As it has been for five model years, the 2014 Honda Insight has the smooth, high-tail hatchback shape pioneered a decade ago by the Toyota Prius. It's the best way to get at least four doors into a vehicle while minimizing wind resistance, though the Insight is deemed a subcompact and the Prius now counts as a mid-size car by interior volume. But the steep rake of the windshield, the high vertical tail, even the second glass panel in the tailgate for better visibility all echo that second-generation Prius.
But the Insight is clearly a Honda, echoing design elements from other models in the range. The front end is meant to remind you of the FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle--if you know what that looks like--and thin projector-beam headlights wrap around the corners of the car. The entire Insight is scaled small, with doorhandles notably less huge than those on other makers' small cars, and aero themes are everywhere. The bumper corners have molded flat "blades" to ease the airflow off the sides of the car, and both a prominent rear air diffuser and LED taillights underscore the efficiency theme.
The interior will also be familiar to Honda owners, with a two-tier dashboard much like that used for years in the Civic. The goal is to site driving and powertrain information at the base of the windshield, further forward than the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, so drivers can easily glance at it with less refocusing.
Audio and navigation controls are in the center of the dashboard, but climate controls are in a sort of pod to the right of the steering wheel--meaning the front passenger has something of a reach to change the temperature or redirect airflow.