By on March 26, 2018

Image: Honda

Honda’s remarkably fleshed-out Insight prototype has now emerged in production form, looking remarkably like the prototype. Go figure, that.

With the 2019 Insight now positioned between the compact Civic, from which it borrows a platform, and the midsize Accord, Honda wants to tempt green car buyers with an upscale appearance (and experience) they can’t find in the Toyota Prius line. If Honda’s estimate pans out, the sedan will boast better city fuel economy than the stalwart Prius.

The Environmental Protection agency hasn’t yet rated the third-generation Insight, but Honda pegs its city consumption at 55 miles per gallon. That’s 1 mpg more than a stock Prius. (The Eco variant tops its thirstier Prius sibling by 4 mpg on both the city and combined cycle.)

When it rolled out the prototype in January, Honda said it was aiming for a 50 mph combined rating. The Prius gets 52 mpg combined. We’ll have to wait and see which car wins this eco cage match.

Image: Honda

But fuel economy isn’t the whole reason for the Insight’s existence. If it was, Honda could have just reverted back to the two-seat teardrop shape that tempted buyers at the turn of the century. Apparently, it’s easier to sell upmarket hybrid cars these days; thus, the new Insight boasts a well fleshed out list of standard and available features, plus what Honda claims is the largest backseat in the segment. Rear legroom is 37.4 inches, and the trunk offers up 15.1 cubic inch of cargo volume.

Buyers can choose from LX, EX, and Touring models, with the top-tier trim offering all the goodies you’d expect from a near-luxury vehicle. 17-inch wheels come standard on that trim, along with dual-zone climate control, satellite navigation, perforated leather, heated front seats, 10-speaker audio, HondaLink subscription service and HomeLink remote system. All Insight models arrive with a long list of driver assist features, including automatic emergency braking, pre-collision warning, lane keeping, and adaptive cruise control.

Image: Honda

The Insight’s generous dimensions are the result of careful packaging of its two-motor hybrid powertrain. A lithium-ion battery lies beneath the rear seat, keeping the trunk floor where it ought to be. Up front, a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder and electric propulsion motor makes a combined 151 horsepower and 197 lb-ft of torque, with the gasoline engine acting as a generator most of the time. The dominant electric motor draws current from a continuously refilled battery or straight from the engine/generator, meaning the Insight operates as a series hybrid. A conventional automatic or continuously variable transmission isn’t needed with this setup.

With the electric motor directly powering the front wheels, the only mechanical intervention comes at highway speeds, when a lockup clutch connects the gasoline engine to the axle shafts.

So, how much will the Insight cost? We don’t know yet, but Honda will no doubt make sure it doesn’t tread on the Accord Hybrid’s toes. The 2019 Insight, scheduled for a March 28th debut at the New York International Auto Show, starts production at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio assembly plant later this year.

Image: Honda

[Images: Honda]

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60 Comments on “Prototype No More: 2019 Honda Insight Prepares to Wade Back Into the Hybrid Fray...”


  • avatar
    slavuta

    1. Looks like Civic
    2. doesn’t look idiotic like Prius
    3. Still has stupid button drive shifter
    4. Hey, honda decided that car needs a normal grill!
    5. I applaud them placing iPad lower but now it may overheat from the heating vent

    This is aceptable proposition, I think.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “2. doesn’t look idiotic like Prius”

      Green cars that don’t signal SJW virtue (read as, look idiotic) just don’t sell. This thing is DOA.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Prius styling is and always was pretty horrible, however at least some of this was due to aerodynamics for maximum fuel efficiency. Aside from an older South Park episode (and earlier references), I can’t think of an instance where this specifically denoted Bolshevik behavior. Chillax, prole.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Some folks just can’t handle a day without bagging on someone they disagree politically with, I guess.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          Toyota has had a comparably priced, normal looking, and far less punitive to drive green car for sale literally side by side with the Prius for years. The hybrid Camry.

          That Camry was vastly outsold by the Prius even when gas was expensive and in the post-fracking world it immediately receded to a 2K-in-a-really-good-month asterisk. The hybrid Avalon, ES, Accord, etc. don’t sell for chit either.

          Bolshevik signalling isn’t all that’s going on here but in the world of $450 lease payments and $30 fillups it’s an awful lot of it. And Honda missed it.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I missed the part where saving money on gas, or buying a car that has a great reputation for durability, were communist things.

            In fact, all that stuff would be free under real communism.

            What does this mean? It means you slept through high school history class. Don’t be ashamed – so did the guy who’s sleeping (alone) in the White House.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Prius isn’t a cool green car anymore. If you’re signaling, you’re buying a Tesla, Leaf, or Bolt.

        Prius sales numbers a declining because low fuel prices but also because it isn’t a must-have car for many eco-warriors.

        Toyota knew this day would arrive. They were plotting to make Prius a sub-brand of sorts when oil prices were still in the $100 range. Looks like Honda is sort of beating Toyota to the punch.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Around here, Priuses are so ubiquitous they’re invisible. And at least half of them are tools of the rideshare trade, which is a nice niche market for Toyota because of the Prius’s lowest-on-the-market running cost.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          Haven’t seen the most recent sales figures, but the Prius was the number 1 most popular trade-in during the first years of super eco-cars such as the Volt, Leaf, and Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        ” SJW virtue (read as, look idiotic)” …… Such rhetoric, stereotyping, and hyperbole, really?

        Last I checked Prius sales are in the dumps.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      This new Insight looks like a very reasonable proposition to me. But all that driver assistance technology – standard even on the base trim – would keep me away. I don’t blame Honda, really. They’re in the business of selling cars and crossovers, and are simply following the market.

      It’s clear this technology is going to be on all new cars before long. Just what the smartphone-adled public wants. And enough to push me out of the new-car market forever. I’d better get cracking on finding my final new car very soon.

  • avatar
    tnk479

    When it goes on sale, IMO this will be the best looking Honda and also the best looking hybrid. It will be interesting to learn how they price this considering they also sell a hybrid Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      My brother has an Accord Hybrid – it gets 50 MPG on the highway and I assume is bigger inside then the Insight. So similar to PrincipalDan’s comment below I don’t get the market for this unless is much cheaper.

      I love contrasting interior colors, but light colored seating is a terrible idea. Your denim jeans are going to turn these seats blue in short order I bet.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So given that you can buy a Civic Hybrid and an Accord Hybrid, what’s the business case for this?

    • 0 avatar
      tnk479

      The Civic Hybrid is no more. There is also this new Clarity Plug In Hybrid with the um…distinctive rear wheel covers.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Rear fender skirts are going to become the norm. It is an easy and cheap way to improve mileage. But don’t worry, your maleable mind will come to find them attractive. As beautiful as people thought 1920’s cars were.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      This IS the Civic Hybrid, for all intents and purposes.

      Except they gave it a new name, AND they took away the silly pancake motor thingy and gave it the Accord Hybrid’s established 2-motor series hybrid system.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        ^ This.

        This may portend the Civic refresh which should bow in 2019.

        Too bad that the Accord designers didn’t share notes with the folks penning this!

        If it wasn’t for the lack of seat memory, this’d be on my short list. (Of course, if the lack of memory seats DIDN’T bother me, I’d be taking a serious look at the Camry V6, especially if I could live with interior execution on par with my current car, along with the dog’s breakfast of a center-stack, as well as lack of Apple CarPlay!)

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          How do you know there’s no seat memory?

          I mean, besides the obvious and long-time “Honda are cheap bastiges and always cut out things like this” tradition.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The Civic doesn’t have seat memory even in Touring trim. It would be a surprise if what is basically the new Civic Hybrid had it.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Not only does the current Civic not have it, but the pictures of the Insight Touring driver door don’t show a switch for the memory settings.

            And yet they include stuff like rain-sensing wipers and auto-brights!

        • 0 avatar
          tnk479

          I have CarPlay now and I am not sure that I care about it at all. What I care about is being able to make a phone call and play music through the user interface. Whether it’s Apple or the auto makers software doesn’t matter so much.

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            “I have CarPlay now and I am not sure that I care about it at all. What I care about is being able to make a phone call and play music through the user interface. Whether it’s Apple or the auto makers software doesn’t matter so much.”

            100% this. I’ve plugged into Android Auto maybe three times; otherwise, it’s bluetooth for phone and music.

            As for maps, a $100 Garmin on the dash does a FAR superior job to either the phone maps or a car’s built-in nav system.

  • avatar
    Zipster

    Honda management always ruins perfection by doing something really dumb. In this instance no hatch-back. Market research would tell them that hybrid buyers are practical people and want a vehicle with many uses. This idiotic decision makes it a non-purchase for me and as they will learn, too late, many other prospective buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      aquaticko

      Absolutely agreed. This would’ve been top of the list to replace my 12-year old Forester in a few years, but if it’s just a sedan, why wouldn’t I–who will keep a car for over a decade and thus don’t mind spending a little more for something nicer–just go for the Accord hybrid?

    • 0 avatar
      azmtns

      I agree. It should be a hatchback. But if that means it would look like the current Civic hatch, then NO.

    • 0 avatar
      300zx_guy

      I like the size of the Insight better than Accord, and I like that it is more premium than Civic. But if aiming for premium, why no seat memory (is that confirmed, or speculation)? I wonder why Honda leaves off desirable features like seat memory, 8-way power seats and lumbar support, other than to give shoppers a reason to go to the Acura dealer. The wife nixed several cars for lack of more than 4-way adjustment on passenger side, CR-V included, and the Hyundai Tucson was in the running until she realized no seat memory (though it did have 8-way seats on both sides and lumbar for driver).

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        See my thread above!

        Even though I’m single, I still like the memory seats because I’m particular about how I sit, and before I had the memory seats in my 2013, it would take me a week or more of fiddling with the seat after taking the car in for service, and having the shortest service technician in the place do work on the car, before the seat would be back to how I originally had it set. (“The wheel is blocking the top of the speedometer..[tweaks seat]..now I’m not stretched out enough,” and so on!)

    • 0 avatar
      W.Minter

      Offering a Prius competitor would be bad decision, because the segment leader’s segment is too small.
      That’s why the hatchback is called / will be the C-RV hybrid.

      In Japan, Honda offers the Civic-based Jade hybrid, a direct Prius V competitor, and the Fit-based Shuttle hybrid, an interesting (quirky) 4.4 m / 173 in microvan / tall wagon.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The prototype definitely showed a rear lift-gate instead of a trunk. And since the prototype was clearly designed to preview an already-finalized production body, I don’t know why Honda would tease people with a major feature like that that wasn’t going to make it to production.

  • avatar
    TW5

    By slotting Insight in between Civic and Accord, Honda is signaling the Insight is positioned (size wise) for maximum CAFE credits. Smart idea.

    The styling is also smart. It looks like a regular vehicle. It’s not trying to be a pretentious eco-warrior vehicle. Honda also elected to make the vehicle appear to be sedan-like, which is conservative and will help with sales.

    I don’t understand the powertrain decision though. Honda took great pains to make the car look normal, but they have to explain to buyers that it has an anemic 1.5L four-banger. But don’t worry they say, it’s fine because the car is a series hybrid without a traditional transmission. The engine is basically just an electricity generator. Just what the late-adopter sedan crowd is looking for.

    Maybe Honda didn’t believe a conventional hybrid would sway the market or maybe they felt it would cannibalize Civic and Accord. Regardless, it’s a weird fusion of hyper-conservatism and bold, pointless risk-taking.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Reserve that “anemic 4-banger comment” until road tests are complete. Look at it this way, it is an EV with an instantly responsive electric drive train that is backed up by a gas motor. This thing may be quite fast and responsive indeed.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        I will add this experience too for perspective. My 16 Prius has a rating of 122hp. On a road trip last week with the cruise set at 90, it still had a fair amount of spare power to surge right up to 100, and certainly more, but I have my legal considerations to make. Any more than the rare 20 over the speed limit is my limit.
        This Insight is rated at 151hp. I expect it to be entirely adequate power.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Looks interesting to me. I will be looking for a hybrid for my next car, in about a year. Hybrid because L.A. traffic is SO bad that I never get anywhere near the city mileage advertised. I think hybrid is for me and my 92/08 city/highway mixture. Two things I want to know is: is the size more comparable to the Civic or the Accord?; What is the 0-60 time?
    I am looking forward to seeing one “in the flesh”.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      You can simply get an Accord Hybrid today, and enjoy the same driveline in an established platform.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The reason to get a non hybrid car these days, largely boils down to a proper transmission. When neck deep in slush regardless, may as well be spared the added indignity of standing around more often than necessary, huffing fumes at a gas station.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      It is fun crawling along in tangled city traffic largely on battery in a hybrid, watching the MPG’s in the display climbing steeply while most vehicles all around are doing the opposite burning gas just to rotate the gas motor’s internal mechanical bits.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    This looks good to me, as a replacement for both the Civic Hybrid and the previous Insight, it should also compete well against the Hyundai Ioniq and Toyota Prius, although it will probably cannibalize some sales from the Accord Hybrid.

    It’s a shame how ugly the 4th generation Prius is. I can’t help but imagine that a good part of the Prius’ sales decline because of the styling.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      Absolutely. Not only is the Prius ugly, but it’s also smaller inside than the 2005-2009 models.

      I love a Prius, but I hate the 2010 and up Prius cars.

  • avatar
    derekson

    Interesting that they made it a premium model and didn’t brand it as an Acura.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    I own and do all the work on a 348,000 km MT Insight1 and this appliance doesn’t turn my crank. Mine is extremely reliable, very easy to work on and averages 3.7 L/100km.
    In 15 years I would wake up screaming in the night from dreams of working in this name only Insight.

  • avatar
    Whittaker

    I like the look.
    And just as importantly, I would trust this car to deliver 10 years/250,000 miles of reliable and economic motoring.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “And just as importantly, I would trust this car to deliver 10 years/250,000 miles of reliable and economic motoring.”

      Well, I don’t know that I’d go THAT far. However, it (and the Accord Hybrid) does fall much more into Honda’s sweet spot than does anything else in their lineup:

      * naturally aspirated 4 cylinder engine–check
      * no CVT–check
      * manual transmission–well, no, but a hybrid setup that ISN’T a CVT

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Well Honda did have some trouble with battery life on the Civic Hybrids and the current generation Accord Hybrid is still a little to new to know real long term reliability but the series Hybrid w/lockup clutch should be more durable than just about any conventional or CVT automatic. The engine should be as reliable as any Honda engine.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          “The engine should be as reliable as any Honda engine.”

          You mean, as reliable as any Honda NATURALLY ASPIRATED engine.

          I don’t trust Honda going beyond their sweet spot of lightweight NA 4 cylinder/manual transmission cars. They’ve screwed up their planetary gearsets since trying to shove their version of an auto trans into heavy cars. They’ve screwed up their 6 cylinder cars with VCM. I can only imagine what horror stories we’ll hear about the turbos in a few years.

          • 0 avatar
            TR4

            Honda does not use planetary gears in their automatic transmissions:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Honda_transmissions

          • 0 avatar
            seth1065

            Jalop,
            I have the v6 w a auto trans and VCM and so far ( 13 years and 115,000 miles ) so good so this Honda owner trust them.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Why?

    And it’s Honda’s to name; why do you deprecate this by calling it an “in name only Insight”? Your ugly little two-seater isn’t the only thing that can ever be called an Insight.

  • avatar
    Jim Broniec

    As a current 2009 Civic Hybrid owner, who’s car is about to hit 180,000 miles, it’s nice to know these cars will be available when mine is no longer road worthy in 2030.

  • avatar
    George B

    There’s some Mazda6 in the side view and that’s a good thing. The new Insight is a fuel efficient car for people who just want a low-key Honda that doesn’t look like a hybrid. The number of people who want this is probably very dependent on gasoline prices and the out the door price for the car.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Can I get the civic type R but with this body? Please leave the insight badges.

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