Honda Insight Vs. Toyota Prius: Original Hybrids in Modern Battle

By Justin Cupler | January 2nd, 2019

The hybrid segment has grown exponentially as of late, and one of the latest additions is a resurrection of one of the originals, the Honda Insight. The 2019 Honda Insight drops the funky liftback styling and wheel skirts of its previous generation in favor of a Civic-based design that looks like any other sedan on the road in the Rochester, New York area.

Is this simpler, less intrusive design enough to overcome the originator of the segment, the Toyota Prius? Keep reading to find out.

Exterior

On the outside, the 2019 Honda Insight is by far one of the most traditionally styled hybrid-only models on the market. Honda based it on the 10th-generation Civic, and its styling includes plenty of cues from both the Civic and the Accord. This gives buyers the ability to own a hybrid model without screaming from the rooftops every time they head out on the town.

The 2018 Toyota Prius, however, is the hybrid that shouts it loud and proud, and its funky styling has been on the foul end of plenty of design jokes. These in-your-face looks tend to push buyers  away, leaving the 2018 Prius with a far more limited clientele base than the Insight. The irony here is in earlier generations, the Prius was the timid one and the Insight had the funny looks.

The 2019 Honda Insight is 183.6 inches long, 71.6 inches wide, and 55.6 inches tall, making it 4.9 inches longer, 2.3 inches wider, and 2.5 inches lower than the Prius. These models both have 106.3-inch wheelbases.

Advantage: 2019 Honda Insight

  • Great design
  • Larger body gives more interior room
  • Wider stance for better handling

Advantage: 2018 Toyota Prius

  • Smaller footprint makes it nimble in traffic
  • Polarizing design attracts some buyers

Interior

Inside, the 2019 Honda Insight draws directly from its Civic donor car. The cabin is simple yet modern and strays from the too-tech-heavy strategy many hybrid models use. This isn’t saying the Insight lacks in tech, as it features a standard 5-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, push-button transmission, and more, but it simply doesn’t have all the wild gizmos others have. It also lack any overstyling as the toned-down, sleek Civic design shines through.

The 2018 Toyota Prius is the opposite, as its white or black glossy accents pop, and there is a lot of debate as to how well these pieces will age. Also, the center-mounted instrument panel, funky gear shifter, and mammoth 11.6-inch touchscreen can be a little too much for traditional buyers. Then again, some more tech-focused buyers will likely appreciate its complexity.

The 2019 Insight’s front seats offer 39.3 inches of headroom, 42.3 inches of legroom, 56.9 inches of shoulder room, and 53.7 inches of hiproom. This gives is 1.9 inches more shoulder room and 0.3 inches more hip room than the Prius, but the Toyota beats it by 0.1 inches in headroom and matches its legroom.

In the rear, the 2019 Honda Insight offers 36.9 inches of headroom, 37.4 inches of legroom, 55 inches of shoulder room, and 47.3 inches of hiproom. This comes up short against the Prius in headroom and hip room by 0.5 inches and 4.4 inches, respectively, but the Insight beats the Prius in rear legroom by 4 inches and rear shoulder room by 2 inches.

In cargo room, the 2019 Honda Insight offers 15.1 cubic feet in LX and EX trims and 14.7 cubes in the Touring trim. The 2018 Prius’ liftback design easily beats these numbers with 24.6 cubic feet in the One, Two, Three, and Three Touring trims and 27.4 cubic feet in the Two Eco, Four, and Four Touring trims.

Advantage: 2019 Honda Insight

  • Roomier rear seats
  • Traditional-looking interior
  • Loads of options

Advantage: 2018 Toyota Prius

  • Wild interior may attract some
  • Massive 11.6-inch HD touchscreen
  • More cargo room

Performance

Performance is never the first reason someone would buy a hybrid model, but it is certainly part of the decision-making process. The 2019 Honda Insight comes standard with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 107 horsepower and 99 pound-feet of torque. This gasoline powerplant mates with an electric motor that produces 129 horsepower and 197 pound-feet of torque. Combined, this system ships 151 horsepower to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission.

The  2018 Toyota Prius comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that cranks out 95 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. This combines and an electric motor with 71 horses and 120 pound-feet of torque to create 121 total horsepower that routes through a CVT and heads to the front wheels.

The 2018 Toyota Prius is as slow as its numbers allude to as independent testing puts its 0-to-60 time at 10.5 seconds. The 2019 Insight’s additional horsepower and big torque advantage give it an independently tested 0-to-60 sprint time of just 7.7 seconds. This puts it in line with many gasoline-only sedans in the compact segment.

The biggest factor in the hybrid segment is fuel economy, and the 2019 Honda Insight delivers up to an EPA-estimated 55 mpg city, 49 highway, and 52 combined.* While this is great, it falls short of the Prius Two Eco’s 58 mpg city, 53 highway, and 56 combined and the 54 mpg city, 50 highway, and 52 combined the rest of the Prius lineup delivers.

Advantage: 2019 Honda Insight

  • Surprisingly quick to 60 mph
  • Great ride and handling

Advantage: 2018 Toyota Prius

  • Better fuel economy
  • Time-tested hybrid system

Pricing and Features

The 2019 Honda Insight comes in three trim levels — LX, EX, and Touring — and their starting prices range from $22,830 to $28,090.

The 2018 Toyota Prius comes in seven trim levels: One, Two, Two Eco, Three, Three Touring, Four, and Four Touring. Entry prices for these trim levels range from $23,475 to $30,565.

2019 Honda Insight Key Features and Pricing by Trim

LX: $22,830

  • 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor
  • Continuously variable transmission
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Electric parking brake
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Hill-start assist
  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • LED headlights with automatic on and off
  • LED taillights
  • Heated body-color power mirrors
  • Variable intermittent wipers
  • Body-color door handles
  • Automatic climate control
  • Power windows with one-touch up/down
  • Power door locks
  • Cruise control
  • Rear climate control ducts
  • Floor mats
  • Front 12-volt power outlet
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Keyless ignition
  • Six-speaker 160-watt audio system
  • 5-inch color touchscreen
  • 1.0-amp front USB port
  • Bluetooth connectivity with streaming audio
  • Pandora radio
  • Multi-angle rearview camera
  • Forward-collision warning
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Road-departure mitigation
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Traffic-sign recognition
  • Automatic high-beam headlights

EX: $24,060

  • All LX features, plus
  • Remote ignition
  • Keyless unlock with walk-away auto lock
  • Rear-seat center armrest
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • Eight-speaker 180-watt audio system
  • 8-inch high-resolution touchscreen
  • HondaLink
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Text-messaging function
  • SiriusXM
  • HD Radio
  • Two 2.5-amp front USB ports
  • Multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines
  • Honda LaneWatch

Touring: $28,.090

  • All EX features, plus
  • Mirror-integrated LED turn signals
  • Chrome mirror accent
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Chrome-accented door handles
  • One-touch power moonroof
  • LED fog lights
  • HomeLink universal home remote
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Heated front seats
  • Eight-way power driver’s seat
  • Four-way power passenger’s seat
  • Leather seating
  • 10-speaker 450-watt premium audio system
  • Navigation
  • HondaLink
  • Mobile hotspot

2018 Toyota Prius Key Features and Pricing by Trim

One: $23,475

  • 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with electric motor
  • Nickel-metal hydride battery
  • Bi-LED projector low and high-beam headlights with auto-off feature
  • LED daytime running lights with on/off feature
  • LED taillights and stop lights
  • Active grille shutter
  • Heated power outside mirrors with folding feature
  • Body-color outside door handles
  • 15-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels with full wheel covers
  • Variable intermittent windshield wipers
  • Body-color roof-mounted shark-fin antenna
  • Smart-flow climate control system with pollen filtration
  • Integrated backup camera
  • 4.2-inch Color dual multi-information display with customizable screens
  • Fabric-trimmed front seats
  • 60/40 split fold-down rear seats with center armrest
  • Cruise control
  • Tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • Steering-wheel-mounted with audio, MID and Bluetooth hands-free phone controls
  • Digital instrumentation
  • Upper door trim with chrome accent
  • Soft-touch door armrest area with chrome accent interior door handles
  • Smart Key System on driver’s door with keyless ignition
  • Power windows with one-touch up and down
  • Power door locks
  • White accent on steering wheel and shifter
  • Matte-black center console with armrest and storage compartment
  • Two 12-volt power outlets (one front, one rear)
  • Entune™ Audio with 6.1-inch touchscreen
  • Six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system
  • USB 2.0 port with iPod® connectivity and control
  • Advanced voice recognition
  • Siri Eyes Free
  • Rearview camera
  • Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Lane-departure alert with steering assist
  • Automatic high beams
  • Full-speed adaptive dynamic cruise control

Two: $24,685

  • All One features, plus
  • 15-inch five-spoke alloy wheels with two-tone wheel covers
  • Intermittent rear window wiper
  • Fabric-trimmed front seats with seatback pockets

Two Eco: $25,165

  • All Two features, plus
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Smart Key System on three doors with Push Button Start and remote illuminated entry

Three: $26,735

  • All Two features, plus
  • Leatherette-trimmed steering wheel
  • Leatherette-trimmed door armrest area with chrome accent interior door handles
  • Semi-gloss center console with armrest and storage compartment
  • Wireless smartphone charging with charge indicator light
  • Entune Premium Audio with integrated navigation
  • 7-inch high-resolution touchscreen with split screen display
  • Six-speaker AM/FM/CD player audio system
  • Entune App Suite
  • HD Radio
  • HD Radio predictive traffic and Doppler weather overlay
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio

Three Touring: $28,115

  • All Three features, plus
  • Integrated fog lights and LED accent lights
  • 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels
  • Touring grade unique rear bumper treatment
  • Leatherette-trimmed front seats

Four: $29,685

  • All Three features, plus
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Leatherette-trimmed heated front seats
  • Eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink®
  • Cargo area tonneau cover
  • Entune Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite
  • 11.6-in. HD multimedia display

Four Touring: $30,565

  • All Four features, plus
  • Integrated fog lights and LED accent lights
  • 17-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels
  • Touring grade unique rear bumper treatment

Who Should Buy the 2019 Honda Insight?

Buyers who are tired of overstyled and underperforming hybrid sedans will love the toned-down looks and surprising acceleration the Insight offers.

Who Should Buy the 2018 Toyota Prius?

Is fuel economy your only concern, the 2018 Toyota Prius has your back with incredible numbers the Insight can’t quite reach.

Ready to take the zippy and stylish 2019 Honda Insight for a spin through the streets of Rochester, New York? Head down to the Garber Honda showroom serving Henrietta and Pittsford today to take it for a thrifty spin. If you can’t make it in now, you can check out our online inventory to see if we have a 2019 Insight in stock that meets your needs.

 

*Based on 2019 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purpose only. Your mileage will vary depending on driving conditions, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, battery-package/condition, and other factors.