Honda Insight hybrid gets a slick Detroit preview

2019 Honda Insight prototype

Before the Toyota Prius became the iPhone of hybrid cars in 2001, Honda's Insight hybrid was technically the first production hybrid vehicle announced for the USA market.

The Honda Insight prototype will make its global debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January, previewing a more upscale production model set to arrive next summer.

Interestingly, the third-generation Insight appears to be a hybrid version of the latest Civic, launched for the 2016 model year. Up front, the Insight takes its styling cues from the new 2018 Honda Accord, and its rear end is far cleaner than what you'd find on the Civic. In the USA, the new Insight will be "positioned above the Civic". The first-generation Insight was a 2-seat hatchback followed later by a larger 4-door 5-passenger hatchback.

Honda is promising both solid fuel economy - "competitive with other compact hybrid models", the automaker says, though without mentioning specific numbers - with minimal involvement on the part of the driver. It will be built at Honda's Greensburg, Indiana, plant where Civic and CR-V models are now being produced. For starters, the 2019 Insight will use Honda's two-motor hybrid system (instead of the old IMA hybrid system) for improved performance. Fuel economy and price weren't released Tuesday for the auto that will be in US showrooms next summer.

The 2018 Insight will also be built in the USA, unlike the two previous generations, which were imported from Japan. Most of the sales will be driven by gas-powered trucks and SUVs.

Expect a much more premium feel and a more spacious interior for the new Insight. Pricing, final specifications and ratings, and trim details and features are only likely to appear a few weeks before it becomes available.

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