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Hello folks,

I consider getting a 2019 insight so i have been reading reviewing, watching Youtube reviews and there is one thing that is somewhat concerning to me. Many reviewers on Youtube mention engine noise, very distinctive noise, some call it "droning". I am trying to understand under what circumstances this noise will be evident. Is it only heard when someone is aggressively accelerating from stop position, going up the hill ..etc? I read that when in turbo mode they "pipe" sound through speakers but this is something else. Any thoughts, comments?

Thank you
 

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Hello folks,

I consider getting a 2019 insight so i have been reading reviewing, watching Youtube reviews and there is one thing that is somewhat concerning to me. Many reviewers on Youtube mention engine noise, very distinctive noise, some call it "droning". I am trying to understand under what circumstances this noise will be evident. Is it only heard when someone is aggressively accelerating from stop position, going up the hill ..etc? I read that when in turbo mode they "pipe" sound through speakers but this is something else. Any thoughts, comments?

Thank you

Honda's 2-motor hybrid system is what engineers call a serial hybrid, which means you're not always in control of the gasoline engine. Sometimes, the gasoline engine will turn on to run the electric motor(s) to charge the lithium battery and/or move the car at low-speeds or at stops, so it doesn't depend on how you push the gas pedal.


The droning noise is probably the electric motor running hard or the gasoline engine at high rpm's. They do pipe in motor noise on sport mode to make it seem more sporty on a hybrid. I get a good chuckle every time someone mentions this to me.


Some super-sport cars now have a hybrid mode to help with initial speed and torque and fuel efficiency. Also, doesn't hurt to find tax loopholes by turning these beasts into hybrids. I'm sure their hybrids are the same as ours.
 

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Hello folks,

I consider getting a 2019 insight so i have been reading reviewing, watching Youtube reviews and there is one thing that is somewhat concerning to me. Many reviewers on Youtube mention engine noise, very distinctive noise, some call it "droning". I am trying to understand under what circumstances this noise will be evident. Is it only heard when someone is aggressively accelerating from stop position, going up the hill ..etc? I read that when in turbo mode they "pipe" sound through speakers but this is something else. Any thoughts, comments?

Thank you
The droning noise is engine noise. It occurs mainly under heavy acceleration or when ascending hills with a low battery. Since I drive mainly in ECO mode, I only have it on steep hills. It's one of those things you get used to. Drive gently/normally and it is minimal. Then again, I'm getting 62mpg, so a little noise is worth it. The good thing is that there's is a ton of sound deadening material in the Insight. Without the drone (minimal), it's dead silent.
 

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Honestly, I'm still totally surprised to hear the drone when it comes on. I leave Eco mode on almost always and it'll still creep up on me at ~40 MPH or 50 MPH. It's not just heavy acceleration, but sometimes also mild acceleration. That said, it is definitely tied to acceleration, not speed; you won't hear it if you're coasting at 65 MPH down a hill, or if you're on a straightaway in cruise control. Certainly it would make sense if it happened while the battery is low, since the gasoline engine charges the battery. Maybe I need to look for whether that explains all the times I hear it go off.

I think you have to test drive the Insight to gauge the timbre of the noise for yourself. There's no substitute for that. I think it draws attention because it is a non-traditional engine noise. There is a healthy rev you're used to hearing from gas engines when a car is accelerating, and this isn't it. It is just different.

It's about the only bad thing about driving this car. In all other respects it's terrific. Great braking "feel" and action, tight precise handling. The Touring trim's tires have extra grip, which helps account for its lower MPG. And it is dead silent in EV mode.

As an aside, my carpool buddy pointed out to me the "music" the car makes when it's in EV mode, to let pedestrians know there's a car around. It's pretty neat. Definitely better than fake engine noise.
 

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As an aside, my carpool buddy pointed out to me the "music" the car makes when it's in EV mode, to let pedestrians know there's a car around. It's pretty neat. Definitely better than fake engine noise.

Can you describe the noise? I am curious about it myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you for your replies. When i go on a test drive, is there something that i can do to "trigger" this noise so i can evaluate if it will drive me nuts in the future and consider another vehicle?
 

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When you get into the Insight on your test drive, look at the battery level on the left side of the dash. If it's at 3, then any acceleration (especially up a hill) is likely to get the engine revving high. If the battery level is 4 or more, then just accelerate hard (going up a hill, or merging onto a freeway) and you should get the engine revving too.

Under normal driving, somewhat independent of the speed, if your battery drops to 3, then you'll experience the revving. It's short lived, however, until the engine is able to charge the battery to 4 or higher.
 

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Can you describe the noise? I am curious about it myself.
It's hard to describe. Like a futuristic pipe organ. If you roll down your windows and drive at low speed (in your driveway or on your street) you'll be able to hear it.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
When you get into the Insight on your test drive, look at the battery level on the left side of the dash. If it's at 3, then any acceleration (especially up a hill) is likely to get the engine revving high. If the battery level is 4 or more, then just accelerate hard (going up a hill, or merging onto a freeway) and you should get the engine revving too.

Under normal driving, somewhat independent of the speed, if your battery drops to 3, then you'll experience the revving. It's short lived, however, until the engine is able to charge the battery to 4 or higher.
I guess i can put it in EV mode and drive for half an mile to get the battery below 3 and then try to accelerate to cause the noise. Will that work?
 

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Dynamox:

As per this thread, one of the best videos I have seen online about the Insight's "coarse" acceleration can be found in this YouTube video. The two guys have it in SPORT mode - which definitely makes a racket - and you want to listen with your speaker(s) loud from 8:15-8:50 in this video:



Also, Dynamox, my take about the acoustic harmonic music issue that you brought up...well...to me it almost sounds like the kind of music you would hear in an IMAX planetarium while watching the big screen: flying through space and passing by planets (not including any narration by any celebrities, of course). All 7-10 seconds of it... It is very pleasant indeed.
 

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I guess i can put it in EV mode and drive for half an mile to get the battery below 3 and then try to accelerate to cause the noise. Will that work?
Yes, that should do it. Once the battery level drops below I think 4 bars, it'll kick out of EV mode and back into Hybrid mode
 

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Can you describe the noise? I am curious about it myself.
Space music. That's the best I can say to describe it. Over 25mph it goes away. I think it's kinda cool, and my kids love it.
 

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Love the space sound when going through the drive-through at Panera. Makes me feel like I’ve arrived... for coffee. Kinda sounds like the ambient music at the local needlessly-hip sushi place.

Engine drone isn’t bad because it is mostly while accelerating - no worse than a CVT. Sometimes you notice a high pitched generator/motor whir on top of the drone.
 

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I, too, read all those concerns about noise on acceleration. Thought it would be loud, irritating, and distracting. It was NONE of them!

A while back, I test drove an Insight, and found that, at least for me, that there wasn't much to all the bru-ha-ha. As the Bard put it, "Much ado about nothing!"

The car seemed well sound-proofed, the road noise subdued, and it was very responsive. And, this was with driving under various conditions: locally, on the highway, in stop and go traffic, in a 65 mph zone with trucks barreling down; also, did some rapid merging and lane switching. The pick up was great. It sold me on the car.

P.S. Even the lane keep assist did a wonderful job of flagging the couple of times that I drifted slightly over (still in my lane, but drifting) in a 30-40 mph area.

One factor, of course, could be what vehicle you are used to -- and how heavy a foot you have. Mine is light and I ended with a rating of 5 cloverleafs in Eco mode at the end of my drive (I didn't know that I would be "rated" and simply drove normally). So, definitely test drive one.

But the noise seems to be an issue only under certain limited conditions. For many people, the sound won't be an issue at all. For most, it won't be a deal breaker, especially when you consider everything else that's so good about the car!
 

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To All Participants:


May I get a clarification on something? As much as I am enjoying the car and its benefits, can we all admit that in SPORT mode when you nearly floor it, the sound is quite a racket? I can deal with the noises in other modes/ situations, but when doing a little 0-60 action, that amplified SPORT sound seems awfully harsh.
 

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Solution to that is to either accept the noise OR avoid flooring it in Sport mode! �� (I'm kidding; well, sort of!)


Is the racket largely from the engine itself or is it worsened by the noise that is, apparently, chimed into the cabin?!

I didn't try to make it come on. I'm unlikely to ever drive it in Sport mode, especially as I found it more than peppy enough in Eco. (Auto-correct initially entered that as "more than preppy enough"! ��)

Maybe that will change when I get the car, but I do little freeway driving and high speed merging, anyway, so for me, it's a moot issue. For others, clearly not, though!
 

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Space music. That's the best I can say to describe it. Over 25mph it goes away. I think it's kinda cool, and my kids love it.
Wrong. First of all, the discussion here is about gasoline engine noise.
The "space music" that you hear when car is going slow, so pedestrians know you're there. This only occurs at 10 MPH and lower, not 25.
 

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There is another message thread that I started, That Horrible Engine Roar. You should read it and realize that not everyone is sanguine about the engine noise. If you regularly encounter hills, you might want to look for another car.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you dr_glenn and all. I don't have any hills on my commute to work. I wish if one of you guys could record what this engine noise sounds like inside the cabin. That would be greatly appreciated.
 
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