The 2019 Honda Insight hybrid sedan. (Honda)

The 2019 Honda Insight hybrid sedan. (Honda)

2019 Honda Insight entices with styling, fuel efficiency

A new version of the hatchback is a radical departure from the original. How radical? It’s a sedan.

You might remember the original Honda Insight from 1999, the first hybrid to hit North America. It was a tiny two-seat hatchback shaped like a sand crab.

Nine years later, it evolved into a more practical five-passenger hatchback with more socially acceptable styling, the wedge-like shape often associated with hybrids.

From the get-go, Insight was a champion in fuel efficiency, turning in a performance as high as 70 mpg in the early years but revised to 61 mpg in 2008 when the EPA changed its rating procedure.

The all-new 2019 Honda Insight is a radical departure from previous incarnations – still a hybrid, but now a beautiful sedan, too.

Does it seem counterintuitive to come out with a new sedan (even the word sounds quaint today) when SUVs and crossovers dominate the market? Maybe not. We’re in America, where fads come at us fast and then vaporize just as quickly. And this is Honda, after all. Not exactly a clueless company when it comes to producing products that will sell.

I, who have always loved SUVs and crossovers, could feel myself beginning to stray with the new Insight. As with most matters of the heart, the attraction started with the eyes, with Insight’s striking visual impact.

From an objective point of view, I was drawn to Insight’s excellent fuel economy, 55/49/52 mpg, and reasonable starting price of $23,725, including destination charge.

Then there was the joy of driving the Insight, gratitude for its welcoming and upscale interior, and the delightful novelty of a trunk, where valuable items can actually be safely secured, not just placed “out of sight.” It’s a nice big trunk, by the way, because the battery pack bits are under the rear seats where they don’t intrude.

The 2019 Honda Insight sedan has a welcoming and upscale interior. (Honda)

The 2019 Honda Insight sedan has a welcoming and upscale interior. (Honda)

The 2019 Honda Insight hybrid is midsize and has generous space for five passengers, though headroom might not be accommodating enough for significantly taller drivers. Road noise is nearly nonexistent within the cabin.

There are three trim levels: LX, EX and Touring. My tester was the Touring model, whose standard-equipment largesse takes a toll on fuel economy. It’s rated 51/45/48 mpg. During my week of driving on freeways, two-lane highways and winding roads around Snohomish and Skagit counties, I averaged 51.4 mpg driving in normal mode. Other mode options are EV (electric only, good for a short distance and you have to go slow), Econ and Sport.

The combined output of Insight’s four-cylinder gasoline engine and two electric motors is 151 horsepower.

Our overall mild climate in the Puget Sound region makes good use of hybrid vehicles because we don’t have extreme temperatures, hot or cold, making big demands on the climate control system, which reduces fuel economy.

One last great thing about the 2019 Honda Insight: the lighting in the gauge cluster happens to be Seahawks colors.

2019 HONDA INSIGHT TOURING

Base price, including destination charge: $28,985

Price as driven: $28,985

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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