2003 Honda Insight Is A Lackluster Product Compared To Toyota Prius
Peter Neilson's picture

3 Ways The Toyota Prius Technology Is Superior To Honda

If you are a Prius owner you may have never had to ask the question, what hybrid is better. If you are someone looking to figure out what hybrid to buy, this will tell you all you need to know.
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It is no secret that the best selling hybrid has been the Toyota Prius. The real question though is why. Honda actually had the first hybrid car out in 2000 with the Insight, but it never really seemed to catch on.

I have thought about this time and time again why Honda, a reputable company, could not make a hybrid that could really compete against the Toyota Prius. I finally came up with 3 solid reasons why Prius is so much better.

Toyota Prius Has Better Battery Packs
Sure, people will argue about the cost of replacing the traction batteries on a Prius, but if we are really being honest, how often does that occur? How long are people going before needing to really change it? This answer is pretty darn simple.

There are loads of battery pack "rebuilders" out there, and there should be. There are millions of Prius cars out on the road and many of them have well over 200,000 miles. Not only that, many of those cars still have the original packs in them.

Toyota Prius battery modules making a battery block

The 1st generation Prius (Rest In Peace) has really been dying off quite a bit, and it is no surprise. Gen1 gave us solid data and a great platform to build from. The battery packs were and issue with gen1 but with things like boost converters, and better cooling starting in the second generation, we saw a massive increase in the reliability of these cars. Many second and third generation Prius' are still jamming around with the original pack and touting some pretty high mileage as well.

The same cannot be said for Insight and Civic. The 144v packs that came in these cars were utter junk. Honda had to replace many of these packs early on in the life of the vehicle due to malfunctions with software and also poor cooling performance. Not exactly something that you would think Honda would build, but they did.

The packs, even though they could be swapped in and out easily, were still having problems with software compatibility. What is worse, is when the packs died, it would cause 12v charging problems. This resulted in people going out to the car one morning, only to find out the charging system from the high voltage side wiped out the 12v. Poor engineering.

Toyota Hybrid System Vs. Integrated Motor Assist.

Some people say that comparing these two car is not a fair one. This would be due to what these two hybrid cars are defined as. The Prius being a full hybrid and the Honda being a mild hybrid. Apples and oranges. They are both hybrid cars, Toyota just did it better.

The Toyota Hybrid System, is a better built and better functioning system. When the traction battery quits, the car can still run and function. The system on the Honda, kills the 12v and you end up getting stuck. The Prius can operate on the battery alone at low speeds, some of the early Honda Civics and Insights could not.

Toyota Hybrid Interior Black and White Classy

The Prius utilized two motor generators to accomplish a "CVT" like feel while retaining a solid trouble free transmission. The Honda has their CVT transmissions die out left and right. If you do not believe me just jump on FB marketplace or Craigslist and look. It will speak for itself.

Toyota Prius Was Designed From The Ground Up
The idea of a sustainable and better car for the future was thought of back in 1992, this quickly evolved into the first gen Prius which made the debut in 1997 in the Japanese market. Once the Prius took off in Japan, 3 years later it was brought into the United States.

Sales were slow at initially with the first generation only selling about 50,000 units by 2003. As soon as the 2nd gen hit in 2004, sales began to skyrocket. Honda struggled to find a market for the Insight. While it had better fuel economy than Prius, it only was a 2 seater joke mobile. Even when Civic came into the picture as the same time Prius did in 2001, Toyota had already established dominance in the sector.

It was the initial design for Prius was better. It was well thought out. Everything from the Hybrid system down to the fact it could haul 4 people, blew the doors off the Insight. People did not care when Civic Hybrid came out because Prius was new, exciting and had the attention of everyone it came in contact with.

Conclusion
If you want a hybrid that will lift you up and never let you down, make it a Toyota Prius. The car is hands down better than the Honda in more ways than what I have said here. It is a first time buyers best bet and the platform is proven and solid.

See you in the next story where I will be discussing Why the Toyota Prius Prime is not what we think it is

Check out this story also where I am discussing why Carista is the best $20 tool for your Toyota Prius.

Also Watch New tech means more MPG from your Toyota Prius and Click to Subscribe to Torque News Youtube Channel for Daily Toyota Prius and Automotive News.

Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He is an automotive technology instructor at Columbia Basin College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Adjunct Instructor of automotive technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter.


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Comments

There are some inaccuracies in this article, which turns out to be full of opinion. The Honda hybrids are fully capable of driving without a functional IMA system, while the Prius cannot, contrary to the assertion in this piece. The Insight was always intended as a direct evolution of the CRX HF, with the goal of maximum fuel economy. It wasn't supposed to compete with anything else, but it occupied a unique niche. Unfortunately that niche was beaten into a tiny sliver of what it should have been, due to external political forces and engineered incentives spawned by US domestic manufacturers in an effort to capitalize on the grief and short-sightedness of the population.
I had a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid and I've found the author's statements relating to the HCH to be 100% accurate. I cannot speak towards the Insight or Prius. When my hybrid battery started dying, the 12v lost its charge and the car would not start. I had to have the battery pack replaced around 115k miles at a cost of around $1800. The CVT needed to replaced at 95k miles - thankfully I had the extended warranty which covered that. I have a friend who also still has a 2005 HCH. Her CVT was replaced around 105k miles. When my second battery pack started failing again around 150k, I got rid of it and traded it towards a Chevy Volt, which has been an awesome vehicle.