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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 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.

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