Undercutting the Toyota Prius in manufacturer’s list price didn’t work very well for the second-generation dedicated Honda hybrid, so for the third-generation model, the car goes upscale. If the 2019 Honda Insight looks like a Civic sedan with a new Accord nose, that’s because it is. It’s on sale in all 50 states beginning this summer.
Honda will build the new Insight at its Greensburg, Indiana, plant alongside the Civic and the CR-V sport/utility. The days of uniquely bodied hybrid powered cars that aren’t at least plug-in models may finally be waning, though don’t tell Toyota, Kia, or Hyundai.
The new Honda Insight will come with a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine under its hood, coupled to a multi-mode direct drive transmission, like the 2.0-liter Accord Hybrid and Clarity plug-in. Battery pack is lithium-ion. Honda promises best-in-class fuel economy, which should be easy, since the hybrid competition is mostly in the mid-size category.
The Hyundai Ionic tops the Toyota Prius’ 54/50-mpg city/highway EPA rating with a 55/54-mpg rating. Kia Niro, which its manufacturer counts as a crossover/utility, is rated 51/46 mpg. The gas-powered Honda Civic with the highest fuel efficiency is rated a healthy 32/42 mpg. The Prius, by the way, is counted as a midsize car by its interior volume.
While the first-generation Honda Insight was a lightweight (for a hybrid) two-seater and the second-generation Insight was a minimalist subcompact hatchback, the third-generation model will come well equipped to help justify its Civic Touring-plus price point. Standard equipment will include LED lighting front and back, the full suite of Honda Sensing automated safety features, and full telematics, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
We expect MSRP to start somewhere in the low- to mid-$30s and first full year sales north of 20,000, which is not a bad number when supported by sharing many parts with a car line that topped 377,000 last year.