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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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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).

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