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Kia Optima Hybrid sets a new Guinness World Record for fuel economy; Gerdes and Bernius achieve average 64.55 mpg through 48 US states

A Kia Optima Hybrid (earlier post) driven by hypermiler Wayne Gerdes and his colleague Chris Bernius set a new Guinness World Record for the lowest fuel consumption in a hybrid gasoline vehicle while driving through all 48 adjoining US states. (Earlier post.)

Gerdes and Bernius successfully piloted a factory-standard 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid sedan through a 7,899 mile (12,712 km) route across America and achieved an average fuel consumption of 64.55 mpg US (3.64 l/100 km), beating the car’s official EPA highway fuel consumption figure by 61.37%.

Kia’s 48 state challenge was completed in 14 days driving an average of 564 miles per day. The Optima Hybrid used just over 5.5 tanks of gasoline to complete the route, recording an average distance of 1,418 miles between fill-ups. To comply with Guinness World Record guidelines, the Optima Hybrid had to carry two people and their luggage throughout the journey.

The record attempt was verified by Philip Robertson, Adjudicator at Guinness World Records, who also presented the drivers with their Guinness World Record certificate at an official handover ceremony at Kia Motors’ manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia on 12 September.

The record set is officially titled “Lowest fuel consumption driving through all 48 contiguous US states in a gasoline hybrid car,” which is a new category created by Guinness World Records. In order to qualify for a new record, the Kia Optima Hybrid was required to achieve a minimum of 52.27 mpg, which the Optima Hybrid exceeded by 23%.



Road trip!!!

Roger Pham

This is very impressive. More details, please! If this vehicle model is assembled in the USA, I'll be looking forward to buying one.


From the earlier post;
"Kia Motors Corporation premiered the hybrid version of its new Optima sedan (earlier post) at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Created primarily with the US market in mind, the Kia-developed powertrain delivers an estimated combined cycle fuel economy is 38 mpg US (6.2 L/100km) (city 36.0 mpg, highway 40.0 mpg). "

I get better than that with my 2002 VW Jetta Wagon with TDI Diesel engine. The article above is about Hypermiling. Nobody drives that way in everyday life. It would seem we should be pushing beyond the 40 mpg mark by now. I mean my wife's '81 Civic almost got those miles. Where are the diesel hybrids? Where are the 75 mpg vehicles?


I get so tired of people describing two legs of a three legged stool - If they are bragging about their mileage, please tell us the conditions - were they drafting? what was the average speed? Was the car a stock car? When is the green car congress community going to start laughing at or forcing these people into providing answers that any skeptic would ask?


From Edmunds:

"In its time with us, we measured 29.6 mpg in mixed driving: a far cry from its EPA combined estimate of 37.8 mpg. There was no hooliganism behind the wheel that tanked our measurements — the Optima Hybrid doesn't inspire such antics."

The price is good - about $26,000 - but the reviews indicate it may be too much like the Chinese EVs.

And the hyper-miling is a nuisance and hazard.

They deserve scorn for:
- the “PR” news post (w/o facts)
- the grossly misleading MPG with hyper-miling
- the hazard presented on the highways


Never any drafting (dangerous) and mostly driving at the posted speed limits of regular roads and highways. Full details here:

The Kia and Hyundai Hybrids have an electronic pulse and glide mode on the hwy, the engine runs for about a minute while it recharges the battery, shuts off and then runs on the battery for another minute before repeating. By doing this the engine operates at a higher load (and thus a more efficient) point when it runs.

Jeffa you would do better with your diesel if you hypermiled also. Unfortunately there is not much you can do about all the pollution you are spewing out the tailpipe :)

What is the epa mpg ratings on your diesel?



Draft trucks

Shut off the engine while driving

Enrage drivers behind if they cannot pass (UNDER the speed limit, unless downhill)

Do not touch breaks for corners.


@ jetta,

How many times do I have to repeat this: diesel is not gasoline!

Diesel costs more oil to produce, has a higher energy density and emits more CO2 per litre. Subtract about 12% from your mileage first and then do a comparison.

64 mpg is not much. Gen II Prius hypermilers report over 70 mpg. But citizen is right, it is hardly usable information as you do not know the circumstances. Probably they have been driving with ice vests to be able to shut off the air conditioning.

@Herm, The pulse-and-glide-by-design feature is very interesting.

william g irwin

Wow! Who got out the nasty pills today? OK! It is frustrating to see this page w/o the details, and the link provided above does little to clarify the driving rules they followed, but it is an interesting feat to hear about. Sure it is marketing hype to some degree, but I am impressed by how much whatever they did do can impact the MPG on regular roads across the country.
S0... just what hypermiling tricks did they really do??? Was it expressway miles or country roads? Day or night driving (temp, speed, traffic etc.)? Did they stick to the speed limits, not below (cheating)?
I bet my old CRV can get twice the mpg at 35mph w/o a/c @ night than I normally get at the standard posted +5 w/real traffic and traffic lights etc.


Two guys drove 48 states in two weeks. It's likely they drove in a variety of US conditions.

Besides, anyone who wants to beat this record can phone Guinness and start driving.


My EPA estimated mileage on my dirty old diesel is 29 city 40 hiway with 33 combined. I actually get 43-45 hiway (depending on whether I drive 75 or 85) not sure about city but average 40-41 combined every tankful. (Miles driven/gallons pumped) Burned B99 for 5 years when it didn't cost $5.

If I take 12% off the top it's still 37-40 mpg hiway. And its almost 10 years old. My point is where the hell are the vehicles that get better than this. And the new diesels will have particulate filters and NOX reduction systems. So gas hybrids should be doing much better than this by now IMO.
BTW the diesel Smart car in Canada gets 70-75 hiway.
Also, where are the diesel hybrids? (hopefully soon to show up) They will blow gas off the map.

Check out the 2012 production Volvo V60 Plug-in Diesel Hybrid at 124 mpg.

Peugeot, Mercedes and VW all have concept versions.


Oh yeah. I listened to an NPR interview yesterday with Chris Bernius driving with one of the commentators doing the Hyper driving techniques. He commented on how mad the driver behind him was getting. IMO road rage incidences would quadruple if a number of people started driving this way. I know they would here in Seattle. Driving etiquette and rules of the road are non-existant as is.

Roger Pham

If hypermiling by the "pulse and glide" method beats the official EPA Hwy rating by 61%, then the car has too big an engine! Imagine if instead of a 4-cylinder 2.4 liter engine, you would install a 2-cylinder 1.2-liter engine instead. I would bet that the Optima hybrid with this 1.2 liter 2-cylinder engine would not require the "pulse and glide" method to achieve 60-mpg hwy mileage. To make up for halving the size of the ICE, the electric motor and the battery pack can double in size, to 80 hp. This experiment gives us very valuable data to further improve the HEV's.

Folks, we still have a long way to go wrt optimizing fuel efficiency in vehicles, even in full HEV's. Gasoline price now is still way to cheap, IMHO!

Chris Stiffler

I don't know yall I just bought one of these March 13th 2012and it kicks ass so far. i have no experience with hyper-driving? but so far getting over 43 mpg!! The car is huge inside which I really like cause I am 6'3" and 350lbs and feels like driving a spaceship in fact we call ours the defiance. LOL I wish I knew how to make a super diesel, but I am an average guy pretty good mechanic, but unless I can learn to make super hummers that get 70 mpg I guess this hybrid is cool. I used to have a Geo metro that did like 48 mpg on highway and loved it, but was like driving in a bomb waiting to go off in this car its like being in comfy video game. i will post more as I drive it. I am not trying to justify my purchase just an average dude who so far is quite pleased with this car. i will keep you posted glad I found this site great post all~Chris

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