The 2019 Honda Insight marks a turning point in the evolution of hybrid cars. The new Insight sedan is a dedicated hybrid model…that doesn’t look weird. I’m looking at you Toyota Prius. And I’m looking at you, first-generation Honda Insight, with your tapered roofline and rear wheel spats. While hybrids of the past often wore their eco-cred like a neon green polo with the collar popped, the 2019 Insight skips the stylistic pretense. Thank heaven.

The new Insight’s core structure is born from the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy winning Honda Civic. Onto that roomy yet compact platform Honda’s design team has blended handsome styling cues reminiscent of the latest generation Honda Accord. Aside from the roof panel and rear quarter panels the Insight’s exterior is unique. We dig its shape but the Insight’s real achievement is how it blends style with top-tier efficiency.

Stellar 55 mpg

The LX and EX Insight trims return a stellar 55 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway, essentially matching the Prius. The swankier Touring trim is notably less efficient (51 city/45 highway) but that’s the price you pay to enjoy heated leather seats, 17-inch wheels, and a moonroof, among other indulgences. Powering all Insights is a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine teamed with Honda’s 2-motor hybrid drive system and a lithium ion battery pack. The gasoline and electric elements play well together, smoothly merging their outputs to generate a respectable 151 horsepower and 197 lb-ft of torque.

Also: Get your first look at the new and redesigned cars of 2019

Like its Civic kin, the third-generation Honda Insight delivers exceptional ride and handling with an added measure of quiet via active noise cancellation and enhanced sound deadening. Road impacts are absorbed with smooth sophistication while a nicely-weighted steering wheel guides the Insight with precision. In motion, the 2019 Insight has a sophisticated feel. Complaints are few, aside from some CVT-style engine droning during hard acceleration.

Well-equipped for $23,725

For $23,725 including destination charges the base 2019 Honda Insight LX trim features traffic sign recognition, a multi-angle backup camera, and advanced driver aides like dynamic cruise control, lane keeping assist, and forward collision warning with automatic braking. That’s a lot of car for a modest sum but for a mere $1,230 extra the EX trim adds a center arm rest, an external trunk release, smart entry, and an 8-inch touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Given its meager premium, we highly recommend stepping up to the EX.

More: 2019 Car Reviews: First takes on new models

Among the Insight’s competitors are the similarly-efficient but slightly pricier Toyota Prius and the less expensive but also less fancy Hyundai Ioniq. For our money the Insight’s normalcy is refreshing. It looks great, the regenerative brakes feel like normal brakes, the trunk is a generous 15.1 cu-ft and, thanks to the hybrid battery’s placement under the rear seats, the seat backs fold like a normal sedan’s.

It was 19 years ago when Honda introduced the first hybrid vehicle to America with its first-generation Insight. As a new type of vehicle, it had to announce its virtues visually. Nearly two decades later the buying public understands what a hybrid car can do. Hybrids don’t need to trumpet their hybrid-ness. The 2019 Honda Insight is a handsome, practical, enjoyable sedan that also tops 50 mpg. The Insight’s vehicular virtues speak for themselves, peacocking not required.

Advertisement
New Car Spotlight

Advertisement

Advertisement