Pulling ahead of the 16-year-old Honda Insight by just one mile to the gallon, the 2016 Toyota Prius has earned the distinction of being the most fuel efficient car Consumer Reports has ever tested.
The hybrid gets 52 miles per gallon overall, the consumer watchdog group learned after field testing the hybrid. After installing fuel meters in several cars and driving them the same distance along the same route, it was clear which car should be crowned.
The 2016 Prius gets 59 mpg on the highway at a cruising speed of 65 mph and 43 mpg in the city. That's better than the 51 mpg the Honda Insight produced about 16 years ago, according to Consumer Reports' Tom Mutchler, auto engineer.
"But unlike the featherweight Insight, the Prius is a real car," Mutchler says. "It has plenty of room inside for your family and their stuff. And it has top-notch crash test results."
Toyota achieved the Prius' greater fuel economy by making a lot of small changes that "all added up," according to Mutchler.
Some of those changes included improved aerodynamics, a more miserly engine, transmission revisions, a more conductive battery compound and more reliance on battery power.
"Car prices are low now, but fuel efficient cars still have many benefits, including reducing greenhouse gases and reduced operating costs," Mutchler says. "And at $27,323, for this mid-level Prius, it doesn't take a lot of green to drive green."
The unprecedented mpg delivered for the benchmarkers at Consumer Reports was the only record the 2016 Prius has set. Back on Earth Day, the Prius family claimed a Guinness World Records title for the most automobile in a parade of hybrid vehicles.
A swarm of 332 Prius owners formed a parade at the San Francisco Bay area's Alameda Air Field last month.
The success of the Prius parade may have had a lot to do with the sheer amount of Lexus and Toyota hybrids that are on the road, a figure Toyota says is double the count of any other auto manufacturer. And on top of that, about 40 percent of the U.S.' Prius owners live in California.