Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the 2010 Honda Insight Works

2010 Honda Insight Design
The design of the 2010 Honda Insight is similar to that of the Toyota Prius -- but what does it look like under the hood?
The design of the 2010 Honda Insight is similar to that of the Toyota Prius -- but what does it look like under the hood?
David McNew/Getty Images

The Honda Insight's appearance has changed gradually over the years, but compared with its origins the 2010 Insight looks like a completely different car. The original Insight concept began as early as 1997, when Honda introduced the Honda J-VX. A small, lightweight, sporty design, the J-VX was a two-door, four-seater with tapered wheel wells and a flat back. This morphed into the more-recognizable Honda VV, the pre-production prototype of the 2000 Insight. The emphasis was less on sports cars and more on fuel efficiency and aerodynamics, evident in the characteristic extension of the hybrid's aluminum body over the rear wheel wells. Aside from a few refinements in headlamp shape and other physical appearances, the design of the first-generation Insight was basically in place.

So how does the new 2010 Honda Insight compare in design to the original? At first glance, a lot of things have changed. Most notably, the rear wheel wells on the 2010 Insight aren't covered up. The grille and headlight design of the new Insight is also significantly different, boasting a more rounded, sectional look than the subtler curves of previous models.

One thing many reviewers have pointed out while test-driving the 2010 Honda Insight is that is bears a suspicious resemblance to its rival, the Toyota Prius. Both vehicles have a gradually sloping profile, one that begins subtly at the edge of the hybrid's hood, peaks above the front seat headrests, and continues downward in a similar fashion before cutting off quickly at the back. Both cars have four doors (in the case of the Insight, an upgrade from the previous generation's two-door design) and both are hatchbacks, too.

There are, however, a few distinctions. The 2010 Insight is considered a compact car, not a mid-sized car like the Toyota Prius, and is therefore considerably smaller. The interiors are generally dissimilar, too, especially in regards to driver controls and feedback. The Insight includes a special Multi-Information-Display (MID) that gives drivers typical statistics like miles per hour and temperature, but also goes the extra mile to provide specific data like fuel economy.

The 2010 Insight also comes with a display technology called Eco Assist, designed to give drivers important feedback related to fuel economy. With sophisticated digital visuals, Eco Assist both informs drivers and coaches them along the way. Small details such as sprouting green leaves let you know you're achieving decent fuel economy. Pushing the Econ button near the Insight's dashboard can modify several vehicle settings, allowing drivers to further increase fuel efficiency.