Today, hybrid cars look like your everyday sedan. Twenty years ago, however, they stood out on the road like sore thumbs, with their oddly slanted rooflines, recessed rear wheels, hatchback-lite cargo gates, and “cozy” (i.e. “cramped”) cabins. At least, that was the case with the segment’s very first models: the 1999 Insight and 2000 Prius.
How ironic it is that the O.G. hybrid car companies – Toyota and Honda – have produced two of the new decade’s best hybrid vehicles in the 2021 Insight and Corolla Hybrid. (As Mufasa would say, that is the circle of life™.)
But which one’s the better buy?
Corolla Hybrid: Slim on Trim
Toyota has about 30 vehicles on their roster. Why, then, is the 2021 Corolla Hybrid only available in one trim (LE)?
Is it for the sake of simplicity? Is it to give shoppers more freedom of choice? That can’t be it, as Corolla’s larger Camry Hybrid and Avalon Hybrid counterparts are available in three trims each. And there are no à la carte Corolla options, as the only package available is the $500 Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert add. (Where’s Sherlock Holmes when you need him?)
The Honda Insight, on the other hand, is available in three trims: LX, EX, and Touring, with the mid-range Insight EX including Honda’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Monitor as standard fare. Perhaps that’s why the Insight received an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award last year.
Insight’s Tech-Filled Cabin Reigns Supreme
Because the Corolla Hybrid lacks variety, its tech bundle is fairly lackluster. (As my mom would say, “you get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”) Let’s compare the standard technology in the hybrid Toyota sedan versus the standard and available tech in the new Insight’s cabin:
Every 2021 Corolla Hybrid and Insight car comes with a 6-speaker audio system. However, Honda’s hybrid is also available with a 180W 8-speaker sound system (EX trim) as well as a 450-watt 10-speaker system with a subwoofer (Touring trim).
Unlike the Hybrid Corolla, a GPS navigation system can be found on the 2021 Honda Insight Touring model. This includes Voice Recognition and Honda HD Digital Traffic software. With the Corolla Hybrid, you’re stuck using your phone’s GPS.
Heated Front Seats
Although the gas-powered Corolla includes heated front seats, the Corolla Hybrid LE does not. Instead, you get cloth seats throughout. The Insight Touring comes standard with heated leather seats up front, each of which has its own heat settings available.
In addition to being heated, the Insight’s driver’s seat also benefits from an 8-way power adjustable function. The Corolla? You’re stuck in a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat.
One-Touch Power Moonroof
Be one with the galaxy inside the new Insight hybrid. Flip the switch to activate Insight’s one-touch power moonroof and embrace your inner Neil Armstrong. The new Toyota Corolla Hybrid doesn’t come with a sunroof or moonroof.
MPG: The Measure of a Hybrid
In the end, you choose a hybrid car because they wean you off liquified dinosaur fossils. Both the 2021 Insight and Corolla Hybrid keep you away from the pump thanks to a combined 52 mpg rating*, though the Insight is more fuel-efficient than the Corolla in the city (55* vs 53 mpg, respectively). During real-world tests, Car and Driver noted that the Insight frequently achieved higher mpg than EPA ratings would suggest, too.
Insight Gets First Place in the Space Race
Although hybrid buyers put a premium on mpg, that doesn’t mean interior comfort and overall space isn’t (slightly lower) on their wishlist.
With the new Insight, Honda’s created a surprisingly roomy hybrid car fit for four adults, plus a little one. Front seats are low to the ground yet provide a lot of stretch-out space. The same holds true for the back row, which offers a great amount of legroom for the segment – and nearly 3 inches more than the rival Corolla Hybrid.
Because Insight positions its Lithium-ion battery pack below the rear seat, you also get 15.1 cubes of space inside the trunk, which can expand into the cabin thanks to rear seats that fold (mostly) flat. The trunk in the new hybrid Toyota Corolla ekes out just 13.1 cubic feet, by comparison.
Overall, the 2021 Insight is a more spacious hybrid car when compared to the 2021 Corolla. Here’s how the interior specs and dimensions line up:
|2021 Honda Insight LX||2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE|
|Shoulder Room (front/rear)||56.9”/55.0”||54.0”/51.7”|
|Passenger Volume||97.6 cu. ft.||88.6 cu. ft.|
|Cargo Volume||15.1 cu. ft.||13.1 cu. ft.|
Care to see why the 2021 Honda Insight is one of the best hybrid cars in America? Visit a Honda dealer near you to test drive the Insight or any other new Honda hybrid, like the Clarity or all-new CR-V Hybrid.
*MPG – 55 city/49 highway/52 combined mpg rating for LX and EX trims. 51 city/45 highway/48 combined mpg rating for the Touring trim. Based on 2021 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on driving conditions, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, battery-pack age/condition and other factors.