2019 Honda Insight Touring Review: A Different Animal

2019 Honda Insight. [Photo: Honda]

OVERVIEW

The first generation Honda Insight, which ran from 2000 to 2006 was the first hybrid car available in the U.S. The second generation Insight appeared from 2010 to 2014. Now, the new 2019 Honda Insight Hybrid Touring launches the third-generation Honda to bear the Insight name. It is an all new premium compact vehicle that is positioned between the Civic and Accord models. It also becomes the fifth Honda electrified vehicle to bow within the past year, along with the Clarity series and the Accord Hybrid, joining Honda’s ever expanding electrified vehicle family as a dedicated hybrid sedan.

The latest Honda Insight’s structure is based on the 10th-generation Civic body and chassis architecture along with numerous enhancements, including revised springs, dampers and bushings along with unique sheet metal in nearly every location.

[Photo: Honda]

TWO-MOTOR HYBRID SYSTEM

The Insight’s power is provided by the latest generation of Honda’s unique third-generation Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive two-motor hybrid system. The gas engine is a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder with computer-controlled port fuel injection featuring multi-hole injectors. The gas engine produces 107 horsepower and 99 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 96-kW propulsion motor for a total system output of 151 horsepower. The battery is a 60-cell lithium-ion with an electric-servo regenerative braking system.

The gas engine is mounted up front, driving the front wheels, with the Propulsion (traction) motor supplying driving force to the front axle, and with the generator motor supplying energy. The transmission is an Electric CVT (eCVT) with a lock up clutch drive force transfer. EPA mileage estimates are 51-mpg city and 45-mpg highway, with a combined estimate of 48 mpg.

Under most conditions, the Honda Insight functions as a series hybrid, in which the gasoline engine, connected to the generator motor, produces electricity that’s supplied to the electric propulsion (traction) motor and/or the 60-cell lithium-ion battery pack, or both. The 2019 Insight carries a LEV3-SULEV30 emissions rating.

TRIM CHOICES

The 2019 Honda Insight is available in three levels of trim: a well-appointed base model LX, an upgraded EX, and the fully equipped flagship Touring. Standard features include LED exterior lighting, 16-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, push-button start, and a 6-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and Pandora integration. Insight EX adds Smart Entry, two additional speakers, and an 8-inch Display Audio high-resolution touchscreen with a smartphone-like customizable home-screen layout. The top-of-the-line Touring model features 17-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lights and side-mirror turn signals, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a power moonroof, perforated leather-trimmed seating, heated front seats with 8-way power adjustment for the driver and four-way power for the passenger, dual-zone climate control, and a 10-speaker audio system.

All new Insights also come standard with the Honda Sensing® suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies, which includes Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assistance System, Road Departure Mitigation, and Adaptive Cruise Control as well as a multi-view backup camera system. EX and Touring models add Honda LaneWatch, while Insight Touring models include the latest iteration of HondaLink, offering multiple cloud-based services including a 4G Wi-Fi mobile hotspot and smartphone-based remote vehicle locking/unlocking.

MODERN STYLING APPEAL

In terms of its visual appeal, the 2019 Honda Insight’s exterior displays sleek styling in a coupe-like profile with a wide, powerful stance. It leads off with details like Honda’s “flying wing” grille, flanked by standard low-profile LED headlights and lower dynamic air intakes, modest chrome use, while dynamic character lines highlight its premium compact sedan character. Touring models step up to larger, 17-inch alloy wheels and LED fog lights.

In the rear, the abbreviated deck lid contributes to the coupe-like profile, and the sharp cut-off at the rear edge assists the airflow in separating cleanly from the rear of the car, aiding fuel efficiency. Beneath, Insight features the flattest underbody of any Honda production vehicle, helping to smooth airflow under the car as it travels rearward, reducing wind noise in the cabin.

COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

Moving into the cabin, the cockpit is driver-focused showcasing a level of elegance. Premium details include: a stitched dash, soft-touch surfaces, a sport steering wheel and ergonomically sculpted and supportive seats. The instrument panel features a customizable color digital TFT driver’s meter and a 7.0-inch multi-information display, while an available 8.0-inch Display Audio touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is positioned atop the dash.

The Insight’s long wheelbase provides for a class-leading 97.6 cubic feet of passenger space in LX and EX models, including 37.4 inches of rear legroom, which is up to four inches more than top competitors. With the hybrid battery located under the rear seats, Insight provides up to 15.1 cu-ft of trunk space, bigger than many gasoline-powered midsize sedans while retaining flexibility of a folding rear seatback – one piece on LX trims and split 60/40 in EX and Touring. Insight’s interior benefits from numerous storage compartments, including a multi-level user-configurable storage area between the front seats. On the center console next to the shift-by-wire gear selector is a cell phone pocket designed to accommodate larger smartphones.

PERFORMANCE

The 2019 Honda Insight Hybrid Touring delivers a driving experience that is actually un-hybrid-like. The hybrid system is neither obvious nor intrusive. Acceleration is quick enough off the line, continuing with a smooth, linear power delivery. The handling characteristics border on sporty, with a positive steering feedback and instantaneous response. The eCVT transmission provides a smooth progression during both acceleration and deceleration.

The braking feel is also positive thanks to the regenerative system seamlessly blending in with the hydraulic friction braking system for a consistent and linear feel. EPA mileage estimates for the Honda Insight Touring Hybrid are 51 mpg city and 45 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 48 mpg. The 2019 Honda Insight Hybrid Touring is an attractive four-door sedan, compact and maneuverable. Its coupe-like form is really quite pleasing, and it’s affordable, versatile and practical, as well.

The driver is provided with a greater measure of control over the vehicle’s performance, utilizing one of the Insight’s three selectable driving modes – Normal, ECON and SPORT optimizing either efficiency or performance or providing a balance of both. A fourth EV move enables the selection of electric-only power for short periods.

TFLCAR’S TAKE

Bottom line, the 2019 Honda Insight represents another plus in Honda’s ever-increasing electrification process. The Honda Insight does what it’s supposed to do in all trims and on all levels, with its image and persona being that of a normal vehicle, without any freakish styling cues. It’s bigger and better – an increase of 5.9-inches in the wheelbase, plus 11.4 inches in overall length and 5.0 inches in width.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Honda Insight Touring

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $28,090
Price as Tested:
$28,985
Engine: 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle I-4-w/ AC synchronous electric traction motor and generator motor
Drivetrain (Layout): Front engine, front-wheel drive
Horsepower: Engine: 107 @ 6,000 rpm

Total System Output: 151 hp

Torque: Engine: 99 @ 5,000 rpm

Total System Output: 197 lb-ft

Transmission: Electric CVT (eCVT) w/ lock up clutch
Suspension: Front: Indpendent MacPherson strut w/ 25 mm stabiizer bar

Rear:  Five-link Independent w/ 16 mm stabiizer bar

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs
Tires: ContinentalProContact 215/50 R17 91H
Fuel capacity: 10.6 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 51 mpg city / 45 mpg highway

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 183.7 inches
Width: 71.7 inches
Height: 55.5 inches
Turning Circle: 35.7 feet
Curb Weight: 3,078 pounds

 

Arv Voss
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring journalist and member and past officer of several noted automotive journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.