Honda attempts to answer green-minded customers looking for an entry-level model with its 2011 Honda Insight hybrid lineup which offers a base model with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) beginning at just $18,200.
That’s the plain-named ‘Insight’ edition of the Honda Insight line-up of automobiles, not to be confused with the better-equipped ‘Insight LX,’ which boasts some additional features, or the top-shelf ‘Insight EX,’ the luxury model available with Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System. One change for 2011: all Honda Insight models come equipped with Vehicle Stability Assist, a feature formerly offered just with the Honda Insight EX model.
Three Honda Insight Models
If your primary focus is finding a way to get into hybrids without breaking the bank, you may be pleasantly surprised to know that the Honda Insight base model won’t leave you feeling like you’ve settled for a stripped-down runner-up. It still includes remote entry, distinct seating fabric and a basic audio system with CD and dual speakers. But if you’re able to step it up a bit, you may be happier with the middle-of-the-road Honda Insight model, the Insight LX, which adds cruise, a center armrest storage console, floor mats, four-speaker audio system and even a USB audio interface. You’ll find these goodies and more in the Honda Insight EX, which also delivers steering wheel-mounted audio controls, alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, six-speaker audio and other upgrades.
This family of Honda Insight hybrids offers five-passenger, five-door styling. Under the hood, you’ll find the expected 1.3-liter, 4-cylinder gasoline engine and a 10-kilowatt DC brushless electric motor. Combined, they help Insight reach an EPA-estimated city/highway/combined fuel economy rating of 40/43/41 miles per gallon. That puts Honda Insight in the driver’s seat, if not in the lead, for sinking the number three spot in the U.S. in vehicle fuel economy, alongside Honda's Civic Hybrid.
As in other hybrids, the Honda Insight electric motor, positioned in-line between the engine and the transmission, adds power during acceleration and in certain cruising situations, and recaptures energy from the vehicle’s forward momentum during braking, otherwise known as a hybrid's regenerative braking system.
Honda Insight Eco Assist
Adding to its green qualities, Insight offers Eco Assist. Pressing the ECON button will give a kick-start to the efficiency of numerous vehicle systems, including throttle control, CVT operation, idle-stop duration, air conditioning and cruise-control operation, where equipped. Eco Assist also provides feedback on how to improve fuel efficiency through changes to driving style, utilizing a 3D-appearing background within the speedometer that changes from green to blue with each inefficient driving habit. Fuel efficiency ratings are shown per drive cycle and over lifetime via plant-leaf graphics that appear in the Multi-Information Display (MID) and can display up to five leaves.
Honda has taken a page from the design book for its hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity in providing the 2011 Insight with what can rightfully be called a reworked, sleeker exterior resulting in a more aerodynamic side profile and front-end design closely resembling the FCX Clarity. Honda says it gave Insight plenty of passenger room, including a configurable rear seating and cargo area enhanced by 60/40 split fold-down seats.