2020 Honda Insight

2020 Honda Insight Review: Hybridization And Style In Perfect Harmony

by Roger Biermann

For the eco-conscious shopper who doesn't want to throw their eco-consciousness in the faces of Ford F-150 drivers, there's the rather appealing Honda Insight. Now in its third generation and still fresh following its 2019 launch, the Insight looks a lot like the Honda Civic on which it is based - this is a great thing because the latest Civic is a stylish sedan; plus the Insight doesn't subscribe to the weird, alien-like design brief that so many manufacturers seem to want to associate with electrification. The combination of a 1.5-liter gas engine and two electric motors is good for 151 horsepower, endowing the Insight with fairly brisk - although not especially refined - performance, as well as the expected brilliant economy. Of course, there's the poster child for the hybrid revolution to compete with - the Toyota Prius, now uniquely available with all-wheel-drive. Although the Toyota is as efficient and spacious as ever, the Insight is more stylish and offers a superior driving experience. The Honda is a hybrid for people who don't feel the need to shout it from their solar-powered rooftops.

Read in this review:

2020 Honda Insight Changes: What’s the difference vs 2019 Insight?

Besides a new Platinum White Pearl exterior color choice, the Honda Insight goes into 2020 without any major changes.

Pros and Cons

  • Exceptional fuel efficiency
  • Decent turn of speed for a compact hybrid
  • Excellent cargo capacity and passenger room
  • Clean and stylish design
  • Comfortable ride and sure-footed handling
  • Excellent safety record
  • Gas engine can sound strained
  • Rear-seat headroom is only average
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on base model

Insight Exterior

Based on the current Honda Civic, the Insight features similarly appealing styling but gets a slightly different grille and its own rear lights. It's a smart, modern design that isn't easily identifiable as a hybrid. All models have LED headlights with auto-on/off, LED taillights/brake lights, and power side mirrors. The top-line Touring additionally has LED fog lights and a power moonroof. The alloy wheels are either 16- or 17-inches in size, depending on the trim.

2020 Honda Insight Front View Honda
2020 Honda Insight Rear View Honda
2020 Honda Insight Side View Honda
See All 2020 Honda Insight Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Marginally longer than the Honda Civic, the Insight measures 183.6 inches in length (with a 106.3-inch wheelbase, the same as that of the Civic), 55.6 inches in height, and 71.6 inches in width. Curb weight varies by trim, starting with the LX at 2,987 pounds - the EX weighs 3,000 lbs exactly, and the range-topping Touring tips the scales at 3,078 lbs. Overall, the Insight is compact enough to be easily maneuverable in town.

Exterior Colors

The Insight is available in a choice of seven colors: Modern Steel Metallic, Platinum White Pearl (which is new for 2020), Lunar Silver Metallic, Crystal Black, Crimson, Cosmic Blue Metallic and Aegean Blue Metallic. The Aegean Blue is perhaps the most striking of the available shades, plus blue is probably the unofficial color for electrified vehicles. But since the Insight seems unwilling to shout about its hybrid credentials, maybe the reddish Crimson is a more appropriate choice.

  • Platinum White Pearl
  • Lunar Silver Metallic
  • Modern Steel Metallic
  • Crystal Black Pearl
  • Aegean Blue Metallic
  • Cosmic Blue Metallic
  • Crimson Pearl

Insight Performance

The 1.5-liter engine is nothing special on its own (producing 107 horsepower and 99 lb-ft of torque), but when combined with the two electric motors, the total system output is 151 horsepower. Together with 197 lb-ft from the electric motors available low-down, the Insight provides spirited acceleration for a hybrid and will hit 60 mph in just over eight seconds according to independent tests - this is quicker than a Toyota Prius and makes the Insight more enjoyable to drive. Unlike the Prius, though, the Insight doesn't offer the option of all-wheel-drive, sending power to the front wheels exclusively. This gives the Prius the edge in more slippery conditions.

2020 Honda Insight Front View Driving Honda
2020 Honda Insight Rear View Driving Honda
2020 Honda Insight Engine Bay Honda

Engine and Transmission

The Insight's Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine displaces 1.5-liters and has modest outputs of 107 hp and 99 lb-ft. The two-motor hybrid system makes use of permanent-magnet driver motors without heavy rare-earth metals. The main electric motor produces 129 hp and 197 lb-ft and sends power to the front axle, while the other electric motor is used for starting and power-generation. Combined, the total system output is 151 hp. Most of the time, the Insight operates as a series hybrid, whereby the gas engine links up to the generator motor. This produces electricity and will either power the electric propulsion motor, recharge the lithium-ion battery, or do both.

Paired with an electronic continuously variable transmission (e-CVT), the Insight provides a good mix of performance and efficiency. Acceleration isn't blistering, but the Insight manages to feel nippy and responsive around town, thanks to the electric motor's torque. It's capable at higher speeds too, although the gas engine goes about its business rather noisily and, due to the nature of the hybrid system, the engine's revs seem to hop up and down randomly - and not always with an increase in speed. That said, the Insight is a more lively companion than its main competitor, the Toyota Prius.

  • Engine
    1.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Unlike earlier hybrids, the new Insight isn't a mind-numbing vehicle to pilot. The steering is responsive, well-weighted, and reasonably sharp, no doubt the benefit of being based on the excellent Civic. It's by no means sporty, but combined with the eager hybrid powertrain, it's also more fun to drive than a Prius. You can choose between Normal, Econ, Sport, and EV modes, but Normal is probably where you'll want to leave it most of the time - Econ mode isn't just lazy, it'll have you thinking that the throttle is completely disconnected from the engine, so long does it take for the car to respond with any power at all. EV mode is only good for around a mile of pure electric driving because of the small battery pack, but it's there if you want to creep inside the garage late at night without waking anyone up.

The Insight also rides with pleasing reassurance. Some bigger bumps will disturb the refined cabin, but most of the time, the Insight is comfortable without being floaty. The brakes are also effective, and an adjustable regenerative braking system - when in its most aggressive mode, and in the right conditions - can slow down the vehicle without the driver needing to use the brake pedal at all. The system can be adjusted easily via steering-wheel-mounted paddles.

Insight Gas Mileage

As expected, the Honda Insight returns exceptional economy figures. EPA estimates are an astonishing 51/45/48 mpg city/highway/combined for the Touring model, and an even better 55/49/52 mpg for the other trims. With a small 10.6-gallon gas tank, a combined cruising range of around 551 miles is possible. The most efficient Toyota Prius is even thriftier, returning a combined 56 mpg. In both cases, though, these cars will save you a sizable sum on fuel when compared with any non-hybrid compact.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    10.6 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 55/49 mpg
* 2020 Honda Insight LX CVT

Insight Interior

The Insight isn't a massive sedan, yet the interior immediately strikes one as airy and spacious when you first get inside. Along with Honda's great reputation for reliability, there's also the sense that this is a cabin that was built to last. It feels solid wherever you look, and, especially on the more premium trims, there's a pleasing use of high-quality materials. The controls are sensibly laid out and Honda's infotainment system is slick, with fast responses and a bright screen. All variants get automatic climate control, cruise control, and LED ambient lighting for the center console. The Touring model has a premium feel with leather and power-adjustable front seats. Overall, this is a solid effort from the Japanese marque.

2020 Honda Insight Dashboard Honda
2020 Honda Insight Front Seats Honda
2020 Honda Insight Rear Seats Honda
See All 2020 Honda Insight Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

There's seating for five passengers in the Insight and, wherever you sit, the legroom is generous. The headroom is a bit pinched at the back, but average-sized adults should still be able to get reasonably comfortable in the rear seats. Even though leather only makes it onto the range-topper, all Insight variants have well-padded and supportive seats - only missing lumbar adjustment, which knocks a few points off the Insight's score. The driving position is comfortable, although the steering wheel adjustment doesn't have the greatest range.

Ingress and egress are good thanks to the wide-opening doors, but rearward visibility is slightly obscured because of the broad roof pillars. These can create blind spots, so some caution will be necessitated when executing lane changes.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Honda hasn't been generous with the extent to which you can customize the interior - it's pretty much a case of taking what you get. The base LX and mid-range EX both ship with black, cloth-upholstered seats. The Touring has a much warmer ambiance thanks to leather-trimmed seats in ivory. This variant also gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel and that, essentially, is it. While the cabin is a pleasant place to be, feels rattle-free and sturdy, and has a nice design, it would have been appreciated if there were more color and material options to cater to different tastes.

Insight Trunk and Cargo Space

Like other Hondas, the Insight has been thoughtfully packaged to maximize the amount of interior space. With the battery pack situated beneath the rear seats, cargo space isn't impeded at all and the Insight has an excellent 15.1 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats (the Touring variant has a slightly smaller 14.7 cubes). This is more than enough space for the weekly shop or a few medium-sized suitcases. The rear seatback can be folded down to increase cargo capacity, although only the EX and Touring variants get the benefit of a 60/40-split rear seat, enabling them to transport extra cargo while still accommodating a passenger or child seat.

Small-item storage is equally impressive. The center console has good depth, has integrated cupholders, and can be reconfigured depending on your specific storage requirements. There are also well-sized door bins front and rear, and the Touring model features a passenger-side seatback pocket.

2020 Honda Insight Luggage Space Honda
2020 Honda Insight Luggage Space 1 Honda
2020 Honda Insight Luggage Space 2 Honda
  • Trunk Volume
    15.1 ft³

Insight Infotainment and Features

Features

Honda has equipped the Insight to a decent standard, although the more expensive trims do have the most desirable features fitted as standard. On the LX, you get a multi-angle rearview camera, single-zone climate control, push-button start, cruise control, LED ambient console lighting, and rear-seat heater ducts. The Honda Sensing suite of driver aids encompasses a collision mitigation braking system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and more. Move up to the mid-range EX and you'll get extras like remote engine start, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, and an enhanced infotainment/audio system. The range-topping Touring exclusively has a power moonroof, power-adjustable front seats (eight-way for the driver and four-way for the front-seat passenger), rain-sensing windshield wipers, and dual-zone automatic climate control. All models get a seven-inch driver information interface integrated into the instrument cluster.

Infotainment

Honda's infotainment interface is a model of clarity and user-friendliness. On the LX, you get a five-inch color LCD screen, which looks a bit undersized in modern terms. The system comprises a USB audio interface, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, Bluetooth streaming audio, Pandora compatibility, and a radio data system (RDS). The major omission from the base model is integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are only standard on the EX and Touring. These models also get a much more appealing eight-inch high-resolution touchscreen, HondaLink, SiriusXM radio, HD radio, and a 2.5-amp USB smartphone/audio interface. The top-line Touring gets a mobile hotspot, HondaLink subscription services, and navigation with voice recognition.

Each trim gets a different sound system, starting with the LX's 160-watt six-speaker unit. The EX bumps up audio to a 180-watt eight-speaker system, and the Touring gets a ten-speaker system with a subwoofer and 450 watts of power.

Insight Problems and Reliability

J.D. Power has rated the Insight 77 out of a maximum 100 for overall dependability - this is fair, but not great. In 2019, the Insight was also subject to two recalls by the NHTSA for airbags/seatbelt pretensioners that may not function as intended in the event of a crash, along with an error with the rearview camera's image.

The Insight is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Additionally, the battery is covered for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Insight Safety

While there is no crash rating for the 2020 Honda Insight from the NHTSA yet, the identical 2019 model achieved a full five-star rating for crashworthiness. This is backed by the results from the IIHS, which awarded the Insight its Top Safety Pick+ award in 2019 with a consistent spread of Good ratings. Clearly, Honda has done its homework and built an extremely safe car.

Key Safety Features

All Insights get an impressive array of safety features as standard. Passive safety is taken care of by a full range of airbags including side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor. Active safety features include LED daytime running lights, a multi-angle rearview camera, vehicle stability assist with traction control, brake assist, tire pressure monitoring, and the usual ABS/EBD combo.

Grouped under the Honda Sensing moniker are the marque's various driver-assist features. Every variant gets collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. Honda Lane Watch is standard on the EX and Touring - the system displays a view of the blind-spot on the driver's right side.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Honda Insight a good car?

It's taken a while, but Honda has finally hit the mark with the Insight. The subcompact is no longer merely an ultra-efficient hybrid but also gets a thumbs up for a stylish and classy design, an advanced and spacious cabin, and driving dynamics that don't make you feel as though you're about to fall asleep behind the wheel. For the most part, the hybrid powertrain is a solid proposition, with the only real price to pay being the gas engine's coarseness. All the trims are equipped to a good standard, although the LX misses out on Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and gets a small infotainment screen. It's hard to talk about the Insight and not mention the Toyota Prius stalwart, and while the Prius is even more efficient, it's gawky design and lazier performance don't leave the same positive impression as the Honda. For our money, the Honda is a great bet if you want a comfortable sedan and aren't keen on frequent visits to the gas station.

What's the Price of the 2020 Honda Insight?

The Honda Insight range starts off with the LX at an MSRP of $22,930, excluding tax, licensing, registration, and a destination charge of $930. The mid-range EX is next at $24,310 and the range is topped by the fully-loaded Touring at a cost of $28,340. The LX is particularly good value, undercutting the base Toyota Prius by $1,270.

2020 Honda Insight Models

The simple Honda Insight range is made up of three trim levels: LX, EX, and Touring. All are powered by the same hybrid powertrain featuring a 1.5-liter gas engine and two electric motors for a total 151 horsepower. The primary electric motor develops 197 lb-ft of torque, while the gas engine makes 99 lb-ft on its own. An e-CVT transmission and front-wheel-drive are standard.

The LX trim gets 16-inch alloy wheels, auto high-beam headlights, LED headlights and daytime running lights, a three-mode drive system, a multi-angle rearview camera, the Honda Sensing suite of driver aids, push-button start, a five-inch color LCD screen for the infotainment system, a six-speaker sound system, and single-zone climate control. Moving up to the mid-range EX adds more appealing cabin tech such as an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD radio, and an upgraded eight-speaker sound system. This model also gets remote engine start and smart entry with walk-away auto-lock. Heading up the range is the more luxurious Touring with 17-inch alloy wheels, leather-trimmed seats, power-adjustment and heating for both front seats, a premium audio system with ten speakers, navigation, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LX
1.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$22,930
EX
1.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$24,310
Touring
1.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$28,340
See All 2020 Honda Insight Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Honda has made several optional packages available to further customize the Insight, although these primarily focus on styling and don't really add any additional features. One of the cheaper options is the $1,249 Sport Black Styling Package with a black grille accent and front/side/rear underbody spoilers. For $1,629, a Plus version of this same package adds a black front bumper accent and lower side trim in black. The pricier Premium Chrome Accent Package is, as its name suggests, all about the bling - it goes for $2,059 and includes 17-inch dark chrome finish alloy wheels. To give the interior a welcome glow up, the $1,071 Illumination Package adds illumination to the door panels, door sill trim, and armrests. For $515, you can also add parking sensors as a standalone option.

What Honda Insight Model Should I Buy?

We'd happily pass on the available packages as we don't believe they add any value to the Insight - besides, the base model is already a smart-looking sedan, and underbody spoilers seem at odds with the Insight's otherwise value-conscious, unpretentious demeanor. Our choice is the mid-range EX at $24,310 as it adds essential smartphone integrations (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) along with the much nicer eight-inch touchscreen.

2020 Honda Insight Comparisons

Honda Accord Hybrid Honda
Toyota Prius Toyota

2020 Honda Insight vs Honda Accord Hybrid

The Honda Accord is another excellent entrant from Honda. Competing against other mid-size sedans, it's a step up from the Insight in overall size - the Accord is 8.6 inches longer and has even more cargo space and a larger trunk with 16.7 cubic feet of packing space. Like the Insight, the Accord is a high-value prospect, but you wouldn't know it based on its smart, well-trimmed cabin and sophisticated driving dynamics. Being the more premium model, there's just a bit more calm and polish to the way the Accord goes about its business over the Insight. If you want an Accord Hybrid, it'll cost you around $1,000 more than the mid-range Insight EX, although you do get more grunt from the Accord's 212-hp powertrain. Both of these cars are well-engineered and well worth the money, but if you can make the stretch to the Accord, it does offer a more premium driving experience and the availability of more luxury features.

See Honda Accord Hybrid Review

2020 Honda Insight vs Toyota Prius

The Insight and Prius are now a truly interesting match-up, especially since Honda has significantly stepped up its game with the latest model. While the Prius remains an oddball and is as much of a lifestyle statement as it is an efficient hybrid, the new Insight has gone for a more traditional approach while maintaining exemplary economy figures. The Prius has a higher starting asking price and doesn't accelerate with the Insight's verve, but it's also up to four miles-per-gallon more efficient than the Honda. Still, we'd say that the Insight has a superior blend of performance and efficiency. The Honda is also more enjoyable to drive and boasts a better infotainment system, but the Prius fights back with a massive trunk, the option of all-wheel-drive, and a broader range of trims. At the same price point, the Honda is our choice, but as a range, the Prius will probably still appeal to more people.

See Toyota Prius Review

Honda Insight Popular Comparisons

$22,930 - $28,340
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