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Honda Insight in blue, Toyota Prius in red  (Source: Motor Trend)

Toyota Prius interior

Honda Insight interior
Honda's Insight brings a knife to a gunfight

Honda has been touting its second generation Insight as a worthy competitor to the Toyota Prius. In the real world, however, sales aren't quite backing up those statements.  The Insight is indeed a worthy competitor to the second generation Prius, but Honda is quickly finding out that it doesn't quite have the firepower to go up against the new third-generation Prius -- at least in the U.S. market.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Honda sold just 2,079 Insights during the month of June in the U.S. while Toyota was able to move a whopping 12,998 Prius hybrids. Since the Insight's introduction in March of this year, Honda has sold a total of 7,524 vehicles -- Toyota, however, has managed to move over 40,000 of its “green” icon. Honda is not expected to meet its sales goal of 90,000 Insights for 2009.

"We're all pretty disappointed. We thought we had the next hit on our hands," said Don Marino, Honda of Santa Monica's General Manager.

"Honda just hasn't had a cogent hybrid strategy at all," added Eric Noble, president of research firm Car Lab.

Honda's Insight does have a few characteristics which can win over consumers. It has a lower price tag than the Prius and more nimble handling. However, the Prius offers better fuel economy (50 mpg combined for the Prius versus 41 mpg combined for the Insight), is larger (the Prius is rated as a midsize vehicle, the Insight is a compact), is faster in acceleration runs, and offers more technology/options to pamper its driver and passengers.

Things are expected to get even worse for Honda when Toyota introduces its "stripper" Prius later this year. The current base Prius has an MSRP of $22,000 compared to $19,800 for the Insight. However, the price of entry for the Prius will drop to $21,000 with the new model in September making the price delta even smaller.

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$2,200 difference
By KingstonU on 7/30/2009 10:10:38 AM , Rating: 5
Will get you 9 MPG more, more performance, more comfort, more room. Though I like the interior of the Insight more, I think I would go with the Prius as well.

RE: $2,200 difference
By omnicronx on 7/30/2009 10:38:57 AM , Rating: 1
Its not even that 41MPG for 'real hybrid' is terrible. There are some larger non hybrids that get better mileage. Whats the point of making an small and ugly aerodynamic car if it is not going to achieve a much higher MPG. Total failure on Honda's part IMO.

RE: $2,200 difference
By namechamps on 7/30/2009 10:52:18 AM , Rating: 2
what vehicle is larger than an Insight and gets 42+ MPG?

RE: $2,200 difference
By Lord 666 on 7/30/2009 11:46:53 AM , Rating: 1
VW Jetta TDI

RE: $2,200 difference
By Alexstarfire on 7/30/2009 1:48:42 PM , Rating: 2
EPA 35 MPG does not beat EPA 41 MPG. As it has been pointed out many a time before, you can't use real world numbers. I'm not saying that you can't get 50+ MPG out of the TDI, but comparing real world numbers to EPA numbers just doesn't work. You can easily get 50+ MPG out of the insight and all models of the Prius.

RE: $2,200 difference
By The0ne on 7/30/2009 2:16:09 PM , Rating: 2
Real world driving conditions the Prius 2010 has even achieved, rather the driver, 70+MPG. And this just from one review, it's appears consistent with most. Of course, hardly anyone is going to be conservative nor drive like the old day grandma so it's not a fair assessment.

RE: $2,200 difference
By Lord 666 on 7/30/09, Rating: -1
RE: $2,200 difference
By Alexstarfire on 7/30/2009 4:07:55 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, just LOL. You don't understand very much at all. The whole point of a test is to reproduce results. You can't do that with real world results. That's why we have synthetic benchmarks for computer applications. Granted for games it's a bit different since you can usually use the actual game for the benchmark. We have the EPA to attempt to reproduce real-world scenarios. Obviously that's impossible since it's going to vary from person to person. Their objective is to produce an average real-world scenario so that it can be repeated for every vehicle.

Ohh and BTW, EPA numbers come from the manufacturer. The government just sets up the standards that they have to abide by, and sometimes confirm results.

And why bring up GW? No one is talking about that in here. It has nothing to do with what we are talking about.

RE: $2,200 difference
By Lord 666 on 7/30/2009 6:11:55 PM , Rating: 2
Its widely accepted the new EPA test favors hybrids versus diesel. While the manufacturer is well aware of what a vehicle is capable of, they can only advertise EPA approved numbers. This is why VW got an independant firm to test the Jetta TDI. Its also why Honda can say the Civic Hybrid can perform much better than it really does.

I'm all for reproducable testing, but as long as common users can actually reproduce themselves. In my experience of owning 20+ vehicles, my TDI is the first to routinely exceed the mpg estimates. Check out, there are several Prius equivalents.

While I'm slightly biased towards German diesels, also a fan of Priuses and look forward to driving Ford's hybrids. However, safety comes first the Jetta is the only current car to meet all of our requirements.

Brought up GW because like hybrids versus diesels, it is extremely polarized with no definitive answer.

RE: $2,200 difference
By Alexstarfire on 7/30/2009 9:03:58 PM , Rating: 2
I've beat EPA in all of my vehicles, which include a '99 Isuzu Rodeo, 1st Gen Prius, and 2nd Gen Prius. I'm only 22 hence the lack of owned vehicles. Wouldn't even have that many if it weren't for other idiot drivers. I'm glad the Jetta fits your bill and you exceed EPA. Would be interesting to know if they could make the Jetta into a diesel hybrid. Would probably be nearly $30k, but I think the MPG would be off the charts.

RE: $2,200 difference
By mcnabney on 7/30/2009 9:36:29 PM , Rating: 2
The EPA ratings essentially require 'full-usage' of the vehicle.

That means the A/C is on, drive normally (no slow-starts or coasting), and all velocities used (not just a 25mph stroll or a two hour commute going 55mph on the highway). So anyone who puts a little effort forth can beat those strict numbers. However a regular consumer will likely have similar results.

RE: $2,200 difference
By Alexstarfire on 7/31/2009 12:11:54 AM , Rating: 2

RE: $2,200 difference
By Fireshade on 7/31/2009 4:22:04 AM , Rating: 2
I'm all for reproducable testing, but as long as common users can actually reproduce themselves.

It seems you still fail to understand the purpose of the EPA tests for ratings.
"Common users" will never be able to reproduce them, no matter how simple the test procedure, because each "common user" drives differently.

The goal of the EPA is to give consumers a rating of products based on a standardised test. Testing all products in the same way gives you an objective measure.
The result is only an indication of the performance between products, e.g. "A is more energy-efficient than B and C". That's all.

RE: $2,200 difference
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 8/3/2009 8:11:48 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, the medication must have kicked in between that first post and the second.

My Camry hybrid routinely gets higher than the EPA estimate (33/34) at about 38mpg. That's just me, of course.

RE: $2,200 difference
By DLeRium on 8/6/2009 4:53:54 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting because the camry Hybrid used to be rated at like 38/40 right? Heh.

RE: $2,200 difference
By Samus on 7/31/2009 11:55:52 AM , Rating: 2
VW Jetta TDI

Increase your injector nozzle size ($300) and upgrade your ECU ($400) and you'll get well over 50MPG in a Golf TDI. The Jetta will likely be closer to 40MPG, however, I've witnessed 650 miles per tank on my friends Golf TDI with said upgrades during a roadtrip to California, which averages out to 50MPG AND WE WERE GOING 80-90MPH THE WHOLE WAY.

Big fan of deisel. My next car definately will be one. I also like how quiet and low reving they are.

RE: $2,200 difference
By ExarKun333 on 7/30/2009 11:47:24 AM , Rating: 1
TDI Jetta.

RE: $2,200 difference
By NARC4457 on 7/30/2009 12:08:04 PM , Rating: 1
Jetta TDI for one. My in-laws have one and routinely get 50+mpg.

RE: $2,200 difference
By NARC4457 on 7/30/2009 12:08:30 PM , Rating: 2
Teach me not to refresh before posting.

RE: $2,200 difference
By DigitalFreak on 7/30/2009 12:28:16 PM , Rating: 1
Ford Fusion Hybrid

RE: $2,200 difference
By Alexstarfire on 7/30/2009 1:33:10 PM , Rating: 2
I think you missed the part where he said NON-HYBRID.

RE: $2,200 difference
By bhieb on 7/30/2009 2:05:37 PM , Rating: 2
'real hybrid'

Think you missed the point. The fusion hybrid was an after thought by Ford that does as well. The OP's point is that the insight was designed from the ground up as a hybrid, and I agree as such it sucks. When Ford can just throw a package into an existing platform, and do as good, what was the point of engineering the insight as full hybrid?

RE: $2,200 difference
By Alexstarfire on 7/30/2009 2:13:50 PM , Rating: 2
Probably cost. It's only like $5-6K cheaper than the Fusion. Apart from that I couldn't tell you. This new Insight is appalling compared to the old one. Doesn't matter than the old one was only a two seater, it's still far better at it's job than this new one.

RE: $2,200 difference
By Jedi2155 on 8/2/2009 6:32:26 AM , Rating: 2
Having driven a Ford Fusion Hybrid and numerous other vehicles, I would have to say its ranks almost up there with a Lexus in terms of luxury and general quality.

Sadly, I've yet to try an insight, or a 3rd gen Prius, but I'm betting the Insight is closer to a Civic/Fit so you'll be getting a lot of extra bang for that buck on a the Fusion.

RE: $2,200 difference
By ElFenix on 8/3/2009 12:30:31 AM , Rating: 2
ground up? it's the same global small car platform as the fit with a slightly different body. honda didn't start with a clean sheet for the current insight just as toyota didn't start with a clean sheet for the current prius (which rides on the same platform as the corolla).

RE: $2,200 difference
By consumerwhore on 7/30/2009 1:46:06 PM , Rating: 2
I find it quite telling that you got three replies but only one answer.

RE: $2,200 difference
By Mr772 on 7/31/2009 9:19:24 AM , Rating: 2
I average about 48 mpg in my 09 TDI sportwagen with mixed highway and city driving. The TDI is slightly more expensive than the honda.

The other factor that isn't being talked about is the fun factor. If they think the honda handles well they wouldn't know what hit them if they drove a Jetta it blows the doors off both honda and toyota when it comes to handling and drive dynamics.

RE: $2,200 difference
By Major HooHaa on 7/31/2009 12:52:23 PM , Rating: 2
The upcoming Mk6 Golf GTD (the diesel equivalent of the petrol Golf GTI) has a combined average of 53 MPG. That would be Imperial gallons.

While our 2.2 litre Diesel RAV 4 is also currently showing 47.3 MPG.

RE: $2,200 difference
By Fritzr on 8/3/2009 6:28:31 AM , Rating: 2
EPA uses US gal of .8 Imperial gal.

So if your mileage is 53 miles per ImpGal that converts to 42.4 miles per USGal and 47.3 MPIG becomes 37.84 MPG

Since the default MPG worldwide uses the standard (US) gallon for comparison purposes you get
Golf GTD 47.3 MPG
2.2L diesel RAV4 37.84 MPG

Were those measured using the US EPA test rules? If not then we would need the numbers of some other vehicles tested under both sets of benchmarking rules to establish a conversion ratio from one to the other. Hopefully they will yield results that can be converted by a simple ratio. If not then results of the two benchmarks cannot be compared head to head.

RE: $2,200 difference
By michael67 on 7/31/2009 12:33:45 AM , Rating: 2
Though I like the interior of the Insight more

Hmmm, I am not a big fan of the Prius interior, it is ok do, but it is a smart design, by being so different i think they sold a lot of people on the idea that this is new and better.

The Honda do looks to me like a pinball machine, compared to the Prius

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