Hybrid driving tips for best fuel economy

Toyota C-HR driving tips

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 system, improving fuel consumption and getting you further for less.

Whichever Toyota hybrid you’ve set your heart on, the following tips and pointers should maximise the range and fuel economy of your Toyota.

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. Or read our handy tyre pressures article here.
  • 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 (where fitted) 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.

hybrid driving hints and tips

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

Hybrid driving: read the road ahead

Another great hybrid driving tip is to use the car’s battery whenever possible.

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.

hybrid driving

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.

Other factors to consider

Bear in mind that there are many factors that can affect a car’s performance, hybrid 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!

Toyota highlander

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.

Read more: Toyota hybrid – how does it work?


  1. Hi,

    I got my Auris Hybrid T Spirit about 6 weeks ago with 5000 miles on the clock and religiously follow your driving tips and have the lightest of right feet. My trip computer average MPG is usually at about 61-64 mpg but the actual mpg I am getting is under 40 mpg covering approximately 310-320 miles on 8.5 gallons. Do you think my car may have a fault?

    My old Auris MMT T Spirit did more than 40mpg

    1. Hi Amy,

      Thanks for the reply, I will go into my main dealers and get it checked out as 35mpg is simply too low ‘BUT’ I’ve also been to fuelly.com and found that the average real world mpg people have been seeing with their Auris Hybrids seems to be about 40 something mpg even when the Average Trip Computer reading is in the 60’s.

      I wouldn’t mind mpg in the high 40’s but this seems to be vastly different to the claimed 70.3mpg and in my case I’m only getting half the mpg I thought I would get. And something should be done with those trip computers, they make you think you’re getting fantastic mpg but it appears the figures they give are extraordinarily over estimated.

      1. HI again Amy,

        I just filled up and covered 228.7 miles over a week then filled up again, it took 17.26 litres to fill to the brim and that works out at 60.5mpg with an indicated 62.2mpg. Now I’m more than happy with that but a little confused, I’ll be blaming the poor first figures on my wife’s driving 🙂

      2. Hi Barry,
        Thanks so much for the update and it’s great to hear that you’re getting such good mileage from your Auris Hybrid.
        If you do have any more queries with this, your dealer will be happy to review with you.
        Many thanks.

  2. Hi Barry,
    Thank you for getting in touch. We recommend taking your Auris Hybrid to your Local Dealer. They will be able to complete a review of your car to confirm actual MPG figures. You can find their details here: http://ow.ly/efC0d.
    We hope this helps.

  3. I am considering the hybrid option of the Auris, but I would need at least a 24hour test drive to see whether I could live with it, especially the auto gearbox. I would be lucky to get a 5 minute test drive with my local dealer. Could Toyota encourage dealers to offer longer test drives, or at least have occasional promotions offering these?

    1. I was purchasing a 2010 Auris Hybrid from a VW main agent. I said I need more then “couple miles round the block” test drive. No problem they said, and I got an approx 30 mile test drive of hills, town, dual carriageway. The auto box on mine is just fine, just a lazy way of driving. If you worried about power, sure in Eco mode you wont be burning rubber off your tyres (last longer), but use power button and the “get up and go” is good, obviously not very efficient, but gets you up long hills at a good pace and you wont be holding other traffic up.

  4. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for your posts.
    Let us know which is your nearest Dealer and we’ll see what we can do for you…
    Many thanks.

  5. Hello,

    I have a new toyota auris hybrid which I’ve been driving for two months. Although I never expected to get the stated 74.3mpg, I was anticipating around 55mpg, which I’m getting, the issue is the actual range I’m getting from a full tank. Based on a 9.9 gallon tank and a conservative 50mpg, the range should be 495. Despite an average of 52mpg for my recent tank of fuel, I only got 380 miles range. Whilst I appreciate that when the range counter reaches 0 there is stilll some fuel available, it does not account for the discrepancy, unless of course there is still 115 miles worth of fuel left. Could you advice whether this could be a fault? Thanks in advance.

  6. Hi James,
    Thank you for your post.
    The fuel range is calculated conservatively and so on the side of caution, this is to try and prevent drivers from running out of fuel during a journey. The range does also learn from previous use and so what fuel economy has been typically achieved.
    If you would like to discuss this further, your dealer will be happy to help. You can find their details here: http://ow.ly/jdyji.
    We hope you are enjoying your new Auris Hybrid!

  7. Hi, I have just purchased a 57plate Prius and wonder could you tell me if the hybrid batteries should drop 2 bar’s on the display overnight. Last night when I parked the car it was full and green. This morning it is showing blue and dropped 2 bars. There does not seem to be any information about this in the hand book.

  8. Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the post. As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, we are usually reluctant to provide any form of remote or online diagnosis or opinion. Generally we prefer to refer customers to their local Toyota dealer to answer ownership or product related questions. This just helps provide you with the very best advice and allows for a physical inspection of the car.

    However, in this case we can offer you a few pointers which we hope will help and hopefully put your mind at rest.

    Firstly, the simple fact the car was started after sitting still overnight would immediately draw upon the battery. In itself, this would result in a reduced number of bars. Secondly, and perhaps more relevant would relate to temperature. We know when the temperature drops so does the level of charge. Even an overnight period of inactivity, especially considering the weather we have been experiencing recently, will certainly have an effect on the battery charge.

    If you have any more detailed questions on the matter, as mentioned, it may be worth getting in touch with your dealer who will be best placed to offer diagnosis.

    Thanks for getting in touch.

    1. Hi Marianne,
      Thank you for your question and we hope you’re enjoying your new Yaris Hybrid!
      It’s difficult to give a definitive answer here as it is very dependent on driving style. For most drivers, cruise control can help to improve MPG. However, others may prefer to utilise techniques set to help improve MPG in every day driving, such as anticipating traffic, hills and red lights. You can read our hybrid driving tips here: http://ow.ly/jQKLb.
      We hope this helps, kind regards.

  9. Putting the gear selector to N does not deplete the battery. It does not charge, but it does not appreciably deplete the battery.
    The main battery depletion is at traffic lights when in D and the auxiliary brake is applied. Power is still being applied to the electric motor drive.
    The other options are 1) Put into N whilst waiting with the auxiliary brake applied.
    2) Use the foot brake whilst in D. This has the disadvantage of pressurising the hydraulic brake seals unnecessarily.

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