Honda Insight Performance
Test drivers say the 2014 Honda Insight has an acceptable amount of power, but its gas/electric powertrain isn't as smooth as those in rival hybrids. Reviewers say the Insight handles nimbly around corners and has a firm ride, though some think it may be uncomfortably stiff.
- "On the road, the 2014 Honda Insight drives less like a hybrid and more like a familiar gasoline-only-powered model. This is due to the reality that the car's four-cylinder engine is always propelling the vehicle -- the electric motor kicks in only when more power is needed." -- Edmunds
- "For better and worse, Honda's Insight puts a priority on efficiency. In the better column, the Insight's combined 42 mpg rating is enviable, especially for the cost of entry. In the worse column come some of the compromises needed to achieve those numbers. We didn't expect the Insight's driving experience to be thrilling, and it isn't." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "One of our testers informally clocked 0-60 mph at a stately 11.5 seconds, which makes a Prius hatchback feel brisk." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
- "If you are a low-demand driver, it's smooth and quiet enough to suit, though the transmission's balky engagement after the engine restarts could bother such people." -- USA Today (2012)
Acceleration and Power
The 2014 Honda Insight is powered by a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which produce 98 horsepower combined. The Insight has a continuously variable transmission. The Insight gets an EPA-estimated 41/44 mpg city/highway, which is better than the fuel economy of most affordable small cars, but not as good as that of rival hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Prius c.
According to the automotive press, the Insight has sufficient power. Reviewers dislike the obvious transition between gas and electric power, saying it’s less refined than in rival hybrids. They’re also critical of the Insight’s start-stop feature, which shuts down the engine when the car is stopped in traffic or at a red light, saying it causes the engine to jolt when it turns off and on, and that it disrupts important functions like air conditioning.
- "With only 98 hp, the Insight is arguably slow." -- AutoTrader
- "Acceleration in normal mode is just adequate for day-to-day driving, but speed (or lack thereof) isn't our biggest gripe. Rather, it's the noticeable transition of power between the gasoline engine and electric motor that is not as smooth as that of the Prius." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Last but least, the idle-stop function is far from seamless, with marked engine shudder on both shutdown and restart." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
- "If you're one of the many hybrid owners who take special pleasure in cruising along solely on electric power, you should know that's impossible in the Insight, since its ‘mild hybrid’ setup doesn't allow the car to travel on electricity alone. And this setup comes with another drawback: air-conditioner shut-off when the car stops, which can lead to sticky times in hot weather." -- Edmunds (2012)
Handling and Braking
Automotive writers say the 2014 Insight is fairly nimble for a hybrid, adding that it feels light and agile around corners. Test drivers like the Insight’s responsive steering and stiff ride, though some say its firm ride can feel somewhat uncomfortable.
- "But it's 500 pounds lighter than the Prius, and drivers will notice the weight difference during cornering. Its lightness gives the Insight driving characteristics not common in the hybrid market and easily makes up for its slow acceleration. Most hybrids feel as if they are suffering under their own weight. The Insight feels lighter and freer." -- AutoTrader
- "Thanks to the Insight's well-calibrated steering and firm suspension, it's a bit more enjoyable to drive than the Prius C, though you'd still have more fun in a Fiesta or Golf. In addition, the Honda's ride may be a little too firm for your taste, while the cabin is noisier than we'd like at highway speeds." -- Edmunds
- "Back in the better column are the Insight's well-connected steering feel and overall maneuverability." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "The ride isn't exactly harsh, but Insight is less comfortable than most compact cars." -- Consumer Guide (2013)