2010 Toyota Prius vs 2010 Honda Insight Comparison Test Drive …

27 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2010 Toyota Prius vs 2010 Honda Insight Comparison Test Drive … отключены
Honda Insight Electric Cars

2010 Toyota Prius vs. 2010 Honda Insight Comparison Test Drive: Battle of the Fuel Sippers—The Rematch

Yountville, CALIF. The Toyota Prius used to have it easy. Since the second-generation 2004 model hit mainstream success, the Prius has become the gold standard for hybrid fuel efficiency. But much has happened in the past year. The competition has grown tougher, in particular from Toyota’s cross-town rival, Honda.

A few months ago, Honda unveiled the new Insight hybrid, a car that clearly has the Prius in its crosshairs.

To see how the Insight measured up, we compared it against the 2009 Prius. knowing all along that the new Prius was just around the corner. The Honda was victorious, logging better fuel economy in a sportier package. But that was, oh, three months ago.

Now we’ve got the all-new Prius and have brought these two players together again for round two. We didn’t have the opportunity to perform acceleration and braking tests this time, but we did run them both on a 300-mile, mixed-driving loop. Call this Prius vs. Insight The Rematch. Larry Webster

The Specs

We’ve covered the mechanical details of the Prius and the Honda Insight. so let’s see how these cars differ.

The Honda’s powertrain is the more conventional of the two. A 13-hp electric motor is sandwiched between the 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission. As a result, Honda’s engine must turn when the car is moving. Notice, we said, turn. Under a narrow set of conditions, for example, when cruising at light speeds, the Insight can shut down the engine, but it still rotates.

The VTEC system closes the valves to minimize the pumping losses associated with turning the engine, but the always-coupled engine is still a drag on the system. A 0.6-kilowatt-hour nickel-metal-hydride battery stores the energy recovered during braking.

The Toyota, by comparison, employs a pair of electric motors and a planetary CVT to link them with the 1.8-liter gas engine. This unique gearbox allows several energy paths. Under hard acceleration, the 80-hp main electric motor assists the gas engine.

Under light loads and moderate acceleration, however, the Prius shuts off the gas engine and moves under electric-only power. There’s even a dash-mounted EV switch that provides about a mile of electric-only range, which is limited by the capacity of the 1.3-kwh NiMH battery.

As much as these cars differ mechanically, on the outside they almost look like twins. Toyota moved the apex of the curve that describes the roof on the new Prius four inches rearward. This has transformed the car’s profile from a cone-head (sorry, Toyota) to a sleek sedan. Both cars benefit from extensive aerodynamic development. Honda hasn’t released the Insight’s drag coefficient figure, but it’s probably close to the Prius’s 0.25.

The Prius is, however, a bigger car. Its 106.3-inch wheelbase is nearly 6 inches longer than the Insight’s. The extra length is noticeable in the rear seat.

The Prius has ample room for adults, while the Insight can feel a bit pinched.

Clearly Honda and Toyota forged different paths developing their hybrids. The Insight is meant to be a hybrid for the masses, with a simple, cost-effective powertrain that gives up some fuel economy in return for a lower price. The Insight starts at just $20,470, thousands less than Toyota is expected to charge for the Prius (The 2009 Prius started at $22,720 and the new one is about $500 more).

The Honda gets 40 mpg on the EPA city test and 43 mpg on the highway. But the Prius, which is about 300 pounds heavier, is in another league, returning 51 mpg on the city cycle and 48 mpg on the highway.

The range of optional equipment for the Prius reads like a Lexus ad. Buyers can opt for features like a self-parallel-parking system, lane-departure warning, radar cruise control, and even a solar-powered system that cools the interior when parked. Fully loaded, a Prius will likely top 30 grand.

The Drive

Our route began in California’s Napa valley and meandered South into Oakland. From there we hit the streets of San Francisco before heading north along the coast. Finally, we turned east to finish where we started.

We traveled 296 miles at an average speed of 37 mph, splitting the mileage into thirds. One-third was spent in the city, another third on two-lane country roads and the final portion was highway cruising.

We appreciated the Honda’s frisky personality. There’s no mistaking the Insight for a sport sedan, but there’s a level of driver engagement similar to what we’ve come to admire in the Honda Fit. While there are parts of the interior that feel inexpensive, it’s an enjoyable place to spend time. We also liked the speedo’s subtle coaching it changes color from blue to green to measure real-time driving behavior.

There’s a log to track your performance.

It was Honda’s sporty persona that gave it the win in our January test. But after a few rotations behind the new Prius’s oval steering wheel, we knew the Insight wouldn’t have it so easy this time. The Prius interior is nicely styled.

While the digital gauges still reside in the center out of the natural line of sight the dash is handsome. And we dig the new center console that gracefully arcs to join the dash.

The seats are far more supportive in the new Prius too. The steering-wheel buttons on the tilting and telescoping wheel have a cool feature called Touch Tracer Display. Just hovering your hand close to these flush-mounted buttons brings a digital picture of the button’s layout to the dash’s main screen.

So you can decide which button to press without having to look down at the wheel. There are also many more storage cubbies than before.

The practically of the Prius is undeniable. But the drive is most impressive. We can no longer call the Prius an appliance on wheels.

Toyota revised the suspension, stiffened the steering gear, and has baked in some fun-to-drive zest. The Prius takes a confident attitude in the corners and stays there. The steering no longer requires constant correction while cruising.

While we didn’t measure the performance of these cars, we know from our last test that the Prius was slightly quicker than the Insight. Toyota claims that new one is even faster. And on the curvy back roads the Toyota wasn’t working quite as hard as the Honda to keep a swift pace.

One driver commented that You can really hear the Honda’s engine working, and that’s one of the biggest differences between these two cars. The Prius is much more refined; it’s … silent. In fact, we dubbed it the Mini Lexus.

The Bottom Line

Selecting a winner didn’t come down to which car returned the best fuel economy. But the car we all wanted to take home at the end of the day was also the thriftiest with fuel. The Insight delivered 40.9 mpg, a solid number considering how hard we drove these cars.

But the Prius returned an amazing 45.8. Sure, the Toyota costs more, but it’s also worth the money.

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