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The Honda Insight, one of the original hybrids, returns as an ‘upscale’ sedan

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The first-generation Honda Insight was the first mass-market hybrid sold in the United States, but with sci-fi styling and a cramped two-seat layout, it was always an acquired taste. The second-generation Insight was a more practical five-door hatchback positioned as a cheaper alternative to the Toyota Prius, but Honda’s cost cutting may have gone too far in that case. Now Honda is reviving the Insight once again. Will the third time be the charm?

This time around, the Insight will be what Honda calls an “upscale” sedan positioned between the Civic and Accord. The Japanese automaker will unveil a “prototype” of the third-generation Insight in January at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. The new hybrid will go on sale later in 2018 as a 2019 model.

 

In stark contrast to previous Insights, not to mention the current-generation Prius, the 2019 Insight has a conservative design. It looks like just another Honda sedan. That might be a good thing for hybrid buyers who want to fly under the radar.

 

The 2019 Insight will use a version of Honda’s two-motor hybrid system, similar to the system in the Accord Hybrid and Clarity Plug-In Hybrid. Honda won’t discuss fuel economy at this time, but promises numbers “competitive with other compact hybrid models.” At any rate, the new system should be an improvement over the Integrated Motor Assist system used in the previous two Insight generations, which didn’t offer as much electric power.

 

After whittling down its lineup of electrified vehicles, Honda is building it back up. By the end of next year, Honda will be selling hydrogen fuel cell, battery-electric, and plug-in hybrid versions of the Clarity, the new Insight, and a new version of the Accord Hybrid. Honda expects electrified vehicles to make up two thirds of its global sales by 2030.

 

Unlike the previous two generations, which were both imported from Japan, the new Insight will be built in the U.S. It will roll out of the same Greensburg, Indiana, plant that currently builds the Civic and CR-V, allowing Honda to take advantage of greater economies of scale. Pricing and full specifications for the 2019 Insight will be revealed closer to launch.

 

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