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As gas prices continue on a general upward trend (don't get too excited about the recent reprieve) it's common to see MPG numbers flaunted in car ads, especially those promoting hybrids. It's tempting to take those calculations at face value because, frankly, its no fun to spend your time thinking about how much money you're spending on fuel. And really, why shouldn't you trust estimates that are backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? Well, first, because the EPA has no clue how or where you drive. As displayed in TRANSLOGIC 71: Commandments Of Hypermiling, driving habits and conditions can have quite an impact on your fuel economy. Further, independent tests, like those conducted at Consumer Reports, have long since found the EPA numbers to be optimistic for many models.

With a road trip planned from Detroit to Washington D.C. and a 2011 CT 200h on loan from Lexus, we thought we might give fuel economy tracking a try. While we lack the sophisticated equipment of a government agency, we couldn't help but wonder how our real-world MPG numbers might stack up against the EPA's estimate. Here are the results:

SPECS

VEHICLE 2011 Lexus CT 200h
POWERTRAIN 1.8L I-4 w/ electric motor (hybrid)
FUEL TANK CAPACITY 11.9 gallons
EPA EST 43 City / 40 Hwy MPG

REAL WORLD RESULTS

DISTANCE TRAVELED 531.9 miles
FUEL CONSUMED 11.76 gallons
TOTAL FUEL COST $46.35 (premium)
AVG FUEL ECONOMY 45.23 MPG

We were impressed to find that the Lexus hybrid easily exceeded the EPA's fuel economy estimate. We didn't even have to adapt our driving style to achieve the high MPG mark--we simply kept pace on the turnpikes and made good use of the cruise control. Based upon our findings, its feasible to think that you could drive all the way from Detroit to D.C. in a CT 200h on a single tank of gas, if just barely. And, $46.35 is certainly cheaper than an airplane ticket from DTW to DCA (although the Lexus's $30K MSRP is nothing to sneeze at).

How do your real-world MPG results compare to the EPA estimate for your vehicle? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook or Twitter pages!

[Photo Source: Capital building by Skibum415 and Detroit skyline by patrickgibson, Flickr]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 33 Comments
      muller678
      • 4 Months Ago
      Actually, on a long trip most cars will do substantially better MPG's that they get in day-to-day driving. I recently traveled to Pueblo Colorado from Southern California, and back in my 2004 Jaguar XJ-8. That's a big car with a 300 HP V-8. I usually average 22-23 MPG because the car is light - all aluminum. But on that trip (2,400 miles, steady 75 miles per hour, a/c on) I got an incredible 29.4 MPG.
        alfredschrader
        • 4 Months Ago
        @muller678
        Thunderdrive can get 90 mpg and pass a Jaguar like it's not even moving. Thunderdrive works on the same principle as lightning. Eventually, nearly all cars will use it. Is worth more zeros than will go into a calculator. I'm the only one that has it....Al-
        SamBlob
        • 4 Months Ago
        @muller678
        Thunderdrive is worth zero, as is alfredschrader.
      Jon
      • 4 Months Ago
      The VW Jetta TDI has a real world MPG of 50 to 60. Diesel fuel cost about the same as Premium gas as well. I have gone almost 700 miles on a full tank. The new Passat TDI with a larger fuel tank can go even farther.
      ironsrx
      • 3 Years Ago
      My 03 VW Diesel has averaged 46.9mpg over 7 years while climbing the roads of VT to the tune of 142,000 miles. It's held up well with just a couple of minor repairs over the years.
      Eve
      • 4 Months Ago
      Actually, driving without cruise control will give BETTER milage if you know how to drive!
      1040advocate
      • 4 Months Ago
      we could always resort to the VW bug...air cooled..40 - 50 mpg...built in the 1940's
      Dick
      • 3 Years Ago
      This has been adapted by several cars and trucks in the past. I know that Buick has been selling the LaCross E which is the same approach, wonder why it is not better advertised. It gets about 27 MPG without E assist and 37 MPG with E assist and you can buy American and get the same results. I have had Buick cars for over 30 plus years and have yet to find one that was a problem. One that was assembled in Mexico did not meet the standards of the ones made in America and Canada.
      • 3 Years Ago
      My 2008 Prius constantly gets 46 mpg combined. My 2010 GMC Terrain on the other hand, not even close to EPA suggested.
        Adam Morath
        • 4 Months Ago
        Ha! Not surprised by either. Thanks for posting Colin! -- Adam Morath TRANSLOGIC
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why don't you check the MPG on the standard diesel cars in Europe. We have been renting for years 4 door sedans from VW, Ford and others that easily get 40 to 50 MPG. Isn't time that we realize that the diesel today is clean and efficient and these hybrids are nothing more than a scam. You don't even seen them in Japan.
      GolferBob
      • 3 Years Ago
      My 2001 Acura 3.2 CL got 40 mpg on a long trip through the flatlands some years ago, travelling at a steady 70 mph on cruise. Same car still gets about 32 on highway trips now with over 100K miles on it.
      sunshield
      • 3 Years Ago
      I traded my 2008 Prius for a 2011 Prius 6 monthes ago and I consistantly get 50 to 52 mpg. I travel daily appoximately 60 miles. I just went on a 1100 mile trip all interstate miles and averaged 48.5 mpg and I didn't hold back on my speed, averaged 70 to 75 mph. I bought a level 4 Prius loaded with the solar roof which is amazing, the technology is top notch. The nav and sound system is top of the line. I sold my 08 Prius for $5,000 more than I paid for it ! We use to drive Mercedes and now we own a Prius and a Toyota Venza. Toyota has it all over MB for quality and Price! The V-6 Venza loaded averages 24 to 28 mpg! My new Prius was in the Mid $30's after my discount I recieved. I looked at the Volt that starts at 40k, the quality isn't there. It's too bad that GM can not compete with quality and Price. The new Prius Plug In will blow them out of the water with mpg. And the Prius C coming in the spring of 2012 is suppose to get even better gas mpg and also will be available in a plug-in version!
      stripedbass7
      • 3 Years Ago
      p.s. Gmc is for suckers. Or people that want a made in mexico auto. yes, mexico.
      minimaniac99
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a joke. I had a Geo Metro that gave me over 50 mpg on the hiway years ago.
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