2010 Honda Insight LX
2010 Honda Insight LX
2010 Honda Insight LX
2010 Honda Insight LX. Click image to enlarge

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First Drive: 2010 Honda Insight
First Drive: 2010 Toyota Prius

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2010 Honda Insight

North Vancouver, British Columbia – Honda’s first hybrid car, the two-seater Insight introduced here in 1999, still holds the record for the best (Energuide government certified) fuel economy in a production car in North America: 3.9 L/100 km City, 3.3 L/100 km Highway. The problem was, as a small two-seater hatchback, it wasn’t very practical, so Honda didn’t sell very many of them.

Honda introduced a hybrid version of the Civic sedan in 2003, and updated it in 2006. It was, and is, a five-passenger compact sedan with current fuel economy numbers of 4.7 L/100 km City, 4.3 L/100 km Highway – still very good for a small car. But the Honda Civic Hybrid is virtually indistinguishable from the regular Civic sedan and hybrid buyers looking for a practical and unique hybrid car turned their attention to the distinctive Toyota Prius.

Honda set about designing a dedicated five-passenger hybrid like the Prius, but rather than competing directly, they designed a smaller hybrid hatchback with a lower price point: the new Honda Insight. Starting under $25,000, the Insight is more affordable than most hybrids.

Some observers see the Insight as a competitor to the Prius, but having driven both, I don’t think so: the 2010 Prius is bigger, roomier, more powerful, and has a different kind of hybrid system that allows it run on electric power alone at city speeds – the new Insight doesn’t do that. In its favour, the smaller Insight is less expensive, more manoeuvrable and sportier to drive. The Insight is more of an “entry-level” hybrid while the Prius is a “mid-level” hybrid.

Pricing and standard equipment

2010 Honda Insights, already on sale, come in two trim levels, LX ($23,900) and EX ($27,500). Standard equipment on base models includes a 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine, electric motor/generator, continuously variable transmission, nickel-metal hydride battery pack, 15-inch steel wheels, automatic climate control, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, tilt and telescopic wheel, CD/MP3 stereo with four speakers and auxiliary input, and 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks. The base Insight is not available with electronic stability control, Bluetooth hands-free phone, or navigation system. It also doesn’t have a block heater or a rear cargo privacy cover, but they can be ordered as accessories for $214 and $244 respectively.

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