We own a Jeep Liberty and a first generation Toyota Prius. My wife commutes 50 miles a day, so she drives the Prius most of the time. It is a great car. It has over 50,000 trouble free miles with an average of 45-50 mpg.
Of course, the obvious reason for the excellent gas mileage is because it is a hybrid. But, I have noticed an interesting phenomena that also impacts mileage. The Prius has a “gas mileage bar graph” display on the dash (see photo above). This provides the driver with immediate feedback as to past and current mpg. For me (and I am guessing for many Prius drivers), this immediate feedback causes a change in driving habits. I am always trying to maximize mileage and beat my previous “best.” Consequently, I use a number of techniques that cut down on fuel usage. When I drive the Jeep, I tend to forget these techniques and revert to my old ways.
Yesterday, I came across a website, Cleanmpg.com, created by a fuel economy fanatic named Wayne Gerdes. The website has a weath of information, much of it devoted to gas saving techniques. Gerdes calls those who, like himself, do everything they can to maximize mileage “Hypermilers.”
Gerdes has a fascinating discussion of the ways the average driver can become a hypermiler and the site is well worth a visit. Of course, I will never get 50 miles to the gallon from my jeep, but Gerdes claims a 30% increase is possible regardless of the vehicle. With the current price of gas, hypermiling makes sense. Next time you see a blue Jeep liberty coasting up to a stop sign, wave. It could be me at the wheel!