Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
Honda’s two mainstream hybrid sedans seemingly chase a similar buyer, but the Accord Hybrid and Insight have less in common than one might think. Both offer fuel-sipping electrified powertrains, four doors, and room for four adults to stretch out and stow their luggage in adequately sized trunks. We’ve tested both, but which one makes the better hybrid?
For this comparison we’ve pitted our long-term 2019 Honda Insight Touring—itself a nearly loaded example—against a 2019 Accord hybrid Touring to see which one provides the best mix of driving enjoyment, fuel efficiency, creature comforts, and value. Before you blow up our comments section complaining that one of these plays in the compact-car segment while the other is clearly a mid-size family sedan, consider that the Insight’s base price of $23,860 is but $2390 less than the entry point for the Accord hybrid.
At the Touring trim level, the two cars are further apart in price, with our Insight Touring coming in at $28,985 and the Accord hybrid Touring costing $35,920. Both cars come standard with Honda’s suite of driver-assistance features, a power moonroof, and 17-inch aluminum wheels. The Accord’s powertrain consists of a more powerful 2.0-liter inline-four and two motor/generators, a combination that’s good for a combined 212 horsepower. The Insight’s total of 151 horses comes from a smaller 1.5-liter four and a pair of motor/generators.
On the Road
The Insight is one of the better handling small hybrid cars on the road today, which is no surprise considering it shares its platform with the pleasingly athletic Honda Civic. A comfortable ride and direct steering help the Insight feel both engaging and somewhat luxurious. That said, the Accord hybrid offers more fluid handling and a quieter on-road demeanor that elevates it above its little brother.
Where the Insight shines is in the fuel-economy realm, handily beating the larger Accord hybrid in terms of EPA ratings. While the Accord scores an official 48 mpg across its city, highway, and combined estimates, the Insight’s results of 55 mpg city, 49 highway, and 52 combined appear more promising. Stepping up to the Insight Touring, though, drops those ratings to 51/45/48. On our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, the Insight Touring delivered 47 mpg while the Accord hybrid Touring managed just 41.
Speaking of test results, a 2018 Accord hybrid (mechanically identical to the 2019 model) out-accelerated the less powerful Insight in all of our tests except in the 50-to-70-mph metric, where the two hybrids tied with a 5.8-second result. The times are close, though, and in practice both models offer plentiful power for scooting around town or merging into fast-moving highway traffic. With a zero-to-60-mph time of 7.0 seconds, the Accord hybrid is but 0.6 second quicker to that mark than the Insight. The Insight’s engine drones loudly during acceleration and sounds less polished than the Accord hybrid’s, but the smaller Honda’s powertrain is more seamless in its transitions between gas and electric power. The Accord comes off as less refined when driven spiritedly, its engine noticeably switching on and off as its driver lifts off the accelerator to enter a corner or gets back into the throttle upon exit.
The Inside View
Although just eight cubic feet separate the Insight and the Accord hybrid in terms of passenger volume, the Accord’s interior feels positively massive in comparison to the smaller Insight, particularly in the rear-seat area and its available legroom. Both will fit four adults just fine, but those relegated to the back seat will undoubtedly vote for the Accord. In our testing, the Accord beat the Insight’s carry-on capacity by accommodating seven cases inside its trunk versus the Insight’s six.
Likewise, the Accord’s interior styling appears more modern and elegant than the Insight’s. Both cars come with touchscreen infotainment as standard, and in the Touring models, the screens themselves are 8.0-inch units featuring both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A 10-speaker stereo is included on both the Insight Touring and Accord hybrid Touring, as is in-dash navigation and SiriusXM satellite radio. The Accord Hybrid Touring ‘s additional tech features include a wireless device charging pad and near-field communication capability for easier device pairing, neither of which are offered on the Insight.
The Bottom Line
It’s undeniable that the Insight makes for a better hybrid. We have no doubt that it would satisfy hybrid buyers, and its decidedly mainstream exterior styling is far more discreet than some compact hybrids such the Toyota Prius, although the Insight did lose out to the 2020 Toyota Corolla hybrid when we lined them up door handle to door handle. But from the Honda store, the Accord is the hybrid we’d rather live with day after day. Its more spacious cabin, superior driving dynamics, and still-fantastic fuel economy makes it a better all-around package than the Insight, but we might recommend a lower trim level than the full-bore Touring to keep its price in check.