2011 Honda Insight Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Honda Insight Hatchback

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Honda Insight Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.3 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission CVT Automatic
  • Horse Power 98 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 40/43 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2011 Honda Insight

  • While fuel-efficient and reliable, the 2011 Honda Insight doesn't measure up to its archrival, the Toyota Prius.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Thrifty fuel economy; cheap-for-a-hybrid price tag.

  • Cons

    Excessive road noise; unsophisticated ride; cramped backseat; air-conditioning shuts off with auto-off engine at traffic lights.

  • What's New for 2011

    There is a new base model for the 2011 Honda Insight, which drops the base price along with several features. The previous LX base model lives on as a midgrade trim and gains standard cruise control, a center armrest storage console and an iPod/USB audio interface. All Insights now come standard with stability control.

Full 2011 Honda Insight Review

What's New for 2011

There is a new base model for the 2011 Honda Insight, which drops the base price along with several features. The previous LX base model lives on as a midgrade trim and gains standard cruise control, a center armrest storage console and an iPod/USB audio interface. All Insights now come standard with stability control.


When it debuted last year, the Honda Insight took on the Toyota Prius. It, too, was a hybrid, looked the way Americans think hybrids should look and got better fuel economy than anything else on the road. On top of this, the Insight promised a cheaper price and a driving experience that didn't isolate one to the point of falling asleep. The formula seemed like a winner. But one year of lackluster consumer interest and a 20,000-mile Edmunds long-term test have us thinking of the Insight as an incomplete copycat, not a challenger.

In terms of fuel economy, the 2011 Honda Insight is certainly no laggard, since its EPA-rated 41 mpg on the city cycle is pretty darned thrifty. At the same time, the Insight's hybrid system is a so-called "mild hybrid," which means it can't propel the car on electricity alone. This makes it less complex and expensive, but it also means the Insight's low-speed, urban driving isn't quite as fuel efficient as full hybrids like the 2011 Toyota Prius. This is a big deal to hybrid owners, who love the sensation of all-electric motoring. It also means that the air-conditioner shuts off along with the engine when the car comes to a stop. (Be warned, desert dwellers: You'll be choosing between fuel economy and sweating.)

Next comes the driving experience. It's true that the Insight is more engaging to drive than a Prius, but the downside is a relatively unsophisticated ride. The amount of road noise entering the cabin is substantial, even at the Insight's modest price. By comparison, the Prius feels like a step above in terms of ride comfort and refinement. The Insight's backseat also lacks adult-rated headroom, which compromises its utility as an all-around vehicle.

Certainly, there are some upsides to the 2011 Honda Insight. During our one-year 20,000-mile test, it was absolutely bulletproof in terms of reliability, and the fit and finish was impressive. The Insight is also cheaper than the Prius, with a new base trim level for 2011 that cuts the cost even further. Given this, the Insight could be a good choice if you're mainly looking for a basic set of wheels that gets great fuel economy. But for most shoppers we recommend the Prius, as its higher cost is more than offset by a more refined experience.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Honda Insight is available in three trim levels: base, LX and EX.

Standard equipment includes 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver seat height adjustment, a trip computer and a two-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

The LX adds cruise control, a front center armrest and storage bin, floor mats, four speakers for the sound system and an iPod/USB audio interface. The EX adds 15-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, steering wheel shift paddles, steering wheel audio controls, vanity mirrors and six speakers. The EX can also be equipped with a navigation system, which includes a touchscreen interface, voice controls, Bluetooth and a digital audio card reader.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2011 Honda Insight's hybrid system consists of a 1.3-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor paired with a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The gas engine is good for 88 horsepower and 88 pound-feet of torque, while the electric motor chips in 13 hp and 58 lb-ft. Due to varying power peaks, the maximum combined output is 98 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque.

At our test track, the Insight accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 10.9 seconds -- a few tenths slower than the Prius, but a substantial 2.6 seconds quicker than the glacial Civic Hybrid. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 40 mpg city/43 mpg highway and 41 mpg combined.


Every 2011 Honda Insight comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), brake assist, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. In Edmunds brake testing, the Insight came to a stop from 60 mph in 125 feet -- a good distance for a compact hybrid.

The Insight has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash-testing procedures. Its 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to 2011 tests) were a perfect five stars for the driver in head-on collisions and four stars for the front passenger. In side-impact tests, the Insight received five stars for the driver and four stars for rear passengers. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Insight received the best possible rating of "Good" in frontal-offset and side crash tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Insight's cabin has interesting architecture, but it is utilitarian in spirit very much in the characteristic fashion of Honda as a whole. This is particularly noticeable in the base model, which lacks a front armrest and has just two speakers for the stereo. Regardless of trim level, the Insight lacks rear seat headroom; it's tight even for those of average height.

On the positive side, the Insight's controls are quite simple to use and the standard automatic climate control is a nice touch. Also, the Insight has a couple neat visual aids (the changing background color of the speedometer and little cartoon trees in the trip computer that grow or wilt as your long-term fuel economy improves or declines) to help the driver optimize the efficiency of his or her driving style.

Driving Impressions

As a hybrid, the 2011 Honda Insight delivers on the promise of miserly fuel economy. There is no transition between electric and gasoline modes since the Insight's engine is assisted by its electric motor rather than working in tandem with it. This makes it seem like a more normal car when driving than the Prius, and some folks might like that.

Thanks to responsive steering and relatively sporty suspension tuning, the Honda Insight is more fun and responsive to drive that a Prius. But the overall experience is still noticeably less engaging than what you'll get out of other fuel-efficient cars like the Ford Fiesta, Honda CR-Z or Mini Cooper. The ride also leaves much to be desired, as you feel even minuscule bumps, and the suspension noticeably registers pavement imperfections. There's a lot of wind noise at highway speeds as well.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Basic down to earth hybrid

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Vehicle: 2011 Honda Insight 4dr Hatchback (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

We have owned our 2010 insight for three years and have 37,000 miles on it. The professional reviews are right in that it is a lot like the early Japanese cars that were on the market in the 70's which were very reliable but very basic in design. If you want a reliable small cars for commuting back and forth, it is a great purchase. We use it to go back and forth to town and it gets us about 50 mpg as it seems to love going about 50 mph. Yes it rides a little hard and is short on sound insulation but for what we use it for, it's ideal. I wouldn't use it for a long drive though. We'll be passing it on to the children and probably getting another the last year of production.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

50k miles later

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Vehicle: 2011 Honda Insight EX 4dr Hatchback (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I have owned my Insight since March 2011 and have driven 50,000 miles. I have averaged 41.3 MPG for the entire life of the car so far, which is what I expected and am very pleased. I have had to do nothing but 5 oil changes, air filter, cabin filter and one CVT trans fluid change as recommended. There have been no other issues with the vehicle. Tires are finally bald and will be replaced at 50K miles as well. Number don't lie though, I did the calculations and with the lower price and good fuel economy you would have to own the Prius for 7-8 years before it would start saving you money over the Insight.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

One month review

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Vehicle: 2011 Honda Insight 4dr Hatchback (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

First off, many hybrid owners get a bad (yet well deserved) rap of being," holier than thou" when it comes to the environmental impact of their cars. Let's dismiss some myths. Hybrids Do NOT save the world or the environment (one look at mining practices for the metals to make up the various batteries will easily disprove that) . Sorry to dash the hopes of the misinformed. Hybrids DO help in saving significant amounts in your fuel expenditures. More importantly, hybrids do allow the user to save fuel while still being able to use the existing infrastructure. (rant off) I bought my base 2011 Insight to replace a very nice 2009 Rav4. It has in over 1000 miles already saved fuel costs by 1/2.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

A fun hybrid? go figure

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Vehicle: 2011 Honda Insight EX 4dr Hatchback w/Navigation (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I am thrilled with this car! I bought it for a year-long 220-mile round-trip commute that would have been miserable and expensive in most other cars but was actually pleasant in this one thanks to the comfort, handling, and iPod connection. The front-wheel drive also got me home safely during an epic blizzard last winter. After 32,000 miles in 18 months, and now commuting 60 miles round-trip on a winding rural road, I can still say I love this car, as do my growing kids and two big dogs. I'm averaging 45 mpg across all conditions and terrains, and the 12,000-mile oil changes are nice, too. One change I did make for my rural area was wider tires, which are more durable and widely available.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful


by on
Vehicle: 2011 Honda Insight EX 4dr Hatchback (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I've owned this car for four months and I'm trading it in next week. Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is annoying -- when you step on the gas, there's a delayed reaction. It revs noisily during entire acceleration arc. Very gutless. Most of my driving is city and MPG averages about 39. Above 65 miles per hour, MPG drops to low 30s. In Econ mode, AC stops with engine at stoplights. Rear seatbelts get pinned behind seats after folding them up. Cramped back seat leads to dirty upholstery when kids with dirty feet climb in. Paint job is SOFT and easily scratched. Body style is typical hybrid ugly, grille is inexplicably gray... would look much better matching the body.

3 of 16 people found this review helpful

My worst purchase ever

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Vehicle: 2011 Honda Insight EX 4dr Hatchback (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I loved the test drive. I should have spent more time doing it. I would have found out what was wrong. I realized it was a mistake to buy the car as soon as I got on the highway after leaving the dealership. I noticed several bad things immediately - road noise, very bumpy ride and no passing power. After driving it for a few days commuting back and forth to work, I began having horrible headaches. This was the thing that really made me sell the car. My guess is that it had something to do electromagnetic radiation from the hybrid motor and wires that go through the cabin. Never buying a hybrid again until they do studies on this. Lost $7k selling it back in 2 months.

Talk About The 2011 Insight

2011 Honda Insight Discussions See all Started By

I live in US. I am planning to purchase a used Honda insight 2010 or 2011 LX or EX.. I have decided to buy Honda insight, because I found out from a technician in a honda dealership that you can actua...

Now on to the 2011 Honda Insight. After reading about it... a supposed "Prius-Killer"... I went to the local dealer & tried one on, especially after reading such positive reviews about...

Assuming you are talking about the 2011 Insight Hybrid hatchback, I don't find it larger than the Fit in terms of passanger or cargo volume. I have looked at ( I like the look) & driven the Insi...

Gas Mileage


  • 40
  • cty
  • 43
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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