New Honda Insight Hybrid car will be priced below the Prius and Civic Hybrid

Honda Insight Hybrid car VS. Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid
Honda unveiled its next-generation hybrid, the Insight, in a hope to compete head-on with Toyota's Prius, with the same overall body shape down to even the design of the rear hatch, which remains the top-selling hybrid in the US, and a Lexus hybrid called the HS250h.

This is the second try for Honda with hybrids. The first version didn't sell well and was pulled from the lineup in 2006. Now, Honda thinks it can succeed with a similar look and an advantage in price. The Insight will be the least-expensive hybrid vehicle in the United States, and it will face off against the Prius, the most fuel-efficient vehicle sold in this country.

Offering customers exceptional fuel economy, the Insight features a newly developed hybrid system including a 1.3-liter i-VTEC engine and Honda's proprietary Integrated Motor Assist (IMA). To further support fuel-efficient driving, the Insight features the Ecological Drive Assist System (Eco Assist) as standard equipment on all models.

The car gets 41 mpg. It offers Eco Assist which is a driver-focused fuel economy enhancement which is standard at a push of a button. It automatically changes the settings so that you are not wasting any energy. There are icons on the dashboard which tells you your optimal range of fuel efficiency.

There's only one thing that can keep Honda's new Insight front-wheel drive hybrid from becoming one of the most popular new cars around -- the economy, and that is beyond the company's control.

Honda, in keeping with its modest corporate sensibility, says the Insight will get 40 miles per gallon fuel mileage. In real life, you could get anywhere from 55 mpg to an amazing 70 mpg. Of course, that means no jackrabbit starts and other fuel wasting maneuvers.

Utilizing the latest generation of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist(TM) (IMA(R)) hybrid technology and new, more cost-efficient production methods, Honda Insight defines a new stage in the evolution of hybrid technology, designed to provide hybrid customers with a new level of affordability, fun-to-drive performance, and an estimated city/highway fuel economy rating of 4.8/4.5 L/100km.

Insight is more agile than the 2009 Prius; less so than the Civic hybrid. The 2010 Prius is an unknown quantity. The "econ" button, which changes the drivetrain programming to trade a little better fuel economy for less-lively performance, stays off if you turn it off. It doesn't reset, nanny-like, to the econ mode when you next start the car. Eventually, the car's going fast enough that the engine slows and everything's peaceful. Until you need immediate power again. The 2010 Prius, with fuel economy rising to 50 miles per gallon, or 4 mpg better than its predecessor, maintains its status as the most fuel-efficient car in America. The new Insight offers 41 mpg.

Guidance function assesses acceleration and braking practices in real time, changing the speedometer background color to indicate the level of fuel-efficiency of the driving style. Drivers can achieve more fuel-efficient driving simply by referring to this intuitive color display.

In addition to the varied speedo lighting, several other graphic indicators in the instrument cluster help you track your efficiency, including digital flora that grow more leaves the more economically you drive.

There’s a good reason for that. While Honda was the first automaker to introduce a hybrid in the U.S. market – the original, two-seat, jelly bean-shaped Insight in early 2000 – the company’s hybrid offerings since then have been based on the architecture of other, popular gasoline-powered models in the company’s lineup – the compact Civic and midsize Accord sedans.

The original Insight was the only Honda hybrid with a distinctive body style that instantly identified it as a hybrid. Consumer research has shown that most hybrid buyers choose these vehicles because they want to show other people that they are environmentally conscious.

Honda said the 2010 Insight, which will arrive in US showrooms this April, will have a lower price than the Civic Hybrid, which has a base price of $23,650; well below the Civic Hybrid that starts at $ 23,650 and the Toyota Prius with a base price of $ 22,000.

A better look at the 2010 Honda Insight tells us that it is lower than the Prius. The figures say 2.5 inches and in car terms that is a lot. But the Insight also undoubtedly shows its relationship to the revolutionary FCX Clarity, Honda’s fuel cell car and the first one world wide available for customers (in Southern California, at three-year $ 600/month lease).

The first impression of the 2010 Honda Insight was good, but for success in Europe the price really has to be right. If it comes to close to that of the Civic and its opponent from Toyota, people might choose for the roomier models. But if the difference in Euro will be about the same as in dollars, Honda might reach its goal.

Honda introduced the 2003 Civic Hybrid that was succeeded in 2006 by the second generation. Honda is down to just one hybrid in its lineup now – the Civic. The company discontinued the Accord hybrid after 2007 because of poor sales, thanks to its over-$30,000 price tag and emphasis on performance rather than fuel economy (EPA ratings were 24 city/3 highway, and it had a V-6 engine).

The company ended production of the original Insight after 2006 also because of low consumer interest, which was a result of the car’s quirkiness.

Indeed, Honda has radically reduced the quality of materials in the new Insight. The interior cloth trim — seats, doors, etc. — is incredibly thin, the flimsiest such cloth seen in a Honda since an early ’90s Civic. Though the dashboard is reminiscent of the Civic’s futuristic gauge display, its plastic surround is not nearly of such high quality. The cabin is truly Spartan. Aside from power window controls and the centre stack’s radio, the Insight’s interior is as barren as a Hyundai Accent’s.

The estimated maximum driving range is over 400 miles. The warranty is a 3-year 36,000 mile with a 10-year 100,000 mile on hybrids. It is a 4-cylinder vehicle with a top speed of 120 mph. The battery doesn't require any maintenance. The Insight offers a navigation system which is optional. There are also buttons on the steering wheel for voice activation.

The 2010 Insight will be launched at Honda dealers throughout Canada in April and will be priced below the Civic Hybrid. Honda's plan to sell half a million hybrid vehicles annually by 2012 with the upcoming Honda Insight to account for 200,000 of those. Honda says the $19,000 base price will be less expensive than the Prius and the Civic Hybrid. So, like both the existing Prius and the all-new, 2010 model seen in the following pages, the Insight is an aerodynamically optimized, four-door, five-passenger hatchback sedan.

Whether it will be called the CR-Z in production remains to be seen, but as for the prospect of an affordable, fun-to-drive, sharp-looking hybrid hatch from Honda that will be a modern-day, hyperefficient reincarnation of the seminal CRX? That sounds like a car even Toyota might want to copy.

Honda 2010 Insight Hybrid car front and rear outlook

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