2019 Honda Insight

Performance


#12 out of 21 in Compact Cars

$22,830 MSRP
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2019 Honda Insight Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.9

The 2019 Honda Insight is a great choice as a daily driver. It is relatively quick, rides comfortably, and handles with composure, all while returning dynamite fuel economy. However, this compact sedan is a far cry from the true athletes in this class, like the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf.

  • "Drive modes and paddles are fun to toy with but I didn't end up needing any of that to reach the 52-mpg mark during my testing. I just left the Insight in its Normal drive mode and drove it like a normal car and good fuel economy just sort of happened -- no tricks or hypermiling necessary. That is, perhaps, the most impressive part of this whole package." -- CNET
  • "Truth be told, it's fine. Driving it is fine. The end result of having no transmission and a direct link to the wheels is that it feels like a slow-ish CVT transmission. You'll be fine. You won't Truly Live, but you'll be fine." -- Jalopnik
  • "Compared to a Prius it's a handling dream. It's not like a Civic Type R but it's way better than a standard Prius. At the lunch break, I actually drove a Prius and found that while it still had a somewhat wooden feel behind the wheel it felt very comfortable in a straight line." -- Autoweek

Acceleration and Power

The Insight features a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to produce 151 horsepower. The powertrain utilizes an electronic continuously variable transmission (e-CVT), which functions like an automatic.

There's decent pickup when taking off from a stop, and the Insight provides more than enough power for driving around town. On the open road, this Honda still holds its own. There are four selectable driving modes (Normal, Econ, Sport, and EV) that alter the vehicle's dynamics to emphasize different performance elements.

The Insight gets outstanding fuel economy, even for a hybrid. It earns an EPA-estimated 55 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway. Only a handful of other hybrids manage that kind of efficiency, and no gasoline-powered cars come close.

  • "With 151 system hp, this feels like a fairly brisk car, and Honda's probably right when it says the Insight will walk away from a Prius." -- Motor Trend
  • "Around town, the Insight has more than adequate performance thanks to the instantly available torque provided by the electric motor. Responsiveness in traffic is admirable and impressively quiet, especially when running in EV mode, something that happens automatically based on battery charge state and conditions since there is no button to manage this." -- Forbes
  • "Combined output is 151 hp and 197 lb-ft of torque, which feels pretty spunky out on country roads and in stop and go city traffic." -- Automobile Magazine

Handling and Braking

While the Insight is no sports car, most reviewers agree that it feels composed and is a comfortable cruiser. This Honda generally rides smoothly. Front-wheel drive comes standard. All-wheel drive is not available.

Like other hybrids, the Insight features regenerative braking. The Insight allows you to adjust how aggressive the regen brakes work. On the light end, the car will coast when you take your foot off the accelerator, and you'll need to hit the brake pedal to slow and stop like you do in most other cars. On the heavy end, when you take your foot off the accelerator, the regen brakes will contribute quite a bit to slowing the vehicle, allowing you to enjoy one-pedal driving much of the time – a boon in city traffic.

  • "It's not a vehicle for fast driving enthusiasts, that much becomes apparent the first time you try to smoke the thing's high efficiency tires. But if you get enthusiastic about efficiency, the Insight might almost seem exciting. For everyone else, it's just a fine and compliant and reasonably comfortable way to get from one place to another." -- Jalopnik
  • "It did have its hybrid moments depending on the brake regeneration setting and selected drive mode (normal, Econ, or Sport). However, its driving manners were more or less like an everyday gasoline-drinking vehicle. Steering was good, if a bit numb. Then again, this is no sport-tuned speedster but rather a premium-equipped hybrid." -- New York Daily News
  • "The Insight's engineers made a few tweaks to the Civic's platform and suspension. The cabin is quieter thanks to increased sound deadening, a retune of the rear suspension and, of course, the quieter hybrid powertrain. On the road, the Insight largely rides and handles like its sibling. The hybrid is a hair more comfortable and softer around the edges but not by much, and still manages to feel plenty nimble in most situations, despite being about 150 to 230 pounds heavier, depending on trim." -- CNET
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