Want to get the very best out of your ground-breaking Toyota hybrid? We’ve gathered a number of hybrid driving hints and tips that will help you to get the best from the Hybrid Synergy Drive system, improving fuel consumption and getting you further for less!
Whichever Toyota hybrid you’ve set your heart on, the following tips and pointers will maximise the range and fuel economy of your Toyota.
Hybrid driving: the basics
It’s not just hybrids that benefit from the first seven tips – these will help to improve any car’s fuel efficiency:
- Clear out the boot! Keeping the boot free of unnecessary weight will give your car and immediate boost in performance and economy
- Check your tyre pressures – dig out your owner’s manual, and do a weekly check to ensure that your tyres are correctly inflated in line with Toyota’s recommendation
- Think ahead – by planning your journeys, you can avoid traffic jams and minimise the likelihood of getting lost
- Shut up! Closing the windows and sun roof at speeds above 45mph will reduce drag, reducing fuel consumption
- Remove unused roof racks, boxes and bike racks – they’re a real drag too!
- Steady as she goes – maintain a steady speed and don’t go over the speed limit
- Smoothly does it! Try to avoid sudden braking or acceleration
Hybrid driving: hybrid-specific tips
Sorry everyone else, but these tips are for hybrids only:
- Become familiar with the hybrid information display so you can know how much energy is being used
- EV does it! Keep the car in EV mode as much as possible by using the accelerator gently, pressing it lightly but consistently
- Improve efficiency with ECO mode, which reduces aggressive throttle response.
- Harvest time – braking gently and early helps the regenerative braking harvest more energy, which means EV mode can operate for longer periods
- Keep an eye on the dials and gauges to fully understand the hybrid system and manage the charge levels in the hybrid’s high-voltage battery
- If you’re in stop-start traffic, don’t put the car in neutral (‘N’) when stationary, as electricity will not be generated and the hybrid battery will discharge
- Consider using cruise control to maintain steady speeds
- When using climate control, re-circulate mode reduces energy usage
- Think about the environment! Constant or heavy use of systems like air-con, lights and wipers will increase energy consumption
Hybrid driving: drive modes
Toyota hybrids have four drive modes: Normal, EV, Eco and Power. When you first start your hybrid, the car defaults to the ‘Normal’ drive mode, which automatically manages the most efficient use of both the engine and the battery. Drivers can also select one of the car’s on-demand drive modes to achieve better fuel consumption in certain settings.
These drive modes are: EV Mode where the car is powered by the battery only during city driving, running near-silent and with no tailpipe emissions; Eco Mode that reduces A/C output and lessens throttle response to limit harsh acceleration; and Power Mode which boosts acceleration by using the hybrid battery to assist the petrol engine.
The shift lever offers four positions: R (Reverse), N (neutral), B (engine braking) and D (drive). For normal driving, D (drive) is absolutely fine, but should you need it, position B has the effect of engine-braking handy when descending a steep hill, for example. It’s not recommended to leave the car in position B for normal driving, mainly because you’d end up using more fuel than necessary!
Hybrid driving: read the road ahead
Another great hybrid driving tip is to use the car’s battery whenever possible. You can do this in town and urban driving by accelerating to your required speed, easing off the accelerator and then gently easing the accelerator on again. By doing this, you can activate EV mode – indicated by the dashboard light – which means that the engine has switched off and you are using the electric battery.
Try to maintain a constant speed and, as always, it’s important to read the road ahead. By doing this, you can reduce the amount of unnecessary braking and accelerating, using less fuel. Braking slowly and gently also maximises the amount of energy recovered by the regenerative braking system on the car.
Hybrid driving: other factors to consider
Bear in mind that there are many factors that can affect a car’s performance, hybird included. On cold days, your car will use more fuel as it warms up, but once it’s reached its optimum temperature, the MPG figures will increase. Also, during the winter, you’re more likely to be using the air-conditioning, lights and wipers, all of which will use some electrical power from the battery. If you regularly travel the same route, don’t be surprised if you get better MPG figures during the summer than in the winter!
If you’d like more hybrid driving tips or want to discuss your driving technique with other hybrid owners, it’s worth visiting the Hypermiler website.
As a final note, please remember that these hybrid driving tips are published as general guidance on how to get the best fuel economy from your Toyota hybrid. Toyota encourages and supports safe driving at all times – please adhere to the rules of the road.