Hybrid driving – top tips for best fuel economy

Driving a hybrid car offers many benefits, including quieter running and low tail-pipe emissions.

Our hybrid driving hints and tips will help ensure you get the very best from your car’s engine, extending fuel economy and improving MPG.

Our full range of Lexus hybrids currently includes:
CT 200h
IS 300h
GS 300h/GS 450h
RX 450h
LS 600h L
NX 300h
RC 300h

Whichever Lexus hybrid you’ve set your heart on, our guide will help you maximise your car’s range.

The basics – these will help any car’s fuel efficiency, hybrids included.

1. Tidy the boot! Removing unnecessary weight from the car will boost performance immediately
2. Consult the handbook. Ensure the car’s tyres are correctly inflated
3. Plan your journey – avoid jams or getting lost
4. Close windows and sun roof at higher speeds (above 45mph)
5. Remove unused roof racks, boxes and bike racks
6. Maintain a steady speed, and do not exceed speed limits
7. Avoid sudden braking and acceleration

Hybrid driving  – sorry other car drivers, these are for hybrids only!

8. Familiarise yourself with the car’s hybrid information display so you can monitor how much energy is being used
9. Be gentle with the accelerator pedal; press it lightly but consistently, to help keep the car in EV mode
10. Use ECO mode for improved efficiency – this will reduce response to aggressive use of the accelerator
11. Gentle, early braking boosts regenerative braking, resulting in EV mode being able to operate for longer periods
12. Monitor the dials and gauges to fully understand the state of the hybrid system and manage high voltage battery levels
13. When in stop-start traffic, do not select ‘N’ neutral when stationary, as electricity will not be generated and the hybrid battery will discharge
14. Consider the use of Cruise Control to maintain steady speeds
15. If using Climate Control, re-circulate mode reduces energy usage
16. Maximise your use of EV mode wherever it is appropriate to do so
17. Consider the environment! Heavy use of ancillaries like air-con, lights and wipers will increase energy consumption

CT 200h Lexus Hybrid Drive

Drive Modes:
The Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain provides four drive modes in Lexus hybrid cars. When you first turn on your hybrid, the car will be ready to drive in a default drive mode. This will automatically choose the most efficient use of both the engine and the battery. Using the car’s different ‘on-demand’ drive modes (see image below) will help achieve better fuel consumption.

A Lexus hybrid has the following drive modes: EV Mode (encourages the car to be powered solely by the battery when city driving), ECO Mode (the car reduces A/C output and dampens harsh acceleration), Normal Mode (the default drive setting in everyday motoring) and Sport Mode (which uses the battery to help boost acceleration along with the use of the engine).

The shift lever offers four positions, R (Reverse), N (neutral), B (engine braking) and D (drive). Using position B has the effect of engine braking and can be used when descending a hill, for example. We don’t recommend you leave the car in B for normal driving as this can use more fuel over time. For normal driving we recommend you move the shift lever to D.

CT 200h control Lexus Hybrid Drive

Read the road ahead:
When driving your hybrid, the aim is to utilise the car’s battery. A way to do this in urban driving is to accelerate to your required speed then to ease off the accelerator then gently ease on again. Given the right conditions, you’ll see the ‘EV’ light come on to note that the engine is switched off and you’re using the electric battery.

Do try to maintain a constant speed. It’s important, always, to read the road ahead. This will reduce the amount of unnecessary braking and accelerating needed and will therefore use less fuel. Slow and gentle braking will utilise the regenerative braking system on the car.

IS 200h Lexus Hybrid Drive

Other factors to consider:
Many things affect a hybrid’s performance. If it’s cold, your car will use more fuel to warm up. Once it’s at its optimum temperature you’ll see your MPG figures increase. For example, you’ll achieve better MPG figures in the summer than in the winter, traveling on the same route. Also, during winter months you are more likely to use the car’s accessories such as the air conditioning system, radio, lights and window wipers. These all will use electric power from the battery.

For further advice on hybrid driving tips, we recommend visiting the Hypermiler website.

Please note, these hybrid driving tips are published as general guidance on how to get the best fuel economy from your Lexus hybrid. Lexus encourages and supports safe driving at all times – please adhere to the rules of the road.

LS 600H Hybrid System

Read more: Lexus and the performance of hybrid
Read more: Perfect partners: E-CVT and hybrid
Read more: How does Lexus Hybrid Drive work?

41 comments

  1. Can the fuel management system software be updated by the Dealer when new releases are available? If so is there a charge?

  2. Hi
    I’ve just checked my motorway mpg , I did a reset as I joined the onslip I did between 70- 85 mph the car ( rx400h 08 ) showed 31.2
    mpg , I then reset as I came off the motorway, and drove home , approx 16 miles the reading showed 44 mpg , I later went shopping with four passengers and the car fully loaded with shopping items and fuel consumption showed 36 mpg .
    I think these figures are fantastic , I have checked the on-board computer figures using the old method ie fill the tank to the top , drive for 100 miles or so , refill the tank to the top and calculate fuel used , this showed a very close comparison indeed to the computer reading .
    this system seems to match my driving style very well , anticipating ahead and gentle braking , I love this car which I bought recently, well done Lexus .

    1. Thanks for your post John and we appreciate your comments about your RX 400h.
      You are spot on in terms of your driving techniques to get the best out of hybrid, it also makes for a more relaxing drive too.

    2. Hi, I have just purchased a 2015 NX300H, I have now been driving it for 1 week and I’m really impressed, it drives lovely returns 40 mph, which in my opinion is good enough. My only slight concern is the battery gauge never reeds full, is this normal?

      1. Hi Stephen,
        Thank you for getting in touch.
        This is quite normal and nothing to worry about. The HV battery will rarely be completely full as often some power will be consumed for a component or whilst being driven.
        Hop this helps.

  3. Now six months into our first Hybrid ride, a really nice NX300H.
    Although it’s a great car, we don’t get all the hybrid “hype”
    We only get 36 mpg. which is little better than our previous non hybrid 2ltr petrol engine car,
    Our local cabs have Prius’s and get better than 60mpg, reason for me to get a Lexus no.
    Really disappointed as we really expected better mpg than 36.

    1. Hi Keith,
      We are sorry to hear that. We have taken your comments on board and have passed them on to the relevant teams. Many thanks.

  4. I just bought a used 2013 ES 300h. My first around-town driving posts 24.4 mpg, when previous history shows 37+ mpg. I primarily drive in-town, and there can be stop-and-go intersections on the way. I thought I was conscientious about accelerating and braking. I was advised to use the ECO mode. Today I moved it to NORMAL and got ever-so-slightly increase economy. I bought the car because I thought it would get close to 40 (mid 30’s is great even) mpg, but am having remorse with the horrid fuel economy. A non-hybrid can get better economy than this. Could there be a mechanical problem? What can I do to improve this?

    1. Hi Nala,
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      Please could you provide your reg or VIN number so we can look in to this further.
      Thanks.

  5. I’ve had an IS300H for a year now. Over 24,000 miles I have averaged 49mpg. The consumption improved slowly as the engine wore in over the first 15,000 miles or so. Fuel consumption varies massively due to cold weather and traffic conditions. Hills and roofrack loads particularly drop the consumption as you would expect. Driving smoothly up to speed and planning ahead really helps keep the MPG high. If you thrash the engine or drive above 70mph you will end up with figures closer to 40mpg (or worse).

    My 35 mile commute consists of around 25 miles of 70mph driving and 10 miles of 30-60mph roads.

    On a clear run winter i tend to see around 47mpg, dropping further if the temperature is particularly cold. In summer it tends to be closer to 55mpg.

    The most economical speed for the car is around 55mph, so if you are in heavy traffic just sit with the lorries in the inside lane and see your MPG soar while all the other drivers play the stop start game and waste fuel in the process (and probably make no real progress for the effort).

    1. Hi Hugh,

      Many congratulations on your new car, and thanks for sticking with Lexus.

      We wish you continued pleasure in your RC.

      All the best,

      Lexus UK

  6. Hi
    Last 10 years I am using German cars, I drive a lot ,
    Mostly motorway,
    I just wonder this hybrid cars how economical in motorway speed ?
    95% of my travel motorway in my drive

    1. Hi,

      Our latest hybrids are much improved on motorways, but we recommend a test drive on a motorway to see for yourself.

      We’d be honoured to help arrange this. Let us know if we can.

      Thanks

  7. Recently acquired a 2013 Lexus ct200h premier,82,000 miles.out of interest waited for fuel warning light to come on set odometer to zero ,put in 1 gallon of petrol and noted mpg when light came on again.
    36 miles covered on 1 gallon.
    Shortish journeys,car driven 20 minutes or so each time in town mostly,a little dual carriageway use.
    Is that low mpg?seems low to me.

    1. Hello Byron,
      Congratulations on your CT200h, thank you for choosing Lexus.
      There are many factors that impact fuel economy, such as driving style, driving conditions and the use of elements such as air conditioning.
      Although, there are some general driving tips that can help to maximise fuel economy. As with any vehicle, minimising hard acceleration, keeping your overall speed down, maintaining a smooth, constant speed whenever possible and planning ahead to manage your interactions with other vehicles and conserve your car’s momentum are all fuel-saving essentials. Keep acceleration light and gentle, but consistent.
      However, if you believe that there is something wrong with your vehicle, your nearest Toyota Centre will be able to look over it for you and make any necessary recommendations.
      Thanks.

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