DETROIT—The 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit is just around the corner (official press events begin this weekend), and Honda has already released details on one of the vehicles that will be making its public debut at the show. The Honda Insight Prototype is a sleek-looking 5-passenger sedan that reveals the design of the regular-production 2019 Insight hybrid, which Honda says will launch nationwide later this year.
Honda’s auto-show tradition is to unveil a “prototype” show vehicle of a forthcoming new model in advance of debuting the showroom-ready production version. So, other than elements like upsized wheels, an exotic paint finish, and other “sweetened” dream-car details, the Honda Insight that is slated to be sitting on Honda dealers’ lots by the end of 2018 should look almost identical to this concept.
The 2019 Insight will apparently take the place of the Civic Hybrid in Honda’s model lineup (the Civic line hasn’t offered a hybrid since it was redesigned for 2016), but the new Insight will be positioned as a “premium compact” above the Civic, with upscale features, dynamic styling, and a spacious 5-passenger cabin. The Honda Sensing suite of active safety and driver-assist technologies will be standard equipment.
Honda’s press release was light on specific details, but the company says the new Insight will be powered by Honda’s two-motor hybrid system paired with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. The batteries will be located under the rear seat, which allows for a full-size trunk and the flexibility of 60/40 split folding rear seat backs. Honda says the Insight will achieve an anticipated EPA fuel-economy rating of more than 50 MPG in combined city/highway driving, while delivering class-leading power.
Until Honda reveals more details, we’d say the story here is about style and space. The new Insight looks to be a bit larger than a Civic, and boasts styling that says “slick sport sedan” more than “green machine.” Provided that the specs and pricing live up to the looks, the 2019 Insight seems poised to be a successful reboot of the Insight name—which was last used from 2010-2014 on a disappointing compact hatchback sedan that looked to be designed as a “me-too” Toyota Prius, and never really found a foothold in the market.