By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.4
The Honda Insight hasn't been able to match the popularity or fuel economy of the Toyota Prius, but it does boast one characteristic that sets it apart: The 2014 Honda Insight remains the least-expensive new hybrid car you can buy. With its starting price around $19,500, the Honda Insight is over $5,000 less than a base Prius 5-door hatchback. And with its 41/44 mpg ratings, the Insight can certainly take you far for your money. But beyond its laudable fuel economy and tempting starting price, there are compromises. The Insight's driving manners are rather unrefined and lackluster, even for a hybrid, and base models lack common features like cruise control, a USB input and even vanity mirrors.
High fuel economy and low ownership cost is the name of the game for the Honda Insight. In addition to its low retail price, the Insight regularly earns a spot on the Kelley Blue Book's 5-Year Cost To Own Awards list.
In addition to being less powerful and less fuel-efficient than a Toyota Prius, the Honda Insight isn't as roomy. Other sore points are the Insight's unrefined hybrid powertrain operation and a climate control system that left us wanting (and too warm in summer). The Prius is a better hybrid, and many gasoline- or diesel-powered cars now offer around 40 mpg or better.
The 2014 Honda Insight remains unchanged from the prior year.
Driving Impressions For better and worse, Honda's Insight puts a priority on efficiency. In the better column, the Insight's combined 42 mpg rating is enviable, especially for the cost of entry. In...the worse column come some of the compromises needed to achieve those numbers. We didn't expect the Insight's driving experience to be thrilling, and it isn't. Acceleration in normal mode is just adequate for day-to-day driving, but speed (or lack thereof) isn't our biggest gripe. Rather, it's the noticeable transition of power between the gasoline engine and electric motor that is not as smooth as that of the Prius. Another trait to beware of is how the Insight cuts engine power when idling, such as at stop lights. This saves fuel, but it also can affect the car's climate control, namely the air conditioning. We noticed this most when the A/C turned off momentarily with the engine on a summer day. Back in the better column are the Insight's well-connected steering feel and overall maneuverability.
Most people buy hybrids for efficiency, and the Insight lives up to that more-with-less mantra not only in fuel economy but also design. With its 5-door profile and folding rear seats, the Insight can hold a good amount of cargo given its compact footprint
COST TO OWN
It's hard to argue with the starting price of the Honda Insight. Even a loaded EX model with navigation comes in under $25,000. Further, the hybrid's low starting price and efficient operation mean low ownership costs in the long run.
The Honda Insight's cabin is modern and practical, with seating for five passengers and an appreciable amount of cargo space. Controls for climate function are simple to use and within easy reach, just to the right of the steering wheel. A big green "Econ" button to the left of the steering wheel, meanwhile, ekes out more efficiency by modifying throttle response, air conditioning and how long the engine stops during idle. Cargo flexibility is granted from 60/40 folding rear seats that open up over 31 cubic feet of space when down. The navigation system in top models is showing its age, and functionality for controlling nav and audio functions is hampered by frustrating buttons and touch-based controls.Exterior
At around 172 inches in length, the 2014 Honda Insight hybrid is deceptively compact – even shorter than a Honda Civic Coupe. That makes this tidy wedge of a car easy to park in both garages or at the mall. The rear of the Insight is especially notable with its split-glass rear window. That feature is aesthetically pleasing from the outside, but can present a blind-spot within from the horizontal line that stretches from one side of the hatchback to the other. In front, the Insight adds visual pizazz with blue-tinted chrome bezels near the grille and around the headlights.
Like other Hondas, the Insight is offered in a few trims that bundle features. The least expensive and most Spartan is just dubbed "Insight." Highlights for that base model include automatic climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. But its 160-watt AM/FM/CD system only has two speakers and you'll have to forgo aforementioned features like cruise control. Stepping up to an LX gains two extra speakers and a USB input for audio, cruise control, floor mats, and steering-wheel-mounted controls. EX models add paddle shifters, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, driver and passenger vanity mirrors, 6-speaker audio, and projector-beam headlights. In addition to a nav system, EX models with Navigation have Bluetooth streaming audio and a rearview camera.
With Honda's tiered trim system, you won't have to worry about checking many extra boxes when it comes to buying an Insight. In fact, most extras are left to accessories such as a cargo cover, all-season floor mats, and bumper guard. Also of note is satellite radio offered on LX and EX trims.
All 2014 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 (CVT) with paddle shifters on the EX model that allow drivers to have the sensation of manually shifting gears. 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 + 10-kilowatt 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
As previously noted, one of the Insight's highlights is its value, both in its initial price and its long-term cost of ownership. The base 2014 Honda Insight hybrid starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $19,515, while a top-line EX with navigation goes for $24,705. At these prices, the Honda Insight is substantially less expensive than its main rival, the Toyota Prius hybrid, which starts at over $25,000. Before buying, be sure to check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Insight hybrid. In terms of resale value, the Insight's is expected to remain marginal, trailing that of the Prius.
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."
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful
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."
4 people out of 13 found this review helpful