I had the chance to spend a week driving both the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight. The Prius is the third generation vehicle newly released for the 2010 model year and the Insight is the second generation of the car coming three years after the two-seat first generation was discontinued in 2006.
Although Honda was the first to sell a hybrid commercially, the Prius has steamed ahead with over 1 million in sales forcing Honda to try to come from behind. The new Insight is the automaker’s effort to do that with its affordable “hybrid for everyone,” as they call it. The Prius builds on its existing technological prowess.
Both cars have a distinctive look that lets observers know the cars are unmistakably hybrids,. The hallmarks are the tall back end and the arched shape of the roof line. The Prius has added some new sharp edges and a wider more rakish stance. It actually has a more refined and sporty look, giving it the advantage in the design category.
The Prius has built on its rather sophisticated technical display which appears to float above the dash. The standard instrumental panel has been removed and a small joystick shifter sticks out of the dash. There is a keyfob to start the car which doesn’t get inserted anywhere, it can be left in the drivers’ pocket. There is a pushbutton start.
The feeling inside is technical and scientific in nature and has an ecological minimalist appeal. The touch screen display is high quality.