2019 Honda Insight: America's Oldest Hybrid Climbs the Social Ladder

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
2019 honda insight americas oldest hybrid climbs the social ladder

Third time’s a charm, they say, and Honda surely hopes it’s true. As the third iteration of the on-again, off-again dedicated hybrid model, the newly enlarged 2019 Honda Insight is putting on airs and climbing up from the bottom of the automaker’s model lineup.

For the coming model year, the reintroduced Insight will occupy the third rung of the brand’s car portfolio, above the Fit and Civic, but below Accord. Thanks to a pre-Detroit auto show release, we now have a better idea of what’s going on inside the new Insight, as well as under the hood.

Powering the Insight is the latest version of Honda’s two-motor hybrid system, this one using a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder mated to an electric motor of undetermined strength and a lithium-ion battery pack (located under the rear seat) of undetermined capacity. Honda claims the vehicle operates under electric power in most situations, drawing current from the engine-turned-generator.

As for efficiency, the automaker is shooting for a 50 mpg-plus combined fuel economy rating. The model’s main rival, the Toyota Prius, warrants a 52 mpg combined rating.

Unlike past versions of the Insight, this latest model isn’t as concerned with being the most efficient plugless hybrid on the road. Mixing up the recipe, Honda wants the new Insight to serve as a premium, stylish alternative to other hybrid models. Certainly, the Insight’s face is Pure Honda, reflecting styling cues seen on the 2018 Accord. Long, flowing flanks stand in sharp contrast to the cramped, bulbous Insights of yesteryear.

Inside, Honda promises best-in-class passenger volume. The model “signals we are entering a new era of electrification with a new generation of Honda products that offer customers the benefits of advanced powertrain technology without the traditional trade-offs in design, premium features or packaging,” said Henio Arcangeli, Jr., general manager of American Honda Motor Company’s Honda division.

Premium features like perforated leather seating await Insight buyers willing to shell out for options, while an 8.0-inch touchscreen provides access to infotainment functions, including available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Honda promises more intuitive, “smartphone-like features and functionality,” with Wi-Fi-enabled over-the-air updates. In the gauge cluster sits a 7.0-inch driver information display.

Available later this year, the 2019 Insight shares its Greensburg, Indiana assembly plant with the Civic and CR-V. Expect a prototype unveiling on January 15th at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

[Images: Honda]

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  • Bd2 Bd2 on Jan 12, 2018

    That chrome bar-look up front is still ghastly, but this would have made a nicer-looking Accord.

  • LuvGermanCars LuvGermanCars on Jan 12, 2018

    Not a bad looking car. The front end is a little easier on the eyes when compared to the new Accord. Being a past TDI owner and longtime Volkswagen owner/enthusiast, I've really started to miss my MK6 Golf TDI's awesome highway mileage (48-50 mpg) which has me thinking of looking for something a little more fuel efficient. Never been a hybrid or electric car fan, but I'm now doing about 155 miles combined in commuting for work and seriously contemplating a highway mule. I replaced the TDI with a 16 Golf Variant TSI that gets about 42 mpg highway (tuned, lowered, installed all Euro aero underbody skid panels and other non-US market goodies from the R Variant) which is not horrible, but the tiny 11-gallon fuel tank hinders this otherwise great vehicle. Any ideas?

    • Ttacgreg Ttacgreg on Jan 12, 2018

      FWIW I drove my 16 Pruis here in Colorado over Vail pass to Glenwood Springs and back, most of it at 75-85 mph. It returned 53mpg for the trip. Hurts: steep high speed grades and elevation gains & losses: 4,900 ft from Glenwood to Vail Pass summit. Helps: Lower resistance, thin high altitude air. I'm betting it would do better than 53mpg on I-80 through Nebraska.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.