Lexus LC 500h Hypermiling Yields Astonishing Results
When your $100,000 coupe uses less gas than your neighbor’s Prius, you can’t help but laugh.
I reviewed the 2018 Lexus LC 500h a little while ago, and while I loved the style, comfort, and handling, it left me lukewarm in regard to power and fuel economy. After all, what good is a hybrid if it doesn’t deliver hybrid-level fuel economy? On my last day of testing, after more than 500 miles of back-road bombing, morning commuting, and general usage, I decided it was time to see just how fuel-efficient this car could be if I really pushed it. I’ve actually been trained on how to drive efficiently by the man who invented the word “hypermiling” and I decided to put all those skills to use.
If you have never hypermiled a car before, it becomes a game all on its own, and it takes incredible concentration and patience. Just like driving around a track, you have to constantly adjust everything from steering angle and throttle input to maximize your performance. It just so happens that in this case, “performance” means barely sipping any gasoline.
Now, rather than go for a true, all-out fuel economy maximum, I decided to set some real-world ground rules for my test. I would do my best to maintain an average speed near the posted limit, and I would refrain from any “excessive” measures like engine-off coasting. Basically, I wanted to see what a normal person could theoretically achieve if they changed their driving style and focused on fuel efficiency over speed.
I set out before sunrise to avoid as much traffic as possible, pointed the LC 500h at the highway, and reset all of my consumption meters. Going early also meant that I could run without the AC and not cook inside the cabin.
My usual commute route consists of four miles of rural roads, 12 miles of secondary highway, three miles of interstate, and then three miles through downtown Knoxville and UT campus. I started the trip with a full battery of hybrid power, and used mostly EV mode to make it to the highway. Once on the highway, I kept things to an average speed of around 53 mph.
After more than 500 miles of back-road bombing, morning commuting, and general usage, it was time to see just how fuel-efficient this car could be if I really pushed it.
It sounds boring, and to be fair it certainly can be, but thanks to the stupid laws of physics, lower speeds can dramatically increase fuel economy. Once on the highway I made sure to keep an eye on my battery level. The LC 500h can kick into pure EV mode, even at highway speeds. Because I wanted to make sure I had as much electricity as possible for the final drive through town, every time I noticed the car was running in EV, I just stabbed the throttle to run the engine in order to charge the batteries.
I got lucky on the way into Knoxville, and about halfway down the highway, a big semi pulled out to soften the wind resistance ahead. Close drafting is insanely dangerous, but thanks to how big a semi is, you can actually sit back about five car lengths and still get some aero benefit and reduced drag.
I managed to make it to I-40, around any major traffic problems, and I hit my last exit with almost a full battery. After the last few red lights, I rolled into my usual parking spot, and the meter on the dash glowed bright, like the Lexus was proud of its own achievement: 43.5 mpg.
Compared with my average economy during my review, that’s a 55-percent improvement. Hell, that’s a bump of almost 25-percent over the EPA highway rating. It’s even better than the 41 mpg my neighbor averages in his Prius V. The look on his face when I told him was worth the early morning drive all on its own.
Obviously, most normal humans driving around town are not going to go to the lengths I did to maximize my fuel economy, but at least it’s nice to know that if you have the skills, the LC 500h can be pushed to the fuel-sipping limit.
But you know I can’t let it stop there. As you might’ve read, I also took the LC 500h for a proper flogging at the Tail of the Dragon. I decided to reset the fuel economy then as well so I could see just how much dead dinosaur juice I could burn through on maximum attack. The hilarious results of that “scientific test” can be seen below.
Feel free to laugh aloud, but I ask that any overly eco-conscious readers avert their eyes.
Yeah, the 2018 Lexus LC 500h is a member of the “Single-Digit Club.”