The Honda Insight is back

Posted by: Ian Rowley on September 4, 2008

Honda Insight.jpg

Honda’s name for its new Prius killer is perhaps the least innovative thing about it—it’s going to be called the Insight. The old Insight was the first mass-produced hybrid sold in the U.S. in 1999 but was phased out amid weak sales in 2006.

Honda has higher hopes for the much-anticipated new model, which it plans to sell 200,000 a year and will be the first of several new hybrids. While it won’t be sold until April, Honda is showing a concept version at the Paris Auto Show, which opens at the beginning of October. Honda just released a press release unveiling the name today and first official photos, although details of its price (expected to be about $19k) and performance remain scant. The release points out that the original Insight was the first vehicle to break the 70mpg barrier for fuel efficiency. Any guesses on how closer the new, larger Insight (but smaller than a Civic or a Prius) will get to that figure?

Reader Comments

Brendan

September 4, 2008 12:54 PM

People want other people to know they are driving a hybrid and Honda has learned that. The fact that it so closely resembles the Prius will likely be of benefit. If Honda can keep the fuel economy and price competitive (which it likely has) this new hybrid will almost certainly succeed.

James

September 5, 2008 1:42 AM

Least innovative? How about the styling. I understand the importance of aerodynamics, which probably dictated the shape of the sheetmetal, but this thing's an unabashed copy of the Prius. Aside from the goofy, droopy lower grille the snout is more attractive than the Prius'. We haven't seen the hindquarters yet, but I will bet that there's a see-through panel --just like on the Prius. Granted, Honda was there first with the CRX, but...

John

September 5, 2008 9:53 AM

the prius copied the shape of the original insight...

Jeff

September 5, 2008 10:46 AM

James, go take a look at the 1999 Honda Insight. You will see that this 2009 model styling is a natural progression from a 2 door 2-passenger to 4 door 4-passenger vehicle. Aside from the rear-wheel "spats" on the original, all the designers have really done is extend the cabin forward, and relocate the batteries to allow for rear seating.

If you look back at the differences between the first and second generation Prius, you will see that it was Toyota who copied the styling of the Insight for their second generation.

Crxsquared

September 5, 2008 10:48 AM

Copy of the Prius? BS! Form follows function and aerodynamics dictates a very narrow set of design parameters. I could argue that the Prius was nothing more than a scaled-up Honda CRX, what with both vehicles having the very functional vertical rear window for rearward visibility that ORIGINATED on the 2nd generation CRX (was also on the original Insight). Note that without any high-tech hybrid drivetrain, the '88-'91 CRX HF model was EPA-rated at 56mpg highway. I owned a 92hp '88 DX model that frequently delivered a realworld 47mpg on the highway, too. And with a power-to-weight ratio of 20.9 compared to the Prius' 26.6, it was a LOT more fun to drive (not mentioning the notoriously POOR handling of the Prius, typical of a Toyota). I plan to be an early buyer of either an Insight Mark II or the later debuting Honda CR-Z sport compact (still own a CRX, a '91 Si). The 2010 Prius, no matter what Toyota does as an update to the current design, does not interest me in the slightest, now that the FIRST car company to offer a hybrid in the USA (Honda) is getting back in the game with a vengence. The advertising tagline for the Insight II (apologies to "Independence Day") should be, "Hey Guys, I'm Baaaack!"

Joe

September 5, 2008 1:23 PM

James is dumb

Simon

September 5, 2008 1:26 PM

Looks a "bite" like the Prius. Also seems pricing is way too high! Obviously priced to offset the savings, if any, on gasoline. C'mon Honda you can do much better. My 1992 Honda Civic VX still clears 48 mpg.

drbabe

September 5, 2008 9:29 PM

Who cares whether it's innovative? Toyota has obviously decided to sell its Priuses somewhere other than the US, since it's currently 8 month waiting list and 5K over list price. Just get it on the market so I can get a hybrid family sedan for a reasonable price. I'll be the first to buy one, what with Honda's rep for quality.

CarGal

September 5, 2008 9:40 PM

Let's hope this Honda is a Prius Killer with better fuel economy and (ok I know it is asking a lot) - a better battery.
I would love to see Honda get Toyota and all the car dealers racing in an innovative competition that takes us down the golden path of less dependency on fossil fuels.

Thomson

September 8, 2008 1:04 AM

This new Honda car has a killer look. It has good features and better mileage which is a necessity.
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Thomson
auto auctions

Marjorie

September 12, 2008 10:59 AM

James, I own one of the first generation of Prius which happens to look very much like a Toyota Corolla. Toyota then realized that the Insight design (whether you like it or not) was a head turner that set it apart from non-hybrid vehicles.

Nicks Mom

September 24, 2008 7:19 PM

Honda Financing - BEWARE - Honda does NOT allow their vehicles to be shipped over seas for our military buyers. They're fighting for our freedom - come on HONDA!!! Support our Troops!

Rich

October 3, 2008 7:15 PM

I drive a 2000 Honda Insight... and my wife drives a Prius. I'd love to see a bit larger Insight with a bit more power. And I'll hope for a smoother ride and better sound insulation. And an electric air conditioner that doesn't shut off when I'm at a stop light. And a battery that stays charged better... In city driving my battery runs at about 20%, often this means slow or halting starts which is dangerous if you're turning in traffic.

It's smart for Toyota and Honda to have unique hybrid designs rather than just a hybrid "version." Every car becomes an ad.

Wonder why Honda hardly sold any Insights? Even with all the amazing tv ads? What ads, you say? Right! No ads, no sales. No secret there. Honda didm't want to sell that car. But they would like a Prius-beater. Will this new Insight stand up to the task? (The Civic doesn't.)

i brigham

October 7, 2008 4:24 PM

I DRIVE A 2000 HONDA INSIGHT WITH 90,000 MILES, I ADV. 57MPG. ITS A GREAT CAR AND RATHER RARE, I STILL GET POSITIVE COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CAR. HONDA DID NOT PROMOTE/ADVERTISE THE CAR, AS IF THEY WANTED IT TO FAIL. I AM A SATISFIED INSIGHT OWNER.

Atlanta Insight

October 21, 2008 2:45 PM

I’m looking forward to seeing the specs on the new Insight. All I can say is “It’s about time!” They never should have gotten rid of the original two-seater. There must be a market for a commuter car in this country. I drive a 2002 Insight and routinely get 70+ MPG highway in my 80 mile roundtrip commute. In stop & go city driving I get 50-55 MPG. Lifetime MPG is 60. With all this talk of MPG don’t forget about range. It’s not hard to imagine 600 – 700 miles to a 10.6 gallon tank. I did not have to fill up even once during this last little gas shortage we experienced in the south recently. I also waited until gas prices fell from a high of $5 to under $3 before filling up again. The batteries are a concern. Mine started failing about 4 months ago. Honda has extended its warranty on the batteries to 10 year/100,000 miles. Honda replaced mine at no change and very little inconvenience. I was going in for warranty work anyway. If you have a 1999 Insight you may want to check this out.

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