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 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...."
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Sadie on Tuesday, July 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great on gas"
Cons: "A very bumpy ride!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car is great on gas and handles well but is a very bumpy ride and you feel every and I mean every bump and crack in the road! It would probably be a good car for a kid or for local travel, but annoying on longer drives. I would not buy another one but will miss the wonderful fuel milage!"
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By TheDeliveryDriver on Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great mpg, good price, comfortable, stylish"
Cons: "Requires reading the manual for best usage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have the EX w/Navi model of this car. I've looked at several reviews, and decided that if I was going to get this car, I wanted the additional features. I haven't been disappointed! I am a delivery driver, and average about 200 miles per day - including both highway and city driving. I bought this car for it's awesome gas mileage for BOTH city and highway (40+city, 44+highway), and haven't been disappointed. I have read several reviews about problems with braking in time. After READING the owners manual, it turns out that if you put the car into 'S' gear, you get more power for acceleration and braking (confirmed). Go figure - reading how something works... Also, if you don't tailgate, you'll have plenty of room to stop anyways. :P Problem solved. I've used several opportunities to play with different combinations of driving style during my deliveries. The best combination thus far (for me) would be this: In CITY DRIVING, short distances and less than 40mph - use the 'S' gear. This keeps the engine running at stop signs/lights, so you don't have to worry about the engine turning back on if you're in a hurry. Paddle shifters are optional for faster acceleration, but really, how fast do you need to accelerate in traffic? Getting on ramps, sure, but otherwise no. If you use the 'D' gear in city, I can see how people might be annoyed by the continual starting/stopping of the engine. Even so, it's a smooth transition and you don't really notice it after a while. I still suggest the 'S' gear however. On HIGHWAY DRIVING, long distance and more than 40mph - use the 'D' gear. You'll get better gas mileage, and you can still use the paddle shifters if you need a faster change in speed. As for comfort, I love the mix of fabric and leather. I use the a/c frequently, despite the fact that it does hinder the gas mileage, but not all that much if used smartly. - I suggest using the economy setting (cycles the air inside, rather than pulling from outside) on super hot days, as it gives the a/c a bit of a break and takes less energy. Even with the a/c running, I still get great gas mileage! The Vehicle Stability Assist makes taking corners a smooth ride, especially since it's combined with the Electronic Brake Distribution. This means that each wheel has a sensor attached to it's brakes, so that if you're taking a corner too sharply, it will apply the appropriate brakes to the appropriate wheel. It does all the hard work for you! In regards to the small rear window - Yes, it's quite a bit smaller than most cars. HOWEVER, I have noticed that the driver's side mirror, when angled appropriately, can provide visibility both behind and to the side of the car... which means I don't really need to use the rear-view mirror at all. It also helps being used to only using the side mirrors, which in all reality, you might as well get used to it if you plan on taking full advantage of the trunk cargo space by moving larger objects. I enjoy having the steering wheel controls/ voice command controls for things like music, gps, and phone calls. That means I can be a safer driver since I'm not having to take my eyes off the road. Still, this car is for the ECONOMICALLY MINDED DRIVER. This is NOT a sports car. This car will train you to be a better driver economically wise (via color cues to good/bad gas driving habits). This car is not meant for those who want to just jump in and speed off. Those cars are for beginner drivers (not including professional race car drivers - they have a lot of controls to worry about). If you do that with this car, you have no right to complain about the lower gas mileage you'll be getting... or for any car, for that matter (as they post their gas mileage claims with ideal driving conditions). Also, if you want to get the most of the car, READ THE MANUAL! There's a lot going on under that hood! This car requires a committed driver who will adhere to the gas mileage cues and will handle the car (accelerating/braking, etc) appropriately. Treat the car nicely, and you'll be rewarded with awesome gas mileage. Overall, I'm very pleased with my purchase. After calculating the gas consumption with my old car (and driving 200+ miles each day), I'm actually SAVING money despite the fact I now have monthly payments and an increase in car insurance. I'm essentially getting paid to own this car!"
19 people out of 26 found this review helpful