Hybrid Gas Mileage: A Comparison Guide

October 31, 2012

You’re looking for a car for your family, but you want to know which one offers the best hybrid gas mileage. This article will define 'hybrid car,' then compare the approximate hybrid car fuel economy that you can expect.

Hybrid Car Definition

A hybrid car is defined in a few ways. These are:

  1. A vehicle that is powered by both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, which is usually powered by batteries that are recharged by the braking action applied during deceleration, or by a power cord plugged into special outlets.
  2. Any car that utilizes 2 different power sources for its motive force.

For purposes of this article, we will define a hybrid car as one with an internal combustion engine, either gasoline or diesel, and an electric motor. In most hybrid cars, gasoline is the fuel of choice. Most first generation hybrids only had the deceleration braking charging system and many did not have the capability of being charged by an external power cord.

Mileage Numbers Breakdown

Almost without exception, a hybrid car will have significantly higher mileage numbers than its gasoline only cousins. The normal trade off for this is usually low end power. The smaller engines usually put into hybrids just don't give the acceleration that most drivers are used to. Here are the mileage numbers of 5 different hybrids, both Environmental Protection Agency estimates as well as numbers obtained in testing by fueleconomy.gov.

  • 2005 Honda Insight: This tiny 2 seat hybrid has an EPA estimated 48 mpg in the city and 58 on the highway. Numbers obtained during testing were between 59 and 91 miles per gallon. Tested combined mileage was 71 miles per gallon.
  • 2005 Toyota Prius: The Prius is great for small families, being a 4 door sedan that can comfortably fit 4 people. EPA estimates for the Prius are 48 miles per gallon in the city and 45 on the highway. Actual measured mileage numbers were between 32 and 65, with a combined mileage of 47.8 mpg.
  • 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid: This is the second year the Civic was available as a hybrid. Its numbers reflect its newness. EPA estimated miles per gallon at 40 city and 45 highway, so the Civic Hybrid left much room to improve. Actual numbers obtained during testing were even worse, at a low of 30 to a high of 72 and a combined MPG of 45.2.
  • 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid: Ford's entry into the hybrid market with an SUV body style, the Escape also suffered from low mileage numbers: 30 city and a surprising 28 highway. Actual numbers measured between 24 and 40, with a combined mileage of 31.1.
  • 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4WD: Mercury's entry into the hybrid SUV class also posted some disappointing mileage numbers. Estimated by the EPA at 28 and 26 for City and Highway driving, numbers obtained during testing were between 23 and 32, with a combined mileage of 27.4 mpg.

As can be seen from the listed numbers, if you go with the smaller cars, you'll save gas money. Recently, auto makers have begun introducing hybrid cars with alternative fuel sources, such as E-85 ethanol.