2020 Honda Insight 4DR Touring Review by David Colman
Well, it'll make you feel safe at least
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
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.
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.
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.
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
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