I am wondering if comparing my 2000 (38k miles) to a 2004 at the dealership will be fair.
there are a couple at the second closest dealership and since i think mine might be having some issues with power, will it be a good thing to go and drive a new one? or will it be way more powerful since it is new and therefore it will not give me any basis for making them give the car a complete lookover....
If you decide to try test driving a 2004 as a comparison to the 2000 in order to try and determine if there has been a loss of power in your car, more than likely the results will be inconclusive. Many cars need to get through the "break-in" period of about a 1,000 miles or so to allow all the engine parts to wear a little and get to working their best. On the other hand, often times when Car and Driver magazine does a 40,000 mile test on a car, the 0-60 acceleration and quarter mile times often improve a tenth of a second or two (they test the cars to get baseline numbers when they receive the cars, then they test at the end of 40,000 miles to gauge any differences in performance from the start to the end of the test). In addition or instead of test driving a new one, if you can find a dealer that's got a used 2002 or 2003 with less miles than your car it might give you a slightly better basis of comparison. Unless you've got a G-Tech Pro or some other device that can accurately capture calculated horsepower, 0-60 and quarter mile performance, and roadholding, you'll be making your comparison by the seat of your pants.
If you think you're experiencing a loss of power, it might be good just to take it in have them check and make sure that everything appears in good working order. Maybe an oil change, new air filter, etc. will bring your performance back to where you expect it to be.
I have to disagree somewhat. I've driven 00 01 and my 02 Insight's and the IMA was slightly different from each car, that and each car had it's own suttle little differences. The general feel should be close though. I will mention that if the 00 has had the ecm recall done the IMA will be a lot smoother, like the 04's feel would be. And also consider that the engine program changed for 04. They tweaked it for slightly lower emissions, sacraficing a few epa MPG in the process. And they even changed that half way through 04 because initially the 04 5 speed was rated 66mpg, then later rated 65mpg.
And like mentioned consider the break in as well on a 04. Each will be slighty different, but if you drive a 04 you will get a general feel for what the car is going to be like. If you go get in the 00 and it feels less seemless compared to the 04 I would almost bet that the ECM recall hasn't been preformed because it does change how the car acts completely. And if you buy the 00 you can have it done free.
Maybe I overstated that, there would only be slight differences at most. Though I will mention the 00 I briefly owned did get better mileage than my car does, but I guess these little differences are to be expected from vehicle to vehicle.