Do Hybrid Cars Get Better Gas Mileage?

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Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida is the Editor-in-Chief of the New Car Pricing Insider blog and publishes daily incentives on new cars in addition to newsworthy articles pertaining to the auto industry.

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, Automotive Editor - March 5, 2013

Hybrid gas mileage is the most well known benefit of this type of car. The hybrid technology is the obvious reason for this, but there are others. Features such as lightweight materials, sturdier tires with increased pressure, better aerodynamics and a smaller gas tank help make hybrid cars more gasoline efficient and let you save gas money. The answer, then, is yes. Hybrid cars do get better gas mileage. How they do it is worth knowing.

Tires
Tires on hybrid vehicles are constructed differently using stiffer materials. Additionally, the optimal air pressure on a hybrid tire is higher than normally found for passenger cars. This conserves energy and makes the tire very efficient, having about half the drag of a standard tire model. President Obama caught a lot of flack for the air pressure suggestion he made, but it is true—properly inflated tires can increase fuel economy.

Lightweight Materials
Since hybrid cars are built using lighter materials, it gives them an advantage with gas mileage. The heavier a car is, the more fuel is required to power it. Lightweight cars use a reduced amount of energy which translates into fuel savings. SUVs weigh more and consequently burn more fuel. Hybrid SUVs get better gas mileage than their gas burning counterparts, but it is still low compared to very lightweight passenger cars.

Aerodynamics
Increased aerodynamics reduce the drag on a vehicle, and in turn, conserve energy, reducing fuel consumption. Hybrids are built with aerodynamics in mind, with a reduction in area up front that comes into contact with head wind. If it's easier for a car to move, it requires less fuel in the process.

Smaller Gas Tank
Hybrids use less gasoline when they operate, thus they don't have a need for an overly large gas tank. Fitted with smaller tanks, hybrids reduce their overall weight, helping to increase their fuel efficiency. A Toyota Prius, for example, gets about 50 mpg on the highway. That is, however, going uphill or on a level plane. When going downhill that number doubles. Hybrids have no need for a large tank to weigh them down with extra fuel—they simply won't need it.

Great gas mileage is the feature of hybrid cars most publicized, but the reasons it gets such good gas mileage are often unheralded. Quality lightweight materials, sturdier tires and superior aerodynamics all add to a hybrid's fuel efficiency. By conserving energy through reduced drag, hybrid vehicles require lower amounts of fuel. In fact, the estimated annual fuel cost for a Prius is less than $800. You will use gasoline when you drive a hybrid, but you won't use nearly as much.

Tips for Getting the Best Hybrid MPG

Getting the best hybrid mpg is one of the top reasons for switching to a hybrid vehicle. These cars boast of fuel economies up to 50 miles per gallon. However, there are ways to get even better mileage.

  • Limit acceleration.Try to limit your accelerating. Accelerating uses up more energy and gas. Accelerate to a constant speed and stay at that speed. You increase your mileage by doing this. Conversely, accelerating and stopping and then accelerating again is a way to decrease your miles per gallon. Constant speeds can be attained by using cruise control
  • Observe the speed limit.The speed limit isn't just a random number. It provides for the best fuel efficiency. Driving 55 mph compared to 65 or 75 mph provides better mileage than the faster numbers
  • Turn off your air conditioning.Air conditioning uses up your gas. Turning off your air and opening the windows is better than leaving the air on. However, at highway speeds, the best situation is to leave your windows up and turn on the air. It creates no drag and saves the most gas
  • Avoid traffic.Traffic causes you to start and stop over and over again. This uses much more gas than one would think for only going 5 or 10 miles per hour. Try to avoid traffic on your route. You can do this by taking an alternate route, or change your time when you hit a busy area. Even if your trip is longer, it will likely save more gas than sitting in traffic
  • Inflate your tires.Keeping your tires properly inflated improves your miles per gallon. If your tires aren't properly inflated you can lose vast amounts of gas over a year
  • Lighten your load. Hybrid cars do a good job at this because they are pretty much as light as possible. However, you can increase your fuel economy by not overloading your car. Having things on your roof or heavy things in your trunk will weigh you down and make you lose miles. Lighten up your car and it will increase your mileage

The Most Efficient Hybrids on the Market

If you are interested in the purchase of a hybrid, you have many makes and models to choose from. It seems that just about every manufacturer offers a hybrid to compete in the growing market for them.

  • Toyota Prius.Getting about 50 mpg in the city and 48 on the highway, the Toyota Prius tops the list of fuel efficient hybrids. The estimated annual fuel cost is less than $800. These kinds of numbers are enough to make even the staunchest opponent of hybrids reconsider their position
  • Ford Fusion Hybrid.This hybrid gets 41 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway. It is quite a bit less than the Prius, but it still comes in second. Regardless of its ranking, with estimated fuel costs less than $1,000 per year, it is an attractive alternative
  • Mercury Milan Hybrid. This version of the hybrid has identical numbers to the Ford Fusion hybrid.41, 36 and less than $1,000 in estimated fuel cost per year
  • Honda Civic Hybrid. At 40 mpg with city driving and 45 on the highway, the Honda Civic hybrid is yet another worthy competitor with the Prius. Estimated fuel costs are less than the Ford Fusion, meaning this hybrid will save you even more money each year
  • Honda Insight.With identical mpg in the city as the Civic and 43 on the highway, the Insight is slightly less efficient than its cousin and has a slightly higher estimated annual fuel cost, but it is still a good choice for a thrifty driver
  • Lexus HS 250h.Getting 35 mpg in the city and 34 mpg for highway driving, and with just over $1100 in estimated annual fuel expenditures, the Lexus HS 250h provides luxury, style and efficiency all in one package
  • Nissan Altima Hybrid.Its estimated fuel costs annually are $1,138, it gets 35 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway. Nissan's hybrid may not have the gas mileage that the Prius does, but it is extremely fuel efficient and stylish at the same time
  • Toyota Camry Hybrid. Toyota's other hybrid, the Toyota Camry, has nearly identical numbers to the Altima hybrid. A midsize alternative, the Camry hybrid gets 33 in the city, 34 on the highway and has an estimated fuel cost per year that is exactly the same as the Nissan Altima hybrid

, Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida is the Editor-in-Chief of the New Car Pricing Insider blog and publishes daily incentives on new cars in addition to newsworthy articles pertaining to the auto industry.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

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