2012 honda insight

2012 Honda Insight Review, Ratings, Specs, Prices, and Photos

When it was launched two years ago, the Honda Insight was pitched as the lowest-priced hybrid sold in the States. It's still inexpensive, but the 2012 Honda Insight suffers a bit in comparison to its stablemate, the Honda Fit. Both are five-door subcompact hatchbacks, but the highly flexible Fit has more room inside, gets real-world gas mileage around 30 mpg, and has a base price $3,175 lower.

The EPA rates the 2012 Insight at 42 mpg combined. A further challenge for the Insight is that the same Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system in the all-new 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid sedan returns 44 mpg combined--better than the Insight. The compact Civic is a larger, more luxurious car--albeit several thousand dollars more expensive.

For 2012, Honda has updated the Insight with a new grille, revised the interior materials and displays, and added several features. Its rated fuel efficiency rises 1 mpg on all three test cycles, and the base model added for 2011 continues in the range.

Review continues below

In the hybrid's favor, the 2012 Honda Insight somewhat resembles a Toyota Prius. Both cars use a smooth, high-tail design to cleave through the air with the least aerodynamic resistance, burning the least fuel possible. The new grille and reshaped front fascia are joined by a revised rear bumper with diffusers to smooth airflow at the tail.

Inside, the 2012 Insight's two-level instrument panel puts a digital speedometer and status information in a Civic-like digital cluster above the main gauge area, with center-stack controls angled toward the driver. Climate controls are in their own area to the right of the steering wheel, making them awkward for the front passenger to operate.

The 2012 Honda Insight uses a small 1.3-liter engine with a 10-kilowatt electric motor sandwiched between the engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Total outputs are 98 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. The motor can't move the car solely on electricity, unlike the Prius, but it restarts the engine after stops, adds torque to complement that of the engine, and acts as a generator to recharge the battery pack when the car brakes.

Driving the Honda Insight is pleasant enough around town, with engine torque assisted by electric power to make takeoff from stoplights quick. There's power for passing, too, but at the price of significant engine noise. At high speeds under high loads, you'll be reminded that the Insight is a heavy subcompact powered by a small 1.3-liter engine--there's not a lot of extra power available at the top end of freeway speeds.

The 2012 Honda Insight handles decently too, though that may not be many buyers' top requirement in assessing this small hybrid hatchback. It doesn't turn into corners as crisply as the Honda Fit, but it's confident under most circumstances. And it feels quite composed in high-speed cruising.

Inside, the front seats are a little short and flat, but they're comfortable and headroom abounds. That's not the case at the rear, where that sloping aerodynamic roofline makes headroom tight--though Honda has reshaped the rear seats and headliner to add 0.6 inches for 2012. The rear seat offers enough room for three kids, though only really two adults. Ride quality is good despite the short wheelbase, and under most circumstances the Insight is quiet and civilized--except under hard acceleration, when the engine howls at a surprising level. For 2012, Honda has added thicker noise-suppression materials and extra insulation in the load bay in an effort to cut the clamor.

For 2012, the base Honda Insight is priced at $18,350 and features power windows, remote entry, automatic climate control, and a two-speaker sound system. The mid-level Insight LX starts at $20,125 and adds floor mats, an armrest console, map lights, a security system, and steering-wheel controlsf or the four-speaker audio system with USB interface.

The top-of-the-line Insight EX includes alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, automatic headlights, a six-speaker stereo system, Bluetooth audio linking, and paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel to give the driver simulated "gears" that can be shifted for better responsiveness. When fitted with the optional navigation system, the Insight EX with Navigation starts at $23,540. All Insight prices also have a mandatory $770 destination fee added to them.


2012 Honda Insight Review, Specs, Pictures, Price & MPG

Ever since it was introduced in 1999, the Honda Insight has been quite popular. Being a hybrid vehicle, the Insight quickly became popular among those who wanted an efficient and economical vehicle.

The 2012 Honda Insight is an affordable and fuel efficient car with very high fuel economy ratings. Like most other hybrid cars, a high fuel economy is achieved by compromising on power.


General Info
Vehicle Type: Hybrid Hatchback Base Price: $18,500.00
Fuel Tank Capacity: 10.6 gallons (40 liters) MPG: 41 city / 44 hwy
Length: 172.3 in. (437.6 cm) Wheel Base: 100.4 in. (255 cm)
Height: 56.2 in. (142.7 cm) Width: 66.7 in. (169.4 cm)
Curb Weight: 2747 lbs (1246 kg) Ground Clearance: NA
Luggage Capacity: 15.9 cu ft Maximum Seating: 5 people
Engine: 1.3L In-Line 4 Cylinder SOHC i-VTEC® Compression Ratio: 10.8: 1
Horsepower: 98 HP Max RPM: 5800 RPM
Torque: 123 lb-ft @ 1000-1700 rpm Transmission: CVT
Motor: DC Standard Output: 100.8 Volts
Horsepower: 13 HP @ 1500 rpm Torque: 58 lb-ft @ 1000 rpm
Available Trims & Engine
Option:Insight LX MSRP: $20,275; MPG: 41 city / 44 hwy
Option:Insight EX MSRP: $21,965; MPG: 41 city / 44 hwy
Option:Insight EX w/ Nav. MSRP: $23,690; MPG: 41 city / 44 hwy

Engine & Performance

The Honda Insight is powered by a 1.3 liter gas engine with four cylinders and an electric motor. Maximum power of 98 horsepower is produced at 5800 rpm. Unlike the Toyota Prius, the electric motor of the Insight cannot power the car to run from standstill. The Insight has a very good fuel economy of 41 mpg in cities and 44 mpg on highways.

Although the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid have slightly better mileage than the Insight, both vehicles are much more expensive. However, the transmission is loud and the ride is not as smooth as other hybrid vehicles in the market.

The 2012 Insight is ideal for those who want better gas mileage and is willing to compromise on the ride quality. Acceleration is fairly good and the Insight uses regenerative brakes to charge the battery. Coming from the stables of Honda, the Insight has a strong suspension and firm ride.


The Insight resembles the Toyota Prius in many ways. Both have five doors, high tails and a vertical lift gate glass panel. Furthermore, both hatchbacks are designed to reduce wind resistance and provide maximum efficiency. However, projector beam headlights are unique to the Insight.

The Eco Assist system is the hallmark of this vehicle. It indicates the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. While the front seats are comfortable with adequate legroom, passengers in the second row might feel a bit uncomfortable.


Rear visibility is limited due to the split window at the back. Other interior features include power doors, power windows and tilt steering wheel. In order to make the 2012 Honda Insight affordable, Honda has used hard plastics in the vehicle.

Large gauges are functional as well as futuristic. When it comes to cargo space, the 2012 Honda Insight exceeds expectations. Compared to other hybrids in its class, the cargo space of this vehicle is good.

Safety & Reliability

Honda has provided the Insight will all the safety features found in other vehicles in its class. Along with side curtain, front and side air bags, it comes with active front head restraints, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. Outward visibility is decent due to the low window line. Rear visibility in this model is much better than that is earlier ones.

As far as safety ratings are concerned, the Honda Insight gets a good rating in most aspects including roof strength, rear impact, frontal offset and side impact. It comes with a power train warranty of five years or 60,000 miles and new vehicle warranty of three years or 36,000 miles and rust damage warranty for five years.

Most vehicles in its class have similar warranties. While the battery pack is covered by a warranty, the time period of coverage varies.


With its price tag, the 2012 Honda Insight is one of the cheapest hybrid vehicles in the market. Base, LX and Ex are the three trims offered. The first version of this vehicle was a three door hatchback. This model was upgraded to a five door hatchback in 2010.

The 2012 Insight has received a few changes from the previous model. Interior styling and the suspension has been updated, that includes better stability and handling. This compact hybrid car is slightly smaller than the Toyota Prius.

Low price, fuel economy and Eco Boost System are the most notable features of this vehicle. On the whole, the 2012 Honda Insight is a decent vehicle that will give strong competition to the other hybrids in its class.


The Ford Fusion Hybrid (MSRP $28,775; 39 combined), Toyota Prius V and Honda Civic Hybrid (MSRP $24,200; 44 city / 44hwy) are some of the vehicles that compete with the Insight. But only the Toyota Prius V-Two (MSRP $26,550; 44 city / 40 hwy) can be compared to the Insight. The Toyota offering has a lower mileage on the highway as opposed to the Honda Insight.

Overall Rating66 out of 100

What others say:

“The 2012 Honda Insight is hardly a sport sedan, but its response and roadholding are more engaging than many other fuel-efficient hybrids.”Car Connection

“Insight may not be exactly sporty, but a lack of body lean in corners and good steering feel contribute to a generally rewarding drive. Some testers complained of spongy brake feel in one test car.”Consumer Guide

“The Insight was Honda’s first hybrid vehicle and returns to the market as a compact 4-door, 5-passenger hatchback that will be more appealing to American families.”MSN Auto-ConsumerReports

“Thrifty fuel economy; low price for a hybrid. Unsophisticated ride; cramped backseat; air-conditioning shuts off with auto-off engine at traffic lights.”Edmunds

“While its fuel-economy figures are not as impressive as the Toyota Prius, the 2012 Honda Insight hybrid nevertheless is a gas mileage champ. And, unlike some hybrid cars, the Honda Insight is priced competitively enough as to be able to justify the added hybrid cost relative to future gasoline savings.”KBB


2012 Honda Insight Overview | Cars.com

The Honda Insight has made its mark as the least-expensive hybrid on the market for some time now. While inexpensive, the Insight has never been an easy car to recommend. For 2012, a minor redesign with enhancements to areas where the car previously faltered attempts to spark some life in the Insight. See a comparison of the 2011 and 2012 here.

While the 2012 Honda Insight takes a step forward in refined driving and improved gas mileage, it needed to take five or six more steps to remain competitive.

The Insight's closest competitor, and the first to challenge its price, is the 2012 Toyota Prius c, a new member of the Prius family that's smaller than the regular Prius. With similar base pricing and passenger room but better gas mileage ratings, the Prius c is a big threat for the Insight.

Under the Insight's hood is a modest 98 horsepower from the combined efforts of a 1.3-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and a 13-hp electric motor. With some new noise insulation, the engine is now less of a noise nuisance than previous versions — to an extent. The engine is still buzzy when you have to wind out the little guy to pass or merge.

For 2012, Honda squeezes an additional 1 mpg from the Insight across the board — in city, highway and combined mileage ratings — to reach an EPA-estimated 41/44 mpg city/highway (42 mpg combined). The minor bump isn't enough to match the Prius c's estimated 53/46 mpg (50 mpg combined).

Ratings don't tell the whole story, though, because it's easy to match or beat the Insight's EPA estimates. Using the Insight's in-car mileage display and other economy assistance readings, I observed mileage into the 50s after a 30-plus-mile commute at highway speeds. However, exceeding the Prius c's ratings is also easy, and it has an 8 mpg combined head start on the Insight. Note that the weather during all these drives was favorable, with lows in the 60s and highs in the 70s. In our experience in Chicago, cold weather reduces hybrid mileage dramatically.

More intrusive than engine noise is the idle stop/start feature that shuts off the engine at complete stops to save gas. It's a characteristic of the Insight we've complained about since day one, and it's a major disruption in an otherwise smooth experience. There's a noticeable vibration through the steering wheel and floor when the engine shuts off and fires back up that's far from the refined experience found in other hybrids. The sensation mirrors a non-hybrid car when you turn the engine off and on — and it shouldn't.

The Insight's ride quality also has room for improvement. Take the insight over rough roads, and the suspension sounds like it's flopping around under the car. Other editors noted chassis flexing and shuttering on imperfect roads. Cars.com Managing Editor David Thomas notes in his review of the Prius c, "The Prius c rides and feels worlds apart from the rough-riding Honda Insight."

The Insight's interior is one of its strongest assets, with good quality and roominess as well as great visibility. In previous model years, Insights suffered from wind and road noise at highway speeds that piped unpleasant whooshing, rustling and tire noise into the cabin. For 2012, thicker sound insulation and additional noise suppression in the hatchback area reduce wind and road noise to unobtrusive levels. The quieter interior is a welcome improvement on long drives, where the Insight is decidedly more refined.

Over-the-shoulder visibility through the pillar-less rear quarter windows and tall glass is excellent. The split rear window isn't too obstructive to look through, but it's a bit distracting that the bottom glass is tinted and the main liftgate window isn't.

Despite additional headroom for 2012 and a good fit for me, the rear seats simply weren't comfortable for my slender 6-foot frame. Honda modified the rear ceiling and sculpted the rear cushions to provide an additional half-inch of headroom, which isn't an insignificant amount when you're talking about headroom. My head was clear from any interference with the ceiling, and legroom was also suitable. My comfort problem came from the seating position, which lacks thigh support and left my knees uncomfortably raised.

Base Insights are well-equipped with power windows, keyless entry, power locks, automatic climate control, an array of hybrid-specific gauges and more. A few missing standard features we'd like to see include Bluetooth and a USB input for music players. The Prius c includes USB and Bluetooth, as well as everything mentioned above, in its base price, as do many non-hybrid cars in the sub-$20,000 range.

Upgrading from the base model to the $21,065 LX (all prices cited include destination charges) adds cruise control, a four-speaker stereo with USB in place of the standard two-speaker unit, and a center console with an armrest. Bluetooth and satellite radio unfortunately come only on the most expensive EX trim level ($22,755), where they're standard. They aren't optional on less-expensive models.

I could do without the paddle shifters included on the Insight EX's steering wheel. Even though the Insight uses a continuously variable automatic transmission, the computer can select fixed gear ratios when using the paddle shifters. Those paddles, however, result in shifts that are as crisp as an uncooked piece of bacon, and just as satisfying.

One appreciated feature was something that should be done well on a hybrid — hybrid-specific efficiency displays. The Insight uses easy-to-see background lighting around the speedometer that turns green during efficient driving and blue when your right foot gets heavy. The feature is one of the ways I coaxed excellent gas mileage from the Insight; it's also used on other Hondas and likewise works well in those applications.

The 2012 Honda Insight is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick, meaning it scored the agency's best rating, Good, in four tests: front, side, rear and roof strength, a measure of rollover protection. The Insight has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Standard safety features include front airbags, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtains for the front and rear seats. The federally mandated antilock brakes, electronic stability system and tire pressure monitoring system are also included. You can see a full list of standard safety features here.

The 2012 Insight is an improved version of the hybrid, but it takes merely a step forward instead of the leaps and bounds that were needed. The Insight's mileage, price and feature content aren't good enough now that the pesky Prius c exists. And despite the Insight's declining sales through the year, as of this writing we don't see any cash-back rebates or financing offers from Honda to sweeten the deal.


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