The Honda Insight Gets Killed Off For The Third Time In Two Decades

The front three-quarter view of a silver 2021 Honda Insight driving along a freeway with water and trees in the background

Honda kills the Insight again, Toyota raises its Crown, GMC poshes-up the Canyon. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If you’re morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

How Insightful

A side shot of a grey 2021 Honda Insight with a modern urban commercial building in the background. Plenty of medium-brown wood and glass in that architecture.
Photo credit: Honda

For over twenty years, the Honda Insight hybrid has led cycle after cycle of live, die, get reborn in a more normcore form. It’s a bit like Kenny from South Park, now that I think about it. According to Honda, rebirth stops now. Yes, the current Honda Insight is getting put out to pasture in June in favor of a future electrified Civic. Where have we seen this before? (The Mk1 Honda Insight was discontinued partly due to slow sales and partly due to the Civic Hybrid). Honestly, who can blame Honda? Most people have absolutely no idea that the third-generation Insight exists, and anyone who drives one will find that it isn’t very good. The first half of the accelerator pedal’s travel doesn’t do much, fuel economy is disappointing compared to a Corolla Hybrid or Elantra Hybrid, and the fuel tank is the size of a Zippo. Sure, the Accord-derived interior touches are nice, but the new Civic’s interior is properly nice.

In addition, discontinuing Insight production at Honda’s Indiana plant frees up room for more CR-V Hybrids, an important thing considering how the electrified compact crossover segment is about as hot as the surface of Mercury. In its official press release, Honda stated that it’ll “introduce all-new models of CR-V this year,” so we’ll likely see the next-generation CR-V debut before the end of the year. Talk about burying the lede.

Honestly, I’m excited to see how Honda’s plans for electrification pan out. The new Civic is pretty damn good, so it’ll be nice to see new interiors spread across the Honda range. Maybe Honda should rename uts interior design direction though; “Simplicity and Something” feels very first-draft.

Crown The Empire

Front three-quarter shot of a Toyota Crown driving down a mountain road
Photo credit: Toyota

The Crown is one of Toyota’s most important historical nameplates. Sure, the Corolla may be more popular and the Land Cruiser may be more iconic, but the first Toyota available in America in 1958 was the Toyopet Crown. It was expensive, not very quick, and apparently not very reliable at high-speed. However, it was extremely well-built. In a period road test, Motor Trend wrote “The Toyopet is so rigid that jacking up one wheel at the rear bumper quickly lifted the other rear wheel.” Considering most cars of the ‘50s had all the rigidity of wet spaghettini, that’s an impressive accomplishment. Indeed, the Crown has remained a luxury sedan akin to a Mercedes-Benz E-Class for the past 67 years. However, that might be about to change.

According to Reuters, a new Toyota Crown is on its way and will actually be a luxury SUV. Hey, it’s a sign of the times. The people who used to buy posh sedans are all getting older and the high driving position of an SUV allows easier entry and egress for those with aging joints. The alleged SUV form of the new Crown isn’t the only big change possible – not only is it rumored to be offered as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric vehicle, it’s also alleged to be coming to North America. This lines up with a leaked dealer document that appeared on The Drive and other outlets in February claiming that a U.S.-market Crown will go on sale in October. Would a posh electrified SUV tempt buyers into paying Lexus money for a Toyota? It looks like we might find out. Also, true JDM sedan fans need not worry; a new Crown sedan is allegedly also in the works.

Hyundai Brings The Juice

Hyundai's E-GMP electric vehicle architecure
Photo credit: Hyundai

Everyone’s gearing up to build more electrified cars, and Hyundai just debuted some massive plans for American production. How massive? Only a $7.4 billion investment plan to build EVs, upgrade manufacturing plants and develop smart mobility technologies. Hey, how’s that for a buzzword salad. In all seriousness, Hyundai plans to build an EV assembly plant and a battery factory somewhere on American soil according to Automotive News.

While the location for the new dedicated EV plant hasn’t been decided yet, Hyundai plans on choosing a location by the end of the year. On top of this, Hyundai has announced that Santa Fe Hybrid crossover SUV production will come online in Montgomery, Ala. this October, marking the first time a hybrid Hyundai will be made in America. Also on the schedule? American production of the Genesis GV70e electric premium compact crossover. Hyundai expects production of these two models to create 200 jobs; none of this sounds bad to me.

Beadlocks And Bum Warmers

A teaser shot of the Next Generation GMC Canyon AT4X
Photo credit: GMC

The next-generation GMC Canyon mid-size pickup is set to debut this summer, and GMC has given everyone a little sneak peek. While major changes in this teaser photo appear limited to some seriously thick fender flares, the AT4X badge on this Canyon’s door offers a huge hint to the direction of GMC’s next compact truck. AT4X is a fairly recent trim level seen on the facelifted 2022 Sierra 1500 pickup truck. Think one part hardcore off-road, one part Denali luxury. In the Sierra, stitched interior materials, locking diffs and spool-valve dampers abound while skid plates, all-terrain tires, a Bose stereo and massaging seats round off the Sierra AT4X’s mission to take drivers off the beaten path in luxury car comfort.

As such, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this Canyon gets black-and-silver wheels with beadlocks that are likely fake, a massive set of Goodyear all-terrain tires, rock rails and natty fender trims. While it’s still unknown what level of luxury new Canyon drivers will be treated to, the current GMC Canyon Denali offers some hints. It wouldn’t be surprising to see wood trim, heated and ventilated leather upholstery, hi-def exterior cameras and a branded premium stereo on the AT4X’s equipment list. As for off-road toys, the Canyon AT4X could see the extremely capable differential and suspension package from the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. Of course, this is largely speculation for now. Everything will become crystal clear when the next-generation Canyon is unveiled this summer.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely mad at rumors of Toyota making a Crown SUV. There’s never really been a more efficient era of SUVs, and heaps of sidewall to deal with our crumbling North American infrastructure is admittedly rather nice. While we’re all conditioned to hate crossover and I’ll always own and love German non-functional transportation, I could definitely see myself the right crossover to my fleet in the future. Having something that won’t get beached on unplowed streets and has enough cargo space to haul body panels and diff cases sounds pretty swell to me. Would you consider doing the same or are you an anti-crossover die hard?

Lead photo credit: Honda

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29 Responses

  1. I largely find crossovers abhorrent – I don’t know why we’ve ceded proper thick sidewalls to just one segment, I don’t like having AWD nearly forced on me, I don’t like that there’s roughly a million small crossover options and like zero small minivan options, I don’t like the extra head toss from sitting up higher than necessary, and they’re all just kind of ugly.

    THAT SAID, there’s nothing wrong with the Crown going crossover. A car that’s been a big symbol of boring responsible adulthood is not antithetical to crossovers.

  2. My problem with crossovers is that they took the rightful place of station wagons as people movers with cargo space, and they all look more or less the same.. Other than that, no concerns.

  3. The Flush:

    I owned a 2013 Subaru Crosstrek in desert khaki. That was the most versatile car I ever owned and the color was amazing for never showing dirt. The AWD was good enough to get me to places I needed to get to even in snow and ice and the backs of the rear seats were rubber coated so when you laid them down you had a mini enclosed truck bed.

    Of all the cars I have had ranging the gauntlet of types, it is the one car I wish I had held onto just for how damn practical it was.

  4. I finally gave up the fight against crossovers when I decided I didn’t want to live with my Focus ST for my daily commute. I wasn’t having any fun just driving on the interstate with it. I concluded that they’re really just giant hatchbacks, especially in EV form where they don’t feel so tall.

  5. Sad about the Insight, the original one, was a real moonshot, 2 seater, 5 speed, hypermilers could easily get 80mpg. Then the 2nd one was atrocious, and the latest was just…a Civic.

    As for the Flush, I think I big part of American crossover adoption is because our roads suck. In other countries they still have sedans and even Kei/City cars, but here it’s trucks and suvs and crossovers, and I totally get it, my Chevrolet Volt(basically a Cruze) could NOT handle speed bumps, not just due to it’s low hanging front air dam, it would rattle teeth, nevermind potholes, our Forester is like, “Oh was that a bump? How quaint.”

    Even in the not as frost heaved roads of NC, dump trucks and tractor trailers tear up the residential streets, and the towns take their sweet time patching them.

    1. Also CAFE – station wagons fall under passenger car standards, but crossovers are classified as light trucks, and so have less stringent fuel economy rules. Plus, obesity epidemic = lots of people with bad knees and bad backs, who have trouble getting in and out of normal cars, which is also behind the boom in “comfort height” toilets.

  6. Damn you talking about the Crown. Got me looking through JDM importation sites again. If only the powers that be cut back the 25 year rule. 10 would be awesome, 15 great and 20 just fine. Then again, I probably wouldn’t be able to afford anything newer than 25 years. 20 years if I cut back on eating out.

  7. Of course the truck’s beadlocks are fake. True beadlock wheels aren’t street legal. The ones that come on factory vehicles are ‘beadlock capable’ and have cosmetic rings installed. You have to fork out serious $$ for the real beadlock rings and install them yourself.

  8. Crossover? Never. The Golf R is staying put till Pennsylvania starts patching roads this year. The Bronco will be getting a workout till then. And some proper off-roading. Crossovers are as lame as minivans. I’ve had several as rentals and find them insufferably boring to drive.

    1. Dude, how dare you lump minivans in with crossovers.

      I would say the 80% of all truck owners would be better served owning a minivan. Short of really heavy-duty construction material, they can haul everything a truck can, but in an enclosed/secure space, and with better efficiency. Also they’re unparalleled as people movers.

      No, minivans are insanely practical, efficient, and good. Minivans are the shit. Crossovers ARE shit.

  9. Crossovers are fine, maybe they’ll save us from the SUVpocalypse! From what I understand there are even some that are engaging to drive on the market these days! My wife and I have a sedan for the longer commutes and road trips, crushing highway miles at high speed and in comfort. We’ve also got a ten year old Forrester with the back seats always down. It’s our around town truckster for hauling things to and from hardware store, the dump, etc. Mulch? Old painty cans? Dirty broken lawn mower? Busted up pallets? Who cares?! It all fits! It’s amazing in the snow and ice that we deal with most of the year as well. We’ll probably always have something similar as part of the fleet.

  10. Funny, this is the first place I’ve seen a negative review of the current Insight. Even Car and Driver liked it. (Reason I point them out: they decided the GK Fit was “zero fun”; I have one and it’s a ball.)

    Anyway, really loving the site. Still in the grays ‘over there’ after more than 5 years).

    1. After driving an Insight for a week (thanks Honda), I wouldn’t admonish anyone who’s bought one, but I wouldn’t gleefully recommend one to anyone either. I know that a premium of roughly two grand over an Elantra Hybrid doesn’t sound like much, but two grand really matters at the $23-$26k price point of the compact hybrid market. Add in bottom-of-the-class fuel economy, disappointing cruising range, outdated interior tech and lazy throttle calibration, and the Insight just doesn’t seem like a brilliant deal.

      On the bright side, the Insight is quiet, handles well and feels very well-made, but I’d happily trade some soft-touch plastics for better throttle mapping and a bigger fuel tank. Truthfully, I think most hybrid shoppers would do the same.

  11. I really like the Insight, and I don’t understand the hate for it from this article. We have one in our family and it’s great. I’m so disappointed because I wanted to get one for myself. But with chip shortage they are only theoretically available. I think they already might have stopped making them because there hasn’t been a single one in stock for weeks at any of my local dealerships. And of course my local dealerships have massive markups on everything in stock. So even if one were to show up it wouldn’t make financial sense to buy it.

    I couldn’t possibly care less about a CR-V or HR-V hybrid. I will never buy one. Those heavily compromised crossovers will get sucky mileage compared to a small sedan hybrid.

    I sure hope that Civic hybrid comes out soon, that it is a good car, and that it is as affordable as the Insight.

  12. Why does the 3rd gen Insight exist when the Clarity exists? They seem to be 85% of the same market. What I believe is REALLY the reason it’s being killed is that the base Insight is $10K cheaper than the base Clarity and too many people that were buying a hybrid came in, looked at the two and said ‘There’s not much difference between these two cars… so I’ll take the one that costs $10K less.’ Now they have ONE dedicated plug in hybrid that will make them more money and raise the average sale price of their cars by a good bit.

      1. Yeah, other than Mercedes, I don’t bother reading anything anymore. It also seems like they are using more and more posts that were written 2 – 7 years ago, and posting them with some stupid name. I’d don’t wish for the downfall of Jalop, I just wish for the sale of it to someone who can actually make it great again. I’d love to have two websites to go to for my car news.

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