Hypermiling in a Hybrid Gets the Competitive Juices Flowing

Dan Ilika
by Dan Ilika

I wouldn’t exactly classify myself as carefree when it comes to fuel consumption, but I’ve never been much of a fuel miser either.

Tasked with comparing the 2017 Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, however, I quickly came to understand the allure of these gas-electric rides and the competitive spirit they are capable of stirring. This stuns me as much to write as it surely is for you to read, but there’s a certain sense of excitement associated with such fuel-sipping cars; a tangible feeling of setting and ultimately achieving goals that’s hard to beat.

I’ve driven hybrid-powered cars before, but never did I fully appreciate the symbiotic relationship between man and machine required to realize their full potential. Without changing my driving style much, I expected as-advertised fuel economy and was consistently disappointed when it didn’t come to fruition. Piloting the Prius and Ioniq, however, something clicked. Suddenly I went from disinterested driver to hypermiling mastermind, with efficiency reigning supreme.

Fittingly, my newfound adoration for fuel-sipping started with the Prius. This is the car that put hybrids on the map almost 20 years ago, and it continues to lead the slow-moving charge towards widespread acceptance. Yielding a better-than-expected 59 mpg (4 L/100 km) over our first 100 miles (160 kilometers) together, I was hooked. I suddenly found myself feeling frustrated and annoyed when the gas engine engaged, acutely aware of the impact it would have on economy.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Toyota Prius vs Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

When it came time to switch into the Ioniq, I saw the Prius’ fuel efficiency not just as a benchmark but a challenge. The same initial sample size yielded impressive results: 62 mpg (3.8 L/100 km), better, even, than the advertised 58 mpg (4.1 L/100 km) of the ultra-efficient Ioniq Blue. With each passing trip to and from work, I found myself opting to open the windows instead of running the air conditioning, accelerating gently at all times, coasting when possible, and waiting for traffic lights rather than charging through them all in the name of fuel efficiency.

When my week evaluating the two hybrids was over, both burned about half-a-tank of gas each, with the Prius finishing at 57 mpg (4.1 L/100 km) combined and the Ioniq 59 mpg (4 L/100 km) combined. And so they were reluctantly returned knowing that their lifetime consumption had become that much better on my watch. No, hybrids aren’t for everyone; they necessitate a conscious effort to be driven effectively and efficiently. Like learning to drive stick, for some people, it simply doesn’t compute. But I finally understand how easily it comes to others, and how addicting it can be once it does.

Dan Ilika
Dan Ilika

Dan is AutoGuide.com's Road Test Editor, a long-suffering Buffalo Bills fan, and a car guy since childhood. He enjoys long walks on the beach and long drives just about anywhere the road, track or trail will take him. You'll see him driving around evaluating cars and in front of a camera talking about them. Dan is a member of the World Car of the Year jury.

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