The Honda Insight is the original hybrid, debuting in the U.S. in December 1999, seven months before the seemingly ubiquitous Toyota Prius arrived. The first Insight was a stripped down two-door hatch with a manual transmission and optional air conditioning.
The modern Honda Insight sedan is all-new for 2019, replete with safety, technology, and comforts original Insight owners could only dream about.
The Honda Insight is all-new for 2019, built off of the Honda Civic. The latest iteration of the fuel-efficient Insight is wrapped in a mainstream, attractive sedan package that offers excellent cargo capacity and utility.
The Honda Insight competes with the following hybrid vehicles:
The Honda Insight is blessedly mainstream, providing buyers with a sporty, attractive front-wheel drive car with four doors, an expressive front end, LED head and tail lamps, and alloy wheels. The Insight’s classic but modern design should age well and look fresh several years from now.
The Insight comes in four metallic and three pearl exterior paint colors. There is no exterior distinctions between trim levels—all Insight models look alike.
The Honda Insight’s cabin is perhaps inspired by the recently-launched Honda Jet, with aviation-inspired knobs, dials, and gauges. Drivers keep track of hybrid performance via the information interface in the cluster. Gear selection is made via push-button located in the center console, which may take some getting used to for new owners, but becomes routine with regular use.
Honda has utilized double-stitch leather for the interior, combining the soft surfaces with piano black shine and matte metal trim pieces. Buttons, knobs, and switches are easily placed within driver’s or passenger reach. The center console has two cupholders plus covered storage, two USBs, and a 12-volt outlet. The upper trim levels (EX and Touring) provide a rear-seat center console and armrest for added comfort.
Only black cloth interior is offered on the lower trim levels. Black or ivory leather is standard on the top Touring trim. Heated front seats are standard on the Insight Touring, but not available on lower trims.
The 2019 Honda Insight provides hands-free Bluetooth, streaming audio and Pandora capability standard. The EX and Touring add an 8.0-inch display screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, HondaLink and HD radio. A multi-angle rearview camera is standard on all Insight models.
The top-of-the-line Touring adds a compass and turn-by-turn directions, Honda satellite-linked navigation with voice recognition, and Honda digital traffic monitoring.
The driver information interface provides power and charge indictors for the battery, power flow monitor, power system indicator, 12-volt battery charging system indicator, and a host of other helpful status buttons.
A nice feature on the EX and Touring is Honda’s upgraded remote key capability, which locks and unlocks the door without digging out the key, but even more, the feature automatically locks the car once the key is 8 feet away.
The Honda Insight comes standard with Honda Sensing safety and driver-assistance technology, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, collision mitigation braking, and road departure mitigation systems. Auto high beams and traffic sign recognition are also standard across all three trim lines.
The EX and Touring trims add Honda LaneWatch, which provides a real-time view of the right lane via the side camera and on the center console display.
The Honda Insight hybrid drives like a regular gas-powered car, with a well-functioning continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Insight’s hybrid-specific regenerative brakes are easy to control and do not feel overly grabby. The ride and handling are similar to the Civic upon which it’s based, and the acceleration ranks among the best of hybrids, even if it’s a bit unrefined under full power.
Sport mode adds even more engagement and a tighter feel to the steering, leaving the usual hybrid compromises even further behind. The Econ mode increases fuel efficiency by restraining the vehicle’s power. “EV” mode uses the electric motor but is only for very short (read: a mile or two) distances and will automatically turn off with the slightest aggressive acceleration.
The Insight is quiet and comfortable, although sometimes tire noise can be heard in the cabin. The steering is prompt and responsive, and within moments you’ll forget you’re driving a hybrid, which is the goal of Honda.
The Insight EX and LX earn an EPA rating of 55 mpg city, 49 mpg highway for a combined fuel economy of a whopping 52 mpg. The highest trim Touring dips to 51/ 45 mpg city/highway, 48 mpg combined, again an impressive achievement for a four-door sedan. Keep in mind, aggressive driving habits and poor maintenance may decrease your fuel economy.
The all-new 2019 Insight is a terrific combination of extremely high fuel economy with minimal compromises. It’s only offered in front-wheel-drive and a four-door sedan, but the back seat does provide a surprising amount of cargo and utility. If you’re a snow-belt resident, the lack of all-wheel-drive may be an issue.
The Insight was awarded an IIHS Top Safety Pick and has won numerous awards in its competitive set.
Since the Insight is all-new for 2019, having just hit dealerships in late 2018, used ones may be hard to come by, but it never hurts to notify your local dealer of your interest in acquiring a used one.
Three trim levels are available on the Honda Insight. The well-equipped base starts at $22,930, an excellent choice for budget-minded buyers. The EX starts at $24,160 and adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an 8.0-inch screen, remote start, the aforementioned “Walk Away” locking feature, a 60/40-split rear seat.
The top trim Touring bumps up to $28,190, adding a leather steering wheel with heated leather seats, mobile hot-spot availability, one-touch power moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, and 17-inch Alloy wheels, to name just a few features.
The Honda Insight is the original hybrid, debuting at the end of 1999. It was first offered only as a two-door hatchback. This Japanese-imported version ran through 2006 with minimal changes and upgrades. Honda tried again with a second-generation Honda Insight five-door hatch in 2009 which ran through 2014. Five years later, Honda dusted off the Insight name again, producing the all-new 2019 Honda Insight hybrid sedan.