2019 Honda Insight Review

2019 Honda Insight - Honda's compact hybrid entry gets a reboot

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Honda decided to take the quirk out of its designated hybrid. For its third generation, the 2019 Insight finally looks like a "real" car.

With compact cars being the third largest vehicle segment - behind full-size trucks and midsize SUVs - Honda made the choice to take a new direction with Insight, pushing it into the mainstream with an attractive price point, handsome styling and nice ride and handling.

Design
Unlike previous generations, just glancing at the Insight won't tell you it's a hybrid. The design is handsome and follows the cues set by the recently redesigned Accord.

The hybrid badging is petite and discrete, with small emblems on the side and rear. There is also a blue-ish line running through the top of the grille.

But that's it.

Otherwise it could very well be a baby Accord.

The interior is also handsome with a clean and simple structure with intuitively placed buttons and dials - including a volume knob.

The seats were comfortable and I had excellent visibility out of all the windows.

Ride & Handling
On the road, the Insight is a smooth operator. For being a compact car, the ride wasn't overly rough, and while it wouldn't win a war against a pothole, it did well enough with rough-hewn surfaces.

The Insight is equipped with a 1.5-liter engine that is mated to Honda's 2-motor, and it has a maximum power output of 151 horsepower and 197 pound-feet of torque.

This power equation is well-suited to any kind of driving you do from the quick off-the-line starts you need in an urban environment to the extra oomph for passing maneuvers on the highway.

The Insight has three driving modes: Normal, Econ and Sport. I typically left it in Normal, but as soon as my husband was a passenger he'd hit the Sport button with the excuse of: "What, I can't hear if the car is on if it's not in Sport mode."

And sure enough, as soon as you hit that button the RPMs rev and the engine gives a vroom noise. Throttle response increases - as does the fun factor.

In addition to the three drive modes, there's also a button that sends you into EV only driving. I played around with this a bit, and it was a tad finicky. Your battery needs enough charge for it to work (seemed like it was at least half a charge), and I couldn't get it to stay on for longer than a mile.

Fuel economy
Even though I got a consistently high "eco" score, I didn't quite get the fuel economy I was hoping for.

EPA estimates that you should get between 51 and 55 mpg in the city (depending on trim). I averaged 33.1 mpg in combined driving for the week - with most of my driving in the city.

So, almost 20 mpg less than the estimate was a bit of a disappointment.

However, the fact that my husband kept tapping me into Sport mode probably didn't help either.

Tech & gadgets
For a vehicle on the entry-level side of the spectrum, Insight has a lot of high-tech features - starting with the standard Honda Sensing safety system.

This includes features such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and road departure mitigation.

Other available safety features include automatic high beams, a multi-angle rearview camera, a driver awareness monitor and Honda LaneWatch.

Another key tech feature: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. However, we'd like to point to point out this is not available on the base trim, but it's standard on the EX.

Trims
The Insight will have three trims, and the breakdown and feature inclusion is as follows:
  • LX ($23,725): This well-equipped base trim includes Honda Sensing, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, auto high beams, a 5-inch color audio display, a 6-speaker audio system, heated door mirrors and HandsFreeLink.
  • EX ($24,955): This trim adds smart entry, Honda LaneWatch, remote start, an 8-inch audio display, an 8-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, SiriuxXM and a 60/40 split rear seat.
  • Touring ($28,985): This top-tier trim adds navigation, moonroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lights, leather steering wheel, leather seats, HondaLink, a 10-speaker premium audio system, 8-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, HomeLink remote and automatic wipers.
Safety
Honda added a lot of high-level safety features with the goal of targeting an overall 5-Star Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Standard Honda Sensing alone is a big deal.

And surprise! Both NHTSA and IIHS gave the 2019 Insight top marks. Not only did it get a 5-Star rating from NHTSA, but it also nabbed the coveted Top Safety Pick + award from IIHS.

Not sure what the safety ratings mean? We break it down for you here.

New for 2019
The Insight enters its third generation for 2019 and is all new.

A few of my favorite things

While I have previously poo-pooed Apple CarPlay, with the recent iOS update to include Waze integration, I'm now starting to like it.

It's still glitchy at times, but overall, I'd take this over an embedded navigation system any day of the week.

I also really like that Honda includes its high-level safety tech as standard fare. In a $23K car.

Other automakers (cough, General Motors) could learn a lot here. It should not just be available on a top trim and then offered as a pricey option. Standard. It should be standard.

What I can leave
Since I'm starting to appreciate the finer points of Apple CarPlay, I'm now going to bang the drum for it being standard on every trim.

I'm also a bit miffed that my MPGs were so far afield from the EPA estimates. My husband wasn't in the car with me every time I drove. I did hit the EV button when I could, and I otherwise didn't drive like a speed demon.

It was winter when I had this test vehicle, so I'm sure temperatures played a role, but 20 mpg off the estimate seems a lot.

The bottom line

The Insight is slotted as the entry into Honda's hybrid lineup. It targets a younger, pre-family demographic as is demonstrated by the compact size and lower price point.

It's comfortable, affordable and easy to drive.

Overall, I liked the Insight, but as I mentioned previously, I was definitely disappointed with the as-tested fuel economy.



Jill Ciminillo

Jill has been writing about cars for more than 15 years, representing the female point of view amongst her predominantly male colleagues. And since something like 80 percent of all car-buying decisions are either made by or influenced by women, that's nothing to sneeze at. Formerly the online automotive editor for the Chicago Sun-Times and the print auto editor for Pioneer Press Newspapers, this 5th percentile (aka petite) female tells it like it is from the fun to the functional. Jill recently served as the first female president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and currently sits on its Board of Directors as President Emeritus. In her 9-to-5 job, Jill is the automotive editor for Sinclair Broadcast Group.

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