By on March 24, 2020

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]

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11 Comments on “2021 Honda Insight Sees Minor Adjustments, Fresh Paint...”


  • avatar
    madman2k

    In some ways I think the decline of hybrid car desirability after everyone who could afford a Tesla switched to those has been a good thing for like you said
    “normalcy”. If Honda had reason to aggressively update this car, it would probably be ugly like most modern sedans are.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    “…the Insight probably isn’t on your radar.”

    Au contraire. This is the real and only Civic, in my arguably modest opinion.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Wish I could get the type R drivetrain in this body

  • avatar
    dal20402

    If you don’t want a manual transmission, this is the best Civic. Appearance, packaging, and powertrain, all excellent.

  • avatar

    I thought I read here that Honda cancelled Insight. The question is why should I buy Insight instead of Tesla? Everybody I know owns Tesla 3. Well one guy owns Fusion Hybrid but he bought it 6 years ago. It is interesting does Toyota still make Prius?

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    This is a nice little car and represents a minimal price increase over a regular Civic. These hybrid drivetrains are a thousand times more responsive and satisfying to drive than the CVT’s in so many cars these days. In my view the improvement in fuel mileage is simply a bonus. Drivability is the reason to have one. Brilliant drivetrain.

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    The best looking of the current Civic variants, and probably worth getting over others for that aspect alone.

    Now I’m curious, which will be more reliable, a Honda turbo or a Honda hybrid (still have a bad taste in my mouth from the old IMA, though I know it’s a completely different system)?

  • avatar
    jmiller417

    An Insight Si with the Accord Hybrid’s 212hp would be a homerun.

  • avatar
    Mark_Miata

    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.

  • avatar
    piratethecat

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

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