2012 Toyota PriusEnlarge Photo
Thinking of buying a hybrid? That's great--you'll not only reduce your gas bills, but you'll be polluting less too, and likely have a car that holds its value as gas prices rise.
If you're coming from a non-hybrid though, it may take a little time to make the most of your new Prius, Civic Hybrid or similar. While easy to drive, hybrids sometimes require a little extra technique to really eke out those final few MPG.
Luckily, Toyota UK has provided a handy list of tips to improve your gas mileage. While these will naturally be most relevant to drivers of Toyota and Lexus hybrids, they'll also work on several other hybrid models on the market.
Making the most of MPG
There are plenty of ways to maximize your MPG in a hybrid. Most will have information displays, letting you know what the engine and electric motor is doing at any one time--so keep checking this to see whether you're being assisted, regenerating, or using gasoline alone.
Using the gas pedal gently will help keep you in EV mode--we found this technique particularly useful in the 2012 Lexus RX 450h we tested a few months back - allowing us to beat the official 30 MPG EPA city rating. Some hybrids have an eco mode that actively encourages you to use less gas, so that's worth bearing in mind.
The more time you spend in EV mode, the better your city economy will be! Some Toyota and Lexus hybrids have an EV mode button, that lets you run the car solely on electricity as long as there's enough charge in the battery.
Toyota also recommends not putting the car in neutral at a stop, as the motor won't then generate electricity to top up the batteries.
Look and plan ahead. The more time you can spend coasting or braking gently--approaching a red light, for example--the more time the car will spend feeding energy back to the battery, to be used when you need it. It's a technique that works well in any hybrid, and has the added bonus of spending less time sitting at lights--and less time using fuel accelerating away again.
Not everything is hybrid-specific, of course. Smooth driving, keeping below speed limits, using cruise control on the highway to maintain a steady speed and avoiding sudden braking and acceleration all helps to save a little gas.
Ensuring your tires are correctly inflated, removing excess weight from the car and removing unnecessary roof attachments will also ensure your car is in the best condition for economical driving.
None of the above are really 'hypermiling' techniques either--it's simply all part of good, considerate driving. Hybrids can achieve staggering fuel efficiency with advanced techniques, but even driving normally should improve on the gas mileage of your previous car.
You can find Toyota's full list of tips here.