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2021 Honda Insight Review

The 2021 Honda Insight is a compact hybrid that gets 55 miles per gallon in daily city driving. This 5-seat front-wheel-drive sedan is based on the chassis of the Honda Civic, but it has a handsome look all its own.

Though the Insight supplements its gasoline engine with an onboard electric motor, there is no need to plug the car in. The onboard lithium-ion battery charges during regular everyday driving.

While some folks might prefer their hybrid to look more modern or futuristic, we like how the 2021 Insight has a handsome, more traditional appearance.

What’s New?

It’s a quiet year for the Honda Insight. The Insight EX and Touring models now come standard with a blind spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert, two safety technologies we highly recommend. There’s also a new color for 2021: Radiant Red Metallic. See the 2021 Honda Insight models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Outstanding fuel economy
  • Attractive styling
  • Excellent Honda Sensing safety suite
  • No need to plug it in

What We Don’t

  • Available only as a sedan (no hatchback)
  • Not as roomy as the Honda Accord Hybrid
  • Slightly underpowered

How Much?

$22,930-$28,840

Fuel Economy

The Insight’s hybrid powertrain, which features a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor, has a total system output of 151 horsepower. As such, this hybrid Honda isn’t especially quick, but it is remarkably fuel-efficient.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the 2021 Honda Insight gets 55 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway. The luxuriously equipped — and heavier — Touring model isn’t quite as impressive, but its EPA rating of 51 mpg city/44 mpg hwy is still very good.

The Insight’s estimated city mpg is higher than its highway figure because the electric motor aids with vehicle propulsion more often in stop-and-go city driving. The battery also gets recharged in city driving via regenerative braking each time the car slows or comes to a stop.

For a bit of perspective, consider that a standard 2020 Toyota Prius — not the Eco model — is rated at 54 mpg city/50 mpg hwy. The new Toyota Corolla Hybrid has EPA fuel economy figures of 53 mpg city/52 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The least expensive Honda Insight, the Insight LX, is equipped better than you might expect. In addition to smart cruise control and automatic emergency braking, the LX has a 5-in touchscreen, lane-keeping assist, dual-zone automatic climate control and ambient LED console lighting.

More standard features come on the midevel Insight EX. These include an upgraded 8-in touchscreen, a 160-watt audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.

A leather interior, heated front seats, onboard Wi-Fi and an even more powerful stereo system (180 watts) are standard equipment on the Insight Touring.

Options on the Insight EX include 17-in alloy wheels and a package featuring several blacked-out styling elements. On the Insight Touring, dark finish 17-in alloy wheels are available, as is a chrome exterior accent package.

Safety

All 2021 Honda Insight hybrids are equipped with Honda Sensing, a suite of safety technologies that includes automatic emergency braking, smart cruise control, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation and road sign recognition.

The Insight EX and Insight Touring trims up the safety quotient with a blind spot monitoring system that lets the driver know when there’s a vehicle in the rear three-quarter blind spot. The EX and Touring trims also are equipped with rear cross-traffic alert — a great help when backing out of those tight parking stalls at Trader Joe’s.

Also welcome on the 2021 Honda Insight: automatic high beam headlights. When you set the headlights to auto, the high beams automatically will switch to low beams if the car senses any oncoming traffic. It works well.

Behind the Wheel

Honda has been building hybrid electric vehicles for 20 years now, and it shows in the refined interplay between the Insight’s gasoline engine and electric motor. It’s always smooth, and the Insight’s electronic brain constantly determines which type of power — gas, electric or both — is best for the situation at hand.

What’s more, the driver can select from various driving modes. Econ, naturally, enhances fuel economy, while Sport sharpens the Insight’s response, aided by shift paddles behind the steering wheel that can be used to adjust the rate of deceleration and the amount of regenerative braking.

We found the 2021 Honda Insight to be an easy car to drive, and its continuously variable transmission is a model of smoothness. Though this compact Honda hybrid isn’t especially powerful or quick, it gets up to freeway speeds with ease, and its brakes work well. In many hybrids, the pedal feel can be muddied by the blending of conventional hydraulic braking with electrical regeneration. Not so in the Insight — the brake action feels totally natural.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid — The new Corolla Hybrid has a similar cost of entry — $23,100 — and great fuel economy, but the Insight feels a class above.

2020 Toyota Prius — This benchmark hybrid might have unusual styling, but the Prius also has outstanding fuel economy and Toyota’s legendary reliability.

2020 Honda Accord Hybrid — Need more interior room? The Accord Hybrid starts at only $25,620. Its EPA numbers are 48 mpg city/47 mpg hwy.

Used Toyota Prius — If you can find one that hasn’t been snapped up by an Uber driver, you’d be wise to consider a used Toyota Prius. We see some 2016 models priced in the teens.

Used Honda Accord — Older Accord hybrids are hard to find because they weren’t that popular. But for between $12,000 and $17,000, you can have a nicely equipped Honda Accord. It likely won’t be a hybrid, but it’s less expensive than a new Insight and is a nicer car all around.

Questions You Might Ask

Does the 2021 Honda Insight need to be plugged in?

No. The Honda Insight is not a plug-in hybrid. Its onboard lithium-ion battery is charged through normal everyday driving.

How long does the Honda Insight’s hybrid battery last?

This will differ with how the Insight is used, but the hybrid components, which include the battery, carry an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Where is the Honda Insight built?

The 2021 Honda Insight is made in Greenburg, Indiana. The hybrid powertrains are sourced from a Honda factory in Ohio.

Does the Honda Insight have all-wheel drive?

No. The 2021 Honda Insight is offered exclusively with FWD.

Autotrader’s Advice

The Honda Insight is a good car — a compact hybrid sedan with outstanding fuel economy, excellent dependability and attractive styling that doesn’t shout "Hey, look at me! I’m driving a hybrid."

We’d opt for the midlevel EX trim. In addition to its larger touchscreen, the Insight EX comes with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert. Whichever Insight you choose, you’ll be getting a hybrid that never needs to be plugged in but goes a long way between visits to the gas station. Find a Honda Insight for sale

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