2012 Honda Insight: Higher MPGs, New Grille, Nicer Interior

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2012 Honda Insight - European market version to be shown at Frankfurt Motor Show

2012 Honda Insight - European market version to be shown at Frankfurt Motor Show

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For 2012, Honda is planning to revise the Insight hatchback to address several of the criticisms levied against its smallest four-seat hybrid.

Now, it's released a few details of the revised 2012 Insight before it officially unveils the updated model at the Frankfurt Motor Show, which opens September 13.

In the two years it's been on sale, the Honda Insight hybrid hatchback has been far from a sales success.

The subcompact five-door is saddled with a noisy interior, far less interior space than its gasoline Fit hatchback cousin, and gas-mileage figures noticeably lower than the 50-mpg combined rating of the larger, more comfortable, quicker Toyota Prius hybrid.

To address these criticisms, Honda has modified the powertrain to improve the gas mileage. The 2012 Honda Insight now returns 57 mpg (96 g of CO2 per km) on the European test cycle, which usually gives gas-mileage figures 10 to 20 percent higher than U.S. ratings.

The current 2011 Honda Insight is rated at 40 mpg city, 43 mpg highway, for a combined EPA rating of 41 mpg. The increase might take that combined gas-mileage rating as high as 46 mpg, but we'll have to wait for the EPA to issue its ratings later in the year.

The improvements come from a more efficient electric air-conditioning system and changes to the continuously-variable transmission (CVT).

Exterior styling updates include a new grille in the front with slightly larger lower air intakes, plus a redesigned rear spoiler meant to improve visibility through the Insight's two-part rear window in the hatch door.

2011 Honda Insight

2011 Honda Insight

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Inside, Honda is said to have "enhanced" the quality of the materials, though given the acres of hard plastic the company used on the 2012 Civic line, we'll be curious to learn what those upgrades may consist of.

The company has also tweaked the 2012 Insight's suspension to deliver a better ride.

If Honda in the States follows the lead of its European arm, it won't raise the price of the Insight much, despite the upgrades. The current 2011 model-year Insight starts at $18,970 (including a mandatory $770 delivery fee).

We'll have more details on the 2012 Honda Insight when the little hybrid hatchback is officially released here in the States.



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Comments (9)
  1. Let's hope they get it right this time.

    In 2010, the Insight was billed as a Prius for much less money. While it was cheaper, it is no Prius (and I mean that in a negative way for Honda).

    Went to a Honda dealership with my sister-in-law to help her buy an Insight. She went home with a wonderful Honda Fit.

  2. I agree John -- they could do much more to improve this car. Smooth wheels, closed upper grill, smooth underside, wheel strakes, crisper Kamm back -- all sorts of aero improvements.

    A lithium battery, with a plugin charger, and EV only mode, cylinder de-activation. And give it a 'Magic Seat' like the Fit!


  3. I sat in a Insight the other day at the dealer and could not fit in the back seat. Not near enough head room. I'm 6'2". The Honda Fit had plenty. I would like a hybrid, but the Insight is so poorly designed, it will not do. So I have buy a non-hybrid Fit or try out a Toyota. I would like to let Honda know what I think of their current product line, but have not been able to find any way to contact them. Maybe they will wake up when all the car sales go to their competitors.

  4. I purchased a 2011 Honda Insight about six months ago. I also considered purchasing a Toyota Prius. The Honda dealer offered me $1500 more for my trade-in than the Toyota dealer. Since the MSRP difference is about $4000 I spent $5500 less for the Honda Insight. I admit that the Prius is a better car but $5500 is alot of money. By the way, I routinely get 50 MPG on the highway in my Insight with the air conditioner on high. Yes, the back seat is not roomy for people over 6 feet tall but apparently the author of this article has never seen a Honda Insight in person. It's not a four seat car. It seats five.

  5. In case people are wondering about the 50 MPG on the highway I'm talking about driving between 65 and 75 MPH without any hypermiling techniques.

  6. @Jim: Thanks for the informative comment. Re/the five-seat vs. four-seat issue, we were unable to fit three adults into the Insight's back seat. I'd say it's five seats only if three of the passengers are children, or adults considerably smaller than the average American, but we'd rather err on the side of being conservative. I can't imagine three adults spending any great length of time in that rear seat. (I have not only seen but driven the car twice, by the way, each time for several days.)

  7. Three, children in the back? Well maybe, as long as they are not in car seats. Two children in car seats will take up the whole back seat.
    But if you have three children between the ages of 8 and 13, that would probably work.

  8. Keep in mind this car is going to have some serious competition when the Prius C comes along next spring.

  9. I got my 2010 Insight EX based on deals that put it about $4500 below Prius II. I had driven a friends second gen prius and had no love for it. In my hands that car estimated it was averaging about 47 mpg. Tested the new prius and it was much improved. The Insight averages 44-45 mpg for me calculated at the fuel stops. Every review comparing the prius and insight that I have read has the prius winning the fuel efficiency comparison but always by a smaller number than EPA difference. I figure a Prius would save me .25 gallon every 100 miles. At $4 a gallon that is $1000 for 100,000 miles. 2 of us travel comfortably. The back seat is ok only up to 5' 10" for an hour. Hatchback utility of both is about equal. It works for us.

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