Do Hybrid Cars Get Better Gas Mileage?


The CarsDirect editorial team is dedicated to providing our readers with the latest on new and used cars, expert opinions on which vehicles make the grade, and all the fun stuff in between.

, - July 26, 2019

Hybrids cars continue to offer impressive advantages in gas mileage compared to traditional cars. According to the EPA, the highest-rated car, the Hyundai Ioniq, offers up to 58 mpg in combined city and highway driving. That's substantially more than the 39 mpg rating of the pint-sized Mitsubishi Mirage.

In addition to advances in drivetrain technology, features such as lighter materials, sturdier tires with increased pressure, better aerodynamics and a smaller gas tank can help make hybrid cars more efficient and enable you to save money on gas. Here are some factors that help make that the case.

Lightweight Materials

Since hybrid cars are often 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 to fuel savings. In some instances, vehicles like the Toyota Prius Prime (a plug-in hybrid) use high-tech carbon composite in certain areas like the trunk lid.

While SUVs have traditionally resulted in a sacrifice in fuel economy due to their weight, more and more automakers are offering hybrid alternatives. For example, the recently redesigned Toyota RAV4 Hybrid offers a combined rating of 40 mpg, considerably more than the 28 mpg rating of a similarly-equipped gas RAV4. In addition, Toyota has narrowed the gap in price to boost appeal.

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Increased aerodynamics reduce the drag on a vehicle, and in turn, conserve energy, reducing fuel consumption. Hybrids are often built with aerodynamics in mind, with a reduction in area up front that comes into contact with head wind. The "more slippery" the car is, the less fuel is needed to maintain its speed.


Tires on hybrid vehicles often involve the use of rubber with lower rolling resistance. As a result, the tires are less grippy and allow models like the Toyota Prius to achieve remarkable fuel efficiency numbers. As always, properly inflated tires can help achieve optimum efficiency when following the manufacturer's recommendations.

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.

  • Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid With 58 mpg, the Ioniq Blue is the most efficient hybrid on the market. That's based on a rating of 59 mpg highway and 57 mpg city. According to the EPA, that translates to an annual fuel cost of just $700 based on 15,000 miles per year of driving.

  • Toyota Prius Getting up to 58 mpg in the city and 53 on the highway, the Prius Eco is among the top picks for efficiency. 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.

  • Honda Insight The recently-updated Insight boasts a combined rating of 52 mpg. That's identical to most versions of the Prius apart from the Eco model. The car's annual fuel cost comes out to approximately $800.

  • Toyota RAV4 Hybrid The 40 mpg SUV offers more power and efficiency than the standard RAV4. All-wheel-drive comes standard, and the EPA says annual fuel costs come out to $1,050 (vs. $1,500 with the regular RAV4).

Tips for Getting the Best Hybrid MPG

Getting the best hybrid mpg is one of the top reasons for switching to a hybrid vehicle. 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 the course of the year. Not sure what the correct pressure is? Check the automaker's manual or the label inside the driver's side doorjamb.

  • 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.

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The CarsDirect editorial team is dedicated to providing our readers with the latest on new and used cars, expert opinions on which vehicles make the grade, and all the fun stuff in between.

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