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 |  Oct 18 2011, 10:30 AM

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The Honda Insight, boasting the highest fuel economy of any new vehicle under $20,000, gets a mid-life model update for 2012.

Exterior wise, the Insight receives a more distinctive grill design with a thin, blue accent bar to highlight its high-tech identity. Aerodynamic enhancements include a smother underbody cover and an addition of air diffusers beneath the rear bumper to better channel airflow. The reshaped front and rear bumpers also provide a 2 percent decrease of aero drag and wraps around a slightly wider set of wheels, 185/60/15 tires from the prior 175/65/15, which helps to improve the Insight’s handling.

The Insight’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system continues the use of a 1.3-liter i-VTEC gasoline inline-4 engine and a 10-kilowatt electric motor. The system produces 98-hp and 123 lb-ft of torque. Friction-reduction treated parts and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) work to bump the Insight’s EPA from the old rating of 40/43/41 to a slightly higher 41/44/42 city/highway/combined.

Honda’s latest Satellite-Linked Navigation System features voice recognition, a system storing more than 7 million points of interest within the continental United States, a 16-GB flash hard drive, subscription free FM traffic, and a rearview camera.

The insight will be available in three model trims. The base model will have a 160-watt, two-speaker audio system, automatic climate control, power windows, and remote entry for $18,350. An Insight LX will feature a four-speaker audio system, USB audio interface, an armrest console, floor mats, and a security system. Finally, the Insight EX will get alloy wheels, paddle shifters, heated side mirrors, six speaker audio, Bluetooth capability, and satellite navigation available. EX begins at $21,815.

GALLERY: 2012 Honda Insight

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Click here to read AutoGuide’s Honda Insight Review