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2019 Honda Insight Transforms into a Sedan

Prototype Insight will debut at the Detroit auto show

It’s official: Honda will bring back the Insight nameplate that it discontinued in 2014. This time around, Honda is positioning the Insight as an upscale, five-passenger sedan instead of a hatch.

Honda has released images of the Insight Prototype ahead of its official debut at the Detroit auto show in January. The prototype takes plenty of design cues from the Civic, including its long hood and curvaceous body lines.

The 2019 Honda Insight will adopt a two-motor hybrid system. The 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid uses this type of setup, pairing two electric motors with a 2.0-liter DOHC Atkinson cycle engine.

Exact powertrain details for the Insight are unknown, but it’s already sounding better than the pesky Integrated Motor Assist setup on the old Insight. We never liked the system, which is comprised of a 1.3-liter I-4 with an electric motor producing a combined total of 98 hp. The powertrain would switch on and off too abruptly at stoplights, as our colleagues at Motor Trend noted in a 2009 review.

Introduced in 1999, the first-generation Insight was a two-door vehicle and the first hybrid to launch in the U.S. Honda didn’t debut a second generation until 2009, when the model adopted a more practical five-door design. Still, we weren’t all that impressed with the Insight’s interior space, not to mention its ride quality.

Transforming the Insight from an egg-shaped hatch to a sedan should help broaden its appeal. And it’ll erase any comparisons that may have been made in the past with the king of all hybrids, the Toyota Prius.

Expect a much more premium feel and a more spacious interior for the new Insight. It’ll slot above the Civic in Honda’s lineup and will offer fuel economy that is competitive with other compact hybrids, the automaker says. Honda is also claiming the model will have “best-in-class performance.”

“You won’t have to be an electrification advocate to appreciate the new Insight—it’s a great car in its own right, independent of what’s happening under the hood,” Henio Arcangeli Jr., senior vice president of Automobile Sales and general manager of the Honda Division at American Honda Motor Co., said in a statement.

A production version of the Insight will arrive next summer. It’s part of Honda’s plan for electrified vehicles to comprise two-thirds of its global sales by 2030.

The 2019 Honda Insight will join the new Accord Hybrid, launching early next year, alongside the Clarity series in Honda’s expanding green lineup. The vehicle will enter production at Honda’s plant in Greensburg, Indiana.