High-MPG Driving Habits of Hybrid Drivers

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.



  • AREJAY

    I bought a new civic hybrid (06) model. I have taken back to the dealership to see if anything was wrong with my mpg 32-34 in the city. They tested it and said they got 36-38 in the city. Not even close to the 49-51 window sticker. Honda would do nothing for me. They said that I don’t drive the car long enough to get the good fuel mileage. I drive about 20 to 25 miles a day. Very Very Disappointed. I traded that car in and bought a New Civic LX coupe (07) and i’m getting almost 30 mpg around town and its much less expensive. If I buy another hybrid it will be the Toyota Prius.

  • Dave LL

    My 2005 Civic has 81,000 miles on the odometer and the computer says my lifetime fuel economy is 50.3 mpg. Two things: I drive too much; and I drive for mileage. I virtually never use the A/C. When it’s hot I drive with windows open 2 inches. I coast (easy with a clutch-car). I obey the upshift arrow. I brake very gently, maximizing the regenerative braking feature. I keep the tires set to 35 psi. I cruise at no more than 74 mph. My driving is about 50% suburban/city, and 50% freeway. I love my car, and am sorry that Honda no longer offers a manual transmission. I will be in the market in the next year, and hope that someone does offer a small, fuel efficient, manual trans hybrid by that time.

  • Tom Smith

    I love my 2003 Prius and echo what the others have said. By changing to non-aggressive driving, I have found (i) I am much more relaxed all the time and don’t view driving as a competition; and (ii) I get excellent fuel economy

  • Bill

    I got about 41 mpg bringing my civic home (had to fly over 300 miles to go get it!) Drove 65-70 with the AC on and got the 41. Now, going back and forth to work, I got 49.7 mpg! (And my wife drove the car for more than half the tanks’ worth!) I really expect to get 50+ on this tank! So far, so good!

  • David

    I have a 05 hch automatic with over 95,000 miles and i have gotten my best mpg yet at 50.7 mpg for one tank of gas. I have noticed that when you engine is cold you get less gas milage. So I have been starting my car every moring with the cold are on full blast and that heats up my engine. That one trick increased my mpg’s by about 2.5.

  • JEM

    I just got my TCH a week ago and have already changed my driving habits. Unfortunately I have a 17 mile commute to work each day that is stop and go the entire time. All the starting and stopping (even when done slowly) uses more gas than I would like. So far I am averaging 36.5 MPG.

  • Dean

    My 2005 Civic Hybrid has performed wonderfully. I drive aound 50-55 MPH and the last 750 miles nailed 51.2 MPG. I boosted the tire press. by 5 PSI, and use the A/C sparingly/

  • georgia

    does anyone have a hybrid suv? which one would you recommend? I live on a long dirt road and need good gas mileage.

  • Debbie

    I have a Mercury Mariner Hybrid and love it. I drive 45-60 miles each way to work with dropping the kids at school. I personally get around 29 MPG combined highway and around town. It doesn’t sound like much but it is still an SUV.

  • Debbie

    BTW…the Mariner I have is 4WD 4 cylinder….

  • Adam

    I just got a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid, 4WD, getting 30 MPG combined city/hyw driving. Live in colorado so most cars have lower fuel economy due to the altitude, just traded my 2005 Kia SUV for this, and it was the best car decision for me. I drive 25 miles one way to work and back. I hope the fuel economy continues to improve after the “break-in” period.

  • Jeff

    On wkdays I get ~53mpg on a 16mi roundtrip commute between home and work. wkends tend to suck because I make shorter trips. On my monthly drives between SD & LA, I get 59mpg. I occasionally go past 70mph, but I do try to stay below 60mph.

  • Aaron Weinstein

    We average over 48 mpg with our 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. The secret sauce is to stay under the speed limit, coast as much as possible by anticipating stops ahead, when you need to accelerate (e.g. when pulling away from a stop light) do so quickly rather than gradually, use Idle Off at stop lights, use AC only when absolutely necessary, and “pump and glide” on the freeway or fast arterials (floor it for a few seconds then back off for about 10 seconds, and repeat). Toss in a little Zen and you are guaranteed fantastic mileage.

  • ted johnson

    My 2000 Insight 5 spd has 235,000 miles on it now and still gets over 70 mpg in the summer (April to Oct here). In the winter with all the New England cold and snow and 4 snow tires it gets 50-60 mpg. My Lifetime mpg is 64. I am on my second battery pack – Honda replaced the first one for free at 180,000 miles. Love this car, will keep it forever. Tips include driving at the speed limit, tires at max pressure as rated on the tire, keeping the weight down, planning ahead for stopping traffic to minimize brake use, and non use of the elec assist by selecting the right gears to match the load. This is a fun car as well as a hypermiler. Looks like new and runs like new – some minor piston slap when cold is my only complaint. Looking for 400,000 miles hopefully. I put in a sunroof and nice stereo as the only mods. Playing now with radiator blocking and preheat air mod for better winter mpg.

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  • Destinie

    i dont drive yet but im doing a school project and need to know if they drive any different from a regular car?