Lexus CT 200h

As gas prices continue on a general upward trend (don't get too excited about the recent reprieve) it's common to see MPG numbers flaunted in car ads, especially those promoting hybrids. It's tempting to take those calculations at face value because, frankly, its no fun to spend your time thinking about how much money you're spending on fuel. And really, why shouldn't you trust estimates that are backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?
Well, first, because the EPA has no clue how or where you drive. As displayed in TRANSLOGIC 71: Commandments Of Hypermiling, driving habits and conditions can have quite an impact on your fuel economy. Further, independent tests, like those conducted at Consumer Reports, have long since found the EPA numbers to be optimistic for many models.

With a road trip planned from Detroit to Washington D.C. and a 2011 CT 200h on loan from Lexus, we thought we might give fuel economy tracking a try. While we lack the sophisticated equipment of a government agency, we couldn't help but wonder how our real-world MPG numbers might stack up against the EPA's estimate. Here are the results:

SPECS

VEHICLE 2011 Lexus CT 200h
POWERTRAIN 1.8L I-4 w/ electric motor (hybrid)
FUEL TANK CAPACITY 11.9 gallons
EPA EST 43 City / 40 Hwy MPG

REAL WORLD RESULTS

DISTANCE TRAVELED 531.9 miles
FUEL CONSUMED 11.76 gallons
TOTAL FUEL COST $46.35 (premium)
AVG FUEL ECONOMY 45.23 MPG

We were impressed to find that the Lexus hybrid easily exceeded the EPA's fuel economy estimate. We didn't even have to adapt our driving style to achieve the high MPG mark--we simply kept pace on the turnpikes and made good use of the cruise control. Based upon our findings, its feasible to think that you could drive all the way from Detroit to D.C. in a CT 200h on a single tank of gas, if just barely. And, $46.35 is certainly cheaper than an airplane ticket from DTW to DCA (although the Lexus's $30K MSRP is nothing to sneeze at).

How do your real-world MPG results compare to the EPA estimate for your vehicle? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook or Twitter pages!

[Photo Source: Capital building by Skibum415 and Detroit skyline by patrickgibson, Flickr]