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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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By Freezebyte on 1/25/2010 5:53:49 PM , Rating: 2
I've been a dedicated Honda owner and fanboy for years after owning 5 of them from a CR-V, 3 Accords and now a Civic, but im honestly thinking of ditching Honda all together and getting the sexy new Hyundai Tuscon, I was very impressed with it after a test drive a few weeks ago.

Can't believe im considering it, but Hyundai is building cars that look cooler to me and have more features that I want with a longer warranty. As much as I wanna get a CR-V, I still hate the design of that damn rear window, it looks so clownish and stupid. The new Tuscon looks infinently more aggressive and cool vs the CR-V so hence my goal to get a more pratical vehicle this year may cause me to end up leaving Honda. So much for being a die hard Honda fanboy I guess....

RE: Ironically...
By Freezebyte on 1/25/2010 6:01:15 PM , Rating: 1
I also drove a Honda Insight earlier last year and I was not impressed with it at all. If I wanted to get a Hybrid, the Prius is just better built, designed and laid out in every way. I just wanna slap Honda execs across the head and say "Well fucking duh!" of course its not doing well. Building a hybrid for the masses when the masses themselves don't even know what they want most of the time, not to mention especially when their is a better and more proven vehicle to purchase in a certain segment, a.k.a "Prius"

Now there ditching all plans for any V8's and high end V6's in their vehicles and also leaving the F1 scene, the very foundation of their company. Plus, they don't believe Americans will go for diesel powered vehicles. Honda, beloved Honda....what has become of you?

The CR-Z does really intrigue me as a techno computer geek but now that im pushing 30, I really need and want a more practical vehicle for my standard of living and the Hyundai Tucson is calling to me big time instead of the CR-V

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