4 modes of hybrid fuel economy: Efficiency in danger?

The Lexus CT 200h will enable drives to shift through various modes of fuel economy. Is this the future of hybrid cars?

Shifting into fuel economy

Hybrid fuel economy or hybrid performance?

When the Lexus CT 200h hybrid hits dealers it will offer 4 different driving modes – Normal, Eco, Sport and EV – that will provide a nice element of control that might be demanded from Lexus drivers.

While control is a nice option, is a focus on fuel economy slipping away from hybrid technology?

Much of my hybrid driving is focused on trying to achieve ever-greater fuel efficiency but there are times, however, when I've definitely taken advantage of the extra torque my Camry hybrid can provide. No one's perfect. Even hypermilers need to step on it every once in a while just to get the blood flowing.

And, as new hybrids hit the scene, newer and more sophisticated driving modes are becoming standard. In the upcoming CT 200h hybrid for instance, EV mode can be used to power through some extremely sluggish congestion using pure electricity, and Eco mode can provide the most efficient driving in a any kind of driving conditions. Of course, if you just want a nice balance of performance and efficiency, normal is your mode, but if you need to get the blood pumping, Sport mode will help cure the craving.

There's no harm in that, right? And in a luxury brand like Lexus, Sport mode will probably enable the CT200h to appeal to a wider range of buyers.

Still, horsepower and acceleration have been big drivers of the US auto industry for decades, resulting in a massive foreign oil dependency problem. While hybrid drivers will certainly appreciate ever greater control over their hybrid vehicles via such driving modes, isn't it possible that hybrid buyers are slowly being led astray from the original point of hybrid technology: fuel economy?

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