The 2013 Honda Insight shares a basic shape with the quintessential hybrid, the Toyota Prius, and it's all due to physics. Both cars are five-door hatchbacks that have been styled and shaped for lowest wind resistance, to eke out every last mile from a gallon of gasoline. While the Insight's a subcompact and the Prius is dubbed a mid-size for its interior room, each has a steeply raked windshield, a high tail, and a vertical glass panel in the hatch to permit visibility out the back through the rear-view mirror.
Inside, a Civic-like two-level dashboard 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 climate controls are located in their own area of the dash, to the right of the steering wheel, rather than in the more usual position in the center stack--making it slightly awkward for the front right passenger to reach them. Controls for the audio system and the optional navigation system are in the usual central location, however.
Looking out from inside--even from the rear seats--is easy, thanks to a lower window line than in many modern cars. This is a Honda trademark we approve of, carried even into the latest 2013 Accord mid-size sedan, and makes the Insight a much nicer car to ride in than those designs with rising beltlines and more slit-like windows.
On the outside, the 2013 Insight carries several distinctive Honda design elements. The thin projector-beam headlamps are calmer than the huge, overwrought lights of a few years ago, and the front fascia and grille--which were redesigned last year--evoke the Honda FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle. LED taillamps and a prominent air diffuser under the bumper continue the low-energy-use, highly aerodynamic theme at the rear. Even the sleek door handles are scaled to the car, rather than the truck-like oversize efforts even some small cars carry.