The Insight utilizes a gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain packaged neatly in a 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback body style.
The Insight draws its power from both a 1.3-liter inline-4 cylinder gasoline engine with i-VTEC, which produces 98 horsepower mated to a DC brushless electric motor, which puts out 13 horsepower. The two units work as one system, which Honda calls Integrated Motor Assist (IMA). The electric motor is ultra-thin, and sits between the gasoline engine and the transmission. The motor assists the engine, but also does double duty as a starter--quickly spinning the engine up to idle speed after a stop. The batteries are nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH), which are stored beneath the rear cargo area. Putting power to the front wheels is a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which constantly adjusts to provide the best drive ratio possible.
The Insight comes in either LX or EX trim. All Insights provide ample interior head and leg room for both front and rear passengers, and with the rear seat folded down, cargo space is rated at 31.5 cubic feet.
Standard LX features included power mirrors, windows and locks, as well as automatic climate control, tilt/telescopic steering wheel and a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat. The stereo is a 4-speaker 160-watt AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 capability unit. Projector-beam halogen headlights are also standard.
The EX adds heated exterior mirrors, two more stereo speakers, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and a center console. Navigation is available on EX models, and adds other goodies such as Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, steering wheel-mounted audio, navigation and phone controls.
The Insight goes beyond being merely a hybrid and by providing direct feedback, challenges drivers to be aware of the impact of their driving habits. Dubbed Ecological Drive Assist System, or Eco Assist, it is made up of two components--an ECON button that optimizes how the CVT and engine work together, and a unique feedback system that uses ambient colored lighting on the instruments to display whether a driver is being aggressive (blue lighting) or environmentally responsible (green lighting). At the end of each drive, drivers are awarded with an Eco Score based on habits.
All Insights are loaded with standard safety features including dual-stage front airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, active head restraints, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and a tire pressure monitor. Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control is standard on EX models.