Lexus hybrid driving tips

Hybrid driving – top tips for best fuel economy

Driving a hybrid car offers many benefits, including quieter running and low tail-pipe emissions.

Our hybrid driving hints and tips will help ensure you get the very best from your car’s engine, extending fuel economy and improving MPG.

Our full range of Lexus hybrids currently includes:
CT 200h
IS 300h
GS 300h/GS 450h
RX 450h
LS 600h L
NX 300h
RC 300h

Whichever Lexus hybrid you’ve set your heart on, our guide will help you maximise your car’s range.

The basics – these will help any car’s fuel efficiency, hybrids included.

1. Tidy the boot! Removing unnecessary weight from the car will boost performance immediately
2. Consult the handbook. Ensure the car’s tyres are correctly inflated
3. Plan your journey – avoid jams or getting lost
4. Close windows and sun roof at higher speeds (above 45mph)
5. Remove unused roof racks, boxes and bike racks
6. Maintain a steady speed, and do not exceed speed limits
7. Avoid sudden braking and acceleration

Hybrid driving  – sorry other car drivers, these are for hybrids only!

8. Familiarise yourself with the car’s hybrid information display so you can monitor how much energy is being used
9. Be gentle with the accelerator pedal; press it lightly but consistently, to help keep the car in EV mode
10. Use ECO mode for improved efficiency – this will reduce response to aggressive use of the accelerator
11. Gentle, early braking boosts regenerative braking, resulting in EV mode being able to operate for longer periods
12. Monitor the dials and gauges to fully understand the state of the hybrid system and manage high voltage battery levels
13. When in stop-start traffic, do not select ‘N’ neutral when stationary, as electricity will not be generated and the hybrid battery will discharge
14. Consider the use of Cruise Control to maintain steady speeds
15. If using Climate Control, re-circulate mode reduces energy usage
16. Maximise your use of EV mode wherever it is appropriate to do so
17. Consider the environment! Heavy use of ancillaries like air-con, lights and wipers will increase energy consumption

CT 200h Lexus Hybrid Drive

Drive Modes:
The Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain provides four drive modes in Lexus hybrid cars. When you first turn on your hybrid, the car will be ready to drive in a default drive mode. This will automatically choose the most efficient use of both the engine and the battery. Using the car’s different ‘on-demand’ drive modes (see image below) will help achieve better fuel consumption.

A Lexus hybrid has the following drive modes: EV Mode (encourages the car to be powered solely by the battery when city driving), ECO Mode (the car reduces A/C output and dampens harsh acceleration), Normal Mode (the default drive setting in everyday motoring) and Sport Mode (which uses the battery to help boost acceleration along with the use of the engine).

The shift lever offers four positions, R (Reverse), N (neutral), B (engine braking) and D (drive). Using position B has the effect of engine braking and can be used when descending a hill, for example. We don’t recommend you leave the car in B for normal driving as this can use more fuel over time. For normal driving we recommend you move the shift lever to D.

CT 200h control Lexus Hybrid Drive

Read the road ahead:
When driving your hybrid, the aim is to utilise the car’s battery. A way to do this in urban driving is to accelerate to your required speed then to ease off the accelerator then gently ease on again. Given the right conditions, you’ll see the ‘EV’ light come on to note that the engine is switched off and you’re using the electric battery.

Do try to maintain a constant speed. It’s important, always, to read the road ahead. This will reduce the amount of unnecessary braking and accelerating needed and will therefore use less fuel. Slow and gentle braking will utilise the regenerative braking system on the car.

IS 200h Lexus Hybrid Drive

Other factors to consider:
Many things affect a hybrid’s performance. If it’s cold, your car will use more fuel to warm up. Once it’s at its optimum temperature you’ll see your MPG figures increase. For example, you’ll achieve better MPG figures in the summer than in the winter, traveling on the same route. Also, during winter months you are more likely to use the car’s accessories such as the air conditioning system, radio, lights and window wipers. These all will use electric power from the battery.

For further advice on hybrid driving tips, we recommend visiting the Hypermiler website.

Please note, these hybrid driving tips are published as general guidance on how to get the best fuel economy from your Lexus hybrid. Lexus encourages and supports safe driving at all times – please adhere to the rules of the road.

LS 600H Hybrid System

Read more: Lexus and the performance of hybrid
Read more: Perfect partners: E-CVT and hybrid
Read more: How does Lexus Hybrid Drive work?

Comments (32)

  1. I have had an RX 400 hybrid or over two years. I still have no idea what the big dial on the left is supposed to be telling me. My mpg is not much better than in my previous RX300. The RX400 is sometimes skittish and uncertain, unlike my previous RX300, as it doesn’t have permanent 4WD. The RX400 has a whiny ‘gearbox’ that is very noticeable when cruising to a halt. All in all I am uncertain of the ‘benefits’ of hybrid technology.

  2. I have a CT200h and i’m a hybrid convert. Having had diesel and petrol cars in the past the next logical move for me was to try a hybrid. Not only is it incredibly smooth with the eCVT gearbox but quiet also, so much so passengers regularly comment – the great fuel economy is a big bonus!

    Whilst it does take a short period to get used to (making the most of the hybrid drive gauge) when you do know how to make the most of it you really notice the benefits. Here in Europe i can’t see why we have an obsession with diesel…hybrid to me is by far the more superior drive method!

    1. Hello Christopher
      Thanks for your post and feedback regarding the CT 200h.
      We are always interested to hear feedback on our cars, even more so when it involves an owner trying hybrid for the first time. Making the point to owners that it is no different to driving a conventional car (you fill it with fuel and drive) and if you adapt your driving style slightly to suit hybrid then you can really start to see savings. The quiet drive and using no fuel when in traffic feature high up the list as well.
      Thanks again for posting and let us know how you get on.

      1. Hi David,

        Buying the IS300h this month. already put the deposit. I will be travelling 3 days a week to Reading from Twickenham and back. apart from that weekend driving with families mostly central london. although lexus is saying 60++ mpg but realistically how much should i expect?

        Regards,
        Tanvir

        1. Hello Tanvir
          Thanks for your post and great to hear about your forthcoming IS 300h.
          Hopefully the post has helped with regard to a few pointers about fuel economy. Not sure if this is your first time driving a hybrid but all you need to do is adapt your driving style in order to obtain the best from them. For example gentle acceleration and braking. It is difficult for us to suggest what figure you should obtain as we all drive differently. However in urban environments and when in heavy traffic hybrids benefit by being able to run solely on electric power so no fuel is being used.
          Keep us posted on how you get on once you take delivery.

  3. “These all will use electric power from the lithium-ion battery”

    unlikely, as no Lexus hybrids to date use lithium-ion batteries.

  4. I have had my IS FSport 300h for 6 weeks now & I can honestly say, put my car along side a BMW & Audi & I would still choose mine every single time.
    It’s amazing to drive, it’s just a pleasure to own. With power there as & when I need it from the 2.5ltr petrol engine but with also loads of economy from the fantastic hybrid system!!
    I’ve read loads of reviews from people saying they can’t get anywhere near the 60.1 average mpg that Lexus state, all I say to them is, learnt to read the information in front of your eyes while driving!!
    The best I have achieved so far, on a trip back from work which is 17miles is 78.2mpg.
    78.2MPG – totally amazed & gob smacked is an understatement.
    Well done Lexus – You’ve got one driver for life here, I wouldn’t even entertain an Audi or BMW as they don’t come close my FSport!!

  5. I have got an RX400H special edition. I am very happy with the car and with the service I receive from Lexus at Guildford.
    2 points that other people might be able to help me with are firstly that I only average 30 miles per gallon , even on long journeys, which is much less than I was expecting. I use the information screen that shows me getting much more for brief periods, but having done a reset about 500 miles ago, I still only report just marginally under 30 mpg.
    The other point is that my wife complains about the draft round her face which I have to admit is prevalent regardless of the settings or direction of the various controls and levers!!
    We both have Mercedes SLK’s as our personal cars but they only have 2 seats !! Hence I want to get the Lexus behaving to the similar luxurious standards that I am sure must be possible for our longer, luggage laden or family use !!

    1. Hi Jonathan
      Thanks for your post.
      Glad you are pleased with your RX however sorry to read about your concerns. With both these issues they are not so easy to offer a diagnosis online and we recommend stopping by your local dealer at Guildford. With regard to fuel consumption this can of course vary depending on the driver. However your dealer would be more than happy to help give further advice and guidance with regard to driving a hybrid and check the settings on your car for you. The draft around the face is more unusual particularly as you mention this occurs regardless of the ventilation setting. A short test drive with a member of the service team might help identify and isolate this for you.
      Keep us posted on how you get on and if you do need any further help let us know.

    2. On a long journey that sounds about right, hybrid cars excel at town and traffic driving – stop start where you can use battery power rather than the engine. Anything involving motorway speeds will be running the engine pretty much all the time so your fuel economy will be that of a 3.5 litre petrol engine (which 30mpg isn’t actually too bad for!)

  6. the sudden acceleration and braking drives me insane i don’t understand why so many drivers still do this? they end up nowhere, fast and just use an excessive amount of fuel!

  7. Had my new NX F Sport delivered a few days ago. The car looks amazing and I enjoy the silent running around town but the so-say economy (54 MPG) is looking seriously questionable with my best being 27 MPG so far. I’ve been taking it easy to gently see the engine in but I’ve not experienced the benefit of owning a hybrid around town. Most of my journeys will be along the motorway so we’ll see how it goes as I get used to the car.

    However, if I thought I had to drive so gently just to get any kind of economy then despite the amazing looks, I may not have made the same choice. I’ve just stepped out of a BMW 530D M Sport which did 36 MPG driven hard. My wife had a Honda CRV 2.2 diesel which did 37 MPG driven hard and my previous Porsche Boxster S did over 30 MPG driven very hard.

    I’ll give it a couple of months and post again, but first impressions, a little disappointed. I thought I’d be around 40 MPG without any effort. That Porsche Mecan Diesel S is looking better than ever!

    1. Hello Leon
      Thank you for your post. Great to hear about your new Lexus NX 300h F Sport and we appreciate your feedback.
      With regard to fuel consumption, it is true that you do not need to change but you do need to adapt your driving style slightly in order to maximise the benefits of hybrid. We hope that this post was of use to you but if would like further assistance then your local Lexus centre would be happy to help with some one on one advice. If you would like us to contact them on your behalf we would be more than happy to do so. Otherwise please let us know if you have any other questions or queries about this.

  8. Yes please David, that would be helpful. It’ll be the Swindon branch. I spent today in Eco mode aiming to charge whenever possible but still only averaging 29.5 MPG. I was expecting the car to be returning around 40 MPG so any advice gratefully received.

    Be interesting to hear what other NX300h owners are achieving?

  9. I tested wife’s CT200h on a long journey (KM550) each way driving from Malaga to Madrid (1 driver + passenger). Road was good and the speed was maintained at between KM100 to KM120. The driving style was not aggressive and for long periods just set cruise control to 120 km/hr. Absolutely no harsh acceleration just an incredibly boring drive.

    I was disappointed with the result calculated by myself based on KM driven and litres of fuel used. The result came in a tad less than 16km per litre (45 mpg). This was a lot less that the on-board computer would have you believe. Example – when you fill the tank it says cruising range 700+km but will only do about 540km before tank is empty.

    Maybe the car could have been driven more economically by constantly monitoring display but that would be quite tedious and distracting.

    My view is Lexus is overstating fuel efficiency and the on-board is leading people to believe car is efficient. I would suggest drivers do their own calculation the old fashioned way and publish the results.

    1. Hello John
      Thanks for you post.
      We appreciate the feedback regarding your fuel consumption from a recent journey in your CT 200h.
      Not sure how long you have had the car and whether this is your first experience of hybrid but we hope you found this post useful to help towards fuel economy. Couple of issues to address here and the first is why the MPG figure in the car will vary to your own calculation. The reason why we asked how long you have had the car is because the car will be working out an average fuel economy rather than just one trip, this is why if you calculate your own figures from one journey it will differ to the figure quoted in the car. The economy achieved will depend on many factors such as driving style, load, temperature and tyre pressures to quote just a few examples. This will also affect the range that can be achieved from the tank. Turning next to the consumption figures which we have to quote in all our marketing materials, these are from a standardised EU test which is undertaken by all car manufacturers. It is acknowledged this test is not representative of real world driving conditions (it takes places indoors for example) but what it does allow is a level playing field for the consumer regarding MPG when choosing a new car. More information about this test can be found here.
      http://www.dft.gov.uk/vca/fcb/faqs-fuel-consumptio.asp
      Hope this helps clarify consumption figures a bit further but do let us know if you have any further questions.

  10. Hi, I have had a RX450h for 6 months and love the car, but the fuel consumption is a mystery to me. Going from Biggin Hill airport to my house, about 6 miles, I returned just over 60mph. Downhill most of the way. For a 3.5 litre engine fantastic. Just driven to Bluewater, appears to be downhill most of the way into the Thames basin, 35mph, but oddly the same on the way back. I can understand some of this discrepancy, but looking at the Engine / battery monitor the yellow arrows appear to move in a random way to and from battery, up or down hill. I guess the Management system is very sophisticated but some simple guidelines would be useful, e.g. my handbook says taking foot off the accelerator can fool the system to use the battery more – sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. All and any advice very welcome.

    1. Hi Phil
      Thanks for your post.
      Glad you are enjoying your RX and I hope we can explain a bit more about the hybrid system for you. Your RX will always be driving in the most efficient way possible in terms of fuel consumption. It will also be using the normally wasted energy from braking and when going downhill to help recharge the batteries which enables the car to be powered solely by the electric motor at lower speed. With your commute to work you will therefore be using less fuel as use of the petrol engine is not required as much, but your trip to Bluewater along motorways would require more use. The monitor (yellow arrow) will be showing you the source of the power driving the car whether this is the electric motor, the petrol engine or a combination of both. It will change very quickly as the source will be governed by many factors including vehicle speed, throttle input road terrain and battery level. Ultimately the aim though is diving efficiently as mentioned above. As the post shows, by driving in a more relaxed manner, slower acceleration and looking ahead and braking gently does help maximise use of the hybrid system and increase efficiency. When you are taking your foot off the throttle and the car is coasting then the electric motor will be acting as a generator. Does this help make it a bit clearer? If you need us to go over any of the above please let us know.
      With regard to your second post, if you are concerned about the operation of your car then your local Lexus dealer would be happy to help provide further advice. System software updates generally only include the satellite navigation mapping in the car.

      1. Thanks very much for quick and full response. I was hoping there would be a way of forcing the engine to use the battery, battery indicator is usually all but one “cell” full. I was hoping to be able to utilise this stored energy more. Perhaps more gentle driving will do this for me – I’ll give it a go. Thanks again, regards.

        1. Thank you for reply Phil.
          One other point worth mentioning is that the petrol engine is constantly monitoring the battery level (used to power the electric motor) and will never let it drop below a certain level (one or two bars). This is why you sometimes hear the engine cut in at certain times. The stored charge is used the whole time to maximise efficiency. Keep us posted on how you get on with the driving but you should notice a difference.

  11. Hi
    I’ve just checked my motorway mpg , I did a reset as I joined the onslip I did between 70- 85 mph the car ( rx400h 08 ) showed 31.2
    mpg , I then reset as I came off the motorway, and drove home , approx 16 miles the reading showed 44 mpg , I later went shopping with four passengers and the car fully loaded with shopping items and fuel consumption showed 36 mpg .
    I think these figures are fantastic , I have checked the on-board computer figures using the old method ie fill the tank to the top , drive for 100 miles or so , refill the tank to the top and calculate fuel used , this showed a very close comparison indeed to the computer reading .
    this system seems to match my driving style very well , anticipating ahead and gentle braking , I love this car which I bought recently, well done Lexus .

    1. Thanks for your post John and we appreciate your comments about your RX 400h.
      You are spot on in terms of your driving techniques to get the best out of hybrid, it also makes for a more relaxing drive too.

    2. Hi, I have just purchased a 2015 NX300H, I have now been driving it for 1 week and I’m really impressed, it drives lovely returns 40 mph, which in my opinion is good enough. My only slight concern is the battery gauge never reeds full, is this normal?

      1. Hi Stephen,
        Thank you for getting in touch.
        This is quite normal and nothing to worry about. The HV battery will rarely be completely full as often some power will be consumed for a component or whilst being driven.
        Hop this helps.

  12. Now six months into our first Hybrid ride, a really nice NX300H.
    Although it’s a great car, we don’t get all the hybrid “hype”
    We only get 36 mpg. which is little better than our previous non hybrid 2ltr petrol engine car,
    Our local cabs have Prius’s and get better than 60mpg, reason for me to get a Lexus no.
    Really disappointed as we really expected better mpg than 36.

    1. Hi Keith,
      We are sorry to hear that. We have taken your comments on board and have passed them on to the relevant teams. Many thanks.

  13. I just bought a used 2013 ES 300h. My first around-town driving posts 24.4 mpg, when previous history shows 37+ mpg. I primarily drive in-town, and there can be stop-and-go intersections on the way. I thought I was conscientious about accelerating and braking. I was advised to use the ECO mode. Today I moved it to NORMAL and got ever-so-slightly increase economy. I bought the car because I thought it would get close to 40 (mid 30’s is great even) mpg, but am having remorse with the horrid fuel economy. A non-hybrid can get better economy than this. Could there be a mechanical problem? What can I do to improve this?

    1. Hi Nala,
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      Please could you provide your reg or VIN number so we can look in to this further.
      Thanks.

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