2021 Honda Insight vs. 2021 Toyota Prius
In the world of hybrid cars, Toyota Prius is the most recognized. And rightfully so, if we’re being honest. Arriving on the scene during Y2K, Prius began the hybrid revolution in America. But, as is always the case, every G.O.A.T. eventually loses steam and meets their match. Who’s Prius’s main rival? The 2021 Honda Insight.
The new Insight takes everything that makes hybrid cars great and mixes it with Honda-inspired details, creating a lovely, fuel-efficient, inexpensive 4-door sedan. If you’re looking to buy a hybrid car, here’s why you should skip the Prius and head right for a Honda dealer.
Yes, we acknowledge that the Toyota Prius is considered by many to be the most influential hybrid car ever made. In that sense, it arguably lives up to its Merriam-Webster definition: prius (noun) - something that precedes.
However, the 2021 Prius appears to be stuck in its ancestors' drab shadows. That is, the ‘21 Prius doesn’t look like it belongs in this decade. Instead, it features many of the past Prius’s stylistic cues: subpar-quality plastic interior, a stout hood, and a generally blasé appearance. A beauty contest crown is not in Prius’s future, essentially.
At the other end of the spectrum, also living up to its nameplate’s unadulterated dictionary definition -- the act or result of seeing intuitively -- is 2021 Honda Insight. Honda’s affordable hybrid car looks more modern than the Prius. It’s well-built cabin never feels cheap, with soft-touch materials throughout, and there’s some heavy-duty, sound-deadening insulation between the doors and sheet metal.
On the outside, you wouldn’t guess that this was a hybrid car, which is a good thing. To the layman, Insight just shines like a shiny 4-door sedan. Its lines -- clean. Its silhouette -- sexy. Its front grille -- very Accord-like. If you like the general Honda aesthetic, you’ll like the Insight.
Those who choose to buy a hybrid car do so for the mpg, not necessarily for the cubic feet. Still, front- and back-seat comfort shouldn’t take a back seat to fuel economy, no matter the type of vehicle.
With the Honda Insight, you don’t have to sacrifice cubic feet for mpg. Compared to the Prius, Insight offers 4.5 more cubes of passenger volume, as well as more shoulder room and, perhaps most surprisingly, 4 full inches of extra rear legroom. If you’re known to shuttle around a full sedan, make it an Insight. Besides, Insight LX fuel economy (55 city/49 highway*) is pretty much equal to Prius’s (54 city/50 highway).
|2021 Insight LX||2021 Prius L Eco|
|Passenger Volume||97.6 cu ft||93.1 cu ft|
|Front Shoulder Room||56.9 in||53.0 in|
|Rear Shoulder Room||55.0 in||105|
|Rear Legroom||37.4 in||33.4 in|
Prius’s main pull is its fuel economy -- again, Insight vs. Prius fuel economy is virtually indiscernible -- not its performance. Is it a great commuter car? Sure. But the Toyota lacks effervescence under the hood. The Prius powertrain pairs a 1.8L 4-cylinder with an electric motor to produce 121 total horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque. You’ll hit 60 mph in a smidge under 10 seconds flat, which is slow, even for the hybrid car class.
Compare that to the Insight, and Honda’s hybrid car looks like its Sundays are spent on Nascar tracks. The Insight is equipped with a 1.5L inline-four and electric motor, which combine for 151.5 horsepower and a ridiculous 197 lb-ft of torque. The result is a 7.3-second zero-to-sixty time. Even put side by side with the AWD Prius, the Insight is about 30% quicker.
Walk Away Auto Lock
One of our favorite features, Honda’s Walk Away Auto Lock, is standard on Insight EX and Touring trims. Honda knows you’ve got a lot on your mind; that’s why Walk Away Auto Lock was created. This feature allows you to park and go, without a care in the world being paid to locking up.
Walk Away Auto Lock is exclusive to Honda.
The Insight Touring features standard HomeLink, which enables drivers to ditch the clip-on garage door openers. HomeLink also opens gates and may even be able to connect to your smart home devices. Prius doesn’t have any comparable feature.
8-Speaker Audio System
Insight LX and most Prius trims come with standard 6-speaker sound systems. Yawn.
What? Insight LX is evolving! It now becomes Insight EX, which comes with a beefier, 180-watt 8-speaker audio system. By our calculations that’s two more speakers than the Prius.
What? Insight EX is evolving, too! With the range-topping Insight model, you get a premium 450-watt sound setup that pumps the jams through 10 speakers and a subwoofer. Prius Limited models also include a 10-speaker sound system, but you’d be paying over $3,000 more for it.
Dual-Zone Climate Control
All Toyota Prius models come with a smart-flow climate control system, which reduces battery use by restricting airflow to uninhabited seats. Unfortunately, it’s been known to be finicky and, in some cases, will affect overall cabin comfort by reducing airflow too little or too much. Worst of all, it can’t be switched off.
You don’t have that problem with the Honda Insight Touring and its dual-zone automatic climate control system. Each front rider can set their own temperature, or drivers can choose to let the system go hog wild with the A/C. Your car. Your call.
Honda Sensing is included in every single new 2021 Honda Insight -- and every 2021 Honda, in fact. It comes with a long list of safety and driver-assistive features, like Road Departure Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition, and Forward Collision Warning, just to name a few.
Toyota’s comparable suite of safety features, Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, is standard on all Prius models, as well. Really, TSS 2.0 offers all the same types of safety systems as Honda Sensing, which would make one assume the Prius and Insight are on equal grounds. That’s not the case, however, as it’s the 2021 Insight, not the 2021 Prius, that’s earned a spot on the IIHS Top Safety Pick list.
There’s such a thing as too much variety, too many options -- and Prius is proof. The 2021 Toyota Prius is available in 7 trim levels, ranging from the base L Eco to the top-line, and rather expensive, Limited. If you like things simple, the Prius ain’t your jam.
However, Honda follows the “KISS” rule with the 2021 Insight. You get your choice of 3 trim levels: LX, EX, and Touring. Each Insight model is fitted with trim-appropriate features and, most important of all, priced lower than its comparable Toyota Prius counterpart.
|2021 Insight Trim||MSRP||MSRP||2021 Prius Trim|
MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, $995 destination charge and accessories. Dealer prices may vary. MSRP does not include $395 charge for select premium colors. $395 charge applies to 2021 and newer models.
55 city/49 highway/52 combined mpg rating for LX and EX trims. 51 city/45 highway/48 combined mpg rating for the Touring trim. Based on 2021 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on driving conditions, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, battery-pack age/condition and other factors.