Hypermiling is the art of getting top fuel mileage from your car by practicing efficient driver behavior. The Post piqued my interest in this subject and I found the official hypermiling site after a brief Google search. I read an article about it, and laughed much over it. On a recent trip home from Ohio, I convinced my buddies riding with me to let me try it and disprove the article. I have a 2007 Honda Accord V6, which comes with an EPA rating of 23/29, city/hwy mileage, respectively.
On the 300 mile drive out to Ohio, before I read the abovementioned article, I averaged 30.2 mpg, which was really pretty good, considering I’d run the AC the whole trip and drove 70 – 80 mph all the way. On the way home we topped off the tank before leaving with 87 grade gas, and reset the trip odometer. This time we still had the AC running, and drove 75 – 80 most of the time. However, I was very careful to use the brakes as little as possible by anticipating the curves, hills, and intersections ahead of time. Doing this religiously can bring out the worst in other drivers, so I tried to ‘be nice’ by driving fairly normal speeds when others were close behind me. Also, it is important to start off slow and avoid any bursts of acceleration. Hypermiler extremists shut off their engines when coasting down hills and waiting at long red lights. It didn’t work the best to shift my automatic transmission into neutral and coast down the hills on the PA Turnpike, because when shifting back into gear at 55 mph, the transmission made unpleasant clunking sounds. Rather than tear out a transmission, I opted to only put the car into neutral only when I would be going slow, less than 30 mph, when I put it back into Drive. This worked quite well, and there were a few long hills where I was confident enough to turn off the engine and coast for a long way. I found out that I needed to turn the ignition back on after shutting off the engine to activate the odometer. Some of these actions provoked raucous laughter from my traveling companions, and I began to wonder if I was falling for a huge joke.
The trial drive was not without stop and go traffic. At one point on the PA Turnpike, we hit a congested area and crept along at 15 mph for several miles before being able to exit and try to find a way through the mountains. After getting around the slow area, the drive was fairly uneventful. We coasted into a gas station a mile from home -with the engine shut off, of course- and filled up the tank. We had 308 miles on the tank, and used only 8.2 gallons, making a mpg of 37.6. I was shocked. So were my buddies. I think they’ve converted to hypermiling now. To get 10 more mpg than normal is quite remarkable, and all this is really pretty easy to do. We used the air conditioner, and drove 70 – 80 on the freeways. There were no modifications whatsoever to the car. With extreme sacrificing, I can see how it might be possible to get 20 or more mpg than normal. How extreme one goes is a personal decision or obsession.