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Honda Debuts 2019 Insight Hybrid

To Honda, the Insight name is a pillar of technology. It's a car that featured an advanced, lightweight chassis, one of the highest EPA rated hybrid powertrains, and an offering at a lower price point than the oppressive Toyota Prius. To us, it's a cheaper, uglier Prius. And in 2014 the Insight was forced into retirement because sales fell far short of expectations. The public doesn't respond well to cars that double-dip into the ugly bin.

Fast-forward to 2018, however, and you can see the Insight is making its return as an inoffensive hybrid sedan. The front end is a mix between the Honda Civic sedan and the Accord sedan while the rear end takes styling cues from Hyundai's sedan lineup. Overall, it's forgettable but not nearly as repulsive as the Toyota Prius. And if all goes according to Honda's plans the Insight will not only bring more value than a Prius, it'll offer higher mileage too.

For the Insight's third generation, Honda based the model on the 10th generation Honda Civic platform. The Insight's dimensions, standard feature set, and technologies are exact reproductions of the non-hybrid compact sedan, so you'll get the same Honda Advance Compatibility Engineering (ACE) structure, LED headlights, LED taillights, strut front and rear multi-link suspension, and dual-pinion electric steering as its pure petrol powered sibling. The only notable drivetrain difference is regenerative braking and liquid-sealed compliance bushings on Touring models.

All Insights are powered by a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle inline-four engine paired with an electric motor. Combined, the hybrid system produces 151 horsepower and 197 lb-ft of torque. Electric drive draws from a 60-cell lithium-ion battery pack located underneath the rear seats, but its inclusion doesn't compromise rear legroom or rear cargo capacity (15.1 cu-ft).

Honda's combination of electric drive and petrol drive is more simple than the Toyota Prius as the Insight simply keeps its electric motors in constant connection to a drive shaft with a lock-up clutch ready to engage petrol drive. Low speed driving or distances up to one mile are covered by electric power while higher speeds or cruising is done with the 1.5-liter engine, thus (according to Honda) eliminating the need for a conventional transmission. Honda's internal testing rates the Insight at 55 mpg combined, which is 3 more than the current Prius, and equal to the (more expensive) Prius Eco.

Interior amenities are plentiful for a car priced between the Honda Civic and Honda Accord. Standard luxuries include 7-inch multi-information driver display, push-button start, Bluetooth integration, 6-speaker sound system, heated side mirrors, 16-inch wheels and folding rear seat. Upgrading from the base LX to mid-level EX trim adds 8-inch center console touchscreen, 60/40 split folding on rear seats, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Honda LaneWatch, and two more speakers.

The top-trim Touring adds all the features of the LX and EX while bringing in leather-trimmed seating, power seats, dual-zone climate control, in-car WiFi hotspot with 4G connectivity, satellite navigation, two more speakers (10 total), LED fog lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, moonroof, side-mirror turn signal repeaters, and integrated garage door remote opener. Touring trim also upsizes the wheels 17-inches with 215/50 R17 Continental ProContact tires. Safety technologies like Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, road departure warning, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and multi-angle rear view camera are standard on all models.

2019 Honda Insights will be assembled in Greensburg, Indiana. Its batteries and engine will be sourced from two different manufacturing plants located in Ohio. Prices start at $23,830 for LX, $24,060 for EX, and $28,090 for Touring.