Insight, the big brother, or bigger brother?
April 1, 2009 10:17 AM   Subscribe

BuyingCarFilter: Should I get Honda Insight, Prius, or Prius 3.0?

So I test drove the Honda Insight a few days ago. Loved it. It's small, handles well, and cheap. Or so I thought. All the dealerships I went to tacked on 1-3 grand of "market adjusted value"

With the tacked on price, I really see no reason for getting the Insight over the Prius. I would go and get it right now, except for one thing: the 2010 Prius is coming out.

Nobody seems to know the exact date though I'm led to believe it's 6 weeks away. It's a brand new model and even if I don't get it, my reasoning would be that if I wait till it comes out, the 2009 model would drop in price.

So...should I wait? I personally have no problem waiting but my better half is itching to get a new car. Maybe by that time the Honda dealership would finally face reality and price the Insight the way Honda wants it in face of economic conditions and dropping hybrid demands (I'm rather fuming about this right now actually)

Thanks in advance for your input
posted by 7life to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This may sound, well, obvious, but have you tried negotiating with the Honda dealership? Their sales can't be doing well, and if you tell them exactly what you said here, they might take off the MAV. Just sayin'.
posted by General Malaise at 10:20 AM on April 1, 2009

Response by poster: Hi General Malaise,

Thanks for the input. That is exactly our next step actually. At the very least we could play the prices against the other. To be honest though, the mere fact that they're rising the price right now rather pissed me off. This car is supposedly marketed not on its superior quality but on the price.
posted by 7life at 10:31 AM on April 1, 2009

mr supermedusa and I bought a Fit 2 years ago and every dealership in the area seemed to be adding $2-4k over MSRP, which we refused to pay. we kept shopping around different Honda dealerships in our general area, found one that was doing no mark-ups over MSRP. we got our Fit for the right price, our sales guy was awesome and we love our car!! keep shopping around, its worth the wait both in terms of money and getting the car you really want (and in our case, in the color I really wanted!!)
posted by supermedusa at 10:37 AM on April 1, 2009

So far, previous year Priuses have not dropped dramatically in price when the new year model comes out, though this year is going to be different. I would ask your Toyota dealer if they've already got a waiting list for 2010s and how big it is, as this will probably affect how they behave regarding 09s on the lot as well as how long you might have to wait for a 2010.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:38 AM on April 1, 2009

I have not driven an Insight, but it would be very hard to beat the value of a Prius even at several grand over MSRP (but of course they can be had for MSRP). I would wait to see what the new ones are like. I think they are supposed to have a bit more room (I can not put the seat back far enough in ours). Toyota must be losing money on these cars. Patience is important to getting a good deal on autos. Also, supermedusa is right. If you are willing to travel you might very well find a dealer that will sell you an Insight at MSRP. With dealers giving quotes online these days this kind of shopping has gotten a lot easier.
posted by caddis at 10:55 AM on April 1, 2009

2005 Prius owner here. It's hard to get a handle on what the '10 Prius is going to be like from the website, but the changes look mostly cosmetic to me - unless you find having a sunroof, pre-collision system, water-repellent glass (wtf? hello rain-x), or EV mode to be essential items in your new car. Actually, that EV mode would be pretty awesome because nothing is more annoying than having your Prius randomly turn on at stoplights (very common if you use the heat or AC). It is possible to add this as a mod to a current Prius, if you're into that sort of thing.

Personally I don't find the Prius to be as awesome on gas mileage as I'd like, because of the way I drive and the New England winters. The engine/drivetrain doesn't look like it will have a change in the new Prius like it did in the previous model release. And I know you're not asking, but if I could do it again, I'd skip the whole hybrid thing entirely.

Finally, I would never pay over sticker for any car (and didn't with my Prius even with those wait lists in 2004 - there were dealers in my area who did this, and I don't do business with them to this day). If you want an Insight, try a different dealer.
posted by smalls at 10:57 AM on April 1, 2009

This article seems to suggest that the dealers are BSing you -- hybrid sales are down 66% year over year. No cars are selling in this market, especially not small cars and hybrids. Call their bluff and bid something significantly lower.

I would also deal directly with the dealerships' internet departments instead of going in and speaking to salesmen. Internet departments tend to give lower prices since they assume you have done your research online and have shopped around prices.
posted by hamsterdam at 10:59 AM on April 1, 2009

Always ask to talk to the fleet sales manager.
posted by _Skull_ at 11:03 AM on April 1, 2009

I've owned an Insight and an '09 Prius. Drop into for more details on the '10 Prius. They tend to have good information there. Have you seen their review and test drive? I don't think the Insight is in demand the way a 4-door Prius is. FWIW, the Insight handles a lot better than the Prius and got better mileage (not by much but enough).

Oh wait, I see there's a new Insight that looks like a revamp of the Prius? Discount my comments about the Insight. Mine was an '00 model.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:10 AM on April 1, 2009

I think you can get a better deal on the Insight. I would try other dealers, and almost everyone I know has had better success going through the internet sales departments of their dealerships, so if you haven't gone that route, it might be worth a shot. as for 2009 Prius vs. a 2010. . .that's a tough call. I would be very tempted to wait and see if the prices of the '09 go down drastically when the '10 is introduced.

Not to complicate an already tough decision, but you didn't mention the Honda Civic Hybrid, and it might also be something to consider. I've owned a 2004 Civic Hybrid & currently own a 2006 Civic Hybrid. I cannot say enough good about my car. The '04 got better gas mileage, but the '06 handles much better. I have not checked out the more recent models, but I don't think they have changed that much. Even if I came into a windfall of money tomorrow, I would still buy a Civic Hybrid, perhaps with some fancier features. I drove a Prius for 10 days while on vacation and had a number of issues with it. I couldn't wait to return to my Civic! Buying a car is a very personal decisions, and opinions vary widely, so the Civic may not be for you, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to mention it. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.
posted by katemcd at 11:12 AM on April 1, 2009

Ignore the speculation in the previous answers about what the new 2010 Prius will be like. Various auto publications have already written up reviews. Here's Edmunds InsideLine's take.

Other helpful articles:

Full Test: New Honda Insight
Comparison Test: 2009 Prius and the Insight
Comparison Test: 2010 Prius and the Insight

One thing to consider is that unless you get rather large discounts on a Prius, you don't have much chance of recouping the difference in cost by the improved gas mileage.
posted by roomwithaview at 11:17 AM on April 1, 2009

Local dealers were pulling that garbage with the Fit, too. Even so, the day our car abruptly pants-shit, Mr. F was able to roll into a Honda dealership and get the Fit without any of the "market adjusted value" nonsense.

Car dealerships are a lot more desperate than they're letting on these days.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:34 PM on April 1, 2009

It did not work for me (I got a better price on our Honda Element myself), but a lot of people have discussed online their happiness with Costco's auto-buying program.

Basically, you go to the Costco website, fill out a form, and then a dealer contacts you with theoretically a better price than you would get otherwise. Worth a try. Costco will refund your membership cost for any reason, including trying this and it not working for you.
posted by Lizzle at 2:22 PM on April 1, 2009

I just saw on the local news here in Austin, that Toyota dealerships are having trouble getting rid of their priuses, where there used to be a waiting list, dealers have at least 30-40 available to sell, due to low gas prices and offering deals to get them off the lot.
posted by delladlux at 3:34 PM on April 1, 2009

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