2021 Honda Insight Sees Minor Adjustments, Fresh Paint

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
2021 honda insight sees minor adjustments fresh paint

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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  • 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.

  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
  • Dukeisduke I subscribed to both Road & Track and Car and Driver for over 25 years, but it's been close to 20 years since I dropped both. I tried their digital versions with their reader software (can't remember the name now), but it wasn't the same. I let it lapse after a year.From what I've seen of R&T's print version, it's turned into more of a lifestyle thing like The Robb Report. I haven't seen an issue of C/D in a while.I enjoyed both magazines a lot when I was subscribing. R&T for the road tests (especially the April Fools road tests), used car reviews, historical articles, and columns like Peter Egan's Side Glances and Dennis Simanitis's Technical Correspondence. And C/D for the road tests and pithy commentary, and columns like Gordon Baxter's, and Jean Shepherd's (that goes way back to the early '70s).
  • Steve Biro It takes very clever or amusing content for me to sit through a video vehicle review. And most do not include that.Tim, you wrote :"Niche titles aren't dying because of a lack of interest from enthusiasts, but because of broader changes in the economics of media, at least in this author's opinion."You're right about the broader changes in economics. But the truth is that there IS a lack of interest from enthusiasts. Part of it is demographics. Young people coming up are generally not car and truck fans. That doesn't mean there are no young enthusiasts but the numbers are much smaller. And even those who consider themselves enthusiasts seem to have mixed feelings. Just take a look at Jalopnik.And then we come to the real problem: The vast majority of new vehicles coming out today are not interesting to enthusiasts, are not fun to drive and/or are just not affordable.You can argue that EVs are technically interesting and should create enthusiasm. But the truth is they are not fun to drive, don't work well enough yet for most people and are very expensive.EVs on the race track? Have you ever been to a Formula E race? Please.And even if we set EVs aside, the electronic nannies that are being forced on us pretty much preclude a satisfying driving experience in any brand-new vehicle, regardless of propulsion system. Sure, many consumers who view cars as transportation appliances may welcome this technology. But they are not enthusiasts. I don't know about you, but I and most car fans I know don't want smart phones on wheels.There is simply not that much of interest to write about. Car and Driver and Road & Track are dipping deeper into nostalgia and their archives as a result. R&T is big on sponsoring road trips for enthusiasts - which is a great idea. But only people with money to burn need apply.And then there is the problem of quality in automotive writing. As more experienced people are let go and more money is cut from publications, the quality and length of pieces keeps going down, leading to the inevitable self-fulfilling prophecy.Even the output on this site is sharply reduced from its peak. And the number of responses to posts seems a small fraction of what it used to be. This is my first comment since the site was recently relaunched. I don't expect to be making many in the future.Frankly Tim - and it gives me no pleasure to write this - but your post makes me feel as though the people running this site have run out of ideas and TTAC's days may be numbered.Cutbacks in automotive journalism are upsetting. But, until there is something exciting and fun to write about, they are going to continue. Perhaps automotive enthusiasm really was a 20th century phenomenon..
  • THX1136 I think that the good ole interwebs is at least partially to blame. When folks can get content for free, what is the motivation to pay to read? I'm guilty of this big time. Gotta pay to read!? Forget it! I'll go somewhere else or do without. And since a majority of folks have that portable PC disguised as a phone in their pocket, no need for print. The amount of info easily available is the other factor the web brings to bear. It's perhaps harder now to stand out. Standing out is necessary to continued success.In an industry I've been interested (and participated) in, the one magazine (Mix) I subscribed to has become a shadow of it's former self (200 pgs now down to 75). I like print for the reasons mentioned by another earlier. I can 'access' it in a non-linear fashion and it's easily portable for me. (Don't own a smarty pants phone and don't plan to at the moment.)I would agree with others: useful comparison reviews, unique content not easily available other places, occasional ringers (Baruth, Sajeev, et al) - it would be attractive to me anyway. I enjoy Corey, Matt and Murilee and hope they continue to contribute here.
  • Daniel J I wish auto journos would do more comparisons. They do some but many are just from notes from a previous review compared to a new review. I see where journos go out to a location and test drive and review a vehicle on location but that does absolutely nothing for me without any comparison to similar cars. I also wish more journos spent more time on seat comfort. I guess that doesn't matter much when many journos seem to be smaller folks where comfort isn't as important. Ergonomics are usually just glossed over unless there is something very specific about the ergonomics that tick the journo off. I honestly get more from most youtube reviews than I ever do about reviews written on a page.