Toyota, Honda Heat Up the Hybrid War

Given the parlous state of the auto industry, the rivalry between Honda's (HMC) new Insight and Toyota's (TM) third-generation Prius is proving to be an enjoyable diversion. Committed to increasing sales of gas-electric models, the companies are launching hybrid cars in quick succession—and neither one is skimping when it comes to generating hype. The Insight boasts a sub-$20,000 sticker price, fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon in the city and 43 mpg on the highway, and is arguably more fun to drive. The latest Prius is larger than its Honda rival, gets better mileage, and (unlike the Insight) has an EV mode, where the driver instructs the car via the touch of a button to run solely on battery power. However, the soon-to-be-released Prius is expected to be more expensive, with a U.S. sticker price starting at around $23,000.

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