The “freaky” first-generation Insight has been replaced by an aerodynamic, four-door, five-passenger hatchback hybrid. Honda has aped “the Prius’ basic exterior design and packaging philosophy.” But its 40 mpg city, 43 mpg highway fuel efficiency falls far short of the “fantastic” Prius numbers—50 city, 49 highway. Three people can share the rear row, but only if they’re all preteens.

Smaller and less expensive than the Prius so beloved by boomers, the Insight is geared to the under-30 set. Automatic climate control, power windows and locks, rear-window defrost, cargo light, and a tilt-and-telescope steering column are all “good interior appointments for its price class.” The “best-handling hybrid yet,” the Insight also delivers superb electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and electronic braking.

Car and Driver
Honda’s priority with this hybrid is “affordability,” not pushing the technical envelope. The car drives like a Honda, “with tight suspension motions, a firm ride,” and responsive steering. Push the ECON button, and a computer starts to moderate air-conditioning cycles and throttle action to maximize fuel efficiency. Maximum output on the basic 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine is 88 hp, supplemented by a 13-hp
electric motor.