Car review: 2020 Honda Insight

By Larry Lark, contributor

Honda’s Civic and Accord have been bestsellers for decades.

The 2020 Honda Insight looks to bridge the gap between the two, positioning itself as a premium compact sedan with appealing styling, class-leading interior space, premium appointments, and the latest technology.

Honda Insight is offered in three trims: the well-appointed LX, upgraded EX, and top-of-the-line Touring. Insight delivers the kind of fuel economy hybrid customers demand (approx. 50 miles per gallon) along with an electrified option for running short errands (approx. 30 mile range).

Seating up to five adults while providing upwards of 40 miles per gallon fuel economy, is a tough combination to beat. Add robust acceleration and unexpected driving refinement to the equation, and Honda has yet another winner on its hands.

The powertrain consists of a highly efficient 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine paired with two electric motors – a 96-kilowatt propulsion motor and a smaller generator/starter motor. Under most driving conditions, Insight operates as a series hybrid, with the electric propulsion (traction) motor providing motive power to the front axle with energy supplied by the batteries or the generator motor.

Unlike many competing hybrid systems, Honda’s functions without the use of a conventional stepped or continuously variable transmission, utilizing instead a high-capacity lock-up clutch that connects the engine/generator motor combo to the propulsion motor. This allows power to be supplied directly from the engine to the front wheels, supplementing the propulsion motor under certain conditions for either maximum power or efficiency.

Insight drivers can also choose ECON or SPORT modes. ECON alters throttle inputs to help optimize fuel efficiency. SPORT provides more aggressive throttle inputs while drawing more on the battery for a more energetic acceleration feel. Additionally, SPORT alters the Active Sound Control for a more aggressive engine note.

The sleek lines, coupe-like profile, and wide stance of the new Insight communicate a sophisticated design. Details like the “flying wing” grille, standard low-profile LED headlights and taillights, use of chrome, and dynamic character lines, emphasize its premium compact sedan character. Touring models up the ante with larger, 17-inch alloy wheels and LED fog lights.

Inside the cabin, creature comforts abound. Highlights include navigation with HD digital traffic, 10-speaker audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, power moonroof, heated and perforated leather-trimmed seats, heated side mirrors, push-button start, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, and more.

Insight has a trunk capacity of up to 15.1 cubic feet, which is among the largest in the compact sedan class. Spacious enough to easily accommodate four large golf bags, the trunk area is easy to access and use.

The new Insight comes standard with the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies. All trims also come with a multi-view backup camera system, and EX and Touring models come with Honda LaneWatch. Insight Touring models also includes the latest iteration of HondaLink, which offers multiple cloud-based services including a 4G Wi-Fi mobile hotspot (data plan required), smartphone-based remote vehicle locking/unlocking, and stolen vehicle tracking.

The safety suite includes: Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, and Traffic Sign Recognition.

The Insight in manufactured Honda’s production facility in Greensburg, Indiana.

Base Price: $29,445

Price As Driven: $30, 995

Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.