Second generation Insight Hybrid

Third generation Toyota Prius
Honda readies its Prius-fighter

Honda has dabbled in hybrids before with the first generation Insight, the Accord Hybrid, and most recently with the second generation Civic Hybrid. However, neither model has been a runaway sales success like the overachieving Prius from Toyota -- both the original Insight and Accord Hybrid were eventually discontinued.

Now that the Detroit Auto Show is roughly a month away, Honda has officially pulled the wraps off its new Insight Hybrid which will go toe-to-toe with Toyota's wildly popular Prius. As we stated in our original article on the Insight Concept, the production model is little changed stylistically. The production Insight is wearing a smaller, less ornate wheel/tire package and the LED lighting from the concept appears to be gone.

According to Honda, the Insight will use a 1.3-liter gasoline engine and the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. Honda also says that the Insight will feature fuel economy identical to the current Civic Hybrid which is rated at 40 MPG city and 45 MPG highway. The identical fuel economy numbers may be disappointing to some, but remember that the Insight is expected to retail for less than $19,000 while the Civic Hybrid starts at a loftier $23,550.

Honda expects to sell 200,000 Insights globally each year.

When the Insight finally does arrive in showrooms next spring, it will do battle with the third generation Toyota Prius. Photos of the Prius leaked to the internet in mid-October. Toyota later confirmed that the leaked pictures were indeed of the new Prius.

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