Better Gas Mileage For Your Prius

Reasons you would not get the posted E.P.A fuel economy.

1 – Driving less than 10 minutes at a time.

The first 10 minutes any internal combustion motor is warming up. This is when you get your worst fuel economy with any vehicle.

2 – Your tires are under inflated.

The recomended pressure on the divers door pillar is 35 psi front and rear. To get the best overall performance [ride, handling, tire life and economy] I have and many other owners have found by having the front at 42 psi and the rear at 40 psi to achieve the best results. The tires on the classic Prius and the current model are both designed to hold a max. 50 psi.

3 – Do you push or hold your gas pedal when you accelerate?

If you pushing your gas pedal down and backing off when you attain your choosen speed, you are not maximizing the use of your generator and batteries. The more you push down on the accelerator the quicker the gas motor comes on. With practice you will notice where your foot is positioned on the accelerator at different speeds. If you allow your foot to only go as far as is necessary, you will find that the generator will do more of the work and less of the gas motor will be required

4 – Why you should drive with your windows up as much as possible.

When the weather gets hot we tend to want to put the windows down. By putting the windows down you change the drag coefficents of the car. It is actually more efficient to have the AC on in a current model Prius due to the generator running off the battery pack and not the gas motor.

Andrew Grant is the world’s first hybrid taxi driver. He introduced his Prius taxi to the not-so-mean streets of Vancouver in 2000, and logged 200,000 miles in just 25 months. Andrew’s Prius was snatched by Toyota. The automaker wanted a chance to study the durability of the hybrid batteries and other components, which held up amazingly well. See this video for details. He’s now driving his third Prius. Andrew has taken a break from taxi-driving, and now works as a professional coach helping his clients achieve personal excellence in various fields of endeavor.

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  • paul

    1/29. By Paul
    By paul – Wednesday, August 31 2005
    I agree with everything you say, but particularly item 1. My 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid takes 10 to 15 minutes to get everything up to temperature. Maximized MPG only starts after I’ve driven 10 to 15 miles in the morning.

  • crl324

    I just hit 4000 miles on my 2005 Prius and am averaging 51.3 mpg. It is superb on the interstate as well as local driving.

    My 1997 Olds, which averages 20 around the city has not left the driveway in 4 months and may never again. Bring on the hybrids!!!!! Screw the oil companies

  • weedmenot

    My four month old Prius is fabulous. Thanks for the four tips. They make sense. I’m always looking for more information on how to drive the hybrid-way. I can’t help but smurk at the SUV drivers, especially the ones at the filling station today. I took a digital photo of the display in my Prius showing the 50.9 mpg I’m getting and posted it on my blog.

  • Guest

    These are excellent comments indeed! I am not a hyvrid owner (yet), but I was thinking and felt compelled to mention my thoughts here.

    Its become apparent to me (through reading e-mails, news etc.) that hybrid owners really don’t know how to drive their hybrid cars.

    I’m thinking that some form of training (just a few hours tops) and how to drive their vehicles would help them maximize the efficiency of their vehicles.

    what do you think?

  • rgbyfiend

    I have had my Prius for about 4 months now, and there is definently a right and a wrong way to drive it. To get the absolute best mileage you have to do what is called “pulse driving.” Basically, speed up quickly and then slowly decrease your speed, taking maximum advantage out of the electric engine. This works particularly well on highways/interstate. If you are just setting a speed and going with it, be careful what the speed is. 70 will give you much better gas mileage than 75, while 65 is only a slight improvement on 70. The biggest difference maker is what they mentioned before, short trips kill mileage. my best on a tank to date is 63.5, but that was all highway. I normally average around 53 in town.

  • weedmenot

    After reading the above comments and the post, my husband and I have INCREASED our mpg in our Prius. It’s been an increase from 45-46 to 50-51. And with practice, I hope to get better and better mpg. I don’t know what the drivers behind me are thinking, but I feel like I’m still able to go with the flow of traffic. We are glued to the display as we drive, like some video game! Cheering when those columns rise higher and the little cars appear! Then we take a digital photo of the screen!

  • Guest

    I read an article a few weeks ago that said Hybrid vehicles should get 190 mpg in a few years. I’ve been looking at Hybrids for a few months now but decided against buying one right now for several reasons: 1) the vehicles we drive currently get over 30 mpg; 2) the vehicles we drive are paid for; 3) the money we’ll save in gas will cover only a small fraction of the car note for a new car and 4) I’m hoping in a couple years the mpg for hybrids will be closer to 100 mpg. What are the mpg projections that you are aware of for 06 and 07 models?

  • Guest

    Thanks so much for the driving tips. I’ve only been getting 41 mpg in town and have been very frustrated. I live in a small town where everything is nearby, so all of my local trips are less than 10 minutes long! I will take your driving advice and try to get better mileage around town. My highway mpg is about 51.

  • Guest

    I have a 2005 Prius, and a main benefit for me was to drive as a single occupant in the HOV (carpool) lane. That saves a lot of gas and time, and is much better for the environment as well.

    Those who are only considering costs should also consider the time savings, if they have a commute. 20 miles in the HOV lane shaves off 20 – 30 minutes off of my commute. How much is that worth to you?

  • bmc

    I will take possession of a new 05 prius this friday. I am constantly reading all the comments on these message boards,and I find it rather amazing that they are focused mainly on costs, mileage, etc, no mention is made of the environmental impact of driving hybrids. Global warming is a reality, and the sooner everyone begins to take that fact seriously, the better oof we will all be.

  • mooveechik

    I have had my 2006 Prius for two weeks now and am struggling with driving it properly. It does seem to be a learning process as we are only getting between 32-37 mpg right now. I feel a little mislead by the EPA as far as their mpg statements go. I live in Jersey City, NJ and it is impossible to avoid “stop and go” traffic as is reccomended in our Owner’s Manual. I believe it will just take some getting used to not only for me but the other shall we call them “Impatient Drivers” out there that feel a need for everyone to speed off the minute the light turns green. This is going to be a long-term process for all drivers to adjust to, one I fear might not make it in the real world of mostly “uneducated” consumers.

  • ponvalley

    I love my Prius. I’m doing pretty good on gas mileage, but I wondered if it makes a difference which settings the climate is on for better mileage. Has anyone noticed if having the air circulate inside or getting air from out side is better, things like that. Does the moter come on more with certain settings?

  • vchang123

    I have been getting 30-35 on my display (consumption), sometime it get to 17-18 MPG! I live in CT, very cold… but I am shocked to see this kind of MPG for hybrid car. I was told that I shouldn’t rely on the display to tell me the truth, but I assume that’s the real time MPG. Any opinion about that? Thanks!

  • Guest

    Concerning your cold climate…the colder it is the more the gas motor has to turn on in order for the catalytic to stay in its normal operating temperature. In a regular automobile the engine idling all the time negates this problem.As the temperature rises so will your fuel economy. The emission equipment needs the vehicle to be operating at normal operating temperature in order for it to have it doing its job effectively. Sorry to hear that you are getting such poor gas mileage, but as it warms up, your mileage will go up also. One other thing, if you have your interior temp. set above 70 degree, you will find the gas motor turning on more often in order to keep the heater core hot enough to keep the temperature consistent also.

    Hope this is of some help for you.

    Andrew Grant

  • Guest

    One point I want made clear that this was a vehicle that was being used as a taxi not a private vehicle….if you were to also take in consideration that the vehicle is on the road 22-24 hours a day 7 days a week and was never built to be used as a taxi. I think if you talked to other taxi owners around the world about the amount of money they would spend in parts and labour in the same distance driven as on this Prius, you would find that they are spending more money and down time then those that own Prius’s as taxis….in all fairness if you were to make a comparison should it not be with a Toyota truck? One of the reasons I love Toyota is that when you replace a part outside the warranty period you recieve a lifetime parts and labour for no charge replacement if it needs to be replaced again…that includes taxi’s.

  • Guest

    The answer to your question Linda could be a couple of things. The gas tank was not completely full when you recieved delivery of the car. The gas tank in the Prius is a bladder type, meaning that it expands and contracts depending on the temperature, the colder it gets the more the tank shrinks , which could case you to not get a full tank if you gas up when it was cooler. It could be possible that you are not going to the same gas station and using the same gas pump each time you gas up. It’s been known that gasoline dispensing nossles don’t all shut off at the same shut off point identically each time you fuel up. And then again it could be something else all together. In all three Prius’s I’ve had there has be a slight improvement over the first 10,000 kms (6,000 miles). The ways that definetly improve your gas mileage is to have your front tires at 42 lbs pressure and your rear tires at 40 lbs pressure. The tires last longer, better handling, better fuel economy, lighter steering. And also using synthetic motor oil. I found an impoverment of 8kms per gallon of gas (approx. 5 mpg U.S. gallon).

    All the best with your new Prius.

  • map

    I LOVE my 2005 Prius, which I’ve been driving since December. However, I too am frustrated by my gas mileage. When the temps were in the 30’s, my mileage never got above 30. Now it’s around 39. Still not what I expected. The dealer told me NOT to increase the tire inflation, but all youse guys seem to think that would help. What doesn’t help is that I have two jobs, 2 and 6 miles from home. Never thought I’d gripe about my short commutes.

  • pbhinds

    I recently put 4 new tires on my 04 Prius, and the mileage droppped about 12%. These were GoodYear Eagles. Does anyone know of any reason why the performance rating on the tire (H instead of S) should cause the mileage to change that much. I went back and exchanged these Eagles for original equipment tires (lower rating), and the mileage went back up!. Same size tires and inflation over 40 psi in both cases.

  • Guest

    The problem you incountered is that roll of resistance. Performance tires are going to have more roll resistance than tires that are specifically designed for fuel economy.

  • pamandjack

    We got a Prius a month ago and we are NOT getting great mileage. We are getting 44mpg driving like idiots (accelerating slowly, rollling through stops, etc.) but it doesn’t get better than 44. I feel like something is wrong with the car. Any ideas? Anyone else with this problem? Any suggestions? I already drive using all the suggestions posted…

  • Guest

    If your driving the car less than 15 minutes at a time could cause the lower fuel economy, due to the engine spending the first 10 to 15 minutes getting to normal operating temperature. Also, how hilly is the terrain that you are driving…that will contribute to the lower fuel economy. Another thing to consider at your first oil change is to change to synthetic oil…I found an increase in fuel economy of 3 to 5 mpg (Canadian) per gallon. Also have you put your tire presure to 40 psi front and rear (the tires are rated to 50 psi), that will improve your fuel economy, tire wear and handling of the car. The last thing I can think of is that after you have put on 5,000 to 6,000 mile you should see an improvement on your fuel economy.
    Hope this was of some help.

  • Guest

    My 2005 mile Prius is 6 months old and I already have 20,000 miles on it from a daily commute each way of about an hour.
    I noticed it seems much noiser after the first 5000 miles. There is a buzzing noise after it turns off and the motor is noiser for a longer time after turning it on.

    In addition, when the tank is lower, there is sometimes a bucking that occurs, like the whole engine shifting forward, if I accelerate while making a turn.

    Anyone experiencing anything remotely similar?

    FYI my average mileage is 49 to the gallon.

    Also, Just got the oil changed (second time) and switched to synthetic, too. Waiting to see if there is any change.

  • Guest

    Is there any way to plug-in my 2005 Prius or have it adapted to do so for better mileage?

  • Guest

    There are after market conversions that allow you to put additional batteries in the trunk of the car…how good the conversions are I haven’t heard…the plug in part….the car was not designed to be plugged in…

    The buzzing noise you are experiencing is normal when you turn the car off for the first 10 seconds…. the engine seeming to shift forward maybe a loose engine mount…the questions you have asked about should be handled by the service department at the dealership you bought the car from…if not go to another dealership.

  • dlbleth

    I just took my 2005 Prius in to our local Toyota dealership to have them verify that everything was working properly on my car as I’m only getting 39 MPG. The first thing the sales manager did was hand me a document from Toyota dated February 2004 that explained the EPA rating system. Here are the parameters for obtaining MPG figures:

    “The city miles per gallon (mpg) test simulates an 11-mile trip with 23 stops and an average speed of 20 mph.”

    “The highway mpg test simulates a 10-mile trip with no stops and an average speed of 48 mph.”

    “Both EPA tests simulate driving on a level, dry, straight road.”

    I wish the salesperson had shared this information that is subtitled “The latest information for you and your customers” with us before we made our purchase instead of the service manager after the fact. 39 mpg is not bad but it is not even remotely close to 60 mpg. Why offer a rating system that is not based in reality?

  • Guest

    If you just got it and are getting low mileage, please have patience. My first week with it my mileage was in the mid 30s but now I have 3200 miles on it and at last top off the measured mileage was about 60 mpg. It really should have been around 50 but the bladder has its quirks.

    This is a car that trains you to drive a little bit slower to get good mileage, and you learn to exploit things like hills and to start coasting as soon as you see red lights (“drive as if you don’t have brakes”).

    Have patience and you will not only see the mileage numbers go way up, but you’ll see how you can increase the mileage when you want to by just applying the various techniques you learn.

  • Guest


    The windows things has been tested and found negligible. Open the windows if you like, it won’t ruin aerodynamics and will not measurably impact your mileage. Don’t be shy about running the AC either, if that is your preference, the impact is minimal relative to driving conditions.

  • Guest

    I am considering buying a Prius and was trying to find highway gas mileage rates for different speeds, i.e. 60 mph vs 80 mph. My current auto, the VW Passat is supposed to get about 31 mpg on the highway (at 55 mph?) but barely gets 20 mpg at higher speeds. Thanks.

  • Guest

    I would suggest you check-out some of the european auto magazines online for road tests of the Prius in countries that you can drive at speeds of 80 miles per/hr to find what kind of fuel economy it can achieve.

  • Paul

    A couple of comments:

    1. I love my Prius, because of low emissions as well as mileage. Mileage alone would not have convinced me to buy.

    2. Many of the driving techniques people use to get better mileage on a Prius work for standard ICE cars. Everyone can benefit (see Hypermilers).

    3. Some people complain that their Prius mileage is lower than expected. Much depends on the type of journey. Just remember that the Prius has much higher mileage compared to a similar ICE car. It is the RELATIVE mileage that counts here, not the absolute.

    I only get about 37 MPG going to work and back, 1.5 miles. I checked it on my Ford F150, and my mileage was 7.2 MPG. My highway mileage is about 53 in the Prius, compared to 13 in my F150.

    Also remember you are driving a NEAR ZERO EMISSIONS vehicle.

    Have fun!

  • Jeff Bunjes

    I have owned my Prius for over a year and when I look at the mpg given on the display it is never above 38mpg. Very disappointing. Can those 4 tips make that much of a differance? The windows are always up however my drives it about 8 miles before getting to her work place, but even on longer trips it is never much above 38. Thanks, JB

  • Dean

    I am curious whether addititive in gasoline are having an impact on gas mileage in hybrids ( or straight gas engines for that matter…). My wife noted for the first year of Pruis ownership she averaged 48 mpg in the summer and 42 mpg in winter driving ( NE United States).

    This summer ( in fact the last two fillups…) she is averaging 51 mpg (???)… I am curious whether the gas/ethonl ratio ( or other additives) or other additives are being adjusted?

  • julie moyes

    i just purchased a 2011 prius…I LOVE IT!!!! it is like playing a video game to see how good a gas mpg you can achive. i have gotten 57.1 but that did not last long. a little slow starting in traffic but will go if need be..

  • Rebecca Ahern

    I also live in Ct and I seem to get the same kind of mileage as you. Is it a Ct thing? so frustrating.

  • richard mackler

    I have a 2007 Prius, I would like to know If anyone has used 0 -20 # mobile one oil on this engine,Is it ok to change to this oil? mileage improve? I was told by the dealer to use only 5-30# conventional oil, but i would like to use the mobile one 0-20# oil If it will help,and not hurt the engine. thanks in advance. Richard