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Hey all,

New owner to an Ex, and first time hybrid owner. It is a 2011 with 180,000 km on it. I have had the car for around 3–4 weeks now and just took it on a road trip into the Rocky Mountains. The entire time I had it the car ran and felt flawless prior to leaving. Just before departing I changed the oil the and cvt fluid, and have been monitoring it the entire time with no cause for concern. The day of travel was +40 C, and very smoking from the forest fires, and the Insight struggled on some of the hills. There were a few times I felt concerned, like going up super long steep hills — the RPMs would be very high, and sometimes the charge/assist gauge would seem to be acting funny, like not charging or assisting. As soon as I would reach the top of a hill and start going down the other side it would start charging (so I just chalked this up to being unfamiliar with how hybrids operate in hilly conditions, as I live in the insanely flat prairies). There were lots of super steep hills like this over the 8 hour drive, it was very hot. I would stop and give it a break every now and then and inspect it but there was nothing alarming I could detect.

The next day I took the Insight out to go get some groceries and it just felt funny. Like chugging kind of when accelerating away from and slowly down at intersections. Sometimes it would do it, sometimes it would not. It just doesn't feel as smooth — maybe something with the IMA or Eco mode? There are no warning lights on or signs of damage, it starts great and idles fine, I can just sense that it is acting funny (or maybe its all in my head and I am just being a worry wort).

Anyone have ideas or suggestions for me? My main concern is that I have to drive back home in 4 days through the same terrain, and I love this car I do not want to damage it. Please let me know if I need to clarify anything, I am trying to walk the line of being concise but also as descriptive as possible. Thanks in advance!
 

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Depending on the build date (on the driver’s door label) it may need and never had software updates.* One of the three original ones was to effect how the IMA acted when climbing hills. The issue was referred to around here as forced recharge. Basically you would loose assist part way up a hill. All that said, the Rockies are more than a hill, all but the most powerful will struggle.

*The original three (a fourth was done after a letter was sent to owners, at least in the US) effected all 2010 and some 2011 models. The only way to check for the original three is connect the Insight to the Honda computer in the service area of a dealership. They can check by VIN for the fourth. We have never been able to find out if, when the fourth is done, if the original three get done as well. It may come down to the tech doing the updates and how savvy they are.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Depending on the build date (on the driver’s door label) it may need and never had software updates.* One of the three original ones was to effect how the IMA acted when climbing hills. The issue was referred to around here as forced recharge. Basically you would loose assist part way up a hill. All that said, the Rockies are more than a hill, all but the most powerful will struggle.

*The original three (a fourth was done after a letter was sent to owners, at least in the US) effected all 2010 and some 2011 models. The only way to check for the original three is connect the Insight to the Honda computer in the service area of a dealership. They can check by VIN for the fourth. We have never been able to find out if, when the fourth is done, if the original three get done as well. It may come down to the tech doing the updates and how savvy they are.
Thanks, egads!

When I first got the car I called the dealership and gave them the VIN, I was told by the tech over the phone that the updates were done. But I needs to be hooked up to the Honda computer to check for the first three? Would this cost anything to check?...

I don't know if its worth mentioning, but I just took it for another drive to get some stuff. I paid close attention and it didn't do the chugging or anything like that, but I noticed when at a stop and holding the break the idle was surging a bit and made a loud vibration sound (the autostop was fully functional btw). This happened was when it was cold.
 

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Normal - i drove to LV the car is weak af fk your rpms will be close to redline if you are trying to keep your normal speed going up hill. Me going 70 mph up a hill and the rpm is hitting 5k. It only has like 89 hp i believe and that in a lab so really you have less than 80 HP of power. The IMA system is crap and that's why the pruis won and the insight failed ( number of them sold ). I've heard of this update too i have a 2010 insight but when i went to the dealer they didn't find anything but they are 100% clueless and trying to explain and get it done for free isn't worth it unless you wanna blow 100+$ just for them to check but HONDA CO. states its not their problem and this update is non existent in their system.

Maybe check the engine air filter since you said you went in a smoky area but other than that , thats 100% normal
 

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The Honda Insight is not, what I would call, a powerful car. It is a lightweight eco-mobile built for medium distance in built-up areas. Hi-speed long distance is not it's strong point, indeed most hybrids are less than perfect for that, that is turbo-diesel country.
But for what it is, the Insight is not too bad. People tend to misunderstand the CVT and yes, the Prius behaves more like a "normal" car in respect to speed/rpm relations.
The Honda CVT adjusts transmission rates in regards to torque needed. Need more torque, CVT shifts towards lower gears. So you can drive at 60 mph with anything between 2000 and 5500 rpm - depending on your right foot and the torque needed.
Obviously, we tend to have a perception that the CVT does not fulfill.
In fact, the Insight is not a slouch. Off the lights I accelerate - thanks to the extra 10 kW from the IMA - quicker than most other cars and the occasional sprint from 40 mph to 60 mph is done in good enough manners. Just remember that engine rpm are independent of speed.
Main pain is the fact that the stupid IMA system decides quite stupidly when to recharge. So you storm up a hill with IMA support, then, midway up the hill, IMA runs out of juice and instead of waiting a bit until power demands drop, IMA decides to route 10 kW of the direly needed power from the petrol engine towards the battery, so you raise rpm, drop speed and arrive with a fully charged battery on top of the hill, where you could have recharged for free while coasting downhill.
I would love to have an "NOT NOW!" button on the dash that would interrupt those stupid IMA requests for, let's say, 2 to 5 minutes....
 
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