This car was the top selling model in Japan for April of 2009....considering that Honda started selling the Insight in Japan in February that is quite extraordinary. This if the first time that a gasoline electric hybrid or any type of hybrid has taken the top selling honor in Japan. The Insight went on sale in the US in April.
The EPA fuel-economy ratings are 40 mpg city and 43 highway—versus the Prius which gets 48 city and 45 highway, respectively. The Honda Insight operates differently than the Toyota Prius, this explains the fuel economy differences. When you turn on the key in the Insight the motor turns on, most of the time when the vehicle is operating the motor will be running. When you turn on the Prius the electric motor will operate and propel the vehicle on electric power below 35 mph. The Toyota Prius is a complex system, which costs more to build but results in higher fuel economy.
The Insight is equipped with a 88 hp, 1.3 liter four cylinder engine along with a 13-hp electric motor. Honda has Integrated Motor Assist (IMA)....IMA is an engineering feature where the electric motor is placed between the engine and the transmission. The electric motor assists the motor as needed.
A CVT transmission is the only transmission offered. The Insight has an interesting ECON button, that cuts down air-conditioning cycles and moderates acceleration to improve the fuel economy.
Honda estimates that it should sell approximately 90,000 Insights per year in the U.S.
Pricing for the Insight starts at $19,800 USD, and £15,490 in the UK plus options. Pricing for a Prius starts at $22,000 USD plus options.
My take on the Insight is that Honda manufactured the Insight to compete on price. It is the cheapest hybrid available.....but as with most hybrids you sacrifice performance and handling. The most fun to drive hybrid that I have driven is the Ford Fusion Hybrid.