2015 Hyundai Sonata: Clawing Back MPG In Eco Mode
May 19, 2015
With 60 mostly-highway miles ahead of me and light, nighttime traffic, I figured this might be a good time to try out Eco mode. In this scientific, controlled experiment, I simply wanted to see if I could endure the commute tethered to the electronic ballast, namely duller throttle and lower rpm upshifts.
It wasn't so bad.
I drove as I normally would, kept pace with most traffic, and overtook slower cars. I set cruise whenever I had an open lane and made little concession to hypermiling. Overtaking maneuvers required a little more forethought, with a gradual roll on the throttle to gather momentum without triggering a gas-gulping downshift.
There's distinct throttle mush when comparing Eco and Sport modes, but less so between Eco and Normal. Likewise, steering doesn't feel all that alien between Eco and Normal, but there's noticeable weight when you switch to Sport. But upshifts are really the biggest difference between Eco and Sport. In Sport, the automatic transmission lets you wring out the revs to 4,000 rpm or more before upshifting. In Eco, it upshifts at around 3,000.
When I left the office, the onboard computer showed average MPG at 28.4. At one point, it had climbed to mid-34's, just shy of the Sonata's 35-mpg highway rating. When I reached home, the computer cooled to 32.9.
Granted, these trip calculators aren't a precision measurement, but all things being equal, I considered an increase of 4.5 miles per gallon over a 60-mile trip - a mile "earned" every 13.3 miles being one way (maybe a flawed way) to think about it - a mild success.
The next day, I drove back to the office in Sport mode.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 6,400 miles