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2019 Honda Insight: New York Auto Show

What Is It?

The 2019 Honda Insight is an all-new hybrid compact sedan. If it looks familiar, that’s because a prototype version was unveiled at the Detroit show this past January. If it sounds familiar, that’s because the Insight name has been used for two other hybrids in Honda’s history. They were interesting, but never really took off in the same way as the Toyota Prius.

Here is the production version of the latest Insight, then. Although it’s based on the same platform as the excellent Civic, Honda is making this car a little more upscale and stretching the interior so passenger space is more like that of the larger Accord sedan. Honda claims best-in-class figures in this respect and the rear legroom of 37.4 inches is indeed more midsize than compact.

Honda also says total system power output is similarly peerless, at 151 horsepower and 197 lb-ft of torque. The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid makes 139 hp, and the 2018 Prius has 121 hp, so we’ll assume Honda has done its homework.

The power-to-weight ratio is, again, said to be the best of the class, and the company reckons 55 miles per gallon in the city is possible. In its normal operating method, the Insight will rely mainly on battery power, using the gasoline engine as more of an on-board generator. But when conditions dictate, the engine can provide drive to the wheels.

The combustion-engine side of the new Insight’s drivetrain is a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, while the electric side is one motor drawing power from a lithium-ion battery. This battery pack is located under the rear seats, so there isn’t the usual luggage space penalty hybrid sedans typically suffer. Trunk space is 15.1 cu ft., the same as the Civic. And this arrangement allows the rear seats to split and fold in the time-honored 60/40 way (in the EX and Touring trims, at least).

Speaking of trims, the Insight comes in LX, EX and Touring. Standard equipment in the LX includes a whole array of advanced driver-assistance features like adaptive cruise control and a lane-keeping function, plus LED exterior lighting, 16-in alloy wheels, heated side mirrors and a 6-speaker audio system.

The EX has a better infotainment system with an 8-in touchscreen, satellite radio and two more speakers.

The Touring version has 17-in alloy wheels, many more luxury features, over-the-air software updates and a slightly enhanced suspension for greater comfort.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity will also be available.

Honda is expecting a full 5-star score in government crash tests and a Top Safety Pick accolade from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS).

How Much?

Official pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date. Think in terms of around $25,000-$30,000.

When Can You Get It?

The 2019 Honda Insight hits the dealerships in early summer.

Add It to Your Shopping List Because …

After two previous attempts, Honda should really be able to get this one right.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Toyota Prius — The benchmark of compact hybrids. The new generation’s looks are arguably inelegant, but there’s no disputing Toyota’s mastery of hybrid drivetrains.

2018 Chevrolet Volt — Comes with a plug-in aspect that extends electric-only range to an impressive 53 miles. The rest of the car is good as well.

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid — Something of a newcomer, but not to be underestimated. Can achieve an average of 55 mpg.

Used Honda Accord Hybrid — If space and pace are important, the previous-generation Accord Hybrid (2014/2015) is roomy, rapid and can still manage an average of 47 mpg.

See all 2018 New York Auto Show articles

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Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan specializes in writing about new cars. But he has also covered trucks, vans, 3-wheelers, even the occasional motorbike. That’s the kind of thing that happens while contributing to the Los Angeles Times, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Popular Mechanics, Variety, Mazda and Lexus customer magazines, as well as many enthusiast sites and publications. He was also a staff writer at BBC Top Gear magazine for several years.

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