Honda Ready to Take On the Prius

Insight cheaper, simpler than Toyota's hybrid king
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 28, 2009 7:31 AM CDT
A woman walks past Honda Motor Co.'s cars including fast-selling hybrid Insight on display outside Honda's showroom in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 28, 2009.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
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(Newser) – Honda is rolling out a fresh—and worthy—competitor to Toyota’s Prius, king of the hybrid market, writes Joseph P. White in the Wall Street Journal. The 2010 Insight will sell for just under $20,000, some $2,000 less than the most popular Prius model, and gets “minicar mileage” while offering enough room for a bike in the back seat. "Honda has already rattled the champ," writes White, "and the first round hasn't really begun."

At 40mpg city, 43 highway, the Insight doesn’t match the Prius’s 51 city, 48 highway. And it lacks an electric-only driving "steal mode." It’s “Hybrid Lite,” explains White: The hardware making it hybrid is far less complicated than the Prius’ "'two motors for one car' strategy."
But its price has fueled Toyota’s rush to get a cheaper base-model Prius on the market.  It's "a pleasant, highly economical commuting machine," White writes, that showcases technology we’ll see in vehicles of the future.