Honda is diving headlong into the electrified vehicle industry. The 2019 Insight is the company’s fifth electrified vehicle to be introduced in the past year, joining the Clarity series and the Accord Hybrid. The new Insight isn’t the first to bear the name, but it’s all new for 2019.
The newest Insight is miserly as all get-out when it comes to fuel economy, and some models can take you an incredible 55 miles down the road on a single gallon of gas.
But more importantly, the new Insight was just awarded a “Top Safety Pick Plus” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Insight is the first vehicle I’ve seen to earn a perfect score from the IIHS in every tested category, plus a “superior” in front crash prevention and a top score of “good” for headlights and ease of child seat anchors.
The 2019 Insight is available in three trims – the base LX, a mid-range EX and the top-end Touring. The LX starts at less than $24,000 and our Touring test car had an MSRP of $28,090.
This new electrified Honda gets great mileage, it’s among the safest cars on the road and you can get a loaded model for under $29-grand. What about that?
The front-drive Insight is powered by a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inline 4-cylinder and a 96kW electric motor that combine to make 151 horsepower and 197 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is an electric CVT that uses a high-capacity lock-up clutch that allows power to be supplied directly from the motors to the front wheels. Honda’s two-motor hybrid system uses the electric motor and battery for propulsion while the gas engine is primarily used for charging the battery. The electric CVT uses a pushbutton shifter that has buttons for park, drive, neutral and reverse, with reverse using a different motion so you don’t inadvertently push the wrong button and back into something.
Insight LX and EX models are rated at 55 miles per gallon in the city, 49 mpg on the highway and 52 mpg combined. My Touring test car promised 51 mpg in the city, 45 mpg on the highway and 48 mpg combined.
On the road, the Insight is sure-footed and nimble, with flat cornering and good braking (Braking and coasting contribute to the battery charge). Acceleration, as you’d expect, isn’t anything to write home about, but don’t forget about that 55 mpg rating.
Inside the cabin, the Insight has a premium feel with quality materials, and it’s roomier than you’d expect. Total cabin space in my Touring model was 94.7 cubic feet, plus 15.1 cubic feet of trunk space. Headroom up front is 39.3 inches. Back in Row 2, my hair brushed the ceiling, while legroom of 37.4 inches was fine for my 6-foot-1 frame. The rear seats are fine for two adults or three kids, but cramped for three full-grown people.
In the front row, the 8-way adjustable driver’s seat was firm and comfortable. The A-pillars are thin, which makes for excellent visibility from the driver’s seat. The dashboard is logically arranged with a wide touchscreen atop the center stack. The HondaLink connectivity and infotainment system is fine save for the operation of the sound system. There’s a knob for volume control, but changing radio stations still requires touching the 7-inch screen, which can be frustrating in a moving car.
For a car in this price range, the Insight has a surprisingly complete amenity sheet. My test Touring model had leather-trimmed heated seats, 10-speaker sound, navigation, a rear camera, HD radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, pushbutton start, dual-zone air, a power moonroof, 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights with auto high beam, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, LED headlights and taillights, and remote start.
When it comes to safety, the Insight has some of the most sophisticated technology available in the Honda Sensing system. Included are adaptive cruise control, collision mitigating braking, lane keep assist and road departure mitigation.
With a top safety record, top fuel economy, a reasonable price tag and a comfortable cabin, the 2019 Honda Insight presents outstanding value. If you’re in the market for a compact car you shouldn’t make a decision until you’ve checked out the Insight.
2019 Honda Insight Touring
1.5-liter 4-cylinder plus electric motor
$28,090 plus freight
EPA mileage estimates:
51 mpg city/45 mpg highway/48 mpg combined