2019 Honda Insight hybrid ousts Civic Hybrid for upscale EV

Honda has revealed the replacement to the Civic Hybrid, with the 2019 Honda Insight breaking cover ahead of the Detroit auto show next week. The brand new twin-motor car revives the long-standing Insight name, with Honda aiming to slot the hybrid into its range above the Civic as a more premium compact option.

That also means Honda can presumably price it higher, though it's unclear what the sticker on the new 2019 Insight will be at this stage. Honda says it'll launch the car later in 2018, but for the moment we have a pretty solid idea of what it will look like courtesy of the Honda Insight Prototype that'll be brought to the North American International Auto Show in just a few days time.

By dividing the hybrid away from the Civic, Honda has taken the opportunity to give it a new design. The wheelbase is longer, therefore, while the stance is lower and wider. Low-profile LED headlamps and taillamps are combined with a broader example of Honda's distinctive grille, while the aerodynamically tapering roof-line has echoes of a four-door coupe.

Inside, Honda is promising best-in-class passenger space, along with a more upscale cabin than most compact cars. That'll include optional leather, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a 7-inch digital display for the driver's instrumentation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available, as will WiFi for OTA system updates.

Of course, what will be most important is the powertrain. That uses Honda's latest two-motor hybrid system, which pairs a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine with an electric propulsion motor and a lithium-ion battery tucked under the rear seats. Most of the time, Honda says, the Insight will use the electric motor alone, relying on power from the batteries or, if they're depleted, starting up the gas engine to act as a mobile generator.

The system has some big advantages over earlier hybrids. For a start, the packaging of the batteries means that the trunk can be full-sized. It also allows the rear seats to fold and split 60/40. Most important, though, is the economy, with Honda suggesting an EPA combined rating of more than 50 mpg, despite "class-leading power" from the Insight.

Over on the safety tech and driver-assistance side, there'll be Honda LaneWatch on EX and above trims, along with the Honda Sensing safety suite. That includes the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow. New on the 2019 Insight will be Traffic Sign Recognition.

You'd be forgiven for a little confusion, mind, as to how this new hybrid fits into Honda's range. The company has just finished launching the Honda Clarity series after all, a trio which includes the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid along with battery and fuel-cell models. Meanwhile, the 2018 Accord Hybrid is also set to go on sale early this year. We'll have to wait for Detroit to find out the answer to that one, but Honda is already saying that it aims to make two-thirds of its global vehicle sales electrified in some way by 2030.