• Nov 30, 2010
2011 Honda Insight – Click above for high-res image gallery

The slow-selling Honda Insight hasn't exactly stolen any of the Toyota Prius' thunder since its introduction last year, and with new green cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf ready to join the battle, the future of Honda's hybrid hatch doesn't look too bright. Still, the Japanese automaker has given the Insight a host of improvements for the 2011 model year, including a new base model that retails for $18,950 (including the $750 destination charge).

So, what do you lose gain with the base Insight? For starters, a downgraded stereo system is on hand, with a single CD player and two – yes, two – speakers. Audiophiles need not apply. Remote entry is standard on the base Insight, but if you want amenities like cruise control, a USB audio interface, center armrest and floor mats, you'll need to opt for the mid-grade LX trim. In other words, the new price leader is something of a municipal and fleet special. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the pricier EX now comes standard with steering wheel-mounted audio controls and can be optioned with navigation.

The Insight's 1.3-liter inline-four with Honda's Integrated Motor Assist carries over largely unchanged, with fuel economy rated at 40/43 miles per gallon, city/highway. 2011 Insight models are arriving at Honda dealers as you read this, and for the full details on what's new, follow the jump for Honda's press release.

[Source: Honda]
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2011 Honda Insight Lineup Gains Standard Features and a New Entry Model

Gateway product to hybrid technology becomes even more affordable

Going on sale today, the 2011 Honda Insight hybrid gains new standard features and the addition of a value-oriented entry model that offers enhanced value, exclusive content and a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $18,200, plus a destination and handling charge1 of $750.

The range of Insight models for 2011 now starts with a new value-oriented base model, simply designated as "Insight." As before, the well-equipped "Insight LX" continues to be available, yet with additional features, along with the top-of-the-line "Insight EX," which continues to be available with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™. All Insight models are equipped with Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) for 2011, which was previously exclusive to the Insight EX.

The new Insight base model includes remote entry and has exclusive content compared to the other models consisting of unique seating fabric and a basic audio system with CD player and two speakers. The Insight LX gains features for 2011, adding cruise control, a USB audio interface, center armrest storage console and floor mats. The Insight EX adds to the LX features with steering wheel-mounted audio controls (previously exclusive to the Insight EX when equipped with navigation).

The distinctively styled, five-passenger, five-door dedicated hybrid vehicle is powered by an Integrated Motor Assist™ (IMA™) system comprised of a 1.3-liter i VTEC® gasoline engine and a 10-kilowatt electric motor that together contribute to an EPA-estimated city/highway/combined fuel economy rating of 40/43/41 miles per gallon2. The Insight features the Ecological Drive Assist System (Eco Assist™), an innovation that can enhance efficient vehicle operation while providing feedback related to individual driving styles.

A sleek exterior features a highly aerodynamic side profile with a front-end design similar to the hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity, a marquee environmental vehicle for Honda. The interior offers a roomy passenger environment with a configurable rear seating and cargo area enhanced by 60/40 split fold-down seats.

Major features standard to the Insight include front, front-side and side-curtain airbags; VSA; an anti-lock braking system; a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT); Eco Assist; automatic climate control; tilt-and-telescope steering column; manual driver's seat height adjustment; power windows; an AM/FM audio system with CD player and two speakers; an auxiliary audio input for external digital music players; and much more.

The Insight LX adds or replaces to the Insight with cruise control (new to LX), a four-speaker audio system, USB audio interface (new to LX), armrest console (new to LX), floor mats (new to LX) and a security system.

The Insight EX adds or replaces to the Insight LX features with alloy wheels; steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters; an audio system with six speakers; heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals; and much more. Exclusively available on the Insight EX, the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System3 (6.5-inch screen) with voice recognition provides routing and guidance to individual addresses and more than 7 million points of interest within the continental United States. Models equipped with the navigation system also include Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® for hands-free operation of compatible mobile telephones, along with related steering wheel-mounted controls for voice activation of the navigation and hands-free telephone systems.

A 1.3-liter, 4-cylinder engine with Intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (i-VTEC) and a DC brushless electric motor forms the foundation of the IMA hybrid system. The electric motor, positioned in-line between the engine and the transmission, adds power during acceleration and in certain cruising situations, and recaptures energy from the vehicle's forward momentum during braking (regenerative braking).

The Insight's IMA system has the capability to operate exclusively on electric power in certain low- to mid-speed cruising conditions. It can also provide cylinder deactivation during deceleration and an idle-stop feature when the vehicle is stationary. With a 10.6-gallon fuel tank, the Insight delivers an estimated maximum driving range exceeding 400 miles. Models for sale in California and states that have adopted the California Air Resources Board (CARB) ZEV standards receive an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) emissions rating.

The Insight uses Eco Assist to help drivers improve fuel efficiency, both by altering vehicle functionality and providing driver feedback, with fuel-economy dependent on their given set of driving conditions. Pressing the ECON button can further enhance the efficiency of multiple vehicle systems: throttle control, CVT operation, idle-stop duration, air conditioning and cruise-control operation (if equipped). Eco Assist also provides feedback about driving style via a 3D-appearing background within the speedometer. The background changes colors from green to blue to reflect how efficiently or inefficiently the driver is accelerating or braking (green = efficient). The driver's results are continuously tracked as fuel efficiency ratings are shown per drive cycle and on a lifetime basis in the form of plant-leaf graphics that appear in the Multi-Information Display (MID). Up to five leaves can be 'earned' as the driver demonstrates a fuel-efficient driving style. A real-time score is shown in the Eco Guide MID screen.

Standard safety features on all Insights include dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; front-side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); side-curtain airbag system; anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution (EBD); driver's and front-passenger's active head restraints; and a front body designed to mitigate pedestrian injuries. All new Insights also feature Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure, which provides improved occupant protection and crash compatibility between vehicles of different sizes and ride heights in frontal crashes.

Honda is a leader in developing cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicle technologies, including the original Honda Insight, introduced as America's first mass-produced hybrid car in December 1999. Honda is also a leader in the development of advanced alternatives to gasoline, including the zero-emission, hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity fuel-cell electric car, the world's most-advanced production fuel cell automobile.

Honda's diverse lineup of environmental vehicles also includes the Civic GX compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) sedan, the only retail CNG vehicle currently available from any automaker in the U.S., and three distinct gasoline-electric hybrid models: Civic Hybrid, CR-Z sport hybrid and Insight hybrid.

Honda was recently named America's "Greenest Automaker" for the fifth consecutive time by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The award is earned by the company with the lowest combined score of its smog-forming and greenhouse gas emissions (primarily CO2) in its U.S. automobile fleet. Honda has led the UCS rankings of overall vehicle environmental performance since the first UCS study in 2000, marking a decade of Honda leadership in reduced vehicle emissions. Honda earned the recognition this year with an industry-best score based on model year 2008 data, the latest available for analysis.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks the 2011 Honda Insight as the third-best vehicle in the United States for fuel economy, tied with the Civic Hybrid, among all currently available 2011 model year vehicles evaluated by the agency.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm curious if the improvements made to the European Insight for 2011 have made their way to the US version. Those improvements include a change of the rear camber angles and alterations to the V-shape rear suspension brace to improve the ride, which does suffer at the hands of the very acute handling. The engine cut-off has been extended and the European model can also be specified with leather trim for 2011.

      I've been very happy with my Insight and it does its job perfectly. I average 44-45mpg (US) for freeway commutes and 50-52mpg (US) on slower country roads. I manage 425-480 miles on a tank, depending on driving style and conditions, and for the price ($22K) it's a definitive bargain.

      I agree with Spin Cycle - for Honda to push hybrids into economy car territory is a feat in itself, and for someone who wants fuel economy but without the frills, the new base Insight will certainly drive a hard bargain.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Having test drove a 2010 Insight, I can't believe that they found even more to cut out of it. It may be the "hybrid for everyone" but perhaps the cost of hybrid tech isn't worth what you have to sacrifice to get one this cheap.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's still alotta car...

        For a mooching college hippie
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's a very good price. For example, it's within $55 of the a Cruze Eco, which has a lower combined figure. Although the Cruze Eco has only two options packages available for it and is better specced by default (although cruise control is still an option, maddeningly)

      With this price, the Insight really makes a new move into the true economy car market. This is a new thing for hybrids, and personally I find it to be great news.

      I know used cars are always cheaper to own, but if you really want to save gas but not spend a lot of money doing it, you just got a new viable choice.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What is surprising is that Honda offers body coloured mirrors on the Insight striper ($18k), but for the $44k Odyssey in Touring Elite model, you still get the same black side view mirrors. I can just imagine the margins that Honda makes on these $35k + minivans, if they can't opt to spend about $50 per set of side view mirror in body-colour.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Audiophiles need not apply"

      Audiophiles replace the head unit and speakers in any car they buy. Most OEM systems are garbage and even high end, custom tuned systems are just Ok.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Excellent! Let's take an underperforming, marginally competent car and remove what few comforts were already on board. That combo should sell like hotcakes!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Underperforming? I'm able to get 50mpg (US) from my Insight without any problems. Marginally competent? The Insight isn't exactly a Ferrari Modena, but nor was it intended to be. It has better handling than the Prius, and the ride has been improved for 2011. It's spacious inside - it has more trunk space than the European Focus, for example - and it's very reasonably priced.

        The range on mine is well over 400 miles on average, and if I'm particularly careful I can get as much as 480 miles on a full tank. I'll take that compared to a Volt and pocket the $20K difference.
        • 4 Years Ago

        Another Honda user who magically gets 10 MPG better than the EPA - congrats?

        As always, idiot." - Matt

        Those are my own real-world mpg figures. There's nothing magical about it - the Insight is extremely light and in econ mode, those mpg numbers are very easy to obtain as long as you also know how to drive efficiently. Personally, I couldn't care less what the EPA or anyone else achieves; what I'm interested in are the figures I'm able to achieve because that's what impacts my own financial budget. As for being referred to as an "idiot", the day that a xenophobic wanker such as yourself achieves what I have in life will result in me taking what you say seriously. Unfortunately, it's people like me who keep the likes of you on the dole queue. So keep dreaming, laddie.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Bloke:
        "It's spacious inside"

        I'm guessing you mean the front seats and the cargo area, because the back seats are anything but spacious. I took a short cab ride in one and the sweeping roofline meant I had to tilt my head or slouch to keep my head from hitting the headliner. And I'm not abnormally tall.
        • 4 Years Ago

        Good for you being an Insight owner - according to Fueleconomy.gov and Fuelly.com, owners of the 2010 insight average 45.7 mpg combined, compared with owners of 2010 Prius of same sites average 48.29 mpg (3.4% below its EPA rating), the difference is only 5.36%, not as much as those who only read from window stickers would want to believe.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "but when you consider how much larger and better made the Prius is, it really doesn't make the Insight seem all that impressive."

        Couple of important points here: firstly, the Prius isn't a direct competitor to the Insight. One is a C-segment hatch, the other based on a B-segment hatch. Pricing represents both that aspect as well as the more sophisticated hybrid system of the Prius; the Insight (at 2010 prices) ranged from just under $20K rising to $23K for the top-spec model which includes satnav. There are no factory options, only dealer-fit accessories. The Prius starts at $23K for the base model, and you get spec the top-flight version up to $35K easily, and even higher.

        I'm personally very impressed with my Insight. For the money, it offers a great combination of fuel economy, space with reasonable performance. It has some shortcomings, but ultimately this is a B-segment hatchback designed purely for optimum fuel economy without getting into silly money. I use mine purely for commuting and the list price was negligible. As far as the new base model is concerned, losing a couple of speakers shouldn't be an issue - you're better off installing aftermarket speakers into most cars anyway. In my opinion, replacing sophisticated appointments with barn door engineering (as is the case with the US-spec mk VI Jetta) or low-rent fitments (as was the case with the US-spec mk I Focus) is of greater concern to the buyer.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Get over the two speaker thing already. Anyone with half a brain knows how to deal with it.

        What we have here is a new Honda rated at 40/43mpg for $19,000 including freight. It seats five in a pinch and has a hatch for cargo. If you want practicality, reliability and fuel savings, this is a bargain. And no, Toyota has nothing to match unless you're looking on the used lot.

        The only question is whether you'll be able to find this new base model in stock at dealers as often as you will in advertisements.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Forget the Insight -- give us the Fit hybrid that the US wanted in the first place!

        • 4 Years Ago
        Only if they if they improve the IMA hybrid system, otherwise, I don't see the Fit Hybrid being enough of an improvement over the Insight.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'd say that having a stereo with only 2 speakers would be perfectly fine if they didn't make it so difficult to add more of your own. It used to be that you could just pop off the speaker grilles, unscrew the old speakers, and replace them with your own. Now days though there aren't separate grilles - the whole door panel is molded as one piece, so if you want to replace or upgrade your speakers you have to take the whole door panel off to get to them. What a pain. If they just left empty speaker grilles with the wiring and told you to supply your own speakers, any $90 set of Sony ones would sound worlds better than the paper junk that passes for an OEM system now days.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm pretty sure the issue with the Insight is that it's a mild hybrid, too small, and not fuel-efficient enough to compete with the Prius. Having a lower MSRP didn't help during its introduction, so why would it help now? People want real efficient hybrids, not cheap hybrid-ish cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        How silly of me to think that this was a forum. Now I know that it is one person's view, and false comparisons are merely 'jumps in logic' to support that view.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Um, no. If you really were buying a car to save on gas, you'd choose the Insight.

        Those other cars you mentioned only get the same mileage if you ignore two little words: 'City' and 'Highway.'
        • 4 Years Ago
        You referred to optioned-up cars comparable in price. You actually used the words "same price." But now you quote a $5600 price difference in order to make your point.

        • 4 Years Ago
        I was merely pointing out the fact that

        1) If it were me, I'd forgo the $253 in yearly gas savings and get an optioned up smaller car for the same price.

        2) Since you brought up the fact that people buy the Insight for gas savings, I was pointing out that the gas savings are paltry, hence, my first point.

        I made a jump in logic in my first comment, necessitating the follow up with the second comment. It's up to a person's taste: more options at the loss of $253/yr in gas savings, or a more fuel efficient car that could possibly take 20 years to recoup in gas savings over a comparably spec'd car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Especially since at that price, you're cross-shopping 40mpg optioned up small cars. Same mileage, more features, same price, just a smaller car? If people are buying the Insight for gas savings, I'd rather take an optioned up Fiesta, Cruze, or Fit over the Insight.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @House of Mirth
        The EPA puts the annual fuel cost of a Fiesta at $1300, while the Insight costs $1047 a year, saving $253 a year.

        A base Insight costs $5600 more than a Fiesta.

        Thus, an Insight will take 20+ years to recoup in gas savings over a Fiesta (perhaps 10-15 is gas prices rise significantly).

        People who buy cars solely for gas savings will cross-shop compact cars and hybrids.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why I would never buy a hybrid or any other Honda again:
      I leased a 2006 Civic Hybrid. Sticker Gas mileage was 49/51.
      By the end of my lease I was getting 33 MPG's.
      Yes, the rating system has changed. That still does not quell my undying hatred for misleading information.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I understand the need for an active thermal control over the batteries, but to be honest the Volt will be an excessively complicated vehicle to maintain. Now you have two active coolant systems (engine and batteries) to deal with along with 2 power systems (electric and gas). In-spite of the Nissan's passive thermal system on the Leaf batteries, I'm leaning more in their direction mainly for simplicity and cost (if the batteries last). The Leaf will be the easiest to maintain. If their batteries work well enough with their passive system, then it will be a big win for consumers.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just FYI, most hardcore car audiophiles actually prefer to only have speakers up front because having speakers behind you actually clutters up the soundstage. When real people are performing in front of you it doesn't sound like it does in your car with the sound coming from the rear.
      So some crazy audiophiles would actually prefer two speakers, albeit insanely expensive ones.
        • 4 Years Ago
        While I don't disagree with the concept, I do find that moving the entire soundstage to the front speakers makes the sound uneven in many cars because with a regular stereo the speakers are pointed at your ears, while in a car at least one of the speakers is covered by your foot, coat, etc.... Having some sound coming from the rear evens it out.
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