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2014 Honda Insight most affordable hybrid at Chicago Auto Show

Amid industry-wide speculation of this hybrid’s exit from the Honda lineup, Insight makes an appearance at the Chicago Auto Show. Torque News takes a closer look at the original and least expensive hybrid car in North America.

Back in December, 2013, we reported that news circulating the industry pointed to the exit of the original mass produced hybrid car from the Honda line-up. Those rumors are soon to be dispelled by the appearance of a 2014 Insight at the Honda exhibit of the 2014 Chicago Auto Show.

The news here is that with a suggested( msrp) retail price of $18725, the Insight is the lowest priced 5 door hybrid in North America. Yes, you will pay more for a fully loaded Insight EX with navigation. But, at an msrp of $23,915 + destination, tax, licence fees and other applied dealership charges, the Insight is priced $6-10,000 less than the out the door price of a fully loaded Toyota Prius 5.

Looking to the specifications, we find the mechanical aspects of the Insight to be largely unchanged for 2014. Regardless of trim package, you will receive a well built and soundly engineered 1.3 liter 1-VTEC 4 cylinder motor working in tandem with a 13 hp. electric motor; producing a combined 98 hp and 123 lb.-ft torque rating.

While the car will not be known for its stellar 0-60 mph acceleration times, Honda has successfully integrated a CVT, wheel mounted paddle shifter and Integrated Motor Assist to facilitate freeway speed passing requirements.

Looking to the exterior of the car we find the fit and finish as well as design aspect to be pleasing while not being too utilitarian. It’s good looking. We’ll let you take a look at the interior here.

For reasons known only to Honda R&D, the Insight does not meet the Prius in fuel economy. While the Prius breaks the 50 mpg city barrier, the Insight claims 41/44/42. Still, a very acceptable average mpg for a well equipped hybrid priced below $25,000.

What we've discovered through due diligence is that automotive hybrid mpg is directly related to Lithium-Ion battery capacity and charge rate and ‘braking’ recharge efficiency. In the case of Insight Vs. the Prius 5, we find the Insight to be a bit smaller and closer to the Prius C in rated fuel economy. Also, logic dictates that the Insight’s smaller battery pack and electric motor is most likely working in tandem a bit more often with the gas engine; than the Prius is.

Depending on your driving style, daily miles driven and planned length of ownership, the Insight, North America’s original hybrid car may be the logical choice for you.