For most cars, less energy is used (and less fuel is burned) on freeways. It’s easier for cars to travel at a consistent speed rather than continuously stop at lights, in traffic or stop signs. Most EPA rated cars have two MPG ratings: one for city and one for highway. The highway rating usually has higher MPG.
Most vehicles use less energy driving on the freeway because they are in a higher gear, can travel at a consistent speed, and do not have stop signs, street lights, and pedestrian traffic that causes cars to slow down and speed up again. Some vehicles like the hybrid Toyota Prius actually get better gas mileage in the city because their battery is used more to power the vehicle at slower speeds. Since people tend to drive slower in streets and neighborhoods the battery can power the vehicles at these slow speeds. The 3rd generation Toyota Prius gets 51 mpg in the city and 48 on the freeway.
Cars undoubtedly get better mileage on highways, mostly because they are using fuel consistently at a constant speed. In the city, you have stop and go traffic, in which cars use much more energy to activate the brakes to slow the vehicle down. Systematically, for those speed demons out there, if you hit the gas to take off at a faster speed, that will also consume a lot more fuel than a consistent gradual climb in speed from a full stop. Like mentioned before, a car’s MPG rating is split into two parts: highway mileage and city mileage (with the highway being higher).
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