2021 Honda Insight Sees Minor Adjustments, Fresh Paint

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Unless you’re the owner of a Honda Civic and find its fuel economy lacking — a rare combination — the Insight probably isn’t on your radar. Despite being this first hybrid model to grace North American roads, selling more units than Honda predicted, the original Insight was quickly overshadowed by the Toyota Prius. Successive generations performed better by adhering to greater levels of normalcy, with the current generation appearing for the 2019 model year after a prolonged absence.

For 2021, the Insight is due for a refresh. Honda’s keeping the changes light, focusing on adding a handful of safety options and new “Radiant Red” metallic paint hue. Sure, it won’t send people running to the dealership, though it might sway a few prospective Prius customers — a community that’s been shrinking since 2013.

Trims remain the the same, with EX and Touring models growing $500 dearer to account for standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The base-trimmed LX models make due with the LaneWatch camera system (most useful for avoiding approaching bicyclists while making a right hander). Including the $955 destination fee, that puts the the LX at $23,885, the Insight EX at $25,765, and the Touring at $29,795.

Other than the new paint color, everything else has gone more or less untouched. A Honda Sensing bundle remains standard, and the manufacturer still feels the 8-inch touchscreen is up to the task. It’s also still powered by a hybrid drivetrain (permanent-magnet AC synchronous electric motor) that uses a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and provides an EPA-rated 55/49 mpg (city/highway) for LX and EX models. Touring drops that down to 51/45 mpg.

While hyper-mile fanatics will still lean toward the Prius, the Insight makes a good alternative for those wanting a more stately and normal-looking automobile that still sips fuel through a cocktail straw. The smaller Toyota is probably better suited to urban environments — and is even fun to sling around a right corner thanks to its oddly high level of grip for an economy vehicle, plus its responsive powertrain. It’s also available with AWD-e, so Toyota can better court customers in snowy regions. However, the Insight’s superior acceleration, better brakes, preferable infotainment system and strong adherence to normalcy should appeal to many. We’d call it a wash between the two, with personal taste being the deciding factor for each customer.

The 2021 Honda Insight went on sale today, but good luck finding a nearby Honda dealer that’s open. Coronavirus-related headaches are likely to disrupt sales and make it harder for you to procure one if you’re isolated at home.

[Images: Honda]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Mark_Miata Mark_Miata on Mar 27, 2020

    My wife has a 2019 Insight and loves it. The combination of high gas mileage, decent performance and handling, and excellent safety ratings made it a must-buy for her. The bonus is that it fits short and tall drivers - there is more than a foot difference in our heights but we are both comfortable behind the wheel. We are actually very interested in buying a 2021 model - the lack of blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert on her EX was the one thing she was disappointed with when we bought the car. Combine that with the new red paint option, and I think we will be visiting the dealer as soon as Delaware opens up car dealerships again.

  • Piratethecat Piratethecat on Mar 27, 2020

    Amen. The long promised Type R "Touring" without all of the wings.

  • Ronin The very asking of the question "Are Plug-In Hybrids the Future?" is an interesting one. Because just 2 or 3 years ago we'd be asking- no, asserting- that E cars are the future. We're no longer asking that question.
  • Peter Benn There apparently were some K-code 4-dr sedan Fairlanes. Collectible Automobile Apr 2024 has found a '63 500 with HD 3/spd.
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  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.