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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I bought our 2002 Prius a few months ago. It has never gotten more than 37 or 38 MPG and normally gets about 35 MPG. Shortly after we bought it we asked the dealer if that was right and they said it has a "break in period" That sounded to me like the kind of lie car dealers are famous for but we listened. When we turned 3000 milies on with no signs of improvement we decided the "break in period" was over and we brought it to the dealership. They told us everything checked out on it and 52 MPG is really under idea conditions and we must really drive it hard. (I drive the car the same as my 1994 Corrolla that I can get 28 or so MPG. The Prius is mostly driven in stop-and-go conditions off-highway the way that is supposed to be best, but when we do drive it on the highway it gets better mileage.). Is there any chance they are telling me the truth? Is this car just incredibly over-hyped? I know 52 MPG is really the limit of what I can expect but I had certainly imagined better than 35 MPG. What sort of realistic miles are other people getting? Does anyone know where I can turn for help to get this addressed?

-Tom Glick

Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I am geting similar mileage in NY. Averaging about 35-38 most tanks. My commute is short with mostly local driving. Warmup time is a big factor in mileage. The first 5 minutes average around 20, the next 5 is around 35 MPG, then subsequent bars can reach or exceed 50 on the graph. My best tank was 46 MPG with mostly highway driving. My worst (in the 20s) was in actual city driving in Manhattan. My Prius is the same age and miles as yours.

Tom DF

Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not sure, but I might be the first prius owner-poster that lives in vegas. I don't experience any of the cold weather dilemas that some of the prius posters have talked about here. I get pretty good gas milage. I've averaged about 44-47 MPG. I do some freeway driving, but mostly commutes and such.

I'm currently looking to hack in some external systems to the multi-informational display. Has anybody had luck in doing so?

- Ryan

Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've put 43,000 on my car in LA metro area. I drive very fast on the highway and keep up with traffic around town. Lifetime average is about 41mpg.

Some tips to get over 40.

Take trips of 15 minutes or more.

Reduce AC use below 40mph.

Accellerate briskly to driving speed and lift completely off the throttle, then ease back in to maintain speed.

Make it a habit to lift often and let the car coast.

Look ahead and make long, charging, stops. ( I have the original brakes and last week they still had over 80% of the lining. They may never need changing.)

I've done some tests in this same car, and if I drive normal on the highway and in the city it gets about 47mpg. But why?

Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I follow these same driving tips and have similar results.

As for Tom Glick, my first 2 tanks I was getting MPG in the 30's as well.
Even now my worst milage comes during "city" stop and go type driving,
just the opposite of what I thought was the Prius's specialty.

The first 0-10 minutes of my 15 minute communte is in the 20's and
30's... then by the end I'm getting back up to around 50.

My best milage comes when I able to run for extended periods of
non-stop'n go traffic between 30-50 mph, especially after I quickly
accelerate up to "cruise" speed and backing off slightly on the

I'm not looking forward to my MPG when the hot, humid Houston, Texas
weather set in when it is mandatory to run the A/C ALL the time! Day and Night!


Discussion Starter · #6 ·
> My best milage comes when I able to run for extended periods of
non-stop'n go traffic between 30-50 mph

Just wait until you get stuck in heavy commute stop & slow traffic caused by snow or rain. You'll see your MPG shoot way up. On Tuesday, that pushed me into the mid-50 range. It was great!


Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I can get as low as 35 mpg - towing a 4X8 light trailer. Lots of wind resistance. I drive conservatively except accelerating quickly. I do just over the speed limit (@5mph over at most), and drive lots of hilly country roads. I drive down a mountain to work (35 miles) and up the same one home. Winter in that drive I get about 43-44 mpg, now that it is warming up my mileage is going up to about 47-49 - same drive. If I drive city - I must be very careful when the car has not warmed up using a very light foot or the mileage will be like yours (35 mpg). I use fast acceleration there to help that out. I can then coast getting the car into electric mode quicker. So if your drives are 10 minutes or less and you drive your Prius like your other car, you will get lower mileage.

As for your dealer - He is full of it. My mileage has never changed since new - My driving habits have gotten better.


accelerate quickly - get off the gas pedal quickly.
decelerate slowly - coast to red lights as much as possible or use very light brakes.

good luck

steve dickerson.
02 super white 12,000 miles - lifetime ave mpg @ 44.5 and going up ..

PS - the car is designed to be clean at the expense of fuel. Keep that in mind..


Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have one of the early PRIUS(es?) off the line to the US.
31,000 miles, with 42.6mpg as the current lifetime average. I consistently get 54mpg on flat land at 68mph when outside temperature over 90 degrees. I have also forced 60+ mpg, if I drive super diligently (20-35mph), but not normally doable, since cars quickly stack up behind you.

Following Repairs: (All covered by Toyota, except tires, and with use of loaner car etc.)

1). At Approx. 1,000 miles. Warning indicator and gas engine stopped. Ran out of fuel. (Well I only got 48mpg on the first full tank. Made it 2 miles to gas station on electric mode at 20mph. Yes, I had an earlier warning to get gas appear on the display console)

2). At less than 2K miles. Emissions warning indicator, appears to have been related to my overfilling the gas tank with ignition in accessory position. Reset by dealer.

3). Around 9K miles steering would get rough and sometimes warning indicator would come on and power assist to steering lost until car stopped, and ignition turned off and then back on. In a couple of times to the dealer and nothing resolved until I pointed out an Internet recall on electric assist power steering unit. Unit replaces by Toyota around 15K and no further steering problems.

4). Tire wear very excessive. Maintained at listed recommended 35front/33rear. (Way TOO low a pressure since I still had useful tread in middle, but sidewall belts were showing!) Had to replace two front tires at 19K miles. (I normally get very good tire wear, way beyond suggested expected mileage, so this is the biggest sore point I have about the PRIUS. Could not get exact replacements <2 months back order> so had to use standard 475lbs-load limit Protenzas on the back wheels. They seem to be working fine so far 31K.

5). Other two original tires replaced, with exact models bought from Toyota, at 29K.

6). Motor would cut in and out incessantly at 69-71mph. First noticed at around 5K, but got worst over time till my wife complained to me. Search on the Internet found another recall for initial PRIUS models to the US. Dealer replaced computer and no more problems since.

Rating on 1 to 10 scale. 9 overall.

Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Tom Glick;

That milage sounds low to me unless you are driving a lot of short trips, less than 5 miles (on a cold engine) or are driving in cold weather. You did not say where you are from so I don't know if you are talking about driving in below freezing temps. Also sounds to me like your dealer isn't much help! I am from Ephrata, PA and we have had a mild winter. I have only had the car out a few times when it was below 30 degrees and keep it in a heated garage when not in use. We got our Prius on December 14, after waiting 6 months and have had no problems yet. At 4,068 miles (4-5-02) I had used 89.626 gallons for avergae of 45.3886 MPG. Here are a few things to keep in mind. Do not use mid grade 89 or hi-test 93 octane gas. Regular 87 will give you better milage.
The magic cut-off speed for driving in stealth mode is a maximum of 42 MPH. If you are in a 25, 30, or 35 mile speed limit zone, keep it under 42 and you can run a good bit at 100MPG., assuming you are on level ground. Keep your tires at 42 front & 40 rear (Cold Pressure) if you have the XL 50 pound maximum Ponzetas. When you start out with a cold engine, get moving quickly to get engine warmed up soon as possible. After first 5 minutes of driving, it should shut off when coasting or braking. Time traffic lights and stop signs so you can coast as much as possible without braking hard. When starting out from a red light in heavy traffic step on gas to get up to 30MPH SAP, as this will attract attention from anyone behind you. When you get up to 30 which takes about 3 or 4 seconds, get off the gas pedal. Keep the Monitor screen on Consumption mode to monitor the fuel usage. I usually reset Trip A when I fill up and trip B when Gauge drops one notch. At the same time I set trip B, I usually reset the consumption monitor screen. When I filled up on 4/5 I went 155 miles before it dropped one notch and at the time was showing about 56 MPG. This was mostly on back roads and driving in heavy traffic at the lower speeds. I have found that on Limited acess highways it's best to stay under 63 or 100 KMH. Above 65, my milage will drop below 50 MPG and at 75 will drop to about 45. Also the recent figures have been with fairly decent temperatures, above 55 degrees. Also, I try not to you use AC or heater & fan more than necessary. When we go out for a Sunday drive, we now check out the shortest route instead of the quickest route and really enjoy the scenery on the back roads.

Good luck!
Don good

Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I currently have 1900 Miles on my Prius. I do about 85 - 90 % Highway driving. I am currently averaging about 47 MPH and the MPH has been steadily rising. When traveling on the highway, I rarely go over sixty. I am quite surprised to hear that you are getting low mileage. How fast do you drive on highway? I really try to do everything possible to conserve gasoline. After all, the reason I purchased the Prius was to get from A to B as cheaply and cleanly as possible.

Discussion Starter · #11 ·
> 3). Around 9K miles steering would get rough and sometimes warning
> indicator would come on and power assist to steering lost until car stopped,
> and ignition turned off and then back on. In a couple of times to the dealer
> and nothing resolved until I pointed out an Internet recall on electric assist
> power steering unit. Unit replaces by Toyota around 15K and no further
> steering problems.

This is the power steering rack recall. It was for some early-delivered 2001 Prius. This has been the only recall on 2001 or 2002 Prius. (Rebooting the car a few times is a temporary fix.)

> 6. Motor would cut in and out incessantly at 69-71mph. First noticed at
> around 5K, but got worst over time till my wife complained to me. Search on
> the Internet found another recall for initial PRIUS models to the US. Dealer
> replaced computer and no more problems since.

That wasn't an official recall. The engine surging is covered under a Technical Service Bulletin.


Discussion Starter · #12 ·
yes, there is a break-in period for any new car.

from p. 144 of my old 2001 Prius owner's manual:
Drive gently and avoid high speeds.
Your vehicle does not need an elaborate break-in. But following a few simple
times for the firstr 1000km (600 miles) can add to the future economy and long life of your vehicle:
* Do not drive over 100 km/h (62 mph).
* Avoid full-throttle starts.
* Try to avoid hard stops during the first 300 km (200 miles)."

Mainly this is to allow for the engine to wear in, and so the brakes do not get uneven wear/glazing.

Some people have reported higher MPG after the break-in period, or up to ~3000 miles. Personally, I think it's more of the owner's getting to know how to drive their Prius more efficiently, rather than any real change in the Prius itself.

Obvious things to check out:

What are your tire pressures? At absolute minimum, they should be at 35 psi front, 33 psi rear (in the owner's manual). If you have the Bridgestone Potenza RE92 XL (50psi max) tires, you might even do better with your tire pressures up in the ~40psi range (with +2psi in front).

How long/far are your trips? Short trips kill mileage because the engine never gets out of its warmup stage. (this is a common culprit for low MPG.)

(Believe it or not, but sometimes taking the longer or seemingly more time consuming routes (backroad highways as opposed to gridlock major highways) will get you there in about the same time, but will lead you to higher MPG (~40MPH roads gives plenty of electric/regen time), and are often more scenic.)

What are the temperatures like in your area? Weather? (Cold temps will make your car warm up for a longer period.)

What are your roads like? Flat, small "hills," mountain terrains? Dirt, pothole salom, or well-paved?

What do you have your climate control system set to? If you have your fan direction set to the front windshield position, your engine will be running more often in weather over 32F because the front defogger runs the AC compressor (run by the engine) to dehumidify the air blown on the window. Change it to windshild/foot and you should be OK. Also, AC use will run the engine more (compressor is on the engine). Using the heater will siphon some heat from the engine/emissions system, which will cause the engine to run more often to warm everything back up.

how much stuff are you carrying in your car? any extra weight that might be unnecessary? carrying a roof rack or trunk hitch?

If you anticipate a long period of stop'n'slow, try to get as much regen as possible before approaching it. After so long of driving in pure electric, the engine will come back on to recharge the battery and really annoy you (and bring down your MPG).

For brake life and better MPG, anticipate your stops in general. Don't do the "hurry up to slow down" method of driving.

If you do mostly highway driving, try to stay to the speed limits. Like with any car, the faster you drive on the highway the lower your MPG will be, thanks to the physics of air resistance. low 60MPH seems best for the Prius.

If you're still having problems after trying out suggestions you receive, try getting a different Prius and do a comparison test over your same driving route. It's always possible that your car does have an issue, but there are others out there who have reported their MPG in the 30s too.

Since your car is new, I won't suggest the other MPG helper of an oil change and other checkup/tuneup suggestions that work on other cars.

Do remember, the EPA states (check your window sticker!) "City MPG: 52, Highway MPG: 45, Actual Mileage will vary with options, driving conditions, driving habits and vehicle's condition. Results reported to EPA indicate that the majority of vehicles with these estimates will achieve between 44 and 60 MPG in the city, and between 38 and 52 MPG on the highway."

BTW: The EPA tests don't exactly correlate to any real-world driving. (They even use a fudge figure to their results to try to make their ratings more real-world...)

taken from:

How are fuel economy estimates obtained?

The fuel economy estimates are based on results of tests required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These tests are used to certify that vehicles meet the Federal emissions and fuel economy standards. Manufacturers test pre-production prototypes of the new vehicle models and submit the test results to EPA. . EPA re-tests about 10% of the tested vehicles to confirm manufacturer's results in EPA's lab. The vehicles are driven by a professional driver under controlled laboratory conditions, on an instrument similar to a treadmill. These procedures ensure that each vehicle is tested under identical conditions; therefore, the results can be compared with confidence.

There are two different fuel economy estimates for each vehicle in the Fuel Economy Guide, one for city driving and one for highway driving. To generate these two estimates, separate tests are used to represent typical everyday driving in a city and in a rural setting. Two kinds of engine starts are used: the cold start, which is similar to starting a car in the morning after it has been parked all night; and the hot start, similar to restarting a vehicle after it has been warmed up, driven, and stopped for a short time.

The test used to determine the city fuel economy estimate simulates an 11-mile, stop-and-go trip with an average speed of 20 miles per hour (mph). The trip takes 31 minutes and has 23 stops. About 18 percent of the time is spent idling, as in waiting at traffic lights or in rush hour traffic. The maximum speed is 56 mph. The engine is initially started after being parked overnight. Vehicles are tested at 68 F to 86 F ambient temperature.

The test to determine the highway fuel economy estimate represents a mixture of "non-city" driving. Segments corresponding to different kinds of rural roads and interstate highways are included. The test simulates a 10-mile trip and averages 48 mph. The maximum speed is 60 mph. The test is run with the engine warmed up and has little idling time and no stops (except at the end of the test).

NOTE: To make the numbers in the Fuel Economy Guide more useful for consumers, EPA adjusts these laboratory test results to account for the difference between controlled laboratory conditions and actual driving on the road. The laboratory fuel economy results are adjusted downward to arrive at the estimates in the Fuel Economy Guide and on the labels seen on new cars, light trucks, and vans. The city estimate is lowered by 10% and the highway estimate by 22% from the laboratory test results. Experience has proven that these adjustments make the mileage estimates in the Fuel Economy Guide correspond more closely to the actual fuel economy realized by the average driver.

Discussion Starter · #13 ·

You can view all of my fillup data from there. Purchased the car Feb. 2, 2001 (first Fri. of the month), and as of my last fillup on Apr. 9, 2002 (14 month ownership), I had 15, 509 miles on the car, 52 fillups, and a lifetime average (lifetime odometer / # of gallons in lifetime) of 47.8 MPG.

(My lifetime MPG has been going down all winter. This spring-like weather hasn't helped me much, as my car has a nasty uphill route to the train station in the cold morning to drop my husband off, and then a short highway trip to work for me, since I just moved last month...)

I certainly hope that you're not using the MPG readings from just 1 or 2 tanks to compute your 35MPG readings, as the bladder gas tank can really vary your results... (I don't know how accurate the consumption screen lifetime MPG reading is, as I haven't reset mine in over 11158 miles...)

I used to live in Acton, MA (with a ~20mile commute one way), and now am in Needham, MA (~10mile commute one way).


Discussion Starter · #14 ·
> Do not use mid grade 89 or hi-test 93 octane gas. Regular 87 will give you
> better milage.

I completely forgot about this one!

"regular" 87 octane is best for the Prius. Higher octane is just a waste of money, and will give you lower MPG in a car designed to use 87. Also, there have been reports of "check engine" lights coming on for engine misfires due to using a high octane fuel (that your dealer would have to remove the error code for you for).

Also, when you do get an oil change, make sure you get 5W30 oil. Not only is it the preferred oil listed in the manual, but it says so right on the oil filler cap! Some dealerships are lazy or penny-conscious and will try and give you 10W30 (or whatever else is around the shop). Using 10W30 in an engine designed for 5W30 would reduce your MPG by about 2%.


Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have 4500 miles on my 2002 and have consistently gotten about 45MPG. We've had a relatively mild winter in Oregon this year, but warmer weather definitely makes a difference (we had weather in the mid to upper 60s and I saw avg mileage increase to over 46MPG on the same driving profile).

How you drive makes a big difference. If you do a lot of hard acceleration/hard braking you will pay for it in lower MPG.

2002 Brilliant Blue
Portland, Oregon

Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The break-in period involves not just the mechanical "adjustments" to use, but the approach to driving as well. I have about 21,000 miles on my 2001 Prius. It took quite some time to pickup my fuel efficiency. It may have had something to do with the mechanical aspects of the car, but I know I had to learn to exploit the possibilities of the car, such as nonaggressive acceleration and deceleration (opportunity permitting), using the grade of the road to my advantage, etc. I also find I am not adding a lot of time to my travel, rather the timing in my driving is different because I drive and respond to the conditions of the road and the traffic. I was averaging probably about 43 mpg city and interstate. Now, I average about 55 mpg in the city avoiding traffic whenever possible. Interstate driving is variable. If I drive 70 mph, I get about 48 mpg. If I go 75 mph, I get about 43 mpg. Of course, wind, grade, trucker draft, etc. affect these numbers. This is anecdocal, but I think I'm getting better gas mileage as it begins to warm up. It seems my battery packs retain their charge longer.
The bottom line is that I would give it some time for both the driver and the car.

Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I follow all of the tips too, and am able to drive in stealth mode a good percentage of the time. Despite this, my lifetime average is still only around 36 after 4500 miles. (my last few tanks have been in the low 40s though). If the kind of driving is correct, I can go for long periods above 45 MPG. Anything like city driving drops it below 35 and worse.

Tom DF in NY

Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I ordered my Prius in June, 2000 and picked it up here in L.A. in October 2000. I've got about 17,000 miles on it over mostly stop-and-go, L.A. style traffic (some freeway driving as well, of course.) I have NEVER been able to maintain MPG above 41, infact it's mostly around 39.9--week in, week out!

Early on, I had no one to consult about the driving tips now readily available on the internet, so had to stumble through the first few months completely alone. (And I do mean stumble: my right ankle was so sore from trying to control the pressure on the throttle, that I finally just gave up and started driving normally again, until it healed!) I was able to figure out most of the driving tips over time, and have had some great (high MPG) tanks over the last six months. I'm truly grateful to this and other "boards" for all the inside info.

But it has consistantly frustrated (and annoyed) me that Toyota continues to market the Prius with the high mileage ratings it's had since the beginning. Clearly others are having the same (lower than expected) results, and I just think it's false advertising. Does anyone else feel this way?

Overall, I do love the car, and I have said so to anyone who pulls up next to me inquiring about how I like it.


Discussion Starter · #19 ·
it has consistantly frustrated (and annoyed) me that Toyota continues to market the Prius with the high mileage ratings

The EPA tests are the same for all vehicles. So it's very honest based on consistancy. The tests don't accurately depict real-world situations though. Of course, most people have no idea what their current vehicle gets anyway. So comparisons are only guesstimates.

I'm always amazed when someone (here in Minnesota) reacts with surprise when I point out that cold temperatures cause the MPG to drop in all vehicles, that the EPA rating (estimate actually) isn't even close to what you actually get in the winter. Yet, my collection of graphs clearly show it.

Got any better advertising suggestions?

Somehow we need to get people to buy vehicle that consume less and emit less. I'm documenting my experiences to show people the technology really is superior to the traditional designs. And I push the fun factor a lot. Demostrating stealth always impresses.


Discussion Starter · #20 ·
>But it has consistantly frustrated (and annoyed) me that Toyota continues to market the Prius with the high mileage ratings it's had since the beginning. Clearly others are having the same (lower than expected) results, and I just think it's false advertising. Does anyone else feel this way?

John1701A is sooo correct.

These are not Toyotas ratings!! These are your Government test ratings which the tests are the absolute same for every car. They also have big disclaimers about "Your actual mileage will vary"...

I get 43-44 in the winter - and I am now getting 48-53 during warm weather.

In LA Deb, do you run your Air Conditioning? The government tests do not run the air. Turn it off - or leave it on and get lower mileage.

Toyota (despite their shortcomings) does not advertise mileages except from the government tests.

Did you ever do a mileage test on your previous vehical doing the same driving and compare it to EPA ratings?

Steve D.

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