Typically, there’s an inherent downfall with hybrids: buying one brings a cost premium over a similar conventional vehicle. Getting over that initial price difference can pose a hurdle, even though Consumer Reports’ cost of ownership data shows that a Toyota Prius has a lower five-year ownership cost than a cheaper-to-buy Honda Civic EX.
Enter the Honda Insight. Starting at $20,470 (with destination), the Insight is the least expensive hybrid you can currently buy in the U.S. We recently bought an EX version for $21,970.
That low, low price warrants a footnote or two. First off, the Insight is a relatively small car, and that price isn’t all that cheap. Compare that $20,470 to the $18,925 you’d pay for a roomier Honda Civic LX with similar equipment (including an automatic), or the $16,220 you’d pay for a base automatic Fit. Plus, if you want stability control (and you should, given its safety benefits), you need to move up to the EX trim level. That rings in at $21,970—still cheaper than a Prius, but not exactly pocket change.
Of course, part of the reason you pay the up-front premium is for fuel efficiency. The Insight isn’t as efficient as either the current Prius or the upcoming third-generation version, but Honda’s claimed 41 mpg overall is nothing to sneeze at. Our very first impressions are that fuel economy is impressive, but the Insight is missing some refinement.
We’ll let you know more very soon, as we prepare a First Drive report.