2021 Honda Insight Review


While electric vehicles are getting all the media attention, they do have a few significant drawbacks. First, most pure EVs with adequate range cost significantly more than their fossil burning counterparts. Second, the production of large lithium-ion battery packs is both resource intensive, and struggles to meet demands. 

According to the British analytics firm Emissions Analytics, hybrids, especially the ones designed for the masses, provide as much as 14 times more carbon emission reduction per unit of battery size than pure EVs. 

With that in mind, the Honda Insight, an affordable hybrid with great fuel economy stands to be the perfect vehicle to reduce the burden on mother earth. The third generation Honda Insight was first introduced in 2018. It is based on the tenth-generation Civic, and shares the same impressive ride quality.  

Thanks to Honda Canada, we were loaned the 2021 Honda Insight for one week to test drive. Is it the perfect vehicle to bridge us to the zero emission future? Below is my unbiased review.


Even the best fuel saving vehicle needs to be good looking to attract potential buyers. Thankfully, the handsome exterior of the Insight doesn’t disappoint. It is very similar in size and proportions to the Civic sedan, but the exterior of the Insight is cleaner and feels more sophisticated. 

The front fascia features Honda’s signature flying wing grille with thick chrome horizontal trims. The slim headlamps, daytime running lights, and fog lamps are all driven by LED bulbs. This, combined with the wide grille, gives the Insight a low and powerful stance.  

From the side, a sweeping couple-like roofline not only gives the Insight a proportional profile, but also improves its aerodynamic efficiency. Sharp character lines emphasize the beefy wheel arches and reduce the visual weight of the door panels. While some hybrids and electric vehicles adopt funky looking aerodynamic wheels, the 17”aluminum alloy wheels on the Insight are classy and tasteful. 

The rear profile of the insight is equally clean and polished. The integrated spoiler and a sharp center crease bridge the slim LED tailights for a wide body look. A sweeping chrome trim below the rear bumper adds a touch of sophistication to the otherwise minimalist design. 



The interior of the Insight is quite a pleasant place to be. While some cost saving measures are expected at this price range, the Insight feels more premium than the Civic and competes well with other hybrid vehicles on the market. The soft-padded dashboard features contrast stitching and chrome highlights. Some hard plastics can be found at the lower parts of the cabin, but they are textured to look more expensive. 

The climate controls are conveniently located below the center infotainment screen. I am glad that Honda decided to keep the physical knobs and buttons. Just like all the Honda vehicles we have test driven lately, the shift lever and handbrake are replaced by a panel of buttons. I have gotten pretty used to the positions and tactile feedback of the shift buttons, but for anyone using the system for the first time, there is a slight learning curve. 

The leather front seats in our Touring trim tester are very comfortable. The sitting position is on the lower side similar to that of the Civic, but there is plenty of legroom, and the visibility is decent. Heated front seats are standard, but heated rear seats are only available to the Touring trim. 

The rear seats don’t offer as much lateral support, but the leather surfaces feel nice and supportive. There is a surprising amount of legroom, but due to the sloping roofline, taller passengers will find the headroom limited. A one-touch power moonroof is standard for all trims, but it is not a panoramic one we are starting see in some newer models. 


The infotainment system of the insight is centered around the 8” center touchscreen. The user interface is very similar to the one we found in the Civic and offers an intuitive layout. The touch response is not the snappiest, but tolerable. Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard, and the available HondaLink subscription services allow remote features such as engine start, door lock/unlock, geofence alert, and automatic collision notification. 

The 7” digital color instrument cluster display is located on the left side of the analog speed dial. It is on the larger side for this price range and provides useful customizable information such as hybrid power distribution, Honda Sensing safety information, and vehicle settings. 

Standard Insight gets a 180-Watt 8 speaker audio system, but our touring trim tester gets a 482-Watt premium audio system with 10 speakers.

Safety and Driver Assistance

Honda packaged the Insight with a comprehensive set of standard safety features. The Honda Sensing suite includes:

• Forward Collision Warning (FCW) 

• Collision Mitigation Braking (CMBS®)

• Lane Departure Warning (LDW) 

• Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)

• Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) 

• Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow

• Traffic sign recognition

Some of the features are usually only found in higher priced vehicles. On top of that, the 2021 Insight earns a Top safety Pick+ rating from IIHS and a five star rating from NHTSA. Both are the highest ratings from the agencies. 


One thing about driving a hybrid compared to driving a pure EV is the total lack of range anxiety. Yes, you may not get the instant torque large electric motors provide, but the Insight does a great job of balancing between brisk acceleration and fuel efficiency. The 2021 Honda Insight is powered by a 1.5L Atkinson cycle 4 cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor. Together, they produce 151 peak horsepower and 197 lb.ft. or torque, decent for a hybrid vehicle. In comparison, the Toyota Prius Hybrid only offers 121hp of total power. The engine power is transmitted to the wheels via a Electric-Continuously Variable Transmission. 0-100km/hr happens in roughly 8.7 seconds, 1.5 seconds faster than the Prius. 

The drivetrain is quite refined when not pushed hard. You will barely notice the complicated dance between the electric motor, the gasoline engine, and the CVT transmission. But the engine sound does permeate into the cabin when the accelerator is pushed hard. 

What really impresses me is the way the Insight handles. It is confident, refined, and balanced. The car sits low, so it does a wonderful job of staying composed in corners. Yet, the suspension soaks up road disturbances exceedingly well. The steering is sharp and precise, just like the Civic Sedan. 

The Insight is rated at 4.6L/100km city, 5.3 L/100km, and 4.9 L/100km. After a week of mostly city test drive, we obtained a fuel economy figure of 5.7L/100km. Using the steering wheel mounted regenerative braking selector, it is possible to obtain a better fuel economy rating by maximizing the amount of electricity regenerated. 

Cargo Space & Storage

The Insight’s lithium-ion battery is mounted under the rear seats, so the trunk space doesn’t suffer. There is 428L of very useful trunk space behind the second row seats. Under the trunk floor are additional storage trays and a tire inflation kit. The 40/60 split rear seats can be folded to allow access to the cabin. However, the opening is quite restricted. 

In cabin storage options are plentiful. Both the center console storage bin and the glove compartment are on the larger side, so are the side door pockets. Rear passengers have access to two additional cup holders in the center folding armrest. There is also a storage pouch behind the front passenger seat back. 


The 2021 Honda Insight is an excellent hybrid that offers great fuel savings (and reduced Co2 emission) with few compromises. It is a handsome car with excellent interior and a generous set of advanced safety features. If those are not enough, the Insight also drives very much like a conventional internal combustion vehicle with excellent handling and ride quality. It is too bad that the Insight is not getting nearly enough attention it deserves, but for those in the know (you included now), it may just be the perfect vehicle to bridge us to the pure EV era. 

Test Vehicle

2021 Honda Insight Touring


$28,490 CAD Base, $32,190 CAD as tested


Platinum White Pearl


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