2010 Honda Insight: Textcast -- Insight vs. Fit, Prius, and a motorcycle
July 23, 2009
Sadlier: Are you seriously going to tell me that you'd buy an Insight instead of a Fit?
Magrath: I think you'd have to waterboard me in the back of the dealership to consider either, but yes, after I regain control of my breathing, my signature will be on the bottom of the Insight's order sheet.
Sadlier: I'm speechless. I don't know where to start.
Magrath: I think I'm going to start with a fresh coffee.
Magrath: We'll fix this in post.
Sadlier: No, I like the coffee line. Let's keep it.
Sadlier: And let's start here. People say the Insight's sportier than a Prius. That's like saying that a Gallardo gets better fuel economy than an M5 -- true, but irrelevant, because anyone who cares about fuel economy would find either car offensive.
Magrath: I'm not sure that "sporty" is the word people are looking for when they say that.
Magrath: And I'm pretty sure I'm guilty of using it.
Magrath: But here's the thing. The Insight is more of a real car than the Prius is in the same way that any Honda is more of a real car than any Toyota. Toyota just came out a few days ago and said something similar, that they build boring, bland cars. The Insight's not sporty, but it's less horrible and numb than a Prius.
Sadlier: Yes, but is that a significant-enough difference to be interesting?
Sadlier: Put it this way: if you care about sportiness, then will you like the Insight? Will you like it enough to buy one instead of the genuinely entertaining Fit? I say no way.
Sadlier: I say anyone who understands and appreciates what's meant by "sporty" will run away screaming after an Insight test drive.
Magrath : Then stop saying sporty. It's just a more reasonable and conventional feeling car than the Toyota.
Magrath : There's steering weight, there's feel through the pedals, you can hear the road....it's a real car.
Sadlier : Don't give me the old "Hondas are drivers' cars because you can hear the road!" argument.
Sadlier : Honda just does a bad job with noise insulation, period. And the Insight is screwed here because weight is at such a premium in that car.
Sadlier : "50 lbs of Dynamat? Hell no. We'd lose 0.9 mpg!"
Magrath : Here's what I said in my second opinion . "The 2010 Prius," I concluded, "is the closest we're going to get to private, driverless capsules that transport us anywhere we want. There's no driving involved. It's the ultimate commuter car for people who would take public transportation if it was convenient and efficient and didn't smell."
Magrath : I guess I did conclude that second opinion by saying the Prius was the better car, so I'm not sure I've done myself any favors here.
Sadlier : Yeah, I mean we're not talking Insight vs. Prius here, but I completely agree.
Sadlier : Prius has a real backseat and a nifty center stack and better fuel economy and an engine that at least doesn't sound like a bagful of nails in a dryer. And it's not that much more expensive.
Sadlier : But let's talk Insight vs. Fit. You're saying you'd rather have an Insight. I'm saying..."What?!"
Magrath : Timeout. Are we both in agreement we'd rather have a base Mini Cooper than either of these?
Sadlier : Totally. It's got a fraction of the Fit's interior volume and I'd still take it without a second thought.
Magrath : Okay. Game on. Here's why I want the Insight: 1) The Fit is uncomfortable. The Insight has height-adjustable seating, better seats in general and a less "omg I'm sitting on a stack of phonebooks" feel than the Fit.
Sadlier : The Fit doesn't have a height-adjustable seat? I haven't driven it in a while; can't remember.
Magrath : Does not.
Sadlier : The Insight does have nice front seats, I'll give you that. Better than Prius, easily.
Sadlier : However, it has no backseat to speak of. It might as well have a big mound of batteries back there instead, a la our Mini E .
Magrath : I've said it before and I'll say it again: in my existence, rear seat passengers DO NOT MATTER.
Sadlier : So you don't care that the Fit's got an amazing backseat given its tiny footprint?
Sadlier : And you don't care about all that neat stuff the backseat does? I don't remember it right now, but I'm pretty sure it's neat.
Magrath : It's super-neat. It's also less good than if they simply folded flat.
Magrath : I'll carry a snowboard, a bike and that's it. I will never pair either of those duties with more than one other person, so both cars will be fine for that.
Sadlier : What about cargo capacity? Don't care about that either?
Sadlier : Why don't you just get a motorcycle with a little pull-cart hooked to the back? A motorcycle could probably match the Insight's fuel economy. And it would sound good and wouldn't be phenomenally slow.
Magrath : Right, the Insight's 10.9 second run to sixty is much worse than the 9.8 second blast the Fit's capable of.
Sadlier : The new Fit with the manual is quicker than that.
Magrath : No it isn't.
Sadlier : Yeah, that's with traction control on. Turn it off, it's 8.9 seconds .
Sadlier : So, 2 seconds slower than the Insight.
Sadlier : And the Fit's engine doesn't sound great -- certainly a far cry from the four-cylinder DOHC VTECs of yore -- but it also doesn't sound like a bag of nails in a dryer.
Magrath : Why are you turning traction control off in your Fit? What's wrong with you?
Sadlier : Why wouldn't you? It's not like it's possible to do anything disastrous in that thing. So the more tire squeal the better.
Magrath : Right, but it's also a Fit. Trying to nail that 8.9 second run to sixty is pointless.
Magrath : Have you ever strapped our testing gear to your car in normal daily driving? How frequently do you hit sixty in less than 10 second when getting to work? Can you even get to sixty on your commute? I can't.
Sadlier : I don't hit 60 on my commute, no, but I do know that the Fit feels a whole lot friskier than the Insight.
Magrath : The Fit hit 60 in 10.7 seconds with the auto .
Sadlier : Well, don't get the auto. Though I'd note that the auto is still 0.2 seconds quicker.
Sadlier : Look, at the end of the day, I really think the only reason to buy an Insight over a Fit is fuel economy. The only reason. If you're hell-bent on getting hella MPG, sure. Buy your Insight. Everything else about it is worse.
Magrath : I think we're arguing different lifestyles.
Sadlier : You mean the MPG lifestyle versus the Everything Else lifestyle?
Magrath : You're arguing for some reality that exists only in BMW ads where people need something playful and frisky. I'm arguing my real life where I have a 7 mile commute through Los Angeles traffic.
Sadlier : And other than fuel economy, an Insight is better for this because...?
Magrath : You live closer, but deal with the same traffic. Why do I want frisky? If either of us wants frisky we can take something from the fleet. This is why I own a non-Mazdaspeed Mazda3 with the automatic -- if I want real fun, something's always available.
Sadlier : Well, but it's not just the friskiness, which is there when you want it. It's everything. Backseat. Cargo capacity. Handling (relevant in emergency maneuvers even if you don't care about cornering).
Sadlier : And if you get the base Fit instead of the Insight, you'll have $4,000 left over for that extra gas you'll use.
Magrath : I don't even care about the fuel economy. Skip that argument all together. I feel better in the Insight. I like the cool little window at the bottom of the hatch. I like the seating position and the steering wheel and I dig the split gauges. I like that it doesn't feel all tall and light. It's planted with a low center of gravity.
Sadlier : You just like the bush, don't you.
Sadlier : I think when you say "planted" you must be referring to the bush.
Magrath : It's more of a hedge than a bush, and actually that's one thing I don't like. I much prefer the Fusion's leaves , which accumulate for each trip as opposed to the Insight's lifetime meter.
Sadlier : I prefer "bush." And no one should buy the Insight who doesn't like it. Because it'll always be there to console you when you're wondering why you didn't buy a Fit.
Magrath : The Insight's not a great car for everyone. The Prius is the better choice for Hybrid buyers if they can tolerate the blandness, the Fusion is a better hybrid if you don't want to flaunt your hybridness (the Fusion's also an all-around better car), and the Fit is cheaper.
Magrath : But if you like hatchbacks, don't like the Fit (like me) and don't mind near uselessness in terms of rear passenger space, it's a good pick.
Magrath : And you don't always have to stare at the bush. It's just a button click away from that screen telling you the MPG or your trip meter.
Sadlier : I would stare at the bush constantly and mutter to myself, "I may not have a Fit, but at least I have you."
Magrath : Just repeat that over and over again until I go crazy, drive to Mount Horeb and set it on fire.