Consumer Reports: Hybrids Sacrifice Stopping Distance for Fuel Efficiency

EAST HADDAM, Conn. – Consumer Reports, which purchases, tests and evaluates some 50 vehicles annually, noticed a troubling trend – the stopping distances of hybrid vehicles were generally greater in comparison to the gasoline-only versions of like models.

“We noticed the hybrid versions had longer stopping distances in our tests,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports. “And we saw it as a trend.”

According to the data presented in a recent article by Mike Monticello posted on the Consumer Reports website, with some vehicles, the difference between the two versions could be eight to 12 feet longer in stops on dry pavement from 60 miles per hour.

“You shouldn’t sacrifice significant stopping distance,” said Fisher. “This could be the difference between crashing into something or not.”

The auto-test staff probed the issue, putting a number of different hybrids and their non-hybrid internal-combustion-engined (ICE) siblings through a comparison test.

“We swapped the tires,” explained Fisher, “We saw very often switching to the tires from the gas vehicles yielded better stopping distances on the hybrids.

“The hybrids [in question]came with lower rolling-resistance tires. The push to get better fuel efficiency [with the hybrid versions]is terrific, but the difference of a mile or two per gallon does not compensate for the longer stopping distances.”

The auto industry is pushing to get the fuel-efficiency numbers up and the tire industry is working to provide tires with low rolling resistance for good fuel-economy numbers while also delivering good grip and long life.

“The tire industry is really under pressure here,” said Fisher.

Not all hybrids exhibited this extreme behavior in the publication’s tests. The Ford Escape hybrid, according to the article, does not use unique, low-rolling-resistance tire, thus its stopping distance was virtually the same as the non-hybrid version.

In addition, Fisher said Hyundai made some significant changes to the Ioniq hybrid between the magazine’s 2017 test and the test of an updated 2021 version.

“When we [originally]tested the Ioniq, its braking performance kept it from being recommended,” he said. “Hyundai changed the brakes and the tires and the 2021 performed better and is now a recommended [vehicle].”

The entire Consumer Reports’ article, with extensive data and information, can be viewed by clicking HERE.

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