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2020 Honda Insight 4DR Touring Review by David Colman


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2020 Honda Insight 4DR Touring

Well, it'll make you feel safe at least

By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL


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2020 Honda Insight 4DR Touring
If you stress crash safety above all other considerations when selecting a car, Honda's 2020 Insight can't be beaten. This front engine, front wheel drive, 5 passenger hybrid aces the government's NHTSA safety test by scoring 5 stars (out of 5) in all three tests: frontal crash, side crash and rollover. If you stress ultra high mileage as the determining factor in your choice of a car, the 2020 Insight also can't be beaten. This Civic-based sedan is the current mileage champion of cars that can't be plugged into a socket for recharge. Because the Insight will take you 51 miles per gallon of gas in city driving and 45 miles on the highway, its overall rating of 48 MPG makes it the most efficient hybrid car on the planet. For that reason, the government bestows its top rating of 10 on a scale of 10 for Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Rating, and suggests that you will save $3,250 in fuel costs over the average new vehicle if you drive your Insight for the next 5 years.

The downside of this equation is the mediocre driving experience the Insight provides. The first thing you notice is the lack of support from the front seats, which are unyielding and uncomfortable. There's no lumbar adjustment, although both front seats are heated on the Touring model. The second thing that distracts you about driving the Insight is the complicated shift mechanism which Honda and Acura have recently adopted across both model lines. Instead of a palpable stick to manipulate, the Insight demands that you take your eyes off the road in order to master a series of sunken, barely visible switches and buttons to engage park, reverse and drive.


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2020 Honda Insight 4DR Touring

Once you've bumbled your way into Drive, the Insight moves off with such minimal responsiveness that you'll think, "I could run faster than this." After a few such stoplight launches in "Normal" driving mode you'll quickly learn to press the "Sport" mode button on the center console every time you drive the Insight. Unfortunately, you will have to make this selection manually each time you restart this Honda, but at least it offers you a modicum of sprightly performance. The Insight's 1.5 liter engine produces a rather meager 151hp. The electric motor chimes in to supply 197lb.-ft. of torque. Under full cry, the Insight emits a rather startling banshee-like wail you will learn to avoid in order to preserve your hearing.

Honda teams the hybrid with an eCVT transmission that is supplied with small shift paddles adjacent to the steering wheel. When you operate these paddles, the eCVT reduces engine rpm when you shift up, or raises rpm when you shift down. The instrument panel display gives you no idea of what purported "gear" range you have selected. Rather, an illuminated stack of tiny chevrons appear to indicate manually induced shift operation. The exact correlation of chevron to gear range is unclear.

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2020 Honda Insight 4DR Touring
In daily driving, the Insight enjoys a number of positive attributes that will ease the chore of transportation. Topping the list is the welcome inclusion of Honda's LaneWatch video display which riggers automatically to show you adjacent traffic when you flip your turn indicator in either direction. Depressing the button on the indicator stalk lets you keep the LaneWatch display on all the time. Visibility in all directions from the cockpit of the Insight is excellent, with large window panes affording clear views that render most Honda Sensing safety system back-ups unnecessary.

However, for those drawn to such tools, Honda Sensing offers a full compliment in the Touring Insight. We tested the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) on a long freeway jaunt and found the system to be well modulated, even when set at the closest allowed following distance of 1 car length. In addition to ACC, Honda Sensing also provides Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) as standard.

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2020 Honda Insight 4DR Touring
But Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) proved to be rather intrusive. In the event you move the steering wheel even slightly one way or the other, LKAS will flash a visual warning on the instrument panel at the same time the steering wheel tugs hard against you to override your chosen path of travel. This wouldn't have been quite so objectionable had we found the secret recipe to deactivate LKAS. But despite reading the manual and actuating the correct steering wheel mounted buttons, LKAS refused to turn itself off. So we continued our battle for control over the entire week long loan of the Insight.
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2020 Honda Insight 4DR Touring

If your main interest in transportation is to save as much money as possible on driving forays while encapsulating yourself inside what is arguably the most secure safety cell available today, then the Insight should top your list of purchase candidates.

2020 HONDA INSIGHT 4DR TOURING

    ENGINE: 1.5 liter inline 4 cylinder, i-VTEC, +Electric Motor and Traction Battery
    HORSEPOWER: 151hp
    TORQUE: 197lb.-ft.
    FUEL CONSUMPTION: 51MPG City/45MPG Highway
    PRICE AS TESTED: $29,270

HYPES: Excellent Outward Vision, LaneWatch

GRIPES: Poor Seats, Slow and Noisy

Star rating: 6.5 Stars out of 10