OK, we tried an aluminum two-seat aero-lozenge, then we rolled the dice with a “can’t beat ’em, join ’em” steel hatchback, and buyers still shrugged. Ah, heck. Let’s see if an Insight with a trunk draws a crowd! That’s the product-planning discussion we imagine having taken place inside Honda HQ. When it comes to the new 2019 Honda Insight making its debut at the 2018 Detroit auto show, attracting and retaining “the Insight faithful” was clearly never going to fly as a marketing strategy—U.S. annual sales peaked at 20,962 in 2010 but averaged under 7,300 during each of the 12 model years the first two generations were offered.
Europe drove the hatchback decision on the last generation, and apparently North America was granted its sedan wish this time around. Whatever the sales, profitability should be greatly improved for this generation, thanks to far greater sharing of tooling. The second-gen car was based on the crash architecture of the Fit hatch but looked drastically different (10.7 inches longer, 3.8 inches lower), but this one represents an exterior restyle of the Civic sedan with fastback styling cues vaguely reminiscent of the Mazda6 and Buick LaCrosse. Under the skin it surely must share most of its unibody structure and door inner panel stampings plus at least some of the exterior glass with the Civic sedan, which it will be built alongside in Greensburg, Indiana. (Honda is mum on chassis specifics as of press time, but any company would be stupid to clean-sheet a car that looks this similar, and Honda ain’t stupid.)