Honda Aims for Hybrid Affordability

By dancurranjr On March 21st, 2009

new-insightAmerican Honda has announced the pricing of its new Insight Hybrid and it falls below 20K.

Hybrid price leader

Here at Auto Credit Express, we know that it has always been Honda’s intent that its new mild hybrid, the Insight, which goes on sale March 24th, would not compete with the gas mileage figures of its nearest competitor, the Toyota Prius. Instead, Honda aims to make its latest entry a more affordable, if somewhat less fuel-efficient, choice for those first-time hybrid buyers. How effective this strategy will turn out to be, only time will tell.

In the mean time, Honda has announced that the new 2010 Insight will have a suggested retail price (excluding taxes, fees and destination charges of $670) of $19,800 for the model in LX trim. That prices includes a whole raft of standard features including six airbags (front, front side and side curtain), split-folding rear seats, ABS, automatic (CVT) transmission, automatic climate control, tilt-and-telescoping steering column, power windows and an audio system with CD and auxiliary input for external MP3 (iPod) players (among other things).

Another $1,500 will get you the EX trim level which adds Honda’s vehicle stability system, alloy wheels, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, an upgraded audio system with USB interface and heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals.

New IMA system

Unlike previous models, the Insight’s Integrated Motor Assist system will allow it to be driven in all-electric mode under certain situations. Cylinder deactivation and idle-start-stop also contribute to its EPA rating of 40 city/ 43 highway/ 41 combined mpg.

Your savings versus the Prius

Unlike the Prius, the order form for the Insight is fairly simple. Dealer add-ons, like all Hondas, will probably amount to wheel locks, door edge guards and nose masks. The Prius, meanwhile, is rarely available in its most basic form. This means that while you can theoretically build one for $22,000 plus destination, most models found on dealer lots sport an MSRP north of $25,000.

The Bottom Line

For those buyers interested in an affordable hybrid, Honda’s latest offering makes a lot of sense, although with gas prices currently hovering around $2 a gallon, most Americans might find it still too pricy. If you are still adopting a wait and see attitude, know this: the Insight is only the first step by Honda in making hybrids more affordable. The company has already promised that a hybrid version of its popular Fit subcompact is in the works and could be offered as soon as sometime in 2010.

SOURCE: AutoCreditExpress

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