Print 65 comment(s) - last by Spuke.. on Jan 29 at 1:31 PM

2010 Honda Insight

Honda CR-Z

2010 Toyota Prius
Honda still can't find the magic recipe to beat the Prius

When it comes to hybrid vehicles, it appears that Honda just can't catch a break. Its first generation Insight hybrid was the first such vehicle to hit American soil a decade ago, however, the vehicle was a sales failure. Honda went on to develop a Civic Hybrid which hasn't exactly been a Prius competitor in terms of sales and the company's Accord Hybrid, like the Insight before it, failed in the marketplace.

Honda looked to go after Toyota's Prius again with a larger, second generation Insight. However, Honda again ran into a brick wall. Honda managed to undercut the Prius by a few thousand dollars, but also did so with a much smaller vehicle that was not as fast, not as tech-laden, and not nearly as fuel efficient as the third-generation Prius. When it comes to actual vehicle sales, the numbers don't lie. Honda sold roughly 20,500 Insights during 2009 in the U.S. -- Toyota, on the other hand, sold nearly 140,000 Prius hybrids.

"Are we happy with how sales are going? No, we're not happy," said American Honda executive VP John Mendel.

Faced with the prospect of another dud in the hybrid marketplace, Honda chief Takanobu Ito is calling on his engineers to develop a vehicle that will "Out Prius" the Prius according to Automotive News. Ito wants a hybrid that will be able to exceed the stellar fuel economy ratings of Toyota's crown jewel. Toyota's Prius is rated at 50 mpg (city/highway combined) while the smaller Insight is rated at just 41 mpg (city/highway combined).

"We want to develop and expand our hybrids," said Ito earlier this month in Detroit. "We made some major sacrifices to shift people and resources to do that."

While Honda looks like it will have its hands full developing a vehicle to topple the Prius, it has also just launched a new "sporty" hybrid aimed at enthusiasts. The CR-Z can be had with a manual transmission, but fuel economy junkies should be warned -- choosing to the manual will result in a serious hit to city fuel economy. A CR-Z equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) will be rated at 36/38 mpg (city/highway). Opting for the six-speed manual transmission, however, will cut those numbers to 31/37 mpg.

For comparison, a Mini Cooper (six-speed manual) gets 28/37 mpg without the need for hybrid components.

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RE: How about...
By steven975 on 1/25/2010 1:58:54 PM , Rating: 1
If you go by magazine numbers only, that's a pretty narrow view. A car's handling is more than grip and slalom numbers that are not even directly comparable unless it is the same course on the same day. When you say it has marginally better handling than a Mustang (bottom barrel of sports cars in that respect) you lost any real credibility.

This car basically dominates the A class in autocross. The only cars even close are those such as the WRX STI and EVO in that respect. Mustang...uh, yea.

5.4 to 60 and 13.8's in the quarter @100+ compares pretty well to contemporary sports cars (only a few ticks less than a V8 Mustang actually). Of course, straight-line is not what this car is for (whereas with a Mustang, it's the only redeeming attribute).

For a 2.0L to 2.2L, the engine's torque is unmatched without forced induction. Name one NA engine that size that has more? The transmission is most consistently mentioned as the best manual on any car...ever.

Even compared to a Solstice GXP or Sky Redline it compares favorably almost a decade later...while these have torque, they are not faster because they are a good bit heavier.

RE: How about...
By Iaiken on 1/25/2010 2:44:05 PM , Rating: 2
Trust me, you don't want to bring up AutoX Class A competition to a JCW driver.

My Mini club always has 2-3 members running faster than the fastest A Class drivers on the exact same course the same day. I've since moved over to the STX class after some minor modifications to the crank/SC pulleys etc...

I'm not a nostalgic guy and I drove only the 2006 S2000 so I cannot comment on the pre-2000 setup, but the car they were trying to sell was VERY disappointing.

If I had to have a roadster, I'd rather have a Z4 3.0i for the same price. Until then, I'm gonna motor around in my JCW until something a lot better comes along or I break it. :P

RE: How about...
By Spuke on 1/29/2010 12:47:42 PM , Rating: 2
If I had to have a roadster, I'd rather have a Z4 3.0i for the same price.
Are you talking a used one cause the Z4's been redesigned and the name's been changed slightly. Softer and heavier car from what I've read but never drove the new one.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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