The Insight’s midlevel EX trim adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, remote engine start, a proximity key, Honda LaneWatch, and an additional USB port. The top Touring trim will get you leather-trimmed seats, power-adjustable and heated front seats, a moonroof, mobile hotspot capability, an upgraded 10-speaker audio system, a navigation system, LED foglights, and a Honda Link subscription that can remotely lock/unlock the car, help you find your car, and check the fuel and range status.
If you opt for the top Touring trim, you might forget that you’re in an economical hybrid as soon as you sit down on the perforated leather-trimmed seats and grip the thick, leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. The door panels and passenger-side dashboard feature soft-touch, leatherlike surfaces with contrast double stitching. Unlike most vehicles, the Insight has a dedicated area for cell phones right next to the electronic shift-by-wire gear selector and two USB ports.
The Insight’s instrument cluster also looks good with a 7.0-inch screen on the left side and an analog speedometer on the right. At the corners of the display is a small strip of lighting that changes color depending on drive mode. The center stack’s 8.0-inch touchscreen is sharp and responsive and is neighbored by a volume knob that has fortunately found its way into the Insight. The Touring trim’s standard 10-speaker (including subwoofer), 450-watt audio system sounds as premium as many name-brand systems. Additionally, most of the exterior lighting uses LEDs, which looks neat at night.
You read that right: This hybrid is fun to drive when the road gets twisty. Honda’s 10th-generation Civic platform already provides great driving dynamics, but Honda further improved it with upgraded front lower L-arms and an E-shaped multilink rear suspension (three lateral links instead of two). The standard Agile Handling Assist feature improves cornering prowess with the use of brake torque vectoring.
The Insight’s torquey electric motor gives the sedan a quick takeoff for a hybrid and instant initial power when needed. At slower, street-level speeds, the Insight feels plenty quick (especially in Sport mode), but on the highway, I’d recommend stomping on the accelerator pedal past the click point at about three-quarter pedal travel when merging or passing. Much to my enjoyment, the low rolling resistance tires aren’t that noisy when pushed, unlike most hybrids and EVs. All of this equates to plenty of back-road smiles.
Under regular driving conditions, the Normal driving mode offers a good combination of power and efficiency. Econ mode maximizes fuel efficiency by reducing throttle response, and Sport mode increases throttle response and draws more energy from the battery for maximum power output. Sport mode also adjusts the Active Sound Control feature for a more aggressive engine note. EV mode only uses power from the electric motor but only for short distances and at lower speeds.
With a fully charged battery, Econ mode on, and a very light foot, I was able to drive in EV mode for about 2.5 miles going between 20 and 25 mph on a mostly flat street. Not bad for a hybrid. The amount of regenerative braking can be adjusted with the standard paddle shifters, but in Normal mode, the computer quickly defaults back to the normal level of regen. Sport mode, on the other hand, holds the regen level until you change it.