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Old 01-23-2018, 12:54 AM   #1 (permalink)
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2019 Insight at NAIAS

Hello all. I visited the Detroit auto show yesterday, and I thought the community here would appreciate some close-ups of the "prototype" 3rd gen Insight that Honda had on display. There was no sign or display with information, no specs or figures were given, and the interior was difficult to make out behind locked doors and tinted glass. Despite all that, the Insight is on the elevated turntable at the center of Honda's display, near all three versions of the Clarity. I am no great photographer despite my phone's impressive camera, but I think the shots I took give a fairly good impression of some of the vehicle's details.






Attendees are allowed up on the turntable to look at the car and interact with another part of Honda's 'Power of Dreams' exhibit.





An admittedly rough shot of the front of the car. The yellowish LED running lights were an interesting design choice, I rather like them compared to the usual harsh blue-white LEDs. The tail lights have the same smoked-brown tone as the heads.

The rear of the vehicle.

Honda has this labeled as a prototype, which likely indicates it is much nearer to the exact production version than a concept but may still have significant differences when it hits production. The Clarity was displayed at the auto show in much the same way prior to its release, though it didn't get center stage.

The ride height leaves room for improvement, but this could change somewhat for the production car, and clearance here is of course dependent on tire size.

You can see here the passenger's sideview mirror has a camera molded into the housing.

Here's a close-up of same. My best guess is it's a blind-spot camera, but I'm not sure why they felt the need for such a large extrusion from the mirror to house it. It's rather unsightly in my opinion, and the driver's side mirror lacks the camera and is shaped differently.

Mirrors are sizeable, but angle in towards the car.

Much cleaner looking without the camera.

The wheels look sharp, and appear to be fairly aerodynamic.

The prototype was fitted with Continental SportContact 6 tires, in size 225/40ZR19 XL. This is an interesting choice, being that those are decidedly performance-oriented tires (see them on Continental's website here). However, this may have just been because they looked better for the show floor.

There are three openings on the front grill, the lower main one is shown here. Only the center portion allows air in, and you can see the upper grill below the badge is solid as well; the opening only spans the upper three inches or so.

The third and smallest opening is underneath the driver's side foglight, and appears to be for an oil or transmission cooler.

There is a vent in the left-front wheel well to accommodate airflow through the cooler.

The same grill on the passenger's side is simply for decoration.

The headlights appear to be LED, and look quite good.



Looks like a satellite antenna, for XM radio or navigation. I wonder if they couldn't have made it more compact.

The wipers are recessed fairly well below the hood, out of the flow of air.

I was curious about the contours of the headlight housings. Are these angular protrusions simply for style, or do they provide some beneficial airflow characteristic? I'm thinking the latter, but I'd love to hear others' thoughts.

The rear underbody has a good-sized panel, and the shape of the muffler itself lines up well with it. The exhaust is clearly intended to be discrete, with the angled tip and recessed placement typical of hybrids. Seems to be a smaller diameter, but not astonishingly so, perhaps just under two inches.

I attended with my dad, and of course he snapped a picture of me drooling over the Insight.

I'm excited to see the numbers when this thing goes on sale! While they weren't showing any of it, the prototype did appear to have a full drivetrain and interior, and seemed a lot like a production car.

Other efficient vehicles I was interested in at this year's show included the Kia Niro plug-in hybrid, which had a fairly nice interior and boasts best-in-class fuel efficiency for the 2018 model year (excluding EVs), the Chevy Cruze diesel (the manual trans is rated at an impressive 30/37/52 MPG US), and the Karma Revero (pictured below, based on the defunct Fisker Karma).
It was a good show overall, though I wasn't able to stay as long as I would have liked, and Tesla once again did not make an appearance as they are still unable to sell to Michigan customers.

If you'd like to see the full-resolution photos, I've compiled them in an album here.

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Old 01-23-2018, 11:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Great pics! Even though it seems to be a repurposed Civic, with your pictures you can tell they went over things a bit and tailored it for hybriddyness.
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Old 01-27-2018, 01:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Shame they turned it into yet another sedan. We may replace our Prius in a few years and the offerings are pretty slim for a wagon or hatch with decent mileage.

Last edited by JSH; 01-27-2018 at 01:54 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 01-27-2018, 05:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSH View Post
Shame they turned it into yet another sedan. We may replace our Prius in a few years and the offerings are pretty slim for a wagon or hatch with decent mileage.
I usually prefer wagons (and occasionally hatches) over their sedan counterparts, but anyway, what I don't understand is why Honda basically turned the Insight into "just another Civic". It lacks the character that the previous generations had.
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Old 01-27-2018, 09:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr View Post
..what I don't understand is why Honda basically turned the Insight into "just another Civic". It lacks the character that the previous generations had.
Agreed.
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Old 01-27-2018, 10:08 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr View Post
I usually prefer wagons (and occasionally hatches) over their sedan counterparts, but anyway, what I don't understand is why Honda basically turned the Insight into "just another Civic". It lacks the character that the previous generations had.
1. The 2019 Civic will be built in the USA so it has to share a common platform with a US manufactured car. (The 2nd gen was based on the Fit and made in Japan)

2. The way CAFE standards work today, OEM's don't need to make small cars. Standards are set based on the car's footprint with larger cars getting lower requirements.

3. The last two generations of Insight sold poorly while the Civic is one of Honda's best selling vehicles. (15K vs 325K per year)

4. Hatchbacks don't sell in the USA unless they are attached to a SUV.
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Old 01-27-2018, 08:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The 2019 Civic will be built in the USA so it has to share a common platform with a US manufactured car. (The 2nd gen was based on the Fit and made in Japan)
That's reasonable from a logistics and economics of scale standpoint.


Quote:
The way CAFE standards work today, OEM's don't need to make small cars. Standards are set based on the car's footprint with larger cars getting lower requirements.
CAFE standards seem to be more politically-oriented than technically-oriented.


Quote:
The last two generations of Insight sold poorly while the Civic is one of Honda's best selling vehicles. (15K vs 325K per year)
Even though it could not have the same appeal toward those who get into hybrids as a form of virtue-signalling, it would make more sense to simply offer a hybrid variant for the most popular models instead of blowing money on a low-volume "halo" hybrid


Quote:
Hatchbacks don't sell in the USA unless they are attached to a SUV.
Look at its side profile: even if the overall dimensions are not changed, don't you agree that a hatchback would be way more practical than that small trunk lid?
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Old 01-28-2018, 01:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr View Post
That's reasonable from a logistics and economics of scale standpoint.
I've done some more research and read some interviews with the Civic project lead. First - the Civic, Insight, and Accord all are build on the same platform. The Insight is sized between the Civic and Accord and is closer in size to the Accord than the Civic. This makes sense as the Accord is now a large car due to constant growth every time is is redesigned. Second - Honda is still smarting from the failure of the 9th generation Civic. It was not well received and sold poorly. I was refreshed after 1 year, and now replaced after 5 years. Honda has decided to return to their roots and focus on sportiness and performance for the 10th generation Civic. Hybrids do not fit that image.

So then we have the Insight. Larger than the Civic, smaller than the Accord. Priced well above the base Civic with a more upscale interior but cheaper and smaller than the Accord Hybrid. It is focusing on ride comfort and space in the form of a mid-size sedan while not being as huge as the Accord.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr View Post
CAFE standards seem to be more politically-oriented than technically-oriented.
What they are set at may be political but the results have a huge effect on product mix and design. The switch from one CAFE standard for all OEMs to sell-adjusting standards for each OEM based on product mix is huge. It means that OEMs do not have to sell small vehicles to offset large ones. It also means that OEMs have an incentive to make vehicles larger.

Take for example the produce changes at Fiat Chrysler. Chrysler has returned to profitability and paid off their debt by abandoning cars almost completely. If you look at their product portfolio the only cars left are the 300, Challenger, and Charger. The 300 will be dropped in 2020 without a replacement. Chrysler's CEO has recently stated that the plan going forward is to focus on greatly expanding the sale of Jeeps. None of this would have been possible under the old CAFE system with a one-size-fits-all CAFE target.

The CAFE change also killed the compact truck and ensures that it won't return.

My point in the early comment is that Honda no longer needs a small Fit-sized vehicle. In fact making the Insight larger makes meeting CAFE standards easier.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr View Post
Even though it could not have the same appeal toward those who get into hybrids as a form of virtue-signalling, it would make more sense to simply offer a hybrid variant for the most popular models instead of blowing money on a low-volume "halo" hybrid
Honda has the Clarity PHEV for people that want virtue-signalling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr View Post
Look at its side profile: even if the overall dimensions are not changed, don't you agree that a hatchback would be way more practical than that small trunk lid?
Hatchbacks are difficult in 4 door sedans. If you make it a hatch you need a crossmember in the roof just in front of the hatch. That is where the passenger's head goes. To fix this you lower the rear seat height and shift it forward. That is what Honda did with the Civic Hatch but it leads to a cramped rear seat. The Honda sedan, coupe, and hatch all have the same wheelbase and front seat legroom. (106.3 and 42.3 inches) However, the hatch loses an inch of legroom in the rear and has lower fuel economy due to the extra weight required for the hatch.

These changes aren't possible for the Insight. Reducing rear seat legroom is contrary to the mission statement of being a comfortable sedan for 4 people. Honda can't lower the seat because the hybrid battery is under there. Combined with the fact that hatchbacks are poor sellers in the USA and you get a conventional sedan.

Personally I think the design calls for a wagon version. My Prius is much less useful than the 2003 Jetta Wagon it replaced due sharply sloped hatch.
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Old 01-28-2018, 09:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSH View Post
It also means that OEMs have an incentive to make vehicles larger.

Take for example the produce changes at Fiat Chrysler. Chrysler has returned to profitability and paid off their debt by abandoning cars almost completely. If you look at their product portfolio the only cars left are the 300, Challenger, and Charger. The 300 will be dropped in 2020 without a replacement. Chrysler's CEO has recently stated that the plan going forward is to focus on greatly expanding the sale of Jeeps. None of this would have been possible under the old CAFE system with a one-size-fits-all CAFE target.

The CAFE change also killed the compact truck and ensures that it won't return.
So, basically, it's more comfortable to the automakers, but not so great to improve the overall efficiency of the vehicles. But anyway, when it comes to footprint, I always remember that Japanese policy that charge a lower taxation on vehicles less than 1,70m wide and 4,70m long. OTOH there is a displacement-based taxation that I don't agree at all, even though it could have pushed U.S. automakers to embrace the downsizing earlier and make their products more competitive in global markets.


Quote:
Personally I think the design calls for a wagon version. My Prius is much less useful than the 2003 Jetta Wagon it replaced due sharply sloped hatch.
I'm actually more favorable to wagons than sedans (or hatchbacks with a sedan-ish profile).

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