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New Car Review: 2019 Honda Insight by Mark Fulmer

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The 3rd Time is a Charmer


by Mark Fulmer
Editor In Chief
The Auto Channel

The year was 2000. The Y2K global computer crash - much ado about nothing. Gas prices were $1.25 per gallon - that didn't last very long. And then Honda introduces America's first hybrid auto - the Insight.

Now fast-forward to present day and lo and behold what 18 years of tech and design maturation can yield - a real charmer.

The first surprise happened as I pulled out of the driveway, fully expecting the traditional high whine sound of an electric motor. Instead I heard a harmonic wavering chord similar to the phased Warm Bell patch on my digital piano keyboard.

Nice.

That sound is electric half of Honda's 3rd generation Multi-Mode Drive dual motor hybrid system. The gas engine half is a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder with computer-controlled port fuel injection featuring multi-hole injectors. That makes 107 horsepower and 99 lb-ft of torque. Total horsepower of the system is 151 horsepower.

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The transmission is an electric CVT with a lock up clutch drive force transfer. The 19 years of hybrid development show up the minute that you take off, smoothly accelerate, and cruise. For around-town use, EPA mileage estimates are 51-mpg city and 45-mpg highway, with a combined estimate of 48 mpg. Those were my numbers as well, and it always feels good to gas up less frequently.

Standard on all Insights are a plethora of driver assists and safety systems. Adaptive Cruise Control is a real right foot saver, taking care of the throttle and brake adjustments needed in moderately crowded freeways. All of the sensors and cameras really enhance your driving and parking skills. The collision braking and warning systems are worth their weight in gold in residential areas and parking lots.

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The new Insight gives the hybrid driving experience a quartet of styles: Normal, ECON, and SPORT, and of course, EV. They all have their place and time. This is one outstanding hybrid, and well worth the 22K base price.

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