If you’re looking at the 2010-2011 Toyota Prius or the 2010-2011 Honda Insight, then you’ve obviously made the choice to jump to hybrid, if you haven’t done so already. Your first 

thoughts 

may be to stick with the originator and buy the Prius. But then you think, Honda’s reputation over the past decade has been exemplary. The only way to tell who is going to meet your needs best is to break them down by category and let these two hybrid wonders go head-on. After researching Car and Driver, Consumer Reports, Edmunds, and Motor Trend, that’s exactly what we’ve done.

Powertrain: Since horsepower is really a non-factor when buying a hybrid, we’ll take a look at fuel efficiency instead. In that area, the 1.8L gasoline-electric Prius wins out, returning 51/48 mpg (city/highway) to the Insight’s 40/43 mpg from the 1.3L. The Prius also outperformed the Insight in the acceleration test, zipping to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds, though the Honda wasn’t far behind at 10.9 seconds. Either way, it’s tough to beat an added fuel economy of 10 mpg.

Winner: Toyota Prius

Braking/Safety/Handling: Due to their smaller size, neither vehicle is going to earn five stars across the board in crash test safety. However, the Honda did outperform the Prius in the driver’s side front impact test, earning five stars to Toyota’s four. However, stability and traction control come standard on all Priuses where the Honda only offers it on trim levels of EX. Braking is much better on the Prius as well, coming to a stop from 60 mph in a very short 118 feet.

Winner: Toyota Prius

Cargo/Hauling: One wouldn’t think that cargo capacity on cars so small would make much of a difference. But the design of these little electrons makes it so that luggage space is actually quite ample. The Insight starts off at 15.9 cubic feet and can expand all the way to 32 cubes with the rear seats folded down. The Prius does slightly better, starting at 21.6 cubic feet and expanding all the way to 40 cubes. That’s more than many mid-size sedans.

Winner: Toyota Prius

Comfort/Interior: While the Prius’s dashboard utilizes an off-gauge setup that buries the speedometer and fuel gauge under more useless information panels, it is the roomier of the two. The back seat is cramped, but only slightly, and that’s due in large part to more legroom being added to the front seat. The driver’s height adjustment is a nice improvement but, despite the fact that it now telescopes, the steering wheel is still in an uncomfortable position. The Insight’s gauges are much easier to see and the controls are both intuitive and easy to operate. The driver’s seat is height adjustable and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes far enough to make it comfortable for nearly any size driver. On the other hand, the Insight is far less roomy. The winner here is decided by the amount of road noise when driving. Toyota has managed to eliminate most of the noise to the point where you may have to wonder if the vehicle is still running. This is one of the areas that Honda needs to see improvement on in their entire lineup as road noise does become rather invasive in the Insight.

Winner: Toyota Prius

Amenities/Options: Being Toyota’s flagship hybrid, they are not going to let it go without its share of toys. All the same, neither is Honda. Bluetooth, an upgraded CD audio system, and a voice-activated navigation system are all available options on both vehicles. The Prius does add little gadgets like a backup camera, sunroof with solar-powered ventilation, and LED headlights with auto-leveling and washers. An iPod interface, something the Insight does have equipped, is lacking on the Prius, but that doesn’t seem quite enough to trump the added extras from Toyota.

Winner: Toyota Prius

Value for the $: The Prius starts off three-thousand more than the Insight with a base MSRP of $22,800 compared to $19,800 for the Honda. The price for the Toyota can also climb quite rapidly as it peaks at $28,070 fully loaded. The top end for the Insight is $23,100.

Winner: Yes, the Toyota is more expensive than the Honda in every trim level. But it also wins out in every category. The added fuel efficiency, higher safety standards, and incredible roominess make the Prius the way to go in this matchup.

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