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Prius Mileage

We purchased a 2008 Prius last March. Our mileage used to vary between 47 and 50 mpg in mixed town and highway driving. We noticed in early January that the mileage was 37 and it has improve since then, but only to about 40 mpg. I called the dealer and they said it was winter gas that is sold in this area. Is that right or are they just blowing smoke?

Winter gas, ethanol in the gas, and heater use can all reduce mileage. The engine has to run to provide heat for the interior, so it runs more in the winter than it does in the summer.

Dealer is at least partly right. If you are not getting a CEL (Check Engine Light) I would not worry. Cold temperatures and the fuel mixed used in winter in most areas, will give you lower mileage.

The winter gas reason is true as it is for any car, but the hit you get in the winter is especially bad on the Prius because in cold weather the gas engine has to run a lot more. You might notice that the first time the engine kicks on when you’re driving it stays on until it’s fully warmed up, and obviously that takes a lot longer when it’s cold out.

Whoa! … Why Didn’t They Explain This To You Before You Bought It?

Why did they wait until you found out about the poor mpg on your own? I know they are trying to sell cars, but they also need repeat customers and word-of-mouth advertising. Something doesn’t sound right. 37 - 40 mpg for a Prius?

Why did they wait until you found out about the poor mpg on your own?

The question was about the drop in mileage during winter, not low overall mileage.

I Know. Why Wouldn’t A Dealer Alert Customers That MPG Will Drop In Winter?

At time of purchase the overall mileage looks pretty good. I mean they are trying to sell cars, but why have their customers searching to find out why their mileage drops to almost non-hybrid range. Also, lots of Prius people search here asking why they have to buy so many tires. Why aren’t they informed of this at purchase time? I would be ticked. I still say that something doesn’t sound right. It’s either a problem with this particular vehicle or a promotional problem.

Papa Joe, These Cars Have A Bladder Problem, Especially When They Get Chilled!

It’s important to calculate MPG by actual gallons used and miles driven. To read more about fuel tank bladders and MPG …

Click this link:

Whoa! … Why Didn’t They Explain This To You Before You Bought It?

Because they assume that the person buying the car has done their research before making a buying decision.

Thank you. This is good information. I checked the mileage myself when the car was new and it was pretty accurate. I’ll have to recheck it when I fill up during the winter.

Papa Joe, You’re Welcome. Let Us Know What You Find Out. This Could Help Others.


It’s not just WHAT you drive, but HOW you drive it.


twotone: Exactly.

It also depends how cold the winter gets where you are. CR reported that in cold weather, a Prius got 30 mpg.

Please take my quick Toyota Prius Owners survey:

The purpose of this survey is to gather information from the real world experience of Toyota Prius drivers for a research paper I am writing about the economic and environmental advantages of driving a Toyota Prius. Please complete this survey by April 3, 2009.
Thank you!
Rob Ferber, student, Neumann College.

Click Here to take survey

If this makes you feel any better we’re getting the same as you. From our Prius Mileage book:

Date     MPG
8/02/08  49.3
9/5      52.1
10/1     49.2
11/16    46.6
12/13    45.0
12/25    39.1
1/13/09  39.9
2/6      46.3
3/1      39.8
3/20     44.9

This is in the Boston area with waaay too many 0.4 mile runs that never warm up the car.

Updating the post from Mar '09:

Our Prius, Little Blue, now has 115,000 miles on it. It needed front brake pads and new rotors last spring and I replaced the struts all around. Then in August I finally changed the spark plugs and that has perked up the power plant and made the car more fun to drive. The car has had a few problems along the way: traction drive motor coolant pump, a front wheel bearing, repairs from a deer strike, and a tail light but is still going strong.

Mileage is still good.

Date MPG
8/07/20 46.7
9/17 49.7
10/12 50.3
10/26 56.9