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
By oil burner on Monday, December 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,123overall rating 1 of 10rating details
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"
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By kristicake on Friday, November 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,250overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I have had this car for 2 1/2 years now, I went from a tiny gas guzzling VW. Overall, I really like the car, I haven't had any real issues with it. In the first year or so, I did experience some "whistling" when I drove over 70mph but it seemed to go away over time. It was really annoying though at first. My only major complaint about this car is that it's NOT made for steep hills. I spent the first 2.2yrs living in Los Angeles, I didn't have any really issues since there were VERY rare occasions where I was stuck on a steep hill, and it would roll back, so I'd scramble for the e-brake and hope for the best. I just however, moved to Seattle, the land of steep hills. It's been absolutely terrifying to drive!! I've rolled back multiple times now and its SO scary. It also jerks (almost like a manual) when you try and recover from the rolling. Just not good. Alas, this car is not made for someone living in Seattle and I am looking to trade in for something "hill friendly" so I can navigate the city without fearing my life (or someone elses!) If you live somewhere relatively flat, I HIGHLY recommend this car!"
7 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Rambo on Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
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)."
20 people out of 35 found this review helpful
By Pablo on Thursday, September 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "confortaable, convenient, economical"
Cons: "under-powered for general travel"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The Insight is a great city car, but too severely under powered for general travel, especially in hilly/mountainous country. It needs a bigger engine and should have used the Toyota Prius transmission model. Otherwise it's a great little car. PB"
11 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Car on Sunday, August 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, fuel efficient, quiet running"
Cons: "No power seating for driver difficult for disabled"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Love this little car! Easy to drive and park. Comfortable for around town trips and so fuel efficient. Love the quietness of the motor and the lack of exhaust smells. Power seating for driver would make it perfect!"
18 people out of 28 found this review helpful
By Ray on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Low cost - fun and always feels new"
Cons: "Mountain driving low battery power"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Still fun and enjoyable to drive. Lowest overall cost of any car ever owned. Climate Control is great (change cabin filter regularly) Good Feel of the road but stiff - Not a great mountain car but most front wheel drive cars are not either...Very handy hatchback but rear seats are not for large people...The EX model has the "Worth every dollar" features.. The Honda "Eco=Boost" Hybrid technology is far simpler and may be more trouble free in higher mileage years...."
16 people out of 28 found this review helpful