According to the two leading American organizations that evaluate vehicle safety, the 2019 Honda Insight is one of the safest hybrids on the road. In fact, Insight is one of the safest small cars you can buy: It received a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as the coveted Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). This means the 2019 Honda Insight successfully protects occupants from harm during several types of crash situations and possesses the latest active and passive crash mitigation technologies.
NHTSA is part of the executive branch of the U.S. government within the Department of Transportation. To produce its overall safety rating, the NHTSA tests three different crash scenarios. In the frontal crash test, a vehicle is accelerated into a fixed barrier to simulate a head-on collision between two similar vehicles, each moving at 35 mph. In this situation, damage to the vehicle and potential harm to the occupants in both the driver’s and front passenger seats are evaluated on scale of one to five stars, with five being the best. The scores are then combined and averaged. As the 2019 Honda Insight scored five stars in for both Front Driver Side and Front Passenger Side, it achieved the maximum 5-star rating for Frontal Crash.
Read more about our 2019 Honda Insight EX long-termer:
To test overall side crash performance, NHTSA utilizes two different tests. The Overall Side Pole Star Rating derives from a crash simulation that sends a vehicle (resting on a sled) sliding into a fixed metal barrier (which simulates a telephone pole or tree) from the side. The Side Barrier test simulates a T-bone collision you might find at an intersection, where a moving barrier hits a resting vehicle at 38.5 mph. For these tests, potential harm to the driver and rear passenger are rated against the 5-star scale. The results from these two tests are then combined to create the Combined Side Barrier and Pole Ratings, and—spoiler alert—the Insight scored 5 stars across the board, as well.
The third and last NHTSA test “measures the risk of rollover in a single-vehicle, loss-of-control scenario” and is executed by rapidly accelerating a vehicle sideways, usually with enough force to lift the opposite wheels off the ground or roll the vehicle over completely. In the case of the 2019 Honda Insight, the result was a yet again, 5 stars.
In addition to rating a vehicle on its crash safety, NHTSA publishes detailed information on the existence of active and passive safety features, and primers on how some of the newer systems operate. For instance, a quick scan of NHTSA’s writeup on the 2019 Honda Insight reveals that the vehicle comes standard with forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems but doesn’t come with dynamic brake support or knee airbags. It’s worth noting that although NHTSA offers a comprehensive overview of these systems, their performance is not evaluated as part of the 5-star Overall Safety Rating.
To get that level of detail, as well as a different set of crash tests, one must go to the IIHS, a nonprofit U.S. organization funded by auto insurance companies. Generally speaking, the IIHS takes four categories into account when deciding how a vehicle ranks on its Top Safety Pick scale, including crashworthiness, crash avoidance and mitigation, child seat anchor performance, and other available safety features (primarily related to driver assistance and headlight performance). Performance in these categories is rated against either a three-part scale ranging from basic, advanced, and superior (with superior being best) or a four-part scale ranging from poor, marginal, acceptable, and good.
IIHS’ test protocols are far more comprehensive than NHTSA’s. For instance, the crashworthiness category alone consists of six different tests: moderate overlap front; driver-side small overlap front; passenger-side small overlap front; side; roof strength; and head restraints and seats. To produce the overall score in just the driver-side small overlap front test, IIHS averages together another six scores: structure and safety cage; driver injury measures for head/neck, chest, hip/thigh, and lower leg/foot; as well as driver restraints and dummy kinematics. Over 30 different scores are used to determine the overall IIHS score, so for the sake of simplicity, we won’t review them all.
Although the 2019 Honda Insight achieves near perfect safety ratings according to IIHS and NHTSA, it does have two official NHTSA recalls of which you should be aware:
NHTSA campaign number 18V664000 affects the Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) control unit of 118 Honda Insight, Odyssey, and Ridgeline vehicles from the 2019 model year. According to NHTSA, a manufacturing error in the control unit may result in airbags or seatbelt pretensioners failing to deploy during a crash.
NHTSA campaign number 18V62900 relates to the rearview camera display. In certain situations, the center console display may not show the backup camera image and thus fail to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 111, related to “rearview mirrors.” This recall affects approximately 232,140 Honda vehicles including the 2018 Honda Accord and 2019 Honda Insight.
For more information, owners of potentially affected Honda vehicles should contact:
NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline: 1-888-327-4236 or head to www.safercar.gov
Honda Customer Service: 1-888-234-2138
Next update: the Insight’s first service appointment.