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Honda Insight: 2019 Motor Trend Car of the Year Finalist

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/9/2018 Motor Trend Staff
2019-Honda-Insight-Touring-rear-interior-seats-1.jpg

WE LIKE Smart style and packaging, excellent ride, lane centering technology

WE DON'T LIKE The roaring, thrashy powertrain

With the Insight, Honda makes the bold statement that an affordable, smartly packaged hybrid need not look dorky (ahem, Clarity). But our judges were puzzled by the decision to bring back this nameplate and not just badge this five-seat sedan—with its cleverly hidden batteries and proper-sized trunk—a Civic Hybrid. After all, the two clearly share a lot more than identical wheelbases.

a blue car parked in a parking lot© Motor Trend Staff

"I really like the interior," Christian Seabaugh said. "It's a Civic's for sure, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it." He was also among the judges who commended the Insight for its other Civic characteristics: thoughtful style and storage solutions, seamless/silent adaptive cruise control performance, and beautiful road manners. "The way it gently, silently floated through town in EV mode was a unique experience. It made rippled, uneven pavement disappear; this car perhaps has the best ride and ability to soak up impacts in the finalist group."

So why isn't it our winner? Rousing the hybrid from EV mode reveals its Achilles' heel.

Frank Markus applauds Honda for not faking CVT gear ratios and just letting the engine hang at its power peak, but all of the judges noted the clatter of this process, and most denounced it.

"Simply put, the calibration of the CVT is unacceptable," Chris Theodore said. "Honda's engineers need to sacrifice some efficiency and recalibrate for the customer's peace of mind." Added Angus MacKenzie: "The CVT transmission calibration has it roaring at high rpm under relatively modest acceleration events such as hill climbing and freeway merging and passing. It's loud, grainy, and obtrusive enough to annoy even the least discerning customer."

READ ABOUT 2019 CAR OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

• 2019 Car of the Year introduction
• Buick Regal
• Ford Mustang
• Ford Transit Connect
• Honda Clarity
• Hyundai Accent
• Hyundai Elantra
• Kia Forte
• Lexus ES
• Lexus LS
• Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
• Nissan Altima
• Toyota Avalon
• Toyota Corolla Hatchback
• Volkswagen Jetta

 

READ ABOUT 2019 CAR OF THE YEAR FINALISTS:

• Audi A6
• Audi A7
• Genesis G70
• Honda Insight
• Hyundai Veloster
• Volvo S60 and V60

 

READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

• 2019 SUV of the Year Introduction
• BMW X2
• BMW X3
• BMW X4
• Cadillac XT4
• Ford EcoSport
• Ford Edge
• Hyundai Santa Fe
• Infiniti QX50
• Jaguar E-Pace
• Jeep Cherokee
• Lexus RX L
• Mercedes-Benz G-Class
• Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
• Nissan Kicks
• Subaru Ascent
• Toyota RAV4

     

    READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR FINALISTS:

    • Acura RDX
    • Ford Expedition
    • Hyundai Kona
    • Jaguar I-Pace
    • Jeep Wrangler
    • Lincoln Navigator
    • Range Rover Velar
    • Subaru Forester
    • Volvo XC40

    a car parked on the side of a road© Motor Trend Staff
    2019 Honda Insight Touring
    Base Price/As tested $28,985/$28,985
    Power (SAE net) 152 hp @ 6,000 rpm (gas)/129 hp (elec)/152 hp (comb)
    Torque (SAE net) 99 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm (gas)/197 lb-ft (elec)
    Accel, 0-60 mph 7.7 sec
    Quarter-mile 16.0 sec @ 85.4 mph
    Braking, 60-0 mph 121 ft
    Lateral Acceleration 0.80 g (avg)
    MT Figure Eight 28.2 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)
    EPA City/Hwy/Comb 51/45/48 mpg
    VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
    ENGINE/TRANSMISSION 1.5L Atkinson-cycle DOHC 16-valve I-4 plus front electric motor/1-speed auto
    CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,068 lb (61/39%)
    WHEELBASE 106.3 in
    LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 183.6 x 71.6 x 55.6 in
    ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 66/75 kW-hrs/100 miles
    CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.40 lb/mile

    2019 Honda Insight Touring front three quarter in motion 2© Motor Trend Staff 2019 Honda Insight Touring front three quarter in motion 2

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