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#16

in 2011 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $11,464 - $14,494
Original MSRP: $18,200 - $23,265
MPG: 40 City / 43 Hwy
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2011 Honda Insight Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Auto writers had fun driving the 2011 Honda Insight, which is an uncommon compliment for hybrids. Acceleration is smoother and a bit quicker than Prius, while the steering is tight. 

  • "On the road, the Insight proved a bit more engaging than a Prius, but it's still an urbo-cruiser at heart." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The ride is fairly smooth, if a bit on the sporty side." -- Cars.com
  • "Mated to a continuously variable transmission, the Insight can feel underpowered at times, especially on the highway. The transmission, which doesn't have traditional gears, can whine at very high rpms when accelerating quickly. Once you reach a cruising speed, it calms down and provides a better-sounding ride. There are paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel, which can help a driver improve the car's pickup but can also make the engine scream like a toddler. Insight at best in city." -- The Detroit News
  • "The Insight has one thing over the current Prius: The Insight is actually pretty fun to drive." -- Los Angeles Times

Acceleration and Power

Hybrids aren’t built for performance, but the Insight has managed to impress the automotive industry. They say the Insight drives like the Honda Fit, and is rather zippy when driven in the city. However, some say that aggressive freeway traffic may outpace the Insight.

The Honda Insight is powered by an Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system, which features an electric motor that adds acceleration power and acts as a generator to charge the battery when braking or coasting. Additionally the Insight’s four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT). All models come with Eco Assist, which helps save gas when activated. The Insight gets fuel averages of 40/43 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA. 

  • "For sure, the Insight is slow compared to many other cars, but it goes about its business with the sort of eagerness that we've come to appreciate in the enthusiastic Honda Fit." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The Insight's acceleration is merely good." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "While the Insight can effortlessly zip in and out of city traffic, aggressive freeway overtaking is best approached with some deliberation." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The continuously variable automatic transmission has the unpleasant slipping-clutch sound and feel found in most hybrids. Hit the throttle, and the CVT lets the engine rev fast and stay there while the car accelerates at a pace out of sync with the roaring engine. Eventually, the car's going fast enough that the engine slows and everything's peaceful. Until you need immediate power again." -- USA Today

Handling and Braking

Test drivers are particularly impressed with 2011 Honda Insight’s handling and braking, especially for a hybrid. They say the Insight has genuine steering feel and drives a lot like Honda’s gas-only cars.

However, there are two things to note. First, the Insight is easily tossed around in the wind. Second, it uses regenerative braking, which means that it harnesses the energy produced when the car brakes and uses it to recharge the battery. Fortunately, the braking system doesn’t interfere with the car’s performance like it does in some hybrids.

  • "For the record, the Insight drives like a Honda, with tight suspension motions, a firm ride, well-connected steering, and a no-fat musculature." -- Car and Driver
  • "Honda has worked hard to make the Insight the drivers' choice. There's a hollow stiffness to the chassis, but the overall sensation is road feel, not harshness. Steering is light and precise, and the Insight changes direction happily, without keeling over as the Prius is wont to do." -- Motor Trend
  • "The Insight is certainly no sports car, but the major controls like the steering and the brakes have a progressive, natural feel." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The steering feels like it has no connection to the wheels, and body roll around corners is excessive. When I drove the Civic Hybrid last summer, I noticed it had many of these same characteristics." -- AutoblogGreen
  • "During a week of testing, the light-weight Insight (it tips the scales at 2,700 pounds) was tossed around on the highway during windy days. It may drive well, but I see trouble, or at least a lot of spilled coffee, if the gales of November come early." -- The Detroit News

Next Steps: 2011 Honda Insight

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