The Honda Insight makes hybrid ownership attainable. Created to be sold not only in the United States but also in markets around the world, the Insight costs less than the smaller Civic Hybrid. Just because it’s inexpensive doesn’t mean that it lacks technical sophistication, however, as it uses the same parallel-hybrid powertrain that does duty in the Civic Hybrid. Current Honda owners who get behind the wheel of the Insight will feel instantly at home. The cabin design and ambience are an appealing mixture of Civic, Fit, and first-generation Insight, with effective ergonomics, intuitive controls, and lots of nooks and crannies for storage. Hybrids are all about fuel economy, and last year’s Insight achieved 40 mpg in the city and 43 mpg highway. The Insight’s 2012 EPA estimates have not yet been released, but Honda promises even better mileage. Changes made to improve fuel economy include the fitment of a new set of low-rolling-resistance tires, tweaking the exterior styling, and reducing friction in the little gas engine. All in all, the Insight brings a simple, price-minded attitude to a crowded market, and it should appeal to buyers who’ve been intrigued by hybrids but didn’t think it made economic sense to purchase one — until now.

Drive: Front-wheel
Trim Levels: Insight, LX, EX
Body style: Hatchback, 5-passenger
Engine: 1.3L I-4 hybrid/electric, 111 hp, 181 lb-ft
Transmission: Continuously variable
Passenger volume: 85.0 cu ft
Cargo Space: (rear seats up/down) 15.9/31.5 cu ft

Aerodynamic modifications and engine tweaks have been made to increase the Insight’s fuel efficiency. The exterior styling has been revised, and the Insight gets new wheels, new low-rolling-resistance tires, and more features for the infotainment system. While we haven’t received firm details from Honda, expect Bluetooth and streaming audio to be available on more Trim Levels.

Front, side, and side curtain air bags are available, as are antilock brakes, traction and stability control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

All: 40 mpg city/43 mpg highway

  • Good gas mileage
  • High value for the dollar
  • Familiar Honda interior
  • Wind and road noise
  • Ride quality

The original hybrid gets a little more green.

  • Ford Fusion Hybrid
  • Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
  • Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • Toyota Prius

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