MPG for the rest of us



Ok, so when we look at a Hybrid, the “City” MPG is greater then the “Highway” MPG… But I do not drive in the City or the highway… I drive back roads… 20 miles a day… I drive a mile or so and have a stop sign… then about 5 miles then a stop light…

I understand the concept of “Highway” driving (essentially no stops), but what is “City” driving ? how does that relate to what I do?



You are doing what is called “mixed” driving, which is what just about all of us do, so you should fall somewhere in between the two numbers. Sounds like yours will be closer to the highway than the city if you don’t have any red lights to wait at.


You have stop signs, lights, slow downs for turns at intersections, yada, yada, yada. Highway is generally a constant speed, or variable speed within a small range, like 55-65 mph. Your driving sounds more like in the combined range if you can get to 50-60 mph on the stretches.

The hybrid may not be a car for you. The hybrid was designed to be optimal for urban and suburban dwellers that deal with slower speeds, more frequent lights and stop signs, and crawling traffic jams. The hybrid system will use the electric motors more in these circumstances, using stored energy in the battery, and not using fuel in the engine for the slow speeds and acceleration. It even reclaims energy when braking to be re-used for acceleration.

But, if most of your driving is long stretches between stops and turns, you will hardly use the electric portion of the hybrid system. The hybrid will shift to all-engine operations at sustained speeds above 40 mph.


My neighbor has a commute like that and he has a Civic Hybrid. He’s very close to the City EPA mpg.


At constant speed on level ground the hybrid would actually suffer while a similar sized non-hybrid would be much cheaper to operate. Hybrids seem to take advantage of deceleration and coasting down hills and idling. The energy usually wasted then is stored and used to aid in accelerating from a stand still and ascending hills.


Memorize where all the stop signs and red lights are and use that knowlege to use your brakes as little as possible. The less you use your brakes, the better your gas mileage will be. Downshifting for engine braking counts as braking.
If you had to brake, you didn’t start coasting soon enough. If you see brake lights come on a half mile ahead of you, it’s probably because they see a red light that you can’t see yet. Take advantage of that info. Don’t tailgate the car ahead, leave a big space so that you don’t have to slow down when he pulls into a driveway all of a sudden.
If you never have to brake, then the advantage of a hybrid becomes moot and your car will get gas mileage that approaches or even beats hybrids.

My driving situation is similar to yours and I get 42-45 mpg from a Toyota Yaris rated at 29-36 by the EPA(2008 realistic rating)


The less you use your brakes, the better your gas mileage will be.

Is that really the case with regenerative braking in a hybrid?


Is that really the case with regenerative braking in a hybrid?

Yes, Regenerative braking recovers some of the energy that would otherwise be lost. Predictive driving so you don’t need to use the brakes are all means you never use that energy in the first place so you save 100% rather than recovering maybe 60%


I’m guessing that you are considering the purchase of a high gas mileage car. First, if your current car is in good condition, you may lose more on its depreciation that you could make back in gas savings. If your current car is due for replacement anyway, consider a small, high mileage, non-hybrid car. Your driving environment doesn’t take advantage of a hybrid’s strengths. A couple of candidates are the Honda Fit and Civic. Some people swear by Volkswagen diesels.


Brakes, who needs brakes as long as the horn works?


The idea isn’t refusing to brake, it’s driving in a way that makes you not need to brake.


Stop overthinking. It relates by being somewhere in between city and highway. You could have a Yaris and be happy with the mileage. You won’t need a hybrid to get 38 MPG.