By John Addison (4/24/09)
The new 2010 Honda Insight EX demonstrated plenty of performance and hill climbing when I drove it in Monterey, California. It is rated 43 mpg highway and 40 mpg city. The Insight’s combined EPA rating of 41 contrasts with its competition the 2010 Toyota Prius fuel economy of 51 mpg highway, 48 mpg city.
The Honda Insight has an aerodynamic body similar to the Prius. Although the two five-door hatchbacks look similar, the Prius is a longer midsized car. The Honda Insight pricing starts at $19,800, which has pressured Toyota to offer a Prius with a base price only $2,000 higher. The 2010 Insight that I drove included upgrades such as a navigation system and six speaker audio system. The vehicle price, including pre-delivery service, was $23,770.
I started the Insight, and then touched the ECO button. Even in that mode, I had enough acceleration to get on any freeway in a hurry. The ECO mode helped me minimize demands on the 1.3L gasoline engine as I navigated the roads hugging Monterey’s dramatic coast. On the Insight dash display, I was rewarded with a display of green leaves for my eco-driving behavior. Handling was smooth and a bit sporty.
Similar to the Prius, the view through the rear view mirror was constrained. The mirror is one reason that my mother prefers her Honda Civic Hybrid which also delivers slightly better mileage than the Insight. Drivers who want a conventional looking sedan will pay more for the Honda Civic Hybrid.
Driving the Honda Insight was smooth and quiet even when I went up a sustained 16 percent grade, demonstrating that its electric motor is quite effective in blending power with the 98 hp engine.
Price will definitely be a factor in buyers deciding between the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius. For my money, if I could get a larger more fuel efficient Prius for only $2,000 more, then I would get the Prius. On the other hand, if there was a $5,000 price differential at the dealer, then I would go with the Insight. All in all, both are wonderful cars.
The Honda Insight ranks #3 on the Clean Fleet Report 2010 Hybrids with Best Fuel Economy.