The new 2021 Honda Insight sits size-wise between the Civic and the Accord. This four-door sedan might look unassuming from the outside, but it packs one powerful punch with its efficient hybrid powertrain. The EPA estimates put it at right around 50 mpg combined, making the Insight one of the most fuel-savvy vehicles on the market, period.
There are not a lot of big changes to be seen this year, but if it isn't broken, don't bother fixing it. The little changes that you will find all center around tech features, mostly those having to do with advanced safety. The Honda Sensing suite is equipped on every single trim level, although the two higher trim levels get treated to blind spot monitoring and the rear cross-traffic alert function. These features are totally new to the Insight, as the 2020 Insight does not have them available even as options.
Overall, there is much to like about the 2021 Honda Insight. It is one of the most talked-about hybrid models this model year. Its high fuel economy is a true highlight, but the hybrid powertrain also has some strong acceleration capabilities. Also, the cabin benefits from an unexpected abundance of space, high quality materials, and a refined ride quality. The only real drawback is that the gasoline-powered engine can sound somewhat rough when put under pressure.
So, which 2021 Honda Insight trim level could be the right one for you? The base LX, mid-level EX, and line-topping Touring all offer a wide array of features coupled with a comfortable and chic design quality. Knowing what comes on each of the three trim levels can help you decide which one will work most at meeting your needs.
Compare the 2021 Honda Insight LX vs EX - What is the Difference?
Let us kick things off with the comparison of the LX and EX trim levels. The LX is the Insight's base trim level, and it packs in a lot of handy features. Some of them are even uncommon when it comes to base trims on other vehicles.
For starters, it comes with the Honda Sensing suite, which gives you a collision mitigation braking system and a road departure mitigation system. You also get adaptive cruise control with a low-speed follow function, a feature that aids with lane keeping, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning. A pretty solid package overall, and it is not something you will find on every competitor's base trim. In addition to that, you also get automatic high beam headlights.
Active safety features are pretty typical. The LX gets a multi-angle rear view camera with guidelines, brake assist, a tire pressure monitoring system, and LED daytime running lights.
The LX gets equipped with a decent amount of infotainment features too. It comes with a 160-watt 6-speaker sound system and 5-inch LCD touchscreen display. In addition, there are features like a single USB audio interface on the front console. Pandora is compatible with the LX, and you can use Bluetooth for hands-free access and audio streaming. A radio data system and speed sensitive volume compensation also come standard.
When it comes to convenience, the LX is about as loaded as a base trim will get. It includes an automatic climate control system, dual vanity mirrors with illumination up front, power windows with an automatic up and down function on the front windows, power door locks, illuminated window and door locking controls up front, and one-touch turn indicators. There is also cruise control and a tilt and telescoping steering column that adds a lot of adjustability for the driver. That's not to mention the interior LED ambient lighting, sliding sun visors, front 12-volt power outlet, push button start, and illuminated controls mounted to the steering wheel.
As far as seating goes, the LX has manual height adjustment for the driver, and there are front seat-belt anchors that can be adjusted, head restraints that can also be adjusted, and a rear seatback that folds down. Of course, the entire line-up only seats five people total, and two adults will comfortably fit in the rear seats.
What about the exterior though? It has some appealing details, such as the auto on/off LED headlights. There are also LED taillights and brake lights, remote entry and trunk release with the security system, and a fin-style antenna mounted on top of the roof. Variable intermittent windshield wipers and body-colored door handles are also standard equipment on the LX.
Now it is time to talk about what is under the hood, and this is where the Insight really shines bright. The entire line-up is powered by an inline-4 cylinder gas-powered engine that produces 107 hp and 99 lb-ft of torque. This is combined with an electric motor that generates 129 hp and 197 lb-ft of torque. Together, these elements make 151.5 hp. There is a 3-mode drive system (with ECON, Sport, and EV modes), a lithium ion battery, an Eco Assist system, an electric parking brake, hill start assist, active noise cancellation, and an engine immobilizer system.
The eCVT gets an EPA estimated 52 mpg combined with 55 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway. Regular unleaded fuel is required for the 10.6 gallon fuel tank. The eCVT transmission has shift-by-wire, Sport Mode, and decelerator selections. Also, the body includes a MacPherson Strut Front Suspension, a rear suspension that is a multi-link type, and Variable-Ratio Electric Power Steering that is dual pinion.
Let's move on to the EX. This mid-level trim comes with much of what is on the LX but makes some important additions. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert also get equipped, as already mentioned. Dynamic guidelines get added to the rear-view camera.
Tech upgrades include an 8-speaker 180-watt sound system and an 8-inch touchscreen display. The display has hard keys and primary controls with feature settings that the driver can easily customize. Honda Link gets added on, as does smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. SMS text messaging, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, HD Radio, and two 2.5-amp USB smartphone/audio interface front ports are also equipped.
Inside the cabin, most of the convenience and comfort features remain the same. The one thing that does get added is a center arm rest for the rear seat passengers. The rear seat does become a 60/40-split folding seat. The exterior is largely the same too aside from the addition of a smart entry system with a walk away auto lock mechanism. The mechanics all remain the same, including the 16-inch alloy wheels.
Compare the 2021 Honda Insight EX vs Touring - What is the Difference?
The line-topping Touring trim level comes with all of the same driver aids and passive and active safety features that you get on the EX, so there are no differences to mention there. The infotainment system is what gets a big upgrade here. The Touring receives a 450-watt 10-speaker sound system with a subwoofer included in its set-up. It also gains a built-in navigation system with Honda HD Digital Traffic and voice recognition capabilities. WiFi hot spot connectivity is standard as well.
Some noticeable changes get made to the Touring's interior design. It receives a seatback pocket on the passenger's side, the Home Link remote system, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a steering wheel that is wrapped in leather, and a rear-view mirror that is automatically dimming.
On top of all that, the Touring trim gets treated to heated front seats and some chic leather upholstery. The driver's seat becomes power adjustable eight different ways while the front passenger's seat is 4-way power adjustable.
A few things change on the outside of the Touring trim level too. There is chrome accent on the outside, and LED turn light indicators get equipped too. The windshield wipers gain a rain-sensing capability, and the door handles are given a chrome accent. A moonroof gets added, and it has a one-touch power functionality with a tilting feature included. There are also LED fog lights that get inserted into the equation. To round it all out, there are 17-inch alloy wheels that get swapped out for the 16-inch ones on the EX. All-season tires still get equipped.
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Which Trim to Choose?
As you can see, each of the 2021 Honda Insight's three trim levels has something a bit different to offer, each one building on the foundations of the one beneath it. As Honda has demonstrated time and again, they are striving to go the distance to excel with their vehicles. The Insight is functional, comfortable, practical, and economical. Its hybrid powertrain really stands out above the competition, getting EPA numbers that set it at the top of the pack.
There are clearly things to enjoy about the Insight regardless of which trim level you decide to buy. However, there is one that will likely stand out the most to buyers. For the price tag, the line-topping Touring will be that trim level. It might not be a luxury vehicle, but it sure starts to feel like one once you slip inside the cabin and get cozy behind the wheel. The chrome trim on the outside looks inviting, but the leather upholstery inside of the cabin is top notch.
The Touring packs in just about every feature that the average driver could possibly want, and then some. The abundance of safety features is attractive enough, but the 10-speaker sound system will win over drivers who like to rock out while on the road. The subwoofer gives a lot of extra 'oomph' to the sound quality, and the bass sounds just right without any weird crackles the higher you crank the volume. The built-in navigation system is handy too with a voice recognition system that responds fairly well to commands.
While the Touring is a bit more expensive, it packs a punch for tech lovers and those looking to add even more class to their vehicle without working their way into the luxury budget range. The added touches all do really well at emphasizing the Insight's overall elegance.
With the Touring trim, you might just have some room left in your budget for equipping a few extra accessories. There are underbody spoilers available, all season floor mats, illuminated door sill trim with the word 'Insight' inscribed in cool lettering, and trim for the outside of the trunk. You cannot do a lot to customize the vehicle, but you really do not have to. Honda basically gives it all to you on the Touring trim level.
To conclude this trim level comparison review, the 2021 Honda Insight is probably one of the most exciting models to hit the market this model year. Its EPA estimates seem to hold up in real-world testing, and the swift acceleration that you get from the hybrid powertrain is nothing to scoff at. In an ever competitive market, Honda is taking measures to show that it does not just want to keep up with competitors, it wants to best them.
• Compare the 2020 Honda Insight Trim Levels