Hmmm, I own a 94 VX with 49k miles and an 02 Insight CVT with 52k miles.
If I had to choose one or the other I would probably take the VX, but that is because mine is a time capsule and in pristine condition with very low miles.
The Insight will beat the VX mileage under almost all circumstances, especially around town, where the Insights auto stop saves most of the difference.
My average in the Insight is 65 MPG for the last 18k miles, but that is probably due to my driving routes and times that avoid most of the congestion that can get really bad around here.
Best tank ever in the VX was 68 MPG during the summer of 08 when gas was close to 4 per gallon and people were slowing down on the Interstates. Average speed was 64 MPH.
My Insight in service date was 8-03, 16 months after it was built. This is very important because it determines when your warranties expire. The Hybrid components (battery and controllers) are warrantied for 10 years and 150 k miles, so my battery warranty is good until August 2013.
The major emissions component warranty is 8-80. I just had the first catalyst replaced under warranty. The part was $1900, all done for free. The internals of the cat were rattling (no check engine light yet). One more year and the bill would have been mine.
My battery is getting weaker, but that is still covered for almost 4 years, so it will probably be replaced under warranty in the next year or two.
My opinion would be to make sure any Insight you consider has the two important warranties still in effect (the longer the better). If not you can find it tough to get parts outside the dealer network, and they are very, very expensive.
My 02 has 52 k miles on it now. I paid 10k for it a year ago. I figure today it is still worth about 8500-9000. It has new Bridgestones (OE tires are critical for mileage but at a cost in handling and noise) with just a few thousand miles on them.
I see you are in Kansas. The Insight could give you problems in deep snow, unless you have other transportation. That is not an issue for me. The wife has a Nissan Rogue that we could use if it got to deep here, which is very rare in eastern Virginia.
Bottom line is make sure the Insight you buy (assuming you buy one) has plenty of mileage left as well as time on its warranty. Otherwise you should check out the Insight forums for people who rebuild the battery packs. make sure you are familiar with the way an Insight should drive, and probably have it checked out by another owner who lives close to your, as well as a local dealer if there is one you can trust.
Personally I would never pay that much for a 2000 model, since they are at the point where all warranties will expire. Also check with a dealer to make sure the vin number of any one you buy is still under warranty and not a salvage vehicle. With the 2000 models dropping off the warranty the prices will drop considerably.
Excellent points, on both cars. My VX WAS in pretty good shape, until my younger child was driving it too fast on a gravel road, lost it and "barb wired" the left side severely. Transplanted a different engine and trans(JDM) into it a couple years ago, still have the original VX engine and trans (the trans was getting real noisy, hence the transplant). Don't really have much money in the VX, I figure to get $1500 or so out of it, including the extra engine/trans.
On the 2000 Insight, the battery pack was just replaced in 10/09, and the mileage on the 2004 Insight is going to void the warranty on the battery pack in another 38000 mi or so. BUT the 2004 is $2K cheaper, if the condition is similar.
I've got VX envy. R.I.D.E.'s is too cool. my has primered replacement front fenders and dents on every other quarter panel. I do love it though. I've got a mazda 3 rental in the driveway that i could be driving while my truck is being repaired. I prefer the VX.
I'm babbling too.....seriously thinking about having my son drive the VX for a while (I think my Catholic friend would call it doing penance) before we get him a used PU. He totaled his 2003 Ford Ranger PU about a month after scratching the hell out of my VX. I really prefer a stick....that VX coasts a LONG ways on some of the hills we have around here. BUT, my wife likes the auto trans.....
My brother-in-law is looking at the 2004 today, hope to get more info on the 2002, don't have any relatives in Denver to look at it.
If he's crashing everything he drives and you are providing his vehicles, it's not even a matter of penance, it just makes sense not to spend a lot on vehicles for him. Let him drive the VX and enjoy its fuel economy until he smashes it, then get a cheap Ranger for him. Around here, and presumably elsewhere, used base model Rangers are extremely cheap in reasonable condition.
Would it make sense to make him buy his next vehicle, so that he is more careful with it?
Oh, I agree with you 100%, I'd love for him to buy his own vehicle...and maybe he will. But for now, he's 18 and unemployed. Also, I've found cheap PUs around here are hard to find right now (kind of like jobs)....one guy even suggested most of them went to "Cash for Clunkers". Who knows? But, I'm really NOT in a hurry to do anything with the VX.