The sedan is becoming an endangered species as car manufacturers pivot to the trendier classes of vehicles such as SUVs, pickup trucks, and hatchbacks. Some automakers have already stopped making sedans altogether. But what if carmakers elevated the sedan to make them better suited for modern times instead of ditching the tried-and-true layout that has been popular since the Renault Voiturette that debuted in 1898. The sedan for the modern era just might be the 2019 Honda Insight.
We are all conditioned that hybrids must be boxy and boring. That’s all a farce, at least when it comes to the Honda Insight. Honda put an emphasis on making a sedan that offers plenty of cargo space for all of your groceries, coolers for your tailgate, sporting equipment, luggage, bags of top soil from Home Depot, your laundry you’re bringing to your mom’s house for her to do because you’re a lethargic worm, or anything else you’d want to transport.
Most Insight models offer 15.1 cubic feet of trunk space and the Touring models have a 14.7-cubic-foot trunk. A deceptively spacious trunk on a sedan that isn’t adversely bulky. The rear seat folds down for enhanced flexibility and so that your surfboard, iron board, bodyboard, and whatever other kind of board can easily slip inside the Insight. The compact intelligent power unit (IPU) is mounted under the rear seats to maximize space.
Did I mention the Honda Insight is fun to drive? Honda invited me to test drive the Insight in Austin and I was happy to oblige because I absolutely adore Austin, Texas as evidenced by this city guide. The magnificent part about Texas is that there are interstate highways that have speed limits of 80 MPH, perfect for “test driving.”
I have to admit, I’ve driven a couple of hybrid vehicles in the past that did not have me longing for more, but the Insight provided more than satisfactory performance. Zooming from the entry road to the interstate highway was easy and gratifying. Weaving in and out of the highway past RVs, F-250s, and gas tanker tractor trailers was effortless. All while pushing the Insight to 80 MPH (maybe a lil more) as well as taking in the breathtaking sights of the countryside of Texas such as rolling hills, fields of Damned Yellow Composite flowers (DYC), pastures of acquiescent steers, and the horizon of incensed clouds threatening to unleash a thunderous rainstorm at any second.
Did I mention that the Honda Insight is a hybrid, which comes in handy as gas prices continue to escalate. Gas prices have surged to a three-year-high according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). So fuel-conscious car shoppers should definitely consider the Insight.
This gas/electric vehicle boasts an EPA-rated 52 MPG, with a 55 MPG city and a 49 MPG highway (51/45/48 MPG in Touring trim). The Honda Insight bellows out to everyone who sees you in the cockpit: “I care about my image and that’s why I’m driving a quality sedan, but I care about the environment even more.”
The interior of the Insight is modern, minimalist, and welcoming. The Insight EX and Touring trims offer an expansive 8.0-inch infotainment system equipped with integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus satellite and HD radio.
The navigation on the Touring models was user-friendly and seemed to be quicker and more responsive than Google Maps. There was voice recognition, an enthralling 450-watt audio system with 10 speakers, and HondaLink cloud-based services. A nice return is the volume knob so you’re not fidgeting around to increase the volume when “Mona Lisa” by Lil Wayne and Kendrick Lamar comes on the radio.
The Honda Insight utilizes a two-motor hybrid system that has been used in the Accord hybrid for several years, but made it even more efficient for the smaller sedan. Forward momentum is mostly powered by the electric motor that offers near instantaneous acceleration. The Insight offers three different driving modes to customize your driving experience. You have the “Sport” mode that offers extra giddy-up, “ECON” to maximize your fuel efficiency, and “EV” mode that only uses the electric motor for short drives.
The 2019 Insight is powered two-motor hybrid drivetrain, a 1.5-liter DOHC i-VTEC Atkinson-cycle inline-4 engine with 40.5-percent thermal efficiency is paired with electric motors that pump out 197 lb.-ft. of torque and a class-leading 151 horsepower. The Honda hybrid is sneakily speedy by accelerating from 0 to 60 in 7.7 seconds. More than enough oomph to get you where you need to go in the city or the down the highway.
An unheralded beauty of the Insight is not only how quiet the engine is, but also how tremendous the soundproofing is on this car. Active Noise Control uses the audio system’s speakers to temper road noise. At times, for better or worse, you are totally left alone with your thoughts like some kind of sensory deprivation chamber because the cabin of the car is so relaxingly silent. Also, as a 6’1″ driver, the cabin offered plenty of headroom and legroom, never did I feel cramped or constricted.
But just because the car is so quiet, it doesn’t mean that you’ll drift off into an embankment. There are a litany of safety systems to ensure that you get to your destination in one piece. The Insight offers a Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) that applies brake pressure when an unavoidable collision is determined, Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM) that adjusts your steering and braking if you cross detected lanes without signaling (The steering wheel actually moves by itself which is creepily cool), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) that maintains a set following interval behind detected vehicles, Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) that adjusts steering to help you keep centered in a detected lane, and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) that notify drivers of posted speed limits, which comes in handy if you’re traveling to areas you’re not familiar with.
Another fantastic positive about the Honda Insight is that it looks cool. Whether it is the aggressive lines on the hood, the sleek, sloping rear, or the fashionable rims on the Touring trim, this car isn’t your run-of-the-mill hybrid.
What might be best of all about the Honda Insight is the price. The LX trim starts at $23,725, EX at $24,995, and the top-of-the-line Touring line slips in at $28,985. You can ride in a luxury sedan for under $30,000 that says you have fine tastes but are also environmentally conscious.