Recently, in two days, 15 vehicles traveled nearly 800 kilometers across Ontario, and all 15 consumed about the same amount of fuel as three regular full-size pickup trucks over the same distance.
The occasion was the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s Eco Run, an annual event that since 2012 has rated the most fuel-efficient vehicles in Canada.
The 2022 drive was the first since 2019 due to the pandemic and it was also the first time that all vehicles were electrified – three regular hybrids, four plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and eight full battery electric vehicles (BEVs). ) . No diesels, no econoboxes to sip gasoline.
As valuable as the Eco Run is, it has its limits. Detroit automakers were absent this year, and the only Europeans were a pair of Volvos. This left two groups of Asian automakers dominating the proceedings: Toyota/Lexus and Hyundai/Kia/Genesis.
All results are based on on-board computer readings, which, like speedometers, are not all perfectly accurate. Also, not all journalists drove all vehicles, so there could be some bias based on individual driving styles.
Although the event had seven stages, I am considering the first six separately from the last. That’s because Stage 7 was almost entirely freeway (including the sections with the new 110-kilometer-per-hour speed limit in Ontario); it also happened at the end of a long day, when most of us just wanted to get to the hotel, to hell with our feet.
Thirteen of the vehicles recorded their worst fuel/energy consumption during stage 7. Compared to the average of the first six stages, their consumption was 15 to 65% lower.
One final qualifier: Due to limited charging facilities, the plug-in hybrids were not charged en route, nor did they start the race fully charged. The Hyundai Tucson PHEV I drove on stage one, for example, was half loaded. The initial state of charge of the other PHEVs is unknown.
That said, what can we learn from the results as they are? For one thing, all conventional hybrids and PHEVs improved on their official manufacturer-provided highway mileage figures during Stages 1-6, which was almost entirely a rural trek, with maximum speed limits of 90 kilometers to time. But, with the exception of the Volvo XC90, all were thirstier than their official rating on Stage 7.
BEVs, on the other hand, beat their official ratings throughout – by a whopping 33% on average, in the case of the first six stages.
Here are some other results to note:
I haven’t driven the Toyota Sienna, but its results caught my attention. The Toyota minivan comes standard as a hybrid, and the all-wheel-drive model in the Eco Run averaged 5.4 liters per 100 kilometers. Its road rating from Natural Resources Canada is 6.6.
Toyota also led the plug-in hybrid results. The RAV4 Prime achieved the lowest fuel consumption of all (five liters per 100 kilometres), while its mechanically similar but heavier Lexus NX450h cousin tied for second place with the Kia Sportage Hybrid (5.3) .
It was instructive to compare the Kia Sportage Hybrid and the Hyundai Tucson Plug-in Hybrid because, model for model, these corporate siblings are basically the same under the skin. As expected, the PHEV Tucson recorded slightly better gas mileage (5 liters per 100 kilometres) than the Sportage Hybrid during the first stage (5.2), thanks to the first 25 kilometers of driving. electricity offered by its engine at 50%. initial state of charge. In the remaining six stages, however, the hybrid was considerably more stingy than the plug-in (5.7 vs. 6.2). This matches government figures and appears to confirm that once a PHEV has exhausted its initial charge, its higher weight (battery and motor) impairs its fuel efficiency.
Another surprise was the energy efficiency of the new Genesis G80 Electric. This midsize luxury sedan easily beat the compact crossovers that made up the rest of the BEV contingent. I suspect this speaks to the benefits of a sedan’s lower aerodynamic drag, on an almost entirely freeway route.
About compact crossovers, a less commendable surprise was the “thirsty” Volvo C40. Despite being one of the smallest cars in the convoy, it regularly had the highest energy consumption figures – 18.6 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometers on stages 1 to 6 compared to an average of 16.4 for the band. Then again, the C40 in my book was also the most fun to drive.
That said, the C40’s 21.8 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometers on the final leg of the trip wasn’t the BEV’s worst performance – one of the GV60s took that honor (24.5), accelerating to the hotel with this writer behind the wheel. .
The best power consumption of any BEV was tied (15.1 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometres) between a G80 and either of the two Hyundai Ioniq 5s, followed closely by the Kia EV6 at 15.3. The other G80 and Ioniq 5 came in at 15.4 and 15.5, respectively.
The Genesis GV60s were thirstier than their Hyundai/Kia corporate siblings, clocking 17.4 and 18.6 kilowatt hours respectively (although the latter’s result is only based on the first three stages; it was forced to abandon after the first night stop). The GV60s, for the record, were the most powerful Performance models; the Advanced version claims slightly better fuel efficiency.
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