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Old 01-14-2016, 07:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Newbie with a new car

Hi everyone,
I am new to hypermiling. I only just found out about this concept after acquiring my new car, and being disappointed in the average mpg I have been getting. It's a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid limited 4wd-i and it has 140,000 miles on it.
My previous car was a 1997 Toyota Camry. I was hoping to be able to get around the same mpg as the Camry, since even though it's an SUV, it is a hybrid.
It is my first hybrid, so now I'm trying to learn how to drive like a hybrid owner

So far I've put in 130 miles over the past week. But I've only achieved 19 mpg average. The Camry got between 25-30 mpg (just a guess because I didn't have anything telling me my average, but I could get from San Francisco to Los Angeles on one tank.)

I've been researching tips and techniques on how to improve my gas mileage. I try as hard as I can to not keep my foot on the gas and coast. I'm now braking very slowly and smoothly rather then abruptly when possible. I am using the a/c and heater much less. I try the pulse and glide method but it doesn't seem to help. Perhaps I'm doing it wrong? When I press on the gas the bar graph on the computer shows me I'm making less then 10 mpg, and then when I'm coasting it shows 60 mpg.

What makes this all so difficult to accomplish is that I live in San Francisco, which means that there is almost no flat terrain, and there are stop signs and traffic lights at nearly every block. Does this make it hopeless for me to try hypermiling?

I actually don't drive that much in the city. The main reason I switched to an SUV is that I drive long distances and need to carry a lot of gear for my business. I know having a lot of stuff in the car will not help, but it is the main reason why I needed a bigger vehicle. I was just hoping with a hybrid I could have an SUV without it being too much of a gas guzzler, and be able to compare mileage to a regular sedan. But I don't seem to be achieving this.

What am I doing wrong and what tips could you recommend for me? I am on half of a tank of my first tank of gas, and it on 130 miles. Do I need to just put more miles on to see my average go up, or does it matter? Will driving in places like San Francisco be a big hurdle for me?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Last edited by tinyprizm; 01-14-2016 at 08:44 PM..
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Old 01-14-2016, 10:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome, start a fuel log so we can see your progress. Most important part IMO is avoiding using the brakes, anticipate when you need to slow down/stop heavier cars cost farther so will need to learn the Highlander coasting distance. Coasting is better than regen braking.

Next is trying to hold freeway speed down often easier said than done, find someone bigger to draft at a safe distance. I like to think of it as following my full back.
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Old 01-15-2016, 12:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I lived in Sacramento, I understand your pain!
Air the tires up to 40+ psi. that's worth a couple of mpgs.
Gotta get a scangauge.
(see the first link in my signature for the reasons why)
MetroMPG: "Get the MPG gauge - it turns driving into a fuel & money saving game."

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Second: Grille Block

Third: Full underbelly pan

Fourth: rear skirts and 30.4mpg on trip!
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Old 01-15-2016, 12:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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How long have your trips been? Short trips don't always allow the engine to heat up fully, which is required for the engine to turn off (I'm not familiar with the exact conditions required for the Highlander). The engine also doesn't run as efficiently as it could while it's warming up. Longer trips help to average away the initial poor mileage from a cold start. Maximizing the length of your trips by combining grocery shopping trips with other errands will keep the engine warmer overall, even if it'll be off 20-30 minutes while you conduct your business. My Prius usually loses a few MPGs if I'm mainly making short trips, especially when it's cool out.

130 miles isn't very far. I would wait until you go through a few tanks before assuming the worst. Something easy that you can do in the meantime is check the tire pressure and make sure it's at least what the sticker on the door jamb specifies.
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Old 01-15-2016, 01:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Relax. It will take several hundred miles to get the "feel" of your new vehicle. And in time that "feel" will be honed and combined with your "yet to fine tune" hypermiling techniques such that your miles per gallon accomplishments will be worthy of a whole new thread. Happy travels!
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Old 01-15-2016, 08:29 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Welcome to the site.

I agree with the others. Get a scangauge or similar and that'll really help you tweak and learn your vehicle.

Current project: A better alternator delete
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