Honda Insight – the name that started the hybrid era in the U.S. – will be back this year not as a funky oddity, but as a sleek sedan making “in excess of 50 mpg.”

To be shown Monday, Jan. 15 at the Detroit Auto Show, the car that borrows cues from the Accord Hybrid, and a 1.5-liter 2-motor hybrid system related to what’s in that car and the Clarity PHEV – will sit above the Civic in the model range.

Called a “prototype,” the show version will be very much completed toward production intent. It also signals an increasing commitment by Honda to roll out more hybrids and electrified cars after years of letting things be on the tepid side.

“The new 2019 Honda Insight signals we are entering a new era of electrification with a new generation of Honda products that offer customers the benefits of advanced powertrain technology without the traditional trade-offs in design, premium features or packaging,” said Henio Arcangeli, Jr., senior vice president of Automobile Sales and general manager of the Honda Division, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “The Honda Insight is anticipated to receive fuel economy ratings competitive with the best hybrids in the segment, with styling that will have universal appeal inside and out and best-in-class passenger volume.”

Design Departure

The original 2000 Insight was rated 61 mpg city, 70 mpg highway, and 65 mpg combined on the old EPA cycle. Converted to present standard, the EPA reckons it at 49 city, 61 highway, and 53 combined.

Unlike that hatchback which within a short time was joined by the 2000 Toyota Prius at the dawn of the U.S. hybrid era, the sleek sedan Insight won’t have faired in rear wheels, and styling intended to be as much an eco-statement as can be.

Instead a currently in vogue coupe-like roofline will shape the profile of the sedan, with Honda’s “flying wing” grille, LED headlights and taillights, and a long wheelbase for “class-leading passenger space.”

Like the Accord Hybrid, which is very well equipped to the point of knocking on Acura’s back door, the Insight will also feature “premium” equipment.

Details like perforated leather seating, 8-inch Display Audio with touchscreen and 7-inch digital LCD driver’s meter are included, as are Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Wi-Fi-enabled over-the-air system updates.

Whether it will actually match what the 2000 Insight did in mpg 18 years ago remains to be seen, and it may be just about equal for all intents and purposes.

Expect much more power, control, passenger space, and ride quality and improved driving experience however – and safety.

Included will be Honda LaneWatch on EX and above and the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies as standard equipment. These include Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and new Traffic Sign Recognition.

The hybrid system will merge a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine with powerful electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. This will be a full hybrid too, not a mild hybrid as was the original.

Honda says in most conditions the car operates on electric power only, drawing energy from the engine (operating as a generator) or battery pack. The hybrid batteries located under the rear seats provides for a full-size trunk with the flexibility of available 60/40 split and folding rear seats.

The 2019 Insight will be produced in Honda’s Greensburg, Ind. Plant. It will be Honda’s fifth electrified vehicle launched over the past year.