2020 Lexus ES Series vs. 2020 Honda Insight

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Lexus ES Series have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Honda Insight doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The ES Series has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Insight doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The ES Series offers optional Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Insight doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The ES Series offers an optional Panoramic View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Insight only offers a rear monitor.

To help make backing safer, the ES Series’ optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Insight doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the ES Series and the Insight have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors and available blind spot warning systems.

The Lexus ES Series weighs 571 to 717 pounds more than the Honda Insight. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Lexus ES Series is safer than the Honda Insight:

ES Series

Insight

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

120

202

Neck Compression

30 lbs.

54 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

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The ES Series comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Insight’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the ES Series 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Honda covers the Insight. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Insight ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The ES Series’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Insight’s (6 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

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A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the ES Series’ reliability 20 points higher than the Insight.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than Honda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, Honda is ranked 16th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Honda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 40 more problems per 100 vehicles, Honda is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Honda vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Honda is ranked 15th.

Engine

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The ES 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 64 more horsepower (215 vs. 151) than the Insight’s 1.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid.

As tested in Consumer Reports the ES 350 is faster than the Honda Insight:

ES Series

Insight

Zero to 30 MPH

3 sec

3.2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6.9 sec

8.7 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.2 sec

5.3 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

16.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

97 MPH

84 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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The ES Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Insight (13.2 vs. 10.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The ES Series’ standard fuel tank has 5.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Insight (15.9 vs. 10.6 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the ES Series’ brake rotors are larger than those on the Insight:

ES Series

Insight

Front Rotors

12 inches

11.1 inches

Rear Rotors

11.1 inches

10.2 inches

The ES Series stops shorter than the Insight:

ES Series

Insight

60 to 0 MPH

132 feet

136 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the ES Series’ optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Insight (235/45R18 vs. 215/55R16).

The ES Series’ optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Insight Touring’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the ES Series has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Insight. The ES Series’ optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the Insight Touring.

The ES Series has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Insight; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

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The ES Series offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Insight’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The ES Series has variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Insight doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the ES Series’ wheelbase is 6.7 inches longer than on the Insight (113 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the ES Series is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Insight.

Passenger Space

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The ES Series has 2.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Insight (99.9 vs. 97.6).

The ES Series has .1 inches more front legroom, 1.3 inches more front hip room, .9 inches more rear headroom, 1.8 inches more rear legroom and 7 inches more rear hip room than the Insight.

Cargo Capacity

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The ES Series has a much larger trunk than the Insight (16.7 vs. 15.1 cubic feet).

With its sedan body style, valet key and remote trunk release lockout, the ES Series offers cargo security. The Insight’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the ES Series. The Insight doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the ES Series’ trunk can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Insight doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

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The ES Series uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Insight uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Honda. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 66% lower rating, Honda is ranked 23rd.

Ergonomics

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When three different drivers share the ES Series, the optional memory system makes it convenient for all three. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle. The Insight doesn’t offer a memory system.

The ES Series’ optional easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Insight doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The ES Series offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Insight doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The ES Series’ front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Insight’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the ES Series has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Insight doesn’t offer cornering lights. The ES Series also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the ES Series to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Insight doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

When the ES Series with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Insight’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The ES Series has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Insight offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the ES Series keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Insight doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the ES Series’ optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Insight doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The ES Series has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Insight Touring.

Both the ES Series and the Insight offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the ES Series has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Insight doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Lexus ES Series offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Insight doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

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The ES Series will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the ES Series will retain 48.23% to 49.19% of its original price after five years, while the Insight only retains 38.77% to 39.07%.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/16

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Lexus ES Series and the Honda Insight, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Lexus ES Series outsold the Honda Insight by almost four to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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