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If you’re looking for a used car during this market chaos, let me first offer my sympathies. Now is the worst time to try and buy a car, new or used, but there are options. According to a recent report, the Honda Insight was the fastest-selling used car of October. But after a little digging, it looks like these older Honda hybrids are selling for peanuts.

First-generation Honda Insight (top) and second-generation Honda Insight (bottom)
First-generation Honda Insight (top) and second-generation Honda Insight (bottom) | Honda

Why are older Honda Insights so cheap?

A recent report from iSeeCars revealed that, in October, it took just 20.5 days for a Honda Insight to go from a dealership to someone’s driveway, making it the fastest-selling used car in America. At an average price of $25,596, that’s a significant chunk of change to pay for a used car. In fact, considering a 2019 Honda Insight started at $23,725 when new, and 2022 Honda Insights start at $25,210, many people may be paying more than what the car was first worth.

But if you take a look at the first and second-generation Honda Insights, you can luck out on much lower prices. I’m talking anywhere from $8,000 to as low as $1,500. But there is one caveat: most of these cars will have over 100,000 miles on the odometer.

Don’t be distraught, however. Those first and second-generation Honda Insights are reliable little hybrids, capable of surpassing 200,000 and even 300,000 miles with proper care. This is especially true if you buy a first-generation manual Honda Insight (which will also be cheaper, since there’s less demand for manual transmissions).

But these Honda Insights from the early 2000s aren’t the best-sellers in the same way newer Honda Insights are. So what makes the more recent Insights more enticing?

Why are newer Honda Insights so popular?

2021 Honda Insight
2021 Honda Insight | Honda

Unlike the first and second-generation Honda Insights, recent model years are larger and safer. The tiny tin cans from the 2000s were about half the size of a modern Honda Insight, and weren’t nearly as comfortable to sit in.

But one thing the cars do have in common is reliability. It’s already been proven that older, simpler Honda Insights can easily surpass 200,000 miles. But Consumer Reports gave more modern models, such as the 2019 Honda Insight, a five-star reliability rating. In other words, buy a Honda Insight now, and chances are it’ll last forever.

And circling back to comfort and safety, newer Honda Insights offer modern tech, such as rearview cameras, blind-spot detectors, and touch screen infotainment systems.

In terms of reliability and fuel economy, Honda Insights are good options. But there are some significant differences between the generations. So which Insight is right for you?

Which Honda Insight should you buy?

All three generations of the Honda Insight hybrid
All three generations of the Honda Insight hybrid | Honda

The first generation Honda Insight ran from 2000 to 2006, and came with a microscopic 1.3-liter engine. Paired with an electric motor, the older hybrid could manage a staggering 61 mpg on the highway. And on top of that, the insight is one of the few hybrids with a manual transmission.

Meanwhile, the second generation (2010 to 2014) lost the manual, but had a slightly more powerful engine. Rated at 98 horsepower in comparison to the first generation’s 67 horsepower, it was still underpowered. On top of that, the second-generation Insight only got 45 mpg on the highway. Of all three generations, this is the weakest link. But if you just need a reliable car, you could do a lot worse.

Lastly, the newest generation of Honda Insights (2019 to present-day) offers an acceptable 151 horsepower, while still returning 62 mpg on the highway. That, paired with creature comforts, makes it the most appropriate Insight for the times.

It all boils down to how much you want to spend on a reliable hybrid. If you’re willing to fork over $25,000 or more on a newer Honda Insight, you’ll get a better car. If you don’t mind being cramped and don’t need rear seats, then a first-generation Honda Insight would be the cheapest option. And if you just need a car for tooling around town, the second-generation Honda Insight will get you 40 mpg. So use these insights to pick the right Insight.


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