Which hybrid model gets the best gas mileage?


When the Toyota Prius first came out, the gas mileage claims astonished everyone. But now that almost every manufacturer offers their own hybrid, is the Prius mpg really all that great? Let's analyze the data ...

But before we get to the analytics, let me tell you a little about my personal Prius experience. I bought a used 2008 Prius a few years ago. And compared to the 10-cylinder F250 8-10mpg "monster truck" I got rid of, the Prius got great mileage!  The best mpg I got was on a round trip from Cary to Myrtle Beach. I averaged almost 56mpg over the entire trip! Here's a picture of my Prius screen when I got there:


There are a few tricks to getting the really stellar mileage in a Prius. For example, you really only get the highest mpg when the engine is warm (therefore I get kinda low mpg on my daily 2.6 mile commute to work). Also, at speeds greater than ~62mph, the wind resistance starts becoming a factor, and your mpg goes down. And it's really best to travel behind other vehicles on the highway, so they are "punching the hole through the air" instead of you having to do it (you don't have to tailgate, but just don't be the car that's out front!) Also, rather than keeping a steady foot on the gas pedal, the Prius gets better mpg if you alternate between gaining a little speed and then coasting (especially if you can time your coasting to coincide with hills). And keep an eye on the stop lights down the road, so you don't unnecessarily build up a lot of speed & momentum, just to end up putting on your brakes a few hundred feet down the road.

The worst mileage I've gotten has been very recently, after I added roof racks to carry the 2 pieces of my outrigger canoe. The rack seriously compromises the aerodynamics of the car, and I'm only getting about 33mpg (with just the empty rack - not even carrying the canoe!)


And now, back to the original question ... is the Prius gas mileage really all that great? Assuming you don't mess up the aerodynamics with a roof rack, and that you drive it like it's supposed to be driven - is the Prius mpg all that much better than the other hybrids? I think the data speaks for itself. When I plot the highway & city mpg of all the 2016 hybrid vehicles, the three Prius models really do stand head-and-shoulders above the rest!


So, what's the best (and/or worst) mpg you've ever gotten, in your daily driver vehicle?

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About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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  1. What was your average MPG during daily driving without the Roof rack? I have a 2016 and am thinking about getting one but there seems to be a much bigger hit to MPG then I thought there would be.

    • Robert Allison

      My Prius is a 2008 (so it doesn't get as good mpg as your newer 2016), but in general driving (once the engine's warmed up), I like to shoot for 50mpg. With the roof rack on, that seemed to go down to about 42mpg.

  2. I see Avalon, Camry, and Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid when I look at the page source but don't see any part of those three names on the graph. Can that be "fixed"?

    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      All of the cars are being plotted, and html hover-text is being written to the html file (that's what you're seeing when you look at the 'page source' html file) ... but, as they say, "the devil is in the details". In this case, many cars have essentially the same mpg, and therefore the plot markers are in the same location, and 'stack' one on top of the other - and when you hover your mouse over stacked markers, you only see the html hover-text for the last one that was drawn. I used the gplot symbol statement's "pointlabel" option to add the text labels, and by default some labels are dropped when there is not room to draw them without collisions with other pointlabels. I tried using the 'nodropcollisions' option just now, but the colliding labels for the clump of markers in the middle look really bad (and are unreadable) ... therefore I think in this case it's best to allow gplot to drop the colliding labels.

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