2014 Honda Insight Photo
/ 10
On Performance
On Performance
The 2014 Honda Insight handles decently, but runs out of power quickly under heavy loads.
6.0 out of 10

PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10

Expert Quotes:

While the Insight is very fuel-efficient, it is lacking in any kind of power for acceleration.
MSN Autos

The "Econ" button, which changes the drivetrain programming to trade a little better fuel economy for less-lively performance, stays off if you turn it off.
USA Today

outstanding fuel efficiency and all the best dynamic traits of the Fit

Overall the handling is sound, though not sporty.
Consumer Reports

We appreciated the Honda's frisky personality
Popular Mechanics

The 2014 Honda Insight is what's called a "mild hybrid," meaning that unlike all of Toyota's growing number of hybrid vehicles, it cannot move itself on electric power alone. Instead, a small electric motor simply assists the gasoline engine, adding torque as well as restarting the engine when it switches off as the car comes to a stop.

The drawback to this setup is that for creeping, stop-and-go traffic, the engine is constantly switching on and off, and the Insight is continually slightly delayed in moving forward as that happens. Honda says the car will maintain its speed on electricity alone up to 30 mph, but we've seen this happen only rarely--and never more than for a few seconds--in our Insight road tests.

The Insight's powertrain uses the well-known Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system, which pairs a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine with a 10-kilowatt (13-horsepower) electric motor. The engine and a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) sandwich the motor; total output for both is 98 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque. The high-end Insight EX model includes paddles behind the steering wheel so drivers can "upshift" and "downshift" simulated "gears" to mimic a seven-speed transmission, for more directly controlled performance.

There's plenty of torque for eager acceleration from stoplights, and the Insight has adequate power for passing at lower speeds. But when full power is needed, the CVT displays some rubber-band-like lag and engine noise rises remarkably.

The electric motor also acts as a generator, recapturing energy from braking and engine overrun to charge a small nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. The Insight now remains the sole hybrid Honda that uses this older battery technology; the 2012 Civic Hybrid and the 2013 CR-Z sport coupe both switched to a more compact lithium-ion pack.

Handling and roadholding is far better than that of the numb, remote driving feel of the classic Prius. The Insight handles winding roads decently, though it's not as linear and crisp as the Fit subcompact hatchback it shares the showroom with. But it's confident enough in all but the very curviest, tightest corners, and highway cruising is unexpectedly poised. Just don't expect to pass anything in a hurry. Brakes (discs in front, drums in back) work fine, with extra slowing effort provided by the regenerative braking once the driver lifts off the accelerator.


The 2014 Honda Insight handles decently, but runs out of power quickly under heavy loads.

« Prev: Interior / Exterior Next: Comfort and Quality »
Other Choices Read More
/ 10
TCC Rating
/ 10
TCC Rating
/ 10
TCC Rating
/ 10
TCC Rating
/ 10
TCC Rating
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area

How does the
TCC Rating work?
The TCC Rating is a clear numeric rating value based on a 10-point scale that reflects the overall opinion of our automotive experts on any vehicle and rolls up ratings we give each vehicle across sub-categories you care about like performance, safety, styling and more.

Our rating also has simple color-coded “Stop” (red), “Caution” (orange),
or “Go” (green) messages along with the numerical score so you can easily understand where we stand at a glance.

Our automotive experts then also collect and show you what other websites say about these different aspects of any vehicle. We do this leg work for you to simplify your research process.

Learn more about how we rate and review cars here.

© 2015 The Car Connection. All Rights Reserved. The Car Connection is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by izmo, Inc. Send us feedback.