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#30

in 2012 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $12,072 - $15,004
Original MSRP: $18,500 - $23,690
MPG: 41 City / 44 Hwy
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2012 Honda Insight Performance

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

Paired with the Honda Insight’s good fuel economy ratings are an underpowered engine, loud transmission and rough ride.

  • "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." -- 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

The Insight has a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and a 10-kilowatt electric motor that is paired with a continuously variable transmission. CVTs are designed to improve fuel economy. This powertrain makes only 98 horsepower, so it’s not surprising that many test drivers call the Insight underpowered.

All models come with Eco Assist, which helps save even more gas when selected. Drivers say disabling Eco Assist doesn’t help performance.

The Insight gets fuel averages of 41/44 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA.

  • "Of course, nothing in this powertrain setup suggests a thrilling day of driving fun (unless you consider saving gasoline to be fun), but in normal day-to-day driving, the setup is more than sufficient." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The transmission's Sport position seems to improve acceleration marginally, while disabling the Econ mode (via a dashboard button) seems to improve throttle response, if not actually acceleration. The engine stop and start function is less than seamless, inducing notable shudder." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The ride is fairly smooth, if a bit on the sporty side." -- Cars.com
  • "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

Handling and Braking

Some test drivers say the 2012 Insight handles like most cars in its class and appreciate that there isn’t much body lean, but one thinks the Insight is a bit sloppy when roads aren’t smooth because the ride is choppy.

The Insight has regenerative brakes, which capture the energy produced during braking to recharge the battery. Reviewers don’t mention if this system feels too unnatural compared with traditional brakes, but one does say the brakes are spongy.

  • "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
  • "Insight is best described as ‘busy’ on anything but the smoothest roads. The ride is generally free of harshness, but firm low-rolling-resistance tires and a short wheelbase contribute to considerable up-and-down motion and general choppiness. Insight may not be exactly sporty, but a lack of body lean in corners and good steering feel contribute to a generally rewarding drive. Some testers complained of spongy brake feel in one test car." -- Consumer Guide

Next Steps: 2012 Honda Insight

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