Car Culture

Best hybrid: Prius or Insight

CNET Car Tech asks which car best embodies the hybrid, the 2010 Toyota Prius or the 2010 Honda Insight.

2010 Honda Insight
2010 Toyota Prius

When people think hybrid, they think Toyota Prius. This iconic car popularized hybrid powertrains more than any other model. This week, the newest version, the 2010 Toyota Prius, starts to show up at dealers. Although not a radical update, the 2010 Prius gets more power and improved fuel economy over the previous model, a double-win by any measure.

But Honda attempted to usurp the Prius' place as premier hybrid earlier this year by letting loose the 2010 Honda Insight. Although coming in 8 mpg lower in fuel economy than the 2010 Prius, the new Insight undercuts its price by $2,200, leading Honda to advertise the Insight as a hybrid for everyone.

The Prius comes with baggage, and not the kind you put your golf clubs in. Celebrities and environmentalists endorsed the car, leading to backlash, such as a South Park episode claiming the Prius had excessive smug emissions. Although Honda had an earlier car called the Insight, a long break in production lets the 2010 Insight enter the fray with a clean slate.

Of course, there are other excellent hybrids, such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Lexus RX 450h, and Nissan Altima Hybrid. But these aren't dedicated hybrids, having gasoline equivalents. None go head-to-head with the Prius as much as the Insight.

Check out the cars and tell us which most embodies the hybrid ideal.