my eye on the speed. I always drive in Eco mode and get 50 plus mpg in summer and 40+ in winter. Just normal up keep, almost all the headlights died over a 2 month time period recently. With good snow tires it handles well in winter too, better then my friend Prius. Didn't notice any problems in the Mts."

8 people out of 14 found this review helpful

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