Third Time's A Charm: The 2019 Honda Insight

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Honda Insight
2019 Honda Insight.
Honda, the carmaker that very rarely gets it wrong, has done so at least twice---ten years apart. 

In 1999, Honda decided to be the first with a hybrid in North America.  The first-generation Insight beat the original Toyota Prius to showrooms by seven months.  The head start was of little help.  In seven years, just as the second-gen Prius was setting sales records, Honda pulled the plug on the Insight.  It was funny-looking (even compared to the Prius) and impractical, as it had only two seats.

Honda regrouped and in 2009, came back with an Insight that looked like it was meant to compete head-to-head with the Prius.  Seating for five, styling that looked like someone had pretty much put a sheet of tracing paper over a Prius brochure and then made some adjustments to keep the lawyers happy. 

It died in five years.  It might have looked better than the first and been a couple of thousand dollars less than a Prius, but it wasn't nearly as good as a Prius---a point that I drove home in a June, 2009 review.

Well, here we are, living in a year ending with a "9", and here comes Honda again---with the third Insight.

And it's just plain tremendous. 

Side view of 2019 Honda Insight
2019 Honda Insight.
With the 2019 Insight, Honda has come up with the logical middle between the Civic and the Accord.
Not as stylistically overwrought inside and out as the Civic,  not as large as the Accord.  It's an answer to a question I didn't know to ask---but it's pure Goldilocks.  Just right.

And the icing on the cake:  It's a hybrid.  The 1.5-liter I-VTEC four-cylinder engine plus an electric motor mated to a CVT makes for a combined 151 horsepower, which is more than adequate for the Insight's size and weight.  It also delivers staggeringly good fuel economy.  The EPA says 51 city/45 highway.  But in 300 miles of city street and urban freeway driving, my end-of-the-week average was 50.  Fifty. Miles. Per Gallon.

Interior view of 2019 Honda Insight
2019 Honda Insight interior.
And in top-of-the-line Touring trim like our tester, the Insight is phenomenally well-equipped and borders on luxury.  Here's what you get for the $28,090 all-included price of the 2019 Honda Insight Touring:

  • Hill start assist.
  • Vehicle stability assist.
  • Electronic brake distribution.
  • Tire pressure monitoring.
  • LED daytime running lights.
  • Leather-trimmed seats.
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel.
  • Premium audio system with ten speakers.
  • Display audio with Honda navigation, voice recognition and multi-view rear camera.
  • Bluetooth Hands-Free Link.
  • HD Radio.
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
  • Honda LaneWatch.
  • HondaLink with smartphone integration.
  • USB.
  • Pushbutton start.
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control with air filtration system.
  • Driver's eight-way power seat.
  • Heated front seats.
  • Front passenger's four-way power seat.
  • 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback.
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror.
  • HomeLink.
  • Front auto up/down power windows.
  • Power door locks.
  • Illuminated visor vanity mirrors.
  • Floor mats.
  • Tilt and telescoping steering column.
  • Electric parking brake.
  • Power moonroof.
  • 17-inch alloy wheels.
  • LED headlights and taillights.
  • LED fog lights.
  • Auto high-beam.
  • Auto on-off headlights.
  • Rain-sensing wipers.
  • Heated power door mirrors with turn indicators.
  • Remote engine start.
  • Walk-away auto locking.
  • Smart entry with security.
  • Adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow.
  • Collision mitigation braking.
  • Lane-keeping assist.
  • Road-departure mitigation.
There's also three years or 36,000 miles of Honda roadside assistance.  I'll be astonished if you ever need it.

As Jean Jennings wrote about the 1984 Honda Civic sedan in Car and Driver, "Damn, she's a fine one."   The 2019 Honda Insight belongs in the ranks of the best cars they've ever made.  And if I go Honda shopping, this is the one I'll be going for.