Squint at the 2012 Honda Insight, and you may see a silhouette that looks rather like the ur-hybrid Toyota Prius. The laws of physics are to blame; both cars are shaped to cut through the air with the lowest possible wind resistance, stretching each gallon fuel to its maximum. As a result, both are five-door hatchbacks with very high tails and a vertical glass panel in the liftgate to improve rearward visibility.
Still, the Insight incorporates some very Honda-esque design elements, including thin projector-beam headlamps that offer a distinctive break from the large, overwrought front lights of recent years. The grille and front fascia design, mildly revised for the 2012 model, evokes Honda's larger and even greener FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, with distinctive LED taillamps and a new-for-2012 air diffuser in the rear. The window line is low, offering better visibility than in small cars with more extreme and slit-like side window styling. Even the sleek door handles are scaled to the car, rather than the truck-like oversize efforts even some small cars carry.
A two-tone, twin-tier instrument panel similar to that of the new Civic puts critical driving and powertrain information quite far forward, and closer to the base of the windshield, making it easier for the driver to glance at with less refocusing. The center-stack controls--excepting those for the optional navigation system and the audio system--angle toward the driver. Climate controls will be familiar to those used by Fit owners, but are located in their own dashboard area to the right of the steering wheel, rather than in the more usual position in the center stack.