Since my 2003 Insight just came in, I decided to go through the Owner's Manual and compare it with the 2000 Owner's Manual I had in my dearly departed Insight. There are a few changes in word wrap related formatting, a few additional legal warnings about safety, etc. , a couple of sections rearranged and all the stuff about CVT models, along with a few sections where they've rewritten a couple of descriptions on how to reset the "Maintenance Due" light, etc. but for the most part, the manuals are essentially identical. It is clearly an updated manual for the same car.
Looking at the car itself, my new one has air conditioning and is red, while the old one had no air conditioning and was silver. Other than that, the cars are identical, except that the new one came with the cargo net. Maybe the dealer felt like the parts department was getting stuck with them? It's a fairly cheezy cargo net, after all... I think I'll replace the clips with 'biners.
I think the only real differences between Insight's was in 2000 and 2001 and then in to 2002. In 2001 they changed the splat screws to painted ones, the way in which the front windshield is mounted was changed also to make replacment easier. Also, the shocks for the rear hatch on the 2000 were kinda weak, if they die on you they send you a much beefier raplacment. These bigger ones are now standard on 2001 and newer I believe (at least my 2002 has em). The most major difference I think was in the ECU computers. The "emissions recall" on 2000 and 2001 pretty much did a complete reprogram of how the IMA and everything functions. I got to play with a 2001 that wasn't touched, then a 2000 before and after getting the new ECU. They basically made the first two years behave like 2002 and newer.
I've also noticed a few other suttle differences. Stupid little things like there being foam spots on the spare tire cover. I had my rear carpet replaced under warranty when the cargo box lid started comming unglued from itself. The new one has more insulation pieces under it. the 2001 that I looked at did not have these there at all. One thing though, when I got mine at 2700 miles the air vents just would not stay pointed. I made them replace them, I was highly doubting that they would survive the summer, but it was 112 today and they have been staying put so I wounder if maybe they tightened specs on those. Anyone with a newer Insight in the heat still having the air vent issue? One word of warning though, if you get a new rear carpet piece, the glue they use to stick those insulation pads on with does not hold, I got a hand full of glue by accident because of this. 3M 90 contact cement works wounderfully for this.
One small difference we noted b/w my 2000 Insight and my husband's 2003 is that there is a cable inconveniently placed by the oil filter in the 2003 that makes it a bit harder to get to the filter. Otherwise they really seem the same.
I've noticed that while my 2000 Insight's rear view mirror didn't point to the same spot when switched from day to night. I had to fix that with a shim taped to the shaft to stop the body of the mirror from moving as far as it wanted to.
The 2003 mirror points to exactly the same spot when I switch back and forth between day and night.
Fit and finish on some of the 2003 is not as good. Maybe the guys are getting bored? Anyway, the carpeted panels near the floor in front of the doors do not snap into place like they should and the carpeted lid on the rear compartment rubs along one edge when opening or closing the lid. None of this was true on my 2000.