By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.5
Although it hasn't knocked off the public's darling hybrid, the Toyota Prius, Honda's Insight is staking out a space of its own. The 2013 Honda Insight hybrid offers a sleek and modern 5-door hatchback design, intriguingly advanced powertrain technology and a sub-$20,000 price tag. Its EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy is a miserly 41/44 mpg. But it's also true the car's actual over-the-road performance is modest – likely less than what its advanced wedge-shape styling promises to most eyes. Honda's own Civic Hybrid is selling briskly so it isn't that consumers are resistant to the company's hybrid technology. Buyers just have to get used to the idea of advanced design and lively handling in the service of efficiency rather than driving thrills.
While its fuel-economy figures are less astounding than those posted by the Toyota Prius, the 2013 Honda Insight is still a gas-sipping wonder. And its price of entry is not so steep that buyers have to wonder if they'll live to see the payback in gasoline savings.
Honda gave the Insight hybrid hatchback a mild makeover last year, and for 2013, there are no substantial changes.
Driving Impressions In the 2013 Insight, Honda has a fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle that will deliver real savings at the pump without costing a fortune up front. The 1.3-liter gasoline engine develops 98...horsepower and is boosted by a 13-horsepower electric motor. The electric motor seamlessly assists the gasoline engine when passing or climbing hills. If this doesn't sound like a thrilling driving experience, well, it isn't. But there is an entertaining aspect to using technology and new driving habits to save the planet. The EX model's paddle shifters do make the driving experience vaguely sporty, and the Insight's steering feels well connected and its ride well controlled. Honda's own conventionally powered Fit makes an interesting comparison: It's certainly more driver-involving in a conventional, gear-jamming way, but simply out of the Insight's league for pure, high-tech efficiency.
Boasting hatchback access and flexible load space, the 2013 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 just 172 inches.
It is driver-selected so you don't have to use it. But once you've purchased a Honda Insight hybrid, why wouldn't you? Eco Assist helps teach you how to drive more efficiently, saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint.
The 2013 Honda Insight hybrid has a modern and practical interior design. The LX trim uses handsome cloth upholstery while synthetic leather-and-cloth graces the EX. Deep cutaways in the headliner and front seatbacks aid rear-seat passenger space. The 5-door configuration with a large rear hatch and folding 60/40 rear seats adds versatility. Instrumentation is both functional and futuristic, and can encourage better fuel economy. There's an Assist/Charge meter to monitor current flow to and from the battery, and Eco Assist gives feedback via the varying-color cluster background. An ECON button adjusts throttle, CVT, idle-stop duration and air-conditioning on/off mode.
The Insight's wedge-like profile and fastback roofline are its strongest visual features, with the cool split-glass rear window (remember the second-generation Honda CRX?) a close second. The grille and headlight treatments that include cool blue lighting were instituted in last year's facelift, and they still look good. Honda says the bumper, headlight and grille revisions led to a 2-percent increase in aerodynamic efficiency, and that's something the hyper-efficient cars in this class can always use.
As with most Honda offerings in the U.S., the marketing execs have worked to keep the purchase of a 2013 Honda Insight very simple. The base model is naturally 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 seat-height adjustment for the driver. The LX ups the ante with cruise control, a USB audio interface and center armrest storage, while the EX models gain steering-wheel paddle shifters, faux-leather-and-cloth seats, heated outside mirrors, alloy wheels, 6-speaker audio and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.
The only option offered is the EX's available navigation package that includes a 16 GB flash memory system, 6.5-inch display radio, voice recognition, a rearview camera and FM traffic reports. Among the available accessories are a leather steering-wheel cover, an automatic-dimming inside mirror and SiriusXM satellite radio.
All 2013 Honda Insights are powered by Honda's Integrated Motor Assist system. This hybrid powertrain uses a 1.3-liter SOHC 4-cylinder gasoline engine – boasting i-VTEC variable valve timing – in combination with a 10-kilowatt (13-horsepower) electric motor. The compact nickel-metal hydride battery pack recaptures and stores energy from vehicle braking and deceleration, which the electric motor can then turn into a power boost to aid acceleration. The transmission is a continuously variable type (CVT) with paddle shifters on the EX model. The engine itself, with but two valves per cylinder, is relatively low tech, but everything else is appropriately high tech.
1.3-liter inline-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 mpg
All 2013 Honda Insights provide excellent value in their segment. The base 2013 Honda Insight hybrid starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $19,290, while a top-line EX with navigation goes for $24,480. There are no other options to add, and even the accessories list is spare, with just a $312 SiriusXM satellite radio breaking up the floor mats and cargo-area covers. Between the small margins Honda dealers get on small cars and frequent upward spikes in gas prices, Insight transaction prices will likely run close to MSRP. Still, you should check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to confirm what consumers are paying for Insights in your area. Over the long haul, we expect the Insight to enjoy a resale value that's fully competitive with – or superior to – other hybrids in its segment.
By H I Owner on Thursday, March 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This vehicle is no where near the quality of the '04 Insight. My car feels cheap, makes ringing noises, you can hear the gas tank swoosh when making a stop, and no sound deafening when driving. I've even submitted a complaint and was advised these are known characteristics of the car and not defects. I will never buy this car again."
By Lisa on Monday, March 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sleek, practical, great fuel efficiency vehicle"
Cons: "Bumpy rides"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This is a very nice car. I love the looks and its hatch back cargo capacity. I am always amazed at all the things we can fit in the back when folding the back seats. The interior materials and ergonomics are very good. I was a little hesitant about having enough leg and head room but it hasn't been a problem at all. The fuel efficiency is greater than expected. I'm not crazy about the IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system and I would also prefer a smoother ride when driving. Hope future models will improve this."
By Collin - Las Vegas on Wednesday, February 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks Great! High Quality Feel. Navigation/Camera."
Cons: "IMA - Integrated Motor Assist - Horrible."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Overall this is a very nice car. It looks great. I like the sharp wedge design, the chrome and blue accents, the wheels, the color (bright red). The interior materials and ergonomics are very good. The navigation system is mostly very good. I have only one complaint about the music file player and that is that clicking the forward and back (track) buttons do not work the way they should. If I double click the back button I should be at the beginning of the previous song. But I am not. The major complaint I have about this car is the IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system. It is horrible. If I had drove this car before I bought it I might have re-considered. Once they put the Earth Dreams engine into this car, it will be fantastic! I am hoping that happens soon. I say, spend a little more and get the new Accord Hybrid. The Earth Dreams engine seems to be a vast improvement over the IMA."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Jack on Saturday, January 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "relatively cheap, fun to drive, fuel efficient"
Cons: "no frills, can get cramped for bigger folks"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"All hybrids basically get compared to the Prius. In my experience the insight is cheaper, better looking, and funner to drive. Not to mention that it gets better mileage depending how you drive it. It's smaller, and pretty spartan when it comes to features, but it's got a simplicity and feel that I found superior. The dashboard is not that fancy but it has a very simple fuel economy indicator, when you're driving efficiently the speedometer is green, inefficiently it's blue. I've found that to be a great driving trainer, so far I've been able to keep my MPG around 52 in the summer and 47 in the winter. It's a smaller car, and I'm a tall guy, so there's little room for backseat passengers. Overall I'm very happy with it, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice, cheap hybrid."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Sagegray on Sunday, January 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great little Car"
Cons: "Idle stop on too much"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Very convenient dependable/economical sporty little car - If you need a City Commuter you can't go wrong - Sportier looking/driving than Prius, and far simpler mechanically. Yes you can feel the road - I like to! No the back seat is not for grown-ups - AND it is definitely NOT a Colorado Mountain/winter car like my Subaru Outbacks... I get 40 to 45 MPG ALWAYS in STOP/GO traffic - even when I drive quickly - The car is pleasant on the highway at 80 MPH too. AT it's BEST in town commuter driving...."
10 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Stormie on Sunday, December 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,500overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I had a Toyota Prius and it was comfortable and quiet. This is uncomfortable and no one wants to drive it. Plus somehow the dealer got me owing 20,000 when its value is 9000. I was an idiot and trusted him at the dealership."
3 people out of 11 found this review helpful