The Honda versus Toyota hybrid battle is back on.
The previous generation Honda Insight was a direct competitor to the Toyota Prius. At Detroit in January, Honda showed a prototype version of the new Insight, which dumped the old Prius-rivaling design in favor of a more conventional sedan body style. The 2019 Insight is set to be revealed at the 2018 New York Auto Show this week, but Honda got a bit excited and decided to show off the car a few days early. Based on first impressions, we'd say the Toyota Prius has a lot to be concerned about with the Insight's return.
The Insight doesn't appear to have lost its luster in the move from prototype to production spec. Styling looks very familiar next to the current Civic and Accord, and the Insight will be priced between those two models in Honda's lineup. Powering the Insight is Honda's third generation two-motor hybrid system, netting 151 horsepower (more than the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq). Combined with a lightweight structure, the Insight delivers a best-in-class power-to-weight ratio and up to 55 mpg in the city. Honda expects the Ohio-built Insight to arrive in dealerships starting in early summer with three trim levels available.
The base Insight LX comes standard with full LED headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, 16-inch wheels, heated mirrors, a 7-inch digital driver's meter, push-button start, 6-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, and a folding rear seat. The EX trim adds smart entry, two additional speakers, Sirius XM radio, and an 8-inch touchscreen. The range-topping Touring adds the most upgrades, featuring 17-inch wheels, LED fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, a moonroof, LED side-mirror turn signals, leather seats, heated front seats with 8-way power adjustment, dual-zone climate control, a navigation system, Honda HD Digital Traffic, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, 10-speaker premium audio system, and HomeLink.
All Insights share a platform with the 10th generation Civic and are powered by a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder paired with an electric propulsion motor with a lithium-ion battery pack. Total output is 151 hp and 197 lb-ft of torque. Drivers will be able to choose from three driving modes, Normal, Econ, and Sport, to change the car's driving characteristics. Additionally, drivers can select from three regenerative braking modes using steering wheel-mounted deceleration selectors. Honda says the Insight will be able to drive for around one mile on electric power alone in normal mode. The electric motor is even able to send power directly to the wheels without using the transmission.
We applaud Honda for not making the Insight yet another strange-looking Prius rival. Instead, the car adopts Honda's signature "flying wing" grille with sharp character lines and a sweeping coupe-like roofline. Inside, the Insight features premium features and materials as well as Apple Car Play and Android Auto integration. The 106.3-inch wheelbase and exceptional packaging efficiency yields best-in-class rear legroom of 37.4 inches, along with a spacious 15.1 cu.-ft. of trunk space. EX and Touring trims, as previously noted, feature 60/40 folding rear seats thanks to a cleverly placed lithium-ion battery. Pricing has not been announced, but we should know more closer to the car's release date sometime this summer.