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Hybrid Gas Mileage – 2009 Model Year

We devote a great deal of effort in testing hybrid car gas mileage here at MPGomatic. We test in real world conditions, not on a closed course in a lab. Week after week, this approach has proven its worth. Our results demonstrate that the gas mileage of hybrid cars is highly dependent upon driver mindset. By driving conscientiously, we’ve always met or exceeded each and every hybrid car’s gas mileage estimates. We roll the tape to show you how we do it … there are no secrets.

While the Toyota Prius nabbed the best hybrid gas mileage crown for 2009 once again, the field is shifting. With the upcoming release of the Fusion and Milan Hybrids, Ford hybrid gas mileage figures are on the rise. We had the opportunity to take a pre-production version of the Fusion Hybrid for a quick cold weather drive back in December and the car delivered impressive numbers. The Fusion and Milan Hybrids are unique in that they can glide under pure electric power at speeds up to 47 miles per hour. This hits a sweet spot, allowing folks to cruise the surface streets and back roads with a minimum dependence on gasoline.

While the official estimates for the Ford hybrid sedans do not match the Prius, they are significantly better than the direct competition: the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Nissan Altima Hybrid.

Our results with the Nissan Altima Hybrid’s gas mileage testing fell closest to the official numbers, but that can be attributed to two factors. The Nissan Altima Hybrid was the first hybrid we reviewed and our test unit lacked a sophisticated fuel economy display. When it comes down to it, we hadn’t learned the ropes and had little feedback on which to develop a methodology.

It’s all about getting to know the car you’re driving. The Honda Civic Hybrid and upcoming Honda Insight deliver excellent results, even though they lack the ability to glide in the same manner as the Toyota and new Ford hybrids.

Hybrid SUV gas mileage is a bit of a mixed bag. It was easy to exceed the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid’s gas mileage ratings. By driving the Escape Hybrid carefully, 40 MPG in town isn’t out of the question. While we haven’t had the opportunity to review the revamped 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, we expect to beat the numbers handily.

The Saturn Vue Green Line was the first GM hybrid SUV we tested. While we liked the VUE Green Line overall, it’s “mild hybrid” system did well on the highway, but didn’t deliver remarkable in-town benefits. The new Two-Mode Saturn VUE Hybrid is a different animal, with a more powerful gasoline engine and a hybrid system that’s more optimized for better economy at lower speeds. We’re looking forward to testing the second generation in the coming months, along with the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid.

There’s no question that the cost and availability of high-powered battery systems is holding hybrid gas milage back. The equation is fairly simple: the more battery power stuffed into a vehicle, the higher the potential results. The question comes down to economics. While the gas mileage of hybrid vehicles rises with larger battery packs, the cost of the batteries pushes up costs. Until battery production rises and the price drops, the average gas mileage for a hybrid vehicle is unlikely to significantly exceed current levels.

While aftermarket providers – including A123 System’s Hymotion subsidiary – have come up with a number of bolt-on/plug-in hybrid solutions to raise mileage results, the auto manufacturers have been proceeding slowly. One solution might be to offer more powerful battery packs as optional equipment … instead of a larger more powerful gasoline engine, hybrid vehicles might offer increased MPGs as part of an economy option package.

2009 Hybrid Gas Mileage

Year Manf. Model Engine Disp. Fuel Trans. City Hwy
2009 CADILLAC ESCALADE 2WD HYBRID 8 cylinder 6.0 liter R (AV) Auto 20 21
2009 CHEVROLET C15 SILVERADO 2WD HYBRID 8 cylinder 6.0 liter R (AV) Auto 21 22
2009 CHEVROLET C1500 TAHOE HYBRID 2WD 8 cylinder 6.0 liter R (AV) Auto 21 22
2009 CHEVROLET K15 SILVERADO 4WD HYBRID 8 cylinder 6.0 liter R (AV) Auto 20 20
2009 CHEVROLET K1500 TAHOE HYBRID 4WD 8 cylinder 6.0 liter R (AV) Auto 20 20
2009 CHEVROLET MALIBU HYBRID 4 cylinder 2.4 liter R (L4) Auto 26 34
2009 FORD ESCAPE HYBRID 4WD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (AV) Auto 29 27
2009 FORD ESCAPE HYBRID FWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (AV) Auto 34 31
2009 GMC C15 SIERRA 2WD HYBRID 8 cylinder 6.0 liter R (AV) Auto 21 22
2009 GMC C1500 YUKON HYBRID 2WD 8 cylinder 6.0 liter R (AV) Auto 21 22
2009 GMC K15 SIERRA 4WD HYBRID 8 cylinder 6.0 liter R (AV) Auto 20 20
2009 GMC K1500 YUKON HYBRID 4WD 8 cylinder 6.0 liter R (AV) Auto 20 20
2009 HONDA CIVIC HYBRID 4 cylinder 1.3 liter R (AV) Auto 40 45
2009 MAZDA TRIBUTE HYBRID 2WD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (AV) Auto 34 31
2009 MAZDA TRIBUTE HYBRID 4WD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (AV) Auto 29 27
2009 MERCURY MARINER HYBRID 4WD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (AV) Auto 29 27
2009 MERCURY MARINER HYBRID FWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (AV) Auto 34 31
2009 NISSAN ALTIMA HYBRID 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (AV) Auto 35 33
2009 SATURN AURA HYBRID 4 cylinder 2.4 liter R (L4) Auto 26 34
2009 SATURN VUE HYBRID 4 cylinder 2.4 liter R (L4) Auto 25 32
2009 TOYOTA CAMRY HYBRID 4 cylinder 2.4 liter R (AV) Auto 33 34
2009 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER HYBRID 4WD 6 cylinder 3.3 liter R (AV) Auto 27 25
2009 TOYOTA PRIUS 4 cylinder 1.5 liter R (AV) Auto 48 45

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2 comments ↓

#1 Jim Hoffman on 02.12.11 at 9:59 am

Our 2011 Escape hybrid AWD worked great the first 12,000 miles. Then in Nov the mpg dropped to under 20 mpg (one tank @ 14.7 mph). The regenerative braking does not engage on most of the stops, so using the friction brakes and not getting the battery recharge with regen brakes would seem to account for most of the the drop in mpg. After about 6 stops, regen braking sometimes begins to work. Ford says everything is OK and not to worry as this vehicle should not use regen braking for the initial braking efforts in cold weather and things will be OK next spring and summer. The car is in Iowa where it is cold now. I have trouble buying this story and is Ford trying to sell me a bill of goods? Is anyone else with an Escape having this problem? I read in several articles that “normal” braking requests commonly only signal the regenerative braking. Nothing about except in “cold weather”. I would greatly appreciate any help. It’s difficult to fight a company as large as Ford with either a product defect or false advertising. Without regen braking why would I have paid extra $$ for a “hybrid” to get much lower mpg?

#2 Dan on 02.16.11 at 2:09 pm

Jim – would love to discuss with you or have an engineer reach out to you – please feel free to email me at dpierc41@ford.com

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