Honda is introducing the 2020 Insight compact hybrid on April 22, which is Earth Day in the U.S., a day devoted to environmental awareness. The coincidence is by design. Although the official base price hasn’t been set, the Insight is estimated to start at just over $20,000, less than the $22,000 base price of a Prius for a 2019 model.
Insight Catching up with Prius Mileage
The new Insight has been rated at 40 miles-per-gallon in city driving and 43 on the highway by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which brings it closer to the Prius, which is rated at 48 city and 45 highway for a 2019 model. But if the Insight has a more affordable sticker price than the Prius, that could give the Insight an edge in sales.
But if Honda thinks the Insight is going to help it blow past the Prius, the company should look in its rear-view mirror. Toyota’s also launching a newly-redesigned 2020 Prius sometime in the spring that bumps mileage to a reported 50 m.p.g. While pricing for the new Prius also hasn’t been set, it’s likely to be more than a 2019, allowing Honda to keep its price advantage.
Insight’s Entertaining Dashboard
Honda is promoting some interesting design features in the Insight, according to a Honda news release. Its new “Eco Assist” technology includes an “Econ” transmission mode to maximize fuel economy, a speedometer display that changes colors to illustrate the effect of speed, acceleration and braking on mileage and another display that tracks the driver’s overall mileage performance with a series of green leaf icons; the more leaves that appear, the better the mileage.
All that can create a “gee whiz” factor among hybrid buyers and give the Insight the edge over Prius, but the Prius hasn’t sold 1 million models since its debut in 1997 without its own compelling engineering.
New Prius Coming, too
Among the “gee whiz” features of the 2020 Prius is a set of solar panels installed in the car’s moon roof, Toyota explained in a news release. The solar panels power a ventilation system for the passenger compartment without using the car’s gas engine. The ventilation system cools the interior temperature when the car is parked in sunlight, thus reducing the energy needed to run the air conditioner.
Air conditioners are a big drain on gas mileage, potentially cancelling out the effect of hybrids because the A/C usually runs off the engine. Besides improving the efficiency of the A/C on the Prius, Toyota is also adding a remote air conditioning start that runs on battery power alone to begin cooling the interior before the driver returns.
There is an old saying in business that competition makes everybody better and enhances value for the customer. The Insight versus Prius competition should be no exception. Honda hopes to get a sales boost out of the new Insight, but Prius is answering right back with a new, improved model. The new models present more choices for customers, along with the first-ever Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids also due out this spring.