Class: Compact Car
Miles Driven: 253
Fuel Used: 6.5 gallons
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Real-world fuel economy: 38.9 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 51/45/48 (city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gasoline
Base price: $28,090 (not including $895 destination charge)
Options on test car: None
Price as tested: $28,985
The great: Smoothly integrated hybrid powertrain; nicely balanced road manners
The good: Pleasantly conventional in appearance and cabin layout; nice interior materials in topline Touring trim
The not so good: Cold weather during our test session seemed to compromise our fuel economy; engine gets noisy in spirited acceleration
Well, look who’s back in town.
For 2019 Honda brings out yet another iteration of the Insight hybrid. You might remember the startling 2-seat teardrop of 2000-06, followed by the less-intriguing four-door hatchback of 2010-14. Now the nameplate is affixed to a compact 4-door sedan.
This latest Insight adopts the essential structure of the gas-engine Civic, but with different styling inside and out, and it adapts the specific gas/electric powerteam of the Accord hybrid, though with a little less engine displacement and battery capacity. With all this mixing and matching, you might say the ’19 Insight is a hybrid hybrid.
Consumer Guide tested the Touring version, which tops the line above the EX and entry-level LX. Without options, which is how the test car came, the Touring costs $28,985 with delivery.
As in the Accord hybrid, the Insight’s gas engine is paired with two electric motors, one of which acts as a generator. In place of a traditional transmission there’s a lock-up clutch that connects the engine directly to the electric drive motor as circumstances dictate. In traffic this feels a lot like driving a car with a continuously variable transmission. The Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine displaces 1.5 liters and teams up with the electric motor for a maximum 151 system horsepower. That’s half a liter less and 61 fewer ponies than the Accord powertrain, and the Insight’s 1.1-kWh battery is slightly smaller than the juice-producer in the midsize hybrid.
Plan A for the Insight is to run electrically. Plan B is to activate the gas engine in moments of concerted acceleration or during sustained higher-speed cruising. Punching up “Sport” mode raises the car’s pulse rate a little so that midrange acceleration certainly feels snappier (though standing-start response didn’t strike this tester as being appreciably different). The gas engine is a little loud when pushed, and when in Sport the exhaust note changes to an odd sort of hum.
When starting from a full stop, the motor revives itself with minimal fuss, and electric-to-gas-and-back transitions while on the go are absolutely seamless. The Insight can be operated in “Econ” or all-electric “EV” modes. EPA mileage projections for the gas engine are 51 mpg in the city, 45 mpg in highway driving, and 48 combined. However, this reviewer scored “just” 40.0 mpg after a stint of 172 miles with a few limited dips into Sport mode and 60 percent city-type driving.
Insight’s chassis hosts MacPherson struts in front and a multilink rear suspension with stabilizer bars at either end. LX and EX roll on 16-inch alloy wheels but standard Touring rims are 17-inchers. The test car rode very well with good bump absorption, and handled easily with good steering feel. Another interesting plus was the braking, which felt more positive than the stopping performance of a good many hybrids and full-electric vehicles.
Even at its sub-$29,000 price the Insight Touring is equipped fairly well and appointed nicely. Seats are upholstered in leather, and the power-adjustable front seats are heated. Other items exclusive to the top-tier model are a power moonroof, chrome accents on the exterior door handles and side mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, premium 10-speaker audio system, navigation, HondaLink telematics, and a WiFi hotspot. That’s all in addition to things like LED exterior lighting (including fog lights), keyless entry and starting, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, LaneWatch blind-spot camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and active noise cancellation. The Honda Sensing suite of adaptive cruise control and safety-monitoring technologies is standard throughout the lineup.
All passengers enjoy fairly good legroom but headroom is better in front that it is in back, where the roof slopes somewhat. (This 5-foot-10.5 reviewer’s head was practically at the top.) Exits from the back seat are a little tight, too. Due to a tall floor hump, four is the limit for adult passengers. Drivers will enjoy good sightlines just about anywhere they look. There are pliable, soft surfaces on the dash and top of the front doors, but the rear door tops have no underlying give.
Cabin storage for take-along items is handled in part by a glove box that’s set kind of low in the dash and might open onto a passenger’s knees. The front of the console has an easy-to-reach high-level tray that’s also immediately under USB and power inputs. The center console is a bit like a multilevel chessboard with layers that include a sliding armrest, adjustable storage trays, and moveable cup holders. (Do you need two cup holders, or just one deep one? Sliding the dual carrier back exposes the lower single receptacle.) Pockets with bottle holders are found in the front doors; rear doors have smaller pockets. A storage pouch is provided on the back of the front passenger seat, and rear cup holders are incorporated in the pull-down center armrest.
Plenty of trunk space is available after clearing a low liftover. The flat floor is wide at the back, and narrows slightly between the wheel houses. There’s some organized space under the trunk floor. The Insight’s hybrid battery is located under the rear seat, which keeps from cutting into trunk space and makes it possible to have folding rear seats. The 60/40-split seats drop flat but rest above the level of the trunk floor, and—this being a sedan—there’s a body bulkhead that narrows passage to the rear-seat area.
In the end, this CG “Best Buy” choice pulls together a pleasing combination of handy passenger and cargo room, popular features, enjoyable driving dynamics, and the potential for excellent fuel economy.