Looking at the 2010 Honda Insight, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to the Toyota Prius. Both have similar body shapes, both are dedicated hybrid models for their respective manufacturers (as opposed to a Camry Hybrid or Civic Hybrid), and both are supposed to exude eco-friendly credentials. So, does the Insight manage to top the Prius? Nope, but compared to the original Insight from way back in 1999, it is a huge leap forward.
The Insight, like the Prius, is definitely a “form follows function” type of car. The tires are smaller and thinner than most other cars, but they have lower rolling resistance which equals better fuel economy. As far as body shape, that’s the most economical design for both reducing air resistance and maximizing cabin space, so we’ll forgive the similarities to the Prius. And, in overall size, the Insight is smaller than the Prius, carrying a compact designation as opposed to the Toyota’s mid-size sedan.
Okay, so that’s it for the Prius comparisons, now onto the Insight itself. When it comes to hybrid vehicles, they need to be practical and deliver similar amenities as internal combustion engine cars. The Insight loses a bit of that thanks to its body shape. The sloping roof towards the rear makes for a very tight ride in the back seat for anyone six feet tall or over. The leg room isn’t exactly spacious, but it’s not as restriced as that found in other compacts. In the front seat, due to the higher slope of the roof at that point, these aren’t concerns. There is also plenty of cargo space in the back, so it beats out some other compacts in that respect.
The interior design and controls will be instantly familiar to anyone who has driven a recent Civic or Fit, and that’s a good thing. It’s not too complicated, but it’s got a nice range of features as well. Once you get your hands on those controls and hit the open road, though, you’re in for a bit of a surprise in the ride. The 2010 Honda Insight is fine on smooth roads, but if the road gets even the smallest bit bumpy, so does the ride. If you live in an area that has pretty good roads (or in warmer climes where winter damage doesn’t rip up the roads every year), then the Insight is great. Other than that, not so much. It’s not that the ride is bad, it’s just that Honda is usually so good about things like that, so it stands out even more.
But once you get a look at the price tag, these small concerns become even smaller. You can pick up a new 2010 Honda Insight starting at $19,800, and well equipped for about $22,000. That makes it one of the most widely available hybrids on the market. Other hybrid models usually run from the mid-$20k to $40k range. So, you’ve got a car packed with battery and electric motor technology that still doesn’t cost too much, which accounts for the cut corners and uninspiring features elsewhere on the car.
Basically what it comes down to with the 2010 Honda Insight is whether or not you want a hybrid. Not just a car that’s good on gas, but specifically an emissions reducing hybrid. A cheaper subcompact, like the Honda Fit, will cost a few thousand dollars less and still return mpg figures in the mid-30s (the Insight gets in the mid-40s). The extra mpg from the Insight isn’t substantial enough to make up for the extra money spent on the car (unless gas skyrockets to $6/gallon or so). If you want a fuel efficient car on the cheap, check out other compacts. If you desperately want a hybrid, but can’t afford other hybrid models, the Insight is the way to go.