While owners of underachieving hybrids might get upset with their dealers or the carmakers, many other hybrid car owners are able to get spectacular results by putting a little thought and consideration into their driving habits.
Here’s what a few hybrid car owners are experiencing (pulled from email to HybridCars.com and other trusted sources):
Jeff (Camry Hybrid)
I bought one of the first Camry hybrids that came out. Having owned it for about 5 months I will never own anything else. It is an absolute pleasure to drive, and I am getting close to 38+ miles per/gallon. You cannot drive this car like you drive other cars. If you press the gas peddle to the floor, you will not take advantage of the hybrid electric drive system. Go easy, and try to drive close to the speed limits in order to take full advantage of the car you purcahased.
Chris (Civic Hybrid)
Initially, my best commutes across the Cumberland Mountain Range in Tennessee at 70 mph were getting me 37.4 mpg. I was very frustrated with this number, as I had figured my spending on 48 mpg solid and religious. I began to become more Zen-like in my driving habits, i.e. not keeping cruise control set for 70 uphill and not being impatient to do 60 uphill instead. I also turned off the AC going uphill and just those things have bumped me from 37.4 to 43+ consistently. That has me truly pleased with my hybrid.
Andrew (Civic Hybrid)
I recently bought my 06 HCH and I absolutely love it. I found that the best thing that help save gas milage is to use cruise control anytime traffic permits. When I first got the car, before I "re-learned" how to drive, I was only getting about 38 mpg max. As I changed my driving habits—going from an 06 BMW 325, it was NOT easy—and used cruise control as much as possible, my mpg went up to an average of 46 mpg with a good mix of city and highway. When you have the cruise control on, the car is more inclined to use the electric motor to make minor adjustments rather revving the engine. This helps with the mpg’s.
Bill (Toyota Prius)
I’d have to throw an anchor out of my window to get mileage less than 40 mpg. If you use long, slow acceleration, your mileage sucks. I recommend that drivers use moderate acceleration to get to the desired speed and then coast. The easiest way to reduce fuel-efficiency is to speed. If I’m doing more than 70, then I’ll definitely get less than 50 mpg on my Prius.
Dennis (Honda Insight)
I own a 2000 Honda Insight with 60,000 miles. Love it. My lifetime mileage is 53 mpg. When I try to impress someone with the mpg, I can easily average 65 to 70 mpg. In one controlled test trying to get high mpg, highway and city, I averaged 94 mpg. Then there was the time I got 134 mpg during a 10-mile level freeway stretch going 55 mph in 5th gear.
Jeremy (Civic Hybrid)
Part of the problem lies in the fact that people have to change their driving habits slightly when driving hybrids. Learning how to exert consistent pressure when braking and relying on cruise control as much as possible has helped him to maximize fuel-efficiency. It’s not anything major, but using your car to your advantage makes every difference.
Jeremy (Escape Hybrid)
I’ve had my Escape 4WD hybrid SUV for a month now, logging over 1500 miles of mixed driving in the California Bay Area—city, freeway, foothills. It took me a while to re-learn how to drive in order to take full advantage of the hybrid’s benefits. I’ve been averaging about 27 mpg on my first 4 tanks of gas. The traffic conditions don’t always allow for optimum economy. For example, when I accelerate from a stop, I’ll drive differently if there’s someone behind me. When I ramp on to the freeway, I want to get to 60-65 mph as quickly as possible to get with the flow of traffic. As much as I love watching my fuel economy, I want to be considerate of other drivers and don’t want to sacrifice safety for economy.
JJ (Civic Hybrid)
My gas mileage improved a great deal over the first few months that I had the car. It took me several months to figure out how I could change my driving habits to improve gas mileage. I find that ‘driving efficiently’ is a lot of work (though fun and engaging for me). If I revert a bit in my driving habits, the mileage drops. I don’t imagine that most people would be as fanatical as I am about trying to squeeze every last bit of efficiency from the car. It is just a fun game for me and so that may also explain why my gas mileage is a bit higher than other people are reporting.