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.
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.
Notable Standard Equipment
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.
Notable Optional Equipment
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.
Under the Hood
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.
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