There are a few ways I can start this review, by saying something like: “2019 Honda Insight, the Prius killer” or “What is the best looking Honda Civic and Accord, the 2019 Honda Insight”. But I’m not going to do that and just dive right into the review.
The Honda Insight is the newest car in Honda’s lineup, the name isn’t new though. The original Honda Insight was introduced for the year 2000 model year, the only thing that car and the new 2019 3rd generation Honda Insight have in common is they’re both hybrids. The original Insight was a coupe with seating for only 2, it was one of the first hybrids in the market (introduced a couple of years after the Prius). The original Insight was in production until 2006, the 2nd generation Insight was introduced in 2009, it was a 5-door hatchback, again, it wasn’t very popular, I think I’ve only seen a handful out in the wild.
The 3rd generation Honda Insight was introduced in 2018, as a 2019 model. Now this is a proper hybrid and a proper car. The Insight is based on the Civic, replacing the Civic Hybrid, which is considered a very mild hybrid, my wife has an older version of it, and I wouldn’t even consider it a hybrid. The Insight is a real hybrid, like a Prius, which is the name that comes to most people’s minds when the word “hybrid” is mentioned.
Speaking of the Toyota Prius, up until recently, if you wanted a very fuel efficient vehicle, you’d get the Prius, but sales of the Prius have been steadily decreasing. People are still interested in fuel efficient vehicles, but there are a few reasons for the decline in Prius sales. One of the reason is the popularity of Tesla’s electric cars, another reason is increasing competition, and the most important reason (to me at least) is the hideous looks of the Prius. My wife and I were considering getting the Prius a few years ago, but I couldn’t get past the very ugly looks of the car.
The Insight, on the other hand, is a great looking hybrid, not only that, it’s also a great looking car. I like the design of the Insight more than that of the Civic and the Accord. I don’t know why manufacturers like to make their electric/hybrid cars look really ugly/different for the sake of standing out and making a statement, “hey, look at me, I’m driving a fuel efficient vehicle and saving the planet”. Toyota is not the only culprit, I couldn’t get past the looks of the Honda Clarity either, I loved the car, but I would find it hard to buy just because of the way it looks.
Back to the subject of the 2019 Honda Insight…
The 2019 Honda Insight comes in only two trims in Canada, Insight Hybrid and Insight Hybrid Touring. In the United States, they have the LX, EX, and Touring. Our Canadian Insight starts at $27,990 and the Insight Touring starts at $31,890; these prices do not include Freight & PDI and other fees and taxes.
The base Insight, if you can call it that, is very well equipped. It comes with features such as Collision Mitigation Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Hill Start Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Road Departure Mitigation, Traffic Sign Recognition, Adaptive Cruise Control, and LaneWatch.
With the extra money you pay for the Touring trim, you get chrome door handles, moon roof, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear view mirror, Navigation, HomeLink remote system, power adjustable passenger seat (4-way), heated rear seats, leather seats, 452-watt audio system with 10 speakers, and SiriusXM.
Both of these trims are very well equipped, there’s a full list of all available safety, tech, and convenience features at the end of this article.
Both trims of the 3rd generation Honda Insight come equipped with 1.5 liter 4-cylinder gasoline engines, producing 107 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 99 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. The gasoline engine is assisted by an electric motor, producing 129 horsepower between 4,000 – 8,000 rpm and 197 pound-feet of torque between 0 – 3,000 rpm. The combine output of gasoline engine and electric motor works out to 151 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. Power is sent to the front wheels via an Electric-Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT).
These engines come with ECON buttons, which make the best use of the efficiency of the car. There are also EV and Sport button, which are self-explanatory. For our weeklong review, I had the car mostly in the standard mode with the ECON button on, to save on fuel.
According to Honda, the 2019 Insight hybrid should consume 4.6/4.3/4.9 Liters/100 km in city/highway/combined driving. For our test, the trip computer showed 5.5 L/100 km, with gentle driving, with the goal of using as little fuel as possible. This number was a bit higher due to some of my shorter trips, where I would warm up the car for quite a bit, to get rid of the frosty windows and drive only a few kilometers. Some of the trips I took showed 4.5 L/100 km of city driving. So, I’d say the efficiency of the 2019 Honda Insight in real world driving is very close to the claimed numbers.
The Honda Insight is the closest competitor to the Toyota Prius, I’ve never driven that car, so I can’t say how the Insight compares to it. The 2019 Honda Insight drove the way I expected it to drive, it is a hybrid, so it’s not going to break any acceleration/speed records.
Driving a hybrid isn’t as fun as an electric car, even a plug-in hybrid is more fun, like the Honda Clarity, but the cost of entry on the Insight is much lower than on the Clarity and not everyone has a place to plug in a car. Besides, a hybrid is not sold on the promise of a fun ride, it’s sold on the promise of a fuel efficient ride, which the Insight achieves.
Driving the Honda Insight isn’t bad either, once you treat it as a hybrid. The engine/electric motor work together to give you the best power or fuel efficiency depending on the driving conditions. In city driving, it does a great job at keeping up with traffic and the electric motor is used a lot of the time, as long as the battery has been charged up be deceleration and braking.
In electric mode, as you’d expect, it is very quiet. However, when the engine is on, it doesn’t make a very unpleasant noise, and the E-CVT makes it feel very buzzy. Unlike the latest CVTs, which come with simulated gear shifts, the E-CVT feels like an older CVT, where you keep waiting for a gear to change and it keeps buzzing along. It took me the entire week to get used to the engine noise. One of the reasons the noise becomes an annoyance is because how quiet the car is in electric mode, so going from super quiet to this buzzy noise is very noticeable. By the end of the week I was able to live with the noise and for most people it shouldn’t be a problem.
Styling is a subjective matter; I personally like the way the Insight looks, in fact, I like it a lot. The Insight is based on the Civic, the styling on which took me a while to get used to, but I liked the Insight at first sight. It looks like a much more elegant and finished version of the Civic.
One issue I had with the styling on the Insight/Civic is the raked rear window, due to the rake of the window, when it rains, the water usually sticks around on the window, especially in slow city driving. It makes it very hard to see out of, it might seem weird, but a rear wiper might be appropriate here. I’ve had this issue with my dad’s 2016 Civic, one solution I found was to apply rain-x to it, it helps a little.
The interior on the Insight is very nice, it looks almost identical to the Civic’s, which is a nice looking interior. There’s a bit of a difference in the way the two air vents are placed at the top of the center stack, above the infotainment system. The other major difference is removal of the gear lever, in its place is a row of buttons, like on Acura products. This does free up a bit of space, personally I don’t mind either setup.
Honda added a small feature to the Insight that wasn’t present in the Civic, which a lot of the auto journalists had been complaining about. The small feature is…. a volume knob! Yes, finally Honda has added it back. It seems like a very small thing, but having the volume knob is so much easier/convenient to use.
The interior is very quiet, especially in the electric mode. As I mentioned above, when the gasoline engine is on, it’s quite noisy, especially under heavy acceleration. It is something that takes a bit of getting used to.
The interior is very roomy, the Civic/Insight are now mid-size cars, so there is a lot of leg room at the front and even in the back seats.
As I mentioned above, both of the trims of the Insight are very well equipped. The “base” trim in Canada is essentially the mid-level trim in America, so it isn’t bare-bones. Below is a comprehensive list of everything available on the 2019 Honda Insight.
- Proximity key with push-button start
- Remote engine starter
- Walk-away door locks
- LED headlights with auto-on/off
- LED taillights
- LED fog lights
- LED daytime running lights
- LED front turn indicators
- Auto high beam
- Rain-sensing windshield wipers
- Brake Assist
- Collision Mitigation Braking System
- Electronic Brake-force Distribution
- Forward Collision Warning
- Hill Start Assist
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System
- Navigation system
- Rearview camera
- Lane Departure Warning
- Road Departure Mitigation
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow
- Honda LaneWatch blind spot display
- Lane Keeping Assist System
- Traffic sign recognition
- Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control
I think the 2019 Honda Prius is a real good attempt at beating the mighty Prius, this is the 3rd generation of this car and it is finally a worthy adversary to the Prius. It’s also a very good looking hybrid, unlike other hybrids, it doesn’t go for that weird and funky design that screams “look at me, I’m saving the earth”.
It’s also a very fuel efficient vehicle, it has lots of room on the inside and has a large trunk. It should also be a very reliable car that should last a very long time.
For more information on the 3rd generation Honda Insight hybrid and other Honda vehicles, visit honda.ca.