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Nissan Altima Hybrid Real World MPG



  • You are always in Hybrid mode. The electrical motor and the gas engine are constantly working together. Watch the Kilowatt gauge which measures electrical motor output and you can see how the Electric Motor is being engaged and utilized in conjunction with the Gas Engine. EV mode is Electric Vehicle mode and that is when the Electric Motor is working exclusively without any gas being burned to be power the vehicle. The vehicle can only run in EV mode up to 42 miles per hour. After that the engine needs to kick in to assist to attain high speeds. But even when you are on the freeway going 70 or excellarating quickly up to speed you are still in Hybrid mode using both electricity and gasoline. Watch the KWH gauge to see how much the electric motor is actually being utilized.
  • langjielangjie Posts: 250
    if you are mainly driving on the highway, then I don't think you'll see much benefit from the NAH over a 2.5. it's at stop lights and around the city driving that the dramatic difference in MPG comes. you get a little bit better mileage on the highway since the engine is detuned to 158 hp

    to also answer your question from the other forum (more people are here in edmunds), the camry is a little bit better on mileage (about 1-2 mpg better). I personally still like my NAH over a TCH though (styling + more comfy seats)
  • "As a follow-up to my above question, I would like to know when is the car actually running in "hybrid" mode?
    - I know from reading the manual that anytime it says "EV" mode on the dash, that it's running as a hybrid (with the electric motor), but that is usually only up to 60 km/hr (40 mph). Does the car not run in hybrid mode past those speeds? How about if I'm driving down the highway on a long trip? Will EV mode come on at highway modes?

    I'm wondering because if EV mode only comes at low speeds, then basically what I have is a 4 cyl 158 hp car for highway driving (where I had a 2.5 lire 175hp '06 Altima before) that had way more power for the highway.'

    Watch the power meter on the left. If it's above 0 then electiric motor is on. It works on the freeway to assist the gas engine. Below 0 means it's charging and that happens when you are coasting or stepping on the brakes.
  • That's interesting.

    I will agree about the "EV" mode because I have been watching that closely. I always keep checking my 'range' and am curious to see how far I'll go on my first tank of gas.

    Can you tell me if the mileage will get better after my first tank or two of gas? Some people I've spoken to say that the car needs a "break-in" period. What have other NAH owners found? Is that true?

    Appreciate any feedback.
  • One issue that I haven't seen addressed is "break-in" period.

    The manual only says a couple of things about it. Is there anything a person can do to ensure that the car is broken in "properly" to ensure it's highest performance/fuel economy.

    One other question I had was about the eCVT. How does it do in the hills/mountains. I live in a fairly flat area, but if I want to travel, I know that I'll be taking it through some good sized hills and possibly even in the mountains. Has anyone done any major travelling with their NAH and how has it performed for them?

    Appreciate any feedback.

  • One question that came to mind:

    Is it worth the couple extra $$ to put premium gas into the tank? Will a person get better mileage for those few extra $$. Has anyone tried it and what have their results been?
  • If your car engine does not ping you will not benefit from the higher octane. I used to own mustang with a 5 liter engine and it had plenty of power and used regular gas.
  • db59db59 Posts: 5
    1 kilovolt (KV) = aprox 1.34 horsepower. The KV gauge is stating the total KV currently being consumed (combination of electric motor and engine if not in EV mode). The NAH does not have 158 HP on the highway! It has 198 HP Since the full engine and electric motor power is available when applying enough throttle. To prove this, hit the pedal to the metal an the highway and watch that KV gauge. Mine will just butt up to 150KV (which is equal to 201 HP) then I have to slow since I'm going over a hundred now. The NAH has more power and significantly better torque than the standard 2.5. It is always in hybrid mode and can be either a mean SOB on the road or a miser which is why I love my NAH so much. I commute 130 miles every day mostly highway with a significant traffic jam daily. I'm getting 40.9 mpg. I generally drive 70 mph except for the heavy traffic spots and the last five miles of my commute I do almost in hole in EV mode.
  • db59db59 Posts: 5
    That's not really right. The reason its called a hybrid and not an electric car is because the gas motor and electric motor work together in their most efficient modes. With the gas motor off you can only go a few miles or so then the battery is depleted. The NAH gets better mileage even when the engine is running because the electric motor assists the engine at those times when it would be most inefficient by itself. Also, and this is the biggy, the NAH stores unused energy in the battery. The NAH engine cruises at significantly lower rpm than its standard counterpart. It regenerates braking and coasting energy for future use, and since the engine runs only as much and as hard as needed, it does not waste as much energy in the form of heat through the radiator and the tailpipe. In the end though, ALL the energy the hybrid consumes still comes from that gasoline you put in the tank, just more of it goes into making your car move.
  • db59db59 Posts: 5
    I just joined the forum and as you may have noticed I am very enthusiastic about my NAH. I love it because it's like a well kept secret. Not everyone has one and I don't have to look like a green peace activist or wear a tree hugger badge driving it. That's not to say that I don't care about the environment, but I just don't want to look like a snob or drive a wheezy under powered space buggy while I'm caring. Getting back to the MPG subject, When I first got my NAH I only got 35 MPG (this was just over a month ago). I've since done my first oil change using 0W20 synthetic oil. I immediately got a four MPG improvement! The rest of my 40.9 MPG average comes from learning how to drive my car most efficiently. For example, I turn off the A/C button (turns off the A/C compressor) whenever I'm not hot and my windows aren't fogged up. This saves enormous energy. An A/C compressor consumes aprox 25 horsepower when running! I've read somewhere a comment that since the compressor is not driven by the engine it would not rob power. This is a fallacy! ALL power used in your NAH ultimately comes from the gasoline. There is no free energy. Even the regenerated power from the brakes ultimately came from the gasoline since it was required to charge the battery and to make the car move in the first place. Also, I watch the KV gauge when braking and try to keep it in the blue zone. If you pin the needle in the blue zone and brake even harder you will waste some energy. Of course safety prevails and at times you must brake hard. I try to drive with the KV gauge at 25 or below as much as possible when cruising on the highway.
  • I just purchased my NAH on September 7, 2009. I used it normally for the first 2-1/2 weeks both city and highway driving. The on board computer had mileage ratings about 5 MPG more then what I could compute after getting gas. Example the computer read 35.9 but after getting gas it was 30.7. The biggest difference was my first tank filled by the dealer when the computer was 32.6 and the actual was 24.8. Do most of you get that much of a difference between the car computer and actually figuring it out after getting gas?

    Also the EV mode seems to go off anytime I touch the gas pedal. Even most of the time just rolling out of my driveway not touching the gas but using the brake the car jumps out of the EV mode. If I just barely touch the gas pedal and it jumps out of the EV mode and goes back in when I let the car coast not touching any pedal. Is this normal or should it stay in the EV mode until at least 30 MPH.
    I did notice the power meter showing use while driving on my trip described below so it was always in use but rarely by itself at low speeds of even 0 to 20.

    I just went to Florida and back from NJ. A total of 2500 miles in 4 days and the mileage was not what I expected. Here are the tank fill ups ratings 28.7, 32.6, 31.3, 28.6 and the last one of 36.0. Speeds range was 55, 65, 70 and those 45 MPH areas for construction and bridges. Without going over the speed limits but staying at the max speed allowed, with air cond. on is this what I should expect? The car computer never went below 32.4 on any of the fill ups and was only close on the last one which it had as 36.9.

    When I took my 2003 Honda Accord on the same trip in August it was 28 to 30 MPG range some faster speeds here and there and not a hybrid, so I was expecting at least the 33 MPG since my speed was lower and having a hybrid. Was this just unreasonable thinking?

    On the last fill up the computer also said the car could only go 32 more miles (yes I was taking a chance but wanted to get as much of the gas out as possible) yet the fill up only took 15.81 gallons. If this a 20 gallon tank the computer should have indicated more miles since it was giving me a 36.9 rating per gallon. I just want to know if these numbers are close to what others are getting or if my car is just off by more then the usual amount?
  • We've driven ours around 4k miles and so far it's been around 30mpg combined. City driving is the worst because of the long hills and the many stop signs. Recently, I filled up the tank and took it on a short drive on the freeway and the computer indicated 42.9 mpg. Once I got back into city driving it indicated 31 mpg. The city is tough on gas mileage. We have a 2000 Corolla VE we purchased new and after two years of city driving the average city gas mileage was 22 mpg. Freeway driving I did get 39 driving from SF to Stockton and back and I was running the AC a little. I have a friend along with me and 11 bowling balls in bags. I was driving around 65 mph. Second time I made the trip I only get 31 mpg but I was going a little faster because I was flowing with the traffic and touching 80 MPH in some sections.

    I guess the answer would be it sounds like normal driving especially since the engine is still a little tight. Our computer is about 3 mpg off.
  • Yes, most of us see between 3-5mpg difference between the gauge and calculated mpg. The gauge is always high.

    EV mode only works when the engine temp is above about 161F. When you are stopped, the engine temp needs to be about 130F. Once you are at or above these temps, you still need to baby it to stay in EV mode. You also need to stay at or below about 40mph. Your success will be based on battery SOC (state of charge), ambient temp, and your acceleration conditions. It requires you to have a very light foot.

    I am a true hypermiler, averaging about 44mpg in the summer. But, last winter my fuel efficiency dropped to about 35mpg. I do mostly backroad (40mph) driving and have a perfect commute for hypermiling. Very little highway driving. In the winter, I use a full radiator block and an engine block heater.

    Yes, the fuel warning light comes on way too early. I wish there was a way to change it, but so far, nothing.

    If you really want to increase your fuel efficiency, I suggest you check out and/or

  • Also the EV mode seems to go off anytime I touch the gas pedal. Even most of the time just rolling out of my driveway not touching the gas but using the brake the car jumps out of the EV mode. If I just barely touch the gas pedal and it jumps out of the EV mode and goes back in when I let the car coast not touching any pedal. Is this normal or should it stay in the EV mode until at least 30 MPH.
    I did notice the power meter showing use while driving on my trip described below so it was always in use but rarely by itself at low speeds of even 0 to 20.

    - Your comment about the EV mode was happening to me a bit when I first got my car and started driving it. I'm now learning how to work it and have seen my mileage improve, even after I fill the gas tank. I'm always checking the "range" button and notice that if I do a fair amount of city driving after I fill the tank, that the range actually actually "increases", because it has more gas to use later on!

    Don't be to heavy on the gast pedal and EV mode will come on. Also note that if your antifreeze is cold, the gas engine will come on until it warms up (this info is in the manual).

    It's starting to work for me and I'm enjoying my ride!
  • Also, if your AC is on, the EV Mode hardly ever works...
  • Thanks for the information. I see my car is about average, looking at the many experiences others have had so now I feel better. I am hoping for the MPG to get better as I put a few more miles on it and learn the technique of driving this type of car.

    I had only expected the electric mode to last longer in the low speeds, I will check to see if it does work better after the car is warmed up. I did not know it had to warm up like the regular gas engine before working at it's best.
  • I just picked-up a new 2009 Altima Hybrid in early September, too. I've had much better luck with my mileage - I've averaged over 37 MPG on my first two tanks. The computer is a little optimistic, but it's only about 1 MPG higher than I calculate by dividing miles driven by gas pumped. Essentially the computer reported 38.1 & 38.8 MPG where I calculated 37.3 & 37.8 MPG respectively on my first two tanks.

    An acquaintance who drives Toyota Prius told me that I'll probably record my "best" mileage with a hybrid in New England in early Fall & late Spring. Other times of year the use of the heater or A/C, requisite engine warm-up & snow covered roads conspire to reduce mileage somewhat.

    My last car, a Honda Accord V6, recorded 22 - 25 MPG on the same routes, so I'm quite pleased with my 50% improvement in mileage!
  • Great to hear about your great gas mileage! I am still trying to figure out if my 2008 Altima Hybrid is a dud or it is just me. My best tank (in mainly city driving) is 30.1 mpg with countless tanks of 28 or 29 mpg (all computer estimates). I bought the car new in January 2009 and it now has 7,600 miles on it. It seems to get about 40mpg highway. I have been experimenting on when to use cruise control and when not to. What do you folks think? I can imagine not using it going up or downhill. I tend to use it on level ground and try to turn if off if I see a red light ahead? Some might use it only on highways. Anyway what do you high gas mileage achievers do? My strategy seemed more successful on my 2008 Camry Hybrid than on my 2008 Altima Hybrid. Thanks!
  • Believe it or not, cruise control is exactly what you DON'T want to do on the highway to optimize fuel efficiency. Rather than maintaining constant speed, you should try to maintain constant throttle pressure. In this way, you will slow down going uphill and speed up going downhill, not unlike what truck drivers do.

    It's not easy to do, as it requires a very light foot. It can also be dangerous if your speed becomes dramatically higher or lower than the posted limit.

    This method of highway driving, called "driving with load (DWL)", is one of many hypermiling techniques.

    For more info, peruse the FAQ pages at:

    I also highly recommend increasing the tire pressure to sidewall pressure (42psi). You'll see quite a boost just from doing that, with no apparent loss of traction or increased tire wear.

  • I wouldn't be too disappointed. I believe the EPA guide stated it's 35/30 and if you average close to 30 you are close to the EPA guide, and the EPA is always optimistic. Our NAH gets better gas mileage on the highway than the city because San Francisco absolutely sucks for driving. I am luck if my average speed in SF is the mid 20's range and I get about 30 here.
  • Oh ok that is interesting. I think that I have been inadvertently doing that (the feather light touch to keep the real time mpg in the high range when going up a slight incline). Sometimes I end up slowing down to like 20 mph LOL. Thanks for the links and the advice! I will try to hone my gas pedal skills!
  • I reserved a full size car at Hertz at LAX on Tuesday morning. They tried to "upgrade" me to a Hummer. I had a lot of driving planned, so I politely declined, and managed to get an Altima Hybrid instead. I did a quick fill to accurately measure mileage. Between last Tuesday and this afternoon when I filled up before turning it in, I put on 508 miles. I filled it with 14.23 gallons, for mileage of 35.7 mpg. This included a lot of city driving (including in West LA and West Hollywood congestion) and freeway trips to Orange County and across LA County. I'm pretty impressed - it may not be Prius level mileage, but the NAH was a perfectly pleasant, full size car with plenty of power that doesn't scream "look at me, I'm green!". I wouldn't mind owning one - except that I can't. I live in Utah, and Nissan doesn't see fit to offer it to us. I suppose I could get a Camry Hybrid, but I just can't see myself driving a Camry. Ah well, some day.

    As an aside, Hertz essentially ran the car with no oil. The oil light came on while I was driving. I checked the level (per the manual, 10 minutes after shutdown) and there was nothing on the dipstick. I added a quart (again per the manual), and the light went out, but the "Service Engine Soon" light was on the whole time I had the car. I notified the woman who checked me in, hopefully they service it. It's too nice a car to be abused.
  • i just bought an 09 nissan altima hybrid. the dealer was stuck with this vehicle for over 90 days. he bought it from a dealer in NJ. i live in PA. this vehicle was stripped. the only 2 options were floormats & the "aluminum kick panels". the dealer kept throwing money at me until i couldn't resist buying it. now, i wish i didn't. i am basically an options/gadgets freak. there are none on this vehicle. the options would have been its only saving grace. the biggest joke is the mileage claim which is actually true, but c'mon, 35 city & 33 hghy! I talked to a dealer recently who said he doesnt bother carrying them because their claim to fame is the city mpg. his dealership is located in the mountains. he said the car would probably get worse overall gas mileage than the standard gas version. he pointed out the fact that there is only 1 mpg difference (33) between the hybrid and the gas engine (32). it might be fun when you are really bored one day to try to eke out a few extra mpg's from your hybrid, but if you have to diligently concentrate on critical driving habits just to hit normal hybrid numbers, that is definitely not worth my time or effort or the money for this grossly overpriced vehicle. they claim the hybrid technology is based on the toyota prius. i appears to be, the only problem, is it doesn't produce. i admit the engine combo runs great. it is very fast and smooth, no complaints. but , as far as gas mileage is concerned, it stinks. like i said before, the only reason i bought it is because the dealer discounted it by 1500, nissan usa rebated 3500, the dealer bought out the last 3 mos. of my lease, and i am told i am entitled to a 2350 tax rebate. sooooo. when you add all those perks up, it makes the car worth it. however, my advice, stay away from it. , buy a toyota prius if you are interested in REAL GAS SAVINGS and you don't have to put it in neutral going downhill to achieve it, either!!!!!!
  • oh, BTW, just a followup. the second day my wife was driving the altima hybrid, the check tire pressure light came on. she stopped in at the dealer, who fixed that problem, but then told her that the "service engine soon" light was on. she said it wasn't on before you took it into the garage. anyway, she asked him to put the computer on the machine, check it, and if nothing is wrong, reset it. he said he couldn't do it because he isn't "authorized" to fix it. he said there are only 2 techs authorized to fix the altima hybrid and neither was available. he said she would have to bring it back the following morning at 7:30 a.m. she asked me to take it there. i got there at 11:30. they told me , sorry, too late, we only have 1 tech authorized to work on your hybrid and he is doing a big job. "bring it back at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow morning and we will fix it (notice a pattern here). i told him, i don't want to bring it back at that time, he said sorry. so , i asked for the # of a dealership about 15 miles away. they didn't know the #, but they offered me the phone book. i called that dealership, they told me to bring it right down and they would fix it. i did and they did. this whole scenario piqued my curiosity, especially the part about the "authorized techs". i went on the nissanusa website and there is a big ole "disclaimer" about the hybrids. turns out, that nissanusa only authorizes sale of this vehicle in 9 states, mostly northeast, and pennsylvania isn't one of them. furthermore, if you should happen to need service in one of the 41 states that are not authorized, you may experience "days" delay while you wait for parts/and/or service. I , of course, was not not told about this at the dealership where i purchased the car, in pennsylvania, and i am flipping mad. obviously, i would never have bought the car had i known about this little detail. i email nissanusa several times about these issues. nissanusa totally ignored my questions. they acknowledged my email and stated that they were sorry about my experience with the dealership (remember my dealership not having the techs available to reset the computer). however, on the very very important questions like , why is nissan usa allowing ANY DEALERSHIP TO SELL ITS HYBRIDS WHEN IT CLEARLY STATES ON ITS WEBSITE THAT ONLY 9 STATES ARE SANCTIONED TO SELL THEM? they absolutely, totally, categorically ignored my repeated emails. i mentioned the word lawyer and i finally got some talking head to call me . i ask him repeatedly, phrasing the questions in as many ways as possible about the 9 state regulation. all he would say is, "are you currently experiencing any service issues with your vehicle?" i said no. he said, "then, i can't answer your question." so, then i said, "so, you are refusing to clarify the obviously blatant discrepancy on your website". he said, "you are putting words in my mouth". i finally gave up. i talked to the dealership today and the salesman said he had no idea that the website sanctioned sales in only 9 states and he couldn't possibly explain why he is allowed to sell them, acknowledging that his dealership has been selling them since they were introduced, however, he did point out that all the hybrids that they received for sale were "traded" from dealerships in states like new jersey, which is one of the sanctioned states. so, this is another fraud being perpetrated by nissan on the unsuspecting public. my advice to you is if you are thinking of buying a hybrid, until nissan improves their gas mileage, until nissan approves sales of the vehicle in all 50 states, until nissan guarantees that you will not experience delays in getting parts or service in all 50 states, DO NOT BUY A NISSAN HYBRID. do yourself a big favor, buy a prius. if you can't afford a new one, buy a used one. they are extremely reliable and average 49 mpg. when nissan gets serious about getting in the game and playing hardball, then maybe buy a nissan hybrid. until then, buy a 2.5 gas engine, load the car up with options, and take adantage of the 1750 rebate and the end of year markdowns. you will be very happy you did.
  • We average 32 mpg combined with our NAH with no issues in the SF Bay Area. We do this without hypermiling or any hybrid driving secrets. I drive 70 mph on the freeway and my tires are not overinflated. In fact, they probably are underinflated since I never checked the air pressure. My city gas mileage is lower than my freeway gas mpg. Who would have thought that but the EPA doesn't conduct their tests in SF where there is a stop sign every block and rarely any light is sync'd. The average speed in SF is under 20. Our old corolla averaged 21 mpg in SF city traffic. I suspect an Altima 2.5 would be right in that range as well.

    Funny, the gas engine almost always turns itself going downhill. Is that what you mean by putting it in neutral to save gas? I guess ours does it automatically for us.

    Too bad you got a lemon. Why not sell it and feel better about yourself?
  • langjielangjie Posts: 250
    well the engine only shuts itself off up to 42 mph, I've gone down hills that I've gone over that. I think in general, anyone who drives many miles on the highway, the NAH is probably not for them, but anyone who doesn't have a nice and easy commute, they will be saving fuel with the NAH
  • We bought a NAH in 2008 so we have owned it about 18months (bought it in SF bay area).
    To respond to silverado1, Im disappointed you've had issues but in the 18 months we've driven this car we've had zero issues at all. In fact Ive been surprised how reliable its been relative to our toyota and honda. Additonally I get about 34-35 pretty consistently going to/from work. We love it and frankly we looked at a prius and camry hybrid when we bought and I personally didnt want a prius(camry looked to much like my parents car) because everyone had one, we wanted a sedan not hatchback and i didnt want to look like a granola eater. (Plus the altima is much zippier than all the other hybrid models we tested.)

    When we bought the car we did a lot research and I clearly understood that this car was only sold in 9 states and it would be a risk if we moved out of state-which i did not believe would happen to us. Well 8 months later i took a job in MN and now we have the car here. I realize that we could have delays in getting it fixed if something goes wrong but i knew that going into the deal.
    Overall sorry for you're experience but we really enjoy the car and its great to have a set of wheels that no one else around here!
    And to meanboy2005's comment, just sell the car and maybe you'll feel better.

    As an additional comment, we just bought a Tahoe hybrid so my wife+kids have a safer 4X4 for winter driving in MN.. We like it too. 20-21 mpg for driving essentially a big tank!
  • langie, read post #145, and you'll find the op stated the only way for a NAH to save gas is to put it in neutral when going down hills. Reltated that to my statement of going downhill.

    And I agree with your statement about highway mileage. I would add that the NAH will likely outpower the 2.5 quite easily on the highway and use the same amount of gas. The NAH is quieter than the 2.5 on the highway because the electric motor assists it on the highway.
  • New 2009 NAH bought in Nov. 2009 (under $19k with Nissan rebate, dealer discount and tax rebate). Bought it just as it was getting cold. Definitely not in the same league as the 2001 Honda Civic I was driving. MPG definitely drops in big-time in cold weather. In below-freezing weather the NAH takes about 20 minutes to get warm enough for the hybrid EV system to activate. Also, the car's mileage computer gives inaccurate average MPG readings -- about 10% (or 2 MPG) higher than reality.

    Actual mileage records (300 - 450 miles per fill-up):
    About 50% urban/surburban and 50% highway, trip computer ave. speed 25-35 mph

    12/15/09 Car computer: 29.1 MPG // Actual: 26.8 MPG // Conditions: 15 - 40 degrees F and some snow
    12/23/09 Car computer: 27.9 MPG // Actual: 25.7 MPG // Conditions: 5 - 35F and some snow
    1/10/10 Car computer: 29.4 MPG // Actual: 26.8 MPG // Conditions: 10 - 45F and some snow
    1/21/10 Car computer: 31.7 MPG // Actual: 30.0 MPG // Conditions: 10 - 40F and mostly dry, more highway miles
    1/31/10 Car computer: 29.4 MPG // Actual: 27.4 MPG // Conditions: 5 - 30F and mostly dry.

    Hybrid system works fine -- up to 40 mph *if* the car is warmed up. I'll post more records as the weather warms up. My guess is that the Altima 2.5 would be a bit worse than this because of the winter penalty, but not a whole lot worse.
  • newhampster - welcome to the forum and the NAH.

    Read my post #134 for some more details on how to improve your mpg.

    My worst tanks in Rochester, NY (where we are at 12degs today) are in the 32-34mpg range, but I get up in the 44-47mpg range in the summer.

    Granted, I'm a major hypermiler. But, it can be done.
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