It’s not easy getting 30 mpg. Especially not if you’re driving the new 2010 Toyota Prius, which is rated at a combined 50 miles to the gallon. But with my afternoon driving partner, that’s precisely what we set out to do, breaking just about every rule you could think of to ensure poor mileage.
In other words, we drove the way many folks do every single day, racing up to stoplights, then slamming on the brakes, revving the engines while we waited. We used every opportunity to pass, tailgated almost constantly and launched off each light with the accelerator pedal pressed flat to the floor.
Even that yielded what most folks would consider great fuel economy in the Prius – but we got only a little more than half what the hybrid-electric vehicle was rated to deliver. Several colleagues, driving with the intent to maximize their mileage, on the other hand, turned in fuel economy numbers of more than 70 mpg, at the end of the afternoon.
Every car is rated by the federal government as to what mileage you can expect, both in the city and on the highway. Changes to the testing process, in 2008, made the Munroney sticker, on the side of each new vehicle, more accurate than ever. Even so, as they say, “mileage may vary.” All sorts of factors can come into play: the fuel you use, traffic conditions, even the altitude you live at. But the most important factor of all is you, the driver.
Even the most mild-mannered motorist can pick up a few miles a gallon by learning some basic eco-driving tips. And for more aggressive drivers – notice me raising my own hand – the impact can be as much as 30 to 40 percent or more.