It’s been 20 years since Honda launched the Honda Insight, which holds the honor of being the first gas-electric hybrid vehicle in the U.S. The all-new 2019 Honda Insight will be Honda’s fourth dedicated hybrid model in the U.S. (after the first- and second-gen Insight and the CR-Z), and it takes a far more traditional approach than its predecessors.
This, in large part, is thanks to the fact that the Insight is now based off the current tenth-generation Honda Civic (and produced at the same Greensburg, Indiana assembly plant), but it’s more than just a renamed Civic Hybrid and is slightly larger and roomier than the Civic Sedan. Will all of this be enough of an advantage to take on dedicated hybrids like the Toyota Prius as well as the Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro? We sampled a top-of-the-line 2019 Honda Insight Touring to find out.
2019 Honda Insight Exterior
While the first two generations of the Insight consisted of a three-door hatchback (2000-2006) and five-door hatchback (2010-2014), the 2019 Honda Insight is closer to a traditional sedan. It’s a sedan in the fact that it has four doors and a separate trunk, but Honda still incorporated plenty of aero-friendly sleekness into the design with an elongated, coupe-like roofline similar to the current Civic. Although the Insight is based off the same platform as the, the two compact sedans share no sheet metal.
Up front, the 2019 Honda Insight actually looks more like a scaled-down Accord with its larger headlights, bigger grille and a more pronounced chrome accent. At the rear, the Insight ditches the Civic’s C-shaped taillights in favor of a more horizontal-shaped light that give off an Audi-like look when illuminated. The short decklid, stretched roofline and triangular quarter windows (not very common on today’s compact sedans) help make the Insight look and feel longer than a typical compact adding a little extra style and sportiness to Honda’s entry-level hybrid.
2019 Honda Insight Interior
Both the Civic and Insight ride on the same 106.3-inch wheelbase, but the 2019 Honda Insight is slightly longer and wider, and by packaging the lithium-ion battery pack under the rear seats, the Insight delivers a roomier cabin with more rear seat space and overall passenger volume than Prius or Ioniq. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, while the back seats deliver impressive comfort including best-in-class legroom. Even the 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk is impressive, but it’s at an obvious disadvantage to its hatchback competition.
Speaking of the competition, the Insight’s cabin is far more appealing than the quirky interior of the Prius, and it has a more driver-focused look and feel than the Ioniq. This all adds up to a hybrid experience that is more upscale and refined than anything else in this class. Granted, this tester came in the Touring trim, which adds an extra dose of cabin tech and luxury, but even a base Insight gets standard features such as a five-inch infotainment display, push-button start and Pandora and Bluetooth connectivity. The EX and Touring trim levels upgrade to an eight-inch screen with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and the interface is remarkably easy with a combination of touch screen and push-button operations. The 2019 Honda Insight Touring comes with navigation, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, 450-watt 10-speaker audio system, two USB ports and HondaLink – it’s so much equipment that this trim levels doesn’t even offer add-on option packages.
2019 Honda Insight Powertrain
At the heart of the 2019 Honda Insight is a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine mated to a two-motor hybrid system and a lithium-ion battery pack that combine for a total hybrid system power of 151 horsepower and 197 lb-ft of torque. This advanced powertrain gives the heavier, more luxury-minded Touring model EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 51 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway**, while the base LX and midgrade EX trims are rated at 55 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway**.
The best part about the driving experience of the new Honda Insight is that it doesn’t feel like a hybrid. Acceleration is pleasantly smooth, while the brakes don’t exhibit the same squishy pedal as most hybrids and EVs. Even better, Honda took its regenerative braking a step further by offering three different levels of brake regen, which are controlled using the steering wheel paddles. If you try really hard, you can push the Insight for over a mile in EV mode at lower speeds, but if you top 25 mph or push the pedal too hard, the gas engine hums to life with very little disruption. Unlike the Prius, all versions of the 2019 Honda Insight come standard with a lithium-ion battery pack, and the entire packaging equates to a curb weight that is just 115 pounds more (for Touring trim levels) than the Civic Sedan.
2019 Honda Insight Safety
The 2019 Honda Insight has a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thanks to a solid design and an extensive list of standard safety features. Honda’s innovative camera-based LaneWatch blind spot monitor is standard on all but the base LX model, and the Touring trim adds the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety features such as Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation System and Traffic Sign Recognition System.
2019 Honda Insight Overall
After a five-year hiatus, the Insight name makes a triumphant return as a compact sedan that boasts style, fuel efficiency and affordability. Only time will tell if the 2019 Honda Insight can reclaim its seat at the head of the hybrid table, but this car is a solid option for anyone looking for a fuel-efficient family car without the added pretentiousness of a typical hybrid. After all, the Insight has all the efficiency of a gas-electric hybrid without a quirky design or other nonsensical hybrid callouts – there’s just three small hybrid badges on the outside and a standard Honda cabin on the inside.
Best of all, the 2019 Honda Insight has a starting price of $22,930*, which is less than a new Prius and only about $3,500 more than a base Civic Sedan. The Touring trim includes everything you can get on the Insight, so there are no add-on options for this trim level to go along with this tester’s $28,985 as-tested price. That’s an excellent price for a loaded compact sedan these days, and even better for one that will return 52 mpg in combined driving.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Honda dealership and test drive the 2019 Honda Insight today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2019 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.