By on May 14, 2018

All-new 2019 Honda Insight

The first-generation Honda Insight was a rare false-start for the company, marketed as a hatchback that had more doors than seats (three and two, respectively). Its atomic-egg styling enveloped a 67 horsepower 1.0-liter gasoline engine paired to a 10kW electric motor. The second-gen model, a more conventional car in terms of its styling and capacity, also fell a bit flat compared to the segment-leading Prius.

Honda’s betting the third time’s the charm, kicking off the mass production start of the all-new 2019 Honda Insight today at its plant in Indiana. Will this Insight electrify buyers or fizzle out? At first glance, it would at least appear they’ve got the styling right this time. Not everyone wants to shout that they’re driving a hybrid.

Part of a $61.5 million new capital investment in Indiana and Ohio, the Insight’s launch puts even more focus on Honda’s ever-expanding portfolio of electrified vehicles. The company already hawks a trio of Clarity models (plug-in, electric, and hydrogen), along with the 2019 Accord Hybrid. Your author professes confusion as to the lineup, as I thought the Clarity name would become the banner under which Honda would plunk all of its electrified family.

2019 Honda Insight

In any event, the new Insight is positioned between Civic and Accord in Honda’s American lineup, offering seating for five within its sedan-esque profile. Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver-assistive technology comes standard, as will Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration to satisfy the tech crowd (of which there is a big overlap in the Venn Diagram with greenies).

Powered by the third generation of Honda’s two-motor hybrid system, the Insight has 151 net system horsepower. Its hybrid battery pack is assembled at the Marysville plant, while the Insight’s 1.5-liter gasoline engine is produced at the company’s engine facility in Anna, Ohio. The company touts a lightweight structure and claims the best power-to-weight ratio in the Insight’s class. A 55 mpg fuel economy rating is expected.

2019 Honda Insight

Honda Manufacturing of Indiana is one of five Honda automobile assembly plants in the States and will now produce the Insight, Civic, and CR-V on the same production line. The financial investment mentioned above included the construction of a new 19,200 square-foot building to accommodate in-house subassembly of the Insight’s front-end module. This modular approach is aimed at construction of the vehicle’s front frame and associated components, such as the radiator and cooling fan.

The new Insight marks the first time the Indiana plant is sub-assembling the front-end module in-house. The modular concept was first introduced on the 2016 Civic and is now employed for the Accord and CR-V as well. With the CR-V now being produced alongside the Insight, and these front-end modules being handy, it’s not a stretch to think we’ll see a CR-V hybrid in America before too long.

2019 Honda Insight

The Insight itself sold slightly north of 20,000 units in each of its first two years as a five-passenger machine. That sounds pretty good until one notes the Prius moved about 140,000 copies during each of the same calendar years. That’s not the entire Prius family; no, that’s just the similarly-sized OG Prius. The thing’s a behemoth in terms of sales, although its current polarizing style seems to have scared off a few customers.

According to HybridCars.com, Toyota’s share of the entire hybrid segment (all bodystyles) is just over 55 percent. Sales of non plug-in hybrids are down, year-to-date, as segment leaders continue to struggle. So far this year, sales of plug-in hybrids (Chevy Volt, Prius Prime, et al) are are running at about a 30,000 annual rate, slightly less than the number of F-150s Ford moves in two weeks.

The 2019 Honda Insight will appear at Honda dealerships across the nation early this summer.

[Images: Honda]

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58 Comments on “Gaining Insight: Honda Begins Production of Hybrid Sedan, Challenging Market Awaits...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    I’ve always thought the first generation Insight was part technology demonstrator and part beta tester that the early adopters were happy to oblige. Sure, they sold a low volume of them at a loss but they got a lot of real-world lessons for that expense and the customers didn’t complain much.

    The second generation model was a dud; we’ll see how this version works but I’m not holding my breath.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      The first-gen Insight was Honda’s EV-1. They knew enough to outright sell them (rather than lease-only) and make them a bit less pie-in-the-sky, and as a result got better, or at least less negative, publicity. As with GM it bore fruit two generations ready when it became a usable real car.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        That’s a good comparison. I think there was wisdom in deliberately making both cars *not* mainstream.

        Remember that even when the second generation Prius came out, people would still occasionally ask if the blanking plate on the front bumper was “where you plug it in.” (No, that covers up the hook they use to tow it down the production line.) Mainstream customers and hybrid cars were *not* ready for each other until the late 2000s.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Yeah, it’s very interesting that this latest Insight has done a complete about-face and is nearly as conventional-looking as can be. It looks less reserved than the Volt (which itself is conservatively-styled compared to most eco vehicles). It’s even toned-down compared to the Civic that it’s related to.

      Clearly, Honda is targeting buyers who aren’t in love with the wild, ostentatious design of the recent Prius. You can count me among those people. But I like this. And it’s gotta undercut the already-reasonably-priced Accord Hybrid, I bet.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        I actually like this Insight. Too bad about the Honda Sensing suite being standard, though. A deal-killer for me.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Agree 100% about the styling, Kyree. In fact, I had to look twice at the pictures to verify they weren’t accidental pictures of the Accord.

        I also agree the only difference in styling between this model and those bestselling Honda models is that this looks better.

  • avatar
    htatc

    If I were in the market this along with the Volt would be two hybrids I would consider. Though I still don’t get why no one has gone all in on CUV hybrids. Really thought GM, Ford or Toyota would be the first but oh well. Really like the Equinox diesel though.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Kia Niro?

      • 0 avatar
        bubbajet

        I’m in the market. I’m getting to the point where I’m tired of driving cars!

        Just drove a Niro. It’s remarkably inexpensive, and drives like it. There’s a noticeable lag around 10MPH where it switches from battery to the motor, it’s very disconcerting. It’s slow, there’s no way around it. It’s not quiet, either. Not loud…but not quiet. You’re not going to think you’re in a luxury car, either. Nothing is plush.

        However, it was very comfortable. Even though there’s nothing high-end here, everything I touched felt fine. The seats were great. The armrest is in the right place. There’s enough room in the back for a real adult to sit there. There’s enough room in the cargo area for a few suitcases, or other stuff. (looking at you, Chevy Bolt)

        I got an unbelievable 54MPG on my test drive, about half highway/half city-ish. I don’t think that’s representative, surely it can’t be.

        And the sticker price was $24.5K.

        This is the least nice ride of the bunch, it’s also the cheapest by far. I wonder if the battery is air- or liquid-cooled. If liquid-cooled, this would be on my very short list if I was looking for a $25K max car. Everything else is in the hybrid market is in the low $30K range, The Niro is all by itself.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @bubbajet:

          Not sure if you’ve driven a hybrid before, but the crossover from EV to gas is the tricky part that none seem to do well. My 13 Optima Hybrid is particularly bad at it, and I ignored it on the test drive.

          By comparison, I thought the Niro had a pretty smooth drivetrain when I drove it. One complicating factor: it has a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission which may contribute to the delay, or maybe not. That DCT also give me some pause for reliability, but I have no data to back up that concern.

          At 6’6″, I’m particularly fond of the Niro’s interior room and layout. The low-power drivetrain should net close to the EPA rating if it’s not punished.

          I *was* looking forward to the Niro EV, but I’m seeing indications it may end up being a compliance car, and if true, I’m grouchy.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          I’m 6’2″ and was shocked to find I fit more comfortably into the back seat of the Niro than Accord, Camry or even Avalon.

          As for the transmission, your worries may be well founded. This box has been in use for a while in Europe, and I’ve seen some reports there’s been trouble with it there.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Because the CUV brick like profile, higher ground clearance, and extra weight really shows the limitations of battery technology and hence they run a lot more on gasoline and get only marginally better mpg than a good gasoline only competitor. Alex on Autos just tested the new BMW x3 with 4 cylinder and AWD and only got 2 mpg less than he got testing a Lexus NX hybrid which has only part-time AWD and is way slower.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I like BMW crossovers. But an X3 xDrive30i takes, at a minimum, mid-grade fuel. And he probably tested it running premium, because it pulls back engine performance rather noticeably with 89-octane.

        Meanwhile, the NX 300h is rated for regular fuel. But the NX 200t takes premium.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I’m just guessing Kyree, but I would think the 200t requires premium because of the way the turbo is tuned to extract that amount of power out of such a small engine. the 300t in contrast runs an N/A 2.5 which is shared with the Prius.

          “In addition, a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine producing 150 hp (110 kW) will be available in Russian markets.[”

          My guess is due to the less than predictable fuel quality in Mother Russia.

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

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Don’t forget the Escape Hybrid. Which in awd form was capable of 35mpg us, combined.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Toyota offers hybrid versions of the RAV4 and Highlander, and the new-for-’19 RAV4 places an even greater emphasis on the hybrid powertrain. They don’t offer the C-HR hybrid here, but there is one.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Its getting harder and harder for me to justify using a daily thats potentially 3-4 times less efficient than these new hybrids…these cars come with great piece of mind…but I’m not that smart yet…

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “these cars come with great piece of mind”

      Honda really, really turned me off of Honda hybrids with the battery in the ’06-11 Civic Hybrids. It’s the central piece of engineering of any hybrid car and they utterly cheaped out on it- then they covered up their poor decision with secret firmware changes. The battery in the ’12 and later model was a complete redesign, but I simply don’t trust them again, not yet anyway.

      Funny thing was I turned down the extended warranty at purchase time, but I sold the car less than two years later when a change of plans was going to have me out of the country for a year. So I personally dodged the battery problems, unwittingly so.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Gas mileage isn’t everything, and the gap from non-hybrids to hybrids has closed significantly over the last decade. A Civic 1.5T “only” does 36 MPG combined, compared to this thing’s estimated 55MPG. In real life that translates to about $500 in fuel savings a year- less than $10 a week. Environmentally I’d wager the battery and motor are worse for the environment than that fuel over the life of the car, and you’re not signing up to be a beta tester in the process.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Careful studies have shown the hybrid system is a net benefit.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          As suggested by the Prius and Escape hybrid taxicabs running around with 400K+ miles on them, hybrids also SEEM to have the potential to stay on the road longer. The electric motor and battery alleviate stress from the gasoline engine.

          The only other cars that regularly lasted that long were the Panthers. And no one’s making cars like that anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            My Escape Hybrid has been the worst car for reliability I’ve ever owned. The hybrid system has been fine. But everything else. I suppose all these other things can be fixed indefinitely. A major computer replacement could kill it some day when the value is low enough.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        Hybrid systems with a small battery generally end up being better for the environment. It’s BEVs with the giant batteries where the math doesn’t work out.

        Also with Honda, avoiding the automatic (CVT in this case too) transmission with the series hybrid should make it a much better buy, unless you’d be getting the manual Civic.

  • avatar
    jberger

    Toyota offers hybrid on all of their CUV offerings in both the Toyota and Lexus brands. Is that not all in?

    I remember my ride in the very first yr model insight. The AC only ran when the gas motor was running. My co-worker was so excited about that car until we sat through a long red light in 98 degree heat. He sold it and bought a prius after that.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Some of the Insight I owners would do things like wear ice vests in these cars, in their pursuit for bragging rights for best mileage. Maybe your coworker wasn’t out on the fringe like that, but I bet he had a lot of “early adopter” personality traits.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “The AC only ran when the gas motor was running. My co-worker was so excited about that car until we sat through a long red light in 98 degree heat. ”

        “Maybe your coworker wasn’t out on the fringe like that, but I bet he had a lot of “early adopter” personality traits.”

        20 years of those short haired women getting jobs at the EPA later, my F-150, a vehicle by and for cavemen, came with the sweat in your eyeballs at every traffic light feature too.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Hypermilers amuse me. But it’s as noble a pursuit as any, definitely no more offensive than the guy in front of you with the EGR-deleted diesel truck spewing soot all over the road.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Older hybrids still had belt-driven compressors. Newer ones are electric and run whenever needed. Even the older ones usually allow you to determine whether the engine runs to drive the compressor. Some Escape Hybrids have a 2-stage control for this.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        True. You also have cars that are very mild hybrids, but that have 48-volt electrical systems allowing all of the accessories to be decoupled from the engine entirely. See Audi’s new A6 and A8, or the new Mercedes-AMG -53 cars (with the new I6 engine) for an example of this.

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          My Escape hybrid has the belt-driven compressor. It has an “eco” button that allows the a/c to function, but reduces the compressor operation by allowing a greater interior temperature fluctuation. Just hitting a button that involves the compressor, like defrost or a/c and shutting off the eco button, makes the engine run all the time.

          A/c has a huge effect on mileage in city driving, while the penalty at highway speeds is swamped by the power used to overcome air resistance. So I try to keep the a/c off in city driving whenever the engine would otherwise be off. (Like sitting at traffic lights.)

          Also I switch the hvac to recirculate after the interior is cooled off, so as to reuse cooled interior air instead of continuously cooling hot exterior air.

          These are the sorts of things you get into when you buy a hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      ghillie

      Apparently your friend couldn’t read. Pushing the aircon “auto” button keeps the motor and aircon running when you’re stopped. I’ve driven a G1 Insight in 110 plus degree heat and stayed cool inside. That car is 17 years old and the aircon has never been re-gassed.

      “Some of the Insight I owners would do things like wear ice vests in these cars”. I’ve never read that. You’re probably just making it up or taken the bait on someone’s joke.

      G1 Insights are brilliant cars (with some flaws), often owned by enthusiasts who also have an F150, roadster or high-powered sports car in the driveway. Hybrid technology and design has moved on of course, but owners still appreciate these little cars for what they can do and the fun they provide.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        Have a look over on insightcentral dot com and greenhybrid dot com forums. The guys who were hacking the IMA controllers were the ones out on the fringe trying all kinds of stuff to eek out a bit more mileage, including a few of them keeping the a/c turned down with the ice vest trick. Internet bragging rights I guess. Those guys are serious outliers. More power to ’em- they seemed to enjoy it and it certainly didn’t hurt me.

        • 0 avatar
          ghillie

          You made the claim. You do the research and provide the links. And your original post says “some”, so one example won’t cut it.

          Wearing an ice vest to stay cool seems like a really stupid thing for even a hyper-miler to do in their everyday drive. I suppose if you were in a fuel economy competition such an extreme (and uncomfortable) measure might makes sense.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            Lighten up, Francis. You’re looking for conflict where there is none… sheesh.

            Just google ‘honda insight ice vest hypermiling’

            See my post below to explain what I thought was my obvious point. If you have a few way out on the fringe who do stuff like that, then you have a lot more that aren’t as far out on the fringe and willing to sit through a traffic light cycle without a/c blowing.

            Who cares if it’s stupid or not. It didn’t hurt me or you.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        D’oh! And I double-posted too.

        My point being, if out of all of the Insight I owners, a handful went to extreme tricks like that, I wouldn’t be surprised that a whole lot of them would happily sit through a red light with the air conditioning off if it meant the engine wasn’t burning gas for sixty seconds, and having to watch their average mileage for that gas tank tick down every few seconds, 50.3mpg, 50.2, 50.1…

        • 0 avatar
          ghillie

          The claim in jberger’s post was that the aircon couldn’t be run while the car was stationary. This is plainly untrue.

          You suggest that lots of owners probably sit through red lights with the airconditioning off through choice (presumably when it is hot enough that no normal person would do so). You don’t provide any evidence for this claim. Blah, blah, blah.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            “You suggest that lots of owners”

            Um, no, I said “I wouldn’t be surprised that…”

            Lots of regular people drive in the summer with their windows down to save gas (when windows up and a/c running will usually use less gas). Why is it such a stretch to understand that the kind of person who would buy a weird, super fuel-efficient, weird, two-seat, weird, gas-electric car just might suffer through mild discomfort to use even less gas?

            People like you is what is wrong with public debate these days.

            Maybe it was just one guy doing the ice vest thing and he got a lot of publicity in certain circles.

            Again, lighten up, Francis.

            http://lmgtfy.com/?q=honda+insight+ice+vest+hypermiling

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Let’s see if Honda can get this thing beyond it’s reputation. Between the 1st gen iMac styled car and the 2nd gen Prius clone, not to mention all of the funkiness with the Civic hybrid batteries and the failure of the previous Accord hybrid in the market, they’ve got a long uphill slog.

    I do like the styling on this car, it looks way better than the new Civic. It shows a lot of thought being put into the styling and less fussiness with overwhelming details.

    Maybe Honda will base it’s future Civics off of this body instead.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    How many times do we have to hear variants of this garbage:

    “Not everyone wants to shout that they’re driving a hybrid.”

    about hybrids?

    The Prius sold so well because it’s a 5-seater midsize car on the inside with an outside the size of a subcompact that got kick-ass mileage; and was practically a pickup truck with the seats down.

    The 1st-gen-Insight was a commuter car only. The 2nd-gen-Insight was a clone of what people like this site THOUGHT people bought the Prius for (the “look at me” theory); if it were true, it’d have sold just as well. It wasn’t true. The 2nd-gen-Insight got worse mileage and performed worse. (And the Civic Hybrid had a tiny trunk and battery problems).

    The Prius outsold everybody because they built an actual car that was more versatile than other hybrids. That’s all it took.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The Prius’ design is pretty distinctive, and since the 2nd gen has been adorned with plenty of “im saving the environment” badging.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      The current Prius doesn’t shout “I’m driving a hybrid”, (which would be true), instead it lies and shouts “I’M BATMAN!”. Prius owns so much of the market share that they singlehandedly spoofed everyone that plug in was eating into traditional hybrid sales just by not making the plug in as BUGLY as the OG Prius.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I had really hoped this would retain the rear liftgate, like the concept. Still, this is on my radar.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Any word on pricing and trims? Ride/handling/road noise?

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Have a look over on insightcentral dot com and greenhybrid dot com forums. The guys who were hacking the IMA controllers were the ones out on the fringe trying all kinds of stuff to eek out a bit more mileage, including a few of them keeping the a/c turned down with the ice vest trick. Internet bragging rights I guess. Those guys are serious outliers. More power to ’em- they seemed to enjoy it and it certainly didn’t hurt me.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    What exactly is the point of offering this, a hybrid Accord in every trim level, and the plug-in Clarity? And why go through the trouble of developing unique bodyshells for the Insight and Clarity, making them look like liftbacks and not actually giving them a liftback?

    This is the sort of redundant, pants-on-head stupid product planning that once typified British Leyland. Honda must have caught something from them when they collaborated in the ’80s.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “What exactly is the point of offering this…”

      Good question. I’m wondering the same thing. They sure are offering a lot of different hybrid choices- maybe they’re trying for more market share or they’re trying different things hoping at least one of them will be a big hit.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why Honda has an Accord Hybrid, the Insight, and the Clarity plug in hybrid.

    In a nonexistent hybrid market, in a dying sedan market. 3 different cars.

    What?

  • avatar
    ghillie

    @JimC2

    “lighten up Francis”. A common response when bs is called and it can’t be backed up. Hypermilers can be a bit strange, but you still haven’t given a reference to anyone actually using an ice vest instead of aircon.

    And now it’s my fault that your posts are becoming abusive. Hmmm…..

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      @ghillie, there’s a web link I posted a few hours ago. Maybe you just missed it but it’s a few posts up. It’s a sarcastic “let me google that for you” link, hint hint.

      Maybe it was more than one guy, maybe it was just one guy doing the ice vest thing and a few dedicated hypermiler forum friends giving him internet high fives after he was featured in a mainstream media story. My point remains about early adopters, the original Insight, and where they fell on a big bell curve of personality traits compared to the motoring public at large.

      I’m pretty sure the original Insight I’s a/c compressor was belt-driven off the crankshaft and an electric-powered compressor didn’t come out until the Civic Hybrid II (which used a Rube Goldberg setup with two compressors, one electrical and one belt-driven). Auto stop meant the cold a/c air would soon be just ambient air in the old Insight… make sense so far?

      I can’t believe you’re actually disagreeing that people would sacrifice air conditioning to save gas, when the whole point of those cars was to go to extremes to save gas.

      Argumentative or agreeable, have a good night.

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