About the time I get hybrids neatly categorized as silent, lackluster little pods that resemble the landing gear on a sea plane, along comes the stylish 2019 Honda Insight.
Sleeker and far prettier than the new Civic, the once supremely strange Insight now looks and mostly drives like a real compact sedan.
What’s a crusty graybeard with gas in his veins supposed to do – run faster and learn to use those goofy meme things?
Maybe. Look, I understand that these fuel-efficient gas-electric power plants will likely propel most vehicles over the next decade, and already reside in everything from tiny city cars to exotic Ferraris.
I just didn’t think it would all happen so fast – possibly my next tattoo, incidentally.
I will stick my neck and other body parts out and predict that contrary to what some dreamy CEOs claim, hybrids – not pure electrics – will drive the auto industry for the foreseeable future.
It’s simple, CEOs: If I can’t easily take Sparky on a cross-country summer vacation or pull my ski-boat with one, you can keep it.
Like most complex hybrids, the Insight relies on an electric motor to push it briskly away from stops and a small four-cylinder engine to take over from about 30 miles per hour on.
Honda, though, chose with the new front-wheel-drive Insight to complicate matters a bit more by hooking the 1.5-liter gas engine directly to the front wheels, while coupling the AC electric motor to the wheels through a traction motor.
Don’t ask me why – other than the Insight doesn’t have to use a real transmission or dreaded CVT. But then, I don’t fully understand quantum physics, women or Washington politics, either.
Although the front-wheel-drive Insight shares a platform and overall dimensions with the Civic, it looks a lot more like the polished Accord sedan.
My silver Insight greeted me with a broad blacked-out grille wearing thick chrome trim at the top and slender headlamps that curved back into the fenders.
A long hood slid gently down to the grille, complemented by a gracefully curved top.
Its smooth sides, meanwhile, featured a slight curve in them tightened by a couple of character lines and a subtle scallop at the base of the doors.
Find outr, everything settled nicely on reasonably sized tires and decent-looking wheels – 215/50 tires wrapped around black and silver alloy wheels.
It’s so attractively normal-looking, in fact, that no one will wonder if you’re wearing socks made from rice-husks when you take this extremely green hybrid to the store.
An iPad-sized display screen above the console offered truly dumb touchpads to tune the stereo, but at least a knob on the console handled the volume.
The car’s heated black-leather seats featured perforated and pleated centers with white stitching and even the plastic door panels – always a good measure of cheapness – had leather-looking centers with white stitching.
In short, nothing up front looked like a college computer-lab project, and the back seat offered good leg- and reasonable head room.
My well-equipped Insight did not arrive with a single option – kind of a rarity in these profit-hungry times.
Look, I have no intention of taking up skateboards and backpacks, which tend to make me look like a homeless person fleeing the police.
But when I finally surrender to the weird, wooly future, it might not be so bad if the Honda Insight is any indication.
2019 Honda Insight
What I liked most: The overall execution of the Insight, which emerges as an attractive, highly economical vehicle that feels mostly like a normal car
What I would change: I’d trade a few miles per gallon in the Insight for a real transmission
MSRP: Base price, $22,930; as equipped, $28,985
Fuel economy: Rated at 51 miles per gallon in the city, 45 on the highway and 48 combined with filler on the left