Honda previews Insight prototype

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The Japanese auto giant had already confirmed the Insight name was going to be resurrected, again, but now it has released official images of a new Insight prototype that looks to be pretty close to a production-ready model. In fact, it looks much better than the Honda Civic with which it shares many of its underpinnings. With the Insight, there is no tall tail or oven-door hatchback window as in the Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq, or Honda's own Clarity.

Inside, the third-generation Insight will be available with perforated leather upholstery, an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well as Wi-Fi over-the-air system updates. Those include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure alert, and a new traffic-sign recognition feature that's been used on European cars for several years but is just making its way into mass-priced US vehicles. The batteries are packaged underneath the rear seat, maximizing trunk space and allowing for 60/40 folding rear seats. It does not work for the left side of the auto.

According to the company, it will be the latest model in Honda's growing lineup of electrified vehicles and will launch nationwide later this year. The Insight powertrain is similar to that of the Chevrolet Volt, meaning that the vehicle is powered by the electric motor most of the time, with the gas engine generally acting as a generator to charge the lithium-ion battery pack found under the backseat.

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The parts coming from outside the USA likely include the hybrid powertrain, which is similar to that used in the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, which went on sale in December.

In the larger and heavier Clarity Plug-In Hybrid mid-size sedan, the drive motor is rated at 135 kilowatts (181 horsepower) and 232 pound-feet of torque. Therefore, if Honda fully implements this drivetrain in the new Civic-based Insight, which is likely 700-800 lbs. lighter, performance should be robust.

The Insight will be powered by a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine in addition to an electric motor paired with a lithium-ion battery. No word yet on whether there will be a plug-in version. This time, the 2019 model isn't a splendid eco-misanthrope like the first Insight, or a "Greener than Thou", like Toyota's Prius.

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The auto manufacturer hopes to make two-thirds of its global vehicle sales electrified by 2030.

The production model is expected to go on sale in the USA in the summer of 2019, but at the moment there are no plans to offer the Insight in Europe as the next hybrid Honda has planned is a CR-V Hybrid.

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