$10,019 - $12,747

2013 Honda Insight Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Honda Insight was new.


Performance: 6.7

Reviewers say that the 2013 Honda Insight offers good fuel economy, composed handling and responsive steering. However, they also note that engine and road noise are louder than they’d like. Additionally, the Insight has lackluster acceleration and a ride that can be uncomfortable over rough pavement.

  • "There's more road noise than in most compact cars, thanks to the hard, mpg-biased tires and sparse use of sound-deadening material." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Because of its ‘mild hybrid’ setup, the 2012 Honda Insight feels more like a traditional gas-only car than the Prius; there's no transition between electric and gasoline modes since the Insight's engine is assisted by its electric motor rather than working in tandem with it. For some drivers, this may be an advantage." -- Edmunds (2012) 
  • "With some new noise insulation, the engine is now less of a noise nuisance than previous versions - to an extent; the engine is still buzzy when you have to wind out the little guy to pass or merge." -- Cars.com (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Honda Insight is powered by a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which produce 98 horsepower combined. The hybrid powertrain is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive. The Insight is a mild hybrid, which means it can’t travel on electric power alone. Rather, the Insight uses its electric motor to aid the gas engine. The EPA reports that the 2013 Insight gets 41/44 mpg city/highway, which is better than the fuel economy of most affordable small cars. Still, the Toyota Prius c earns higher estimates.

While reviewers note that the Insight delivers good fuel economy estimates, most are otherwise let down by its hybrid powertrain. One reviewer writes that the Insight is considerably slower than the Toyota Prius, while others notice issues with the Insight’s fuel-saving start/stop system. One reviewer says that his test car shuddered excessively every time the Insight turned on or off to conserve fuel, while another writes that when the Insight turns back on, the transmission takes too long to reengage.

  • "Adequate at best. One of our testers informally clocked 0-60 mph at a stately 11.5 seconds, which makes a Prius hatchback feel brisk." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "There's a noticeable vibration through the steering wheel and floor when the engine shuts off and fires back up that's far from the refined experience found in other hybrids. The sensation mirrors a non-hybrid car when you turn the engine off and on - and it shouldn't." -- Cars.com (2012)
  • "The transmission takes a moment to engage when the engine restarts after the fuel-saving shutoff at red lights. That probably was more annoying than any other flaw in the test car." -- USA Today (2012)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say that the 2013 Insight’s lively steering and agile handling make it a bit more fun to drive than the Toyota Prius. However, they also note that you shouldn’t expect the athletic driving dynamics of small cars like the Mini Cooper. Despite its likeable handling characteristics, many reviewers say that the Insight doesn’t ride as smoothly as they’d like, noting that the ride gets harsh over rough pavement or road imperfections.

  • "It's borderline choppy on anything but glassy pavement, thanks to a short wheelbase, firm springs and shock absorbers, and high-pressure, low-rolling-resistance tires." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Its responsive steering and relatively sporty suspension tuning make the Insight more fun to drive than the Prius. However, it is noticeably less engaging than non-hybrid yet still fuel-efficient models like the Ford Fiesta and Mini Cooper." -- Edmunds (2012) 
  • "The Insight's ride quality also has room for improvement. Take the insight over rough roads, and the suspension sounds like it's flopping around under the car." -- Cars.com (2012) 

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