Are hybrids good for long-distance?

Hybrids are becoming extremely popular in recent years, and as such, one begs the question of is a hybrid is a good car for long-distance driving. More often than not, hybrids are made for urban city environments which include lots of stop-and-go traffic.

As such, hybrids work best in these environments, and they are not made primarily for long-distance driving. However, some hybrids are better at long-distance driving than others, but no hybrid beats a larger diesel engine.

Hybrids are better for the environment, which means that the popularity of hybrid cars is only going up. There is something extremely desirable about having a car that does not need constant fuel stops, especially if you pair that with possible government incentives and tax cuts.

The differences between hybrids and ICE cars are many, but the most obvious one is fuel efficiency. While ICE cars usually offer better MPG results on the highway, hybrids offer better MPG results in the city. This also means that a regular ICE car should be worse than a hybrid in an urban city with stop-and-go traffic.

Hybrid technology and highway driving

The differences between hybrids and ICE cars are mostly due to the more sophisticated powertrain and cooling components hybrids offer. Besides these, special gearing mechanisms, lots of wiring, and sophisticated software solutions are also commonly found in modern-day hybrids.

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The most defining characteristic of a hybrid besides the battery is regenerative braking, a system invented for capturing lost kinetic energy while driving in order to store it in the battery for future use. This works best when you are constantly accelerating and slowing down because regen braking tends to use the electric engine to slow the car down.

This means that you will not use your friction brakes all that often, only when you need to shave off some speed fast. However, long-distance driving is mostly being carried out on the highway, and there are not all that many braking zones on a highway, especially so if the roads are clear of traffic.

Furthermore, most electric engines in hybrids cars are weak and unable to fully support a car while traveling at highway speeds. As such, hybrids are not all that good when compared to ICE cars, especially when you consider the added costs usually associated with a hybrid.

Diesel and gasoline cars for highway driving

As stated previously, you ought to skip hybrids if you are planning on doing long-distance driving regularly. The best course of action would be to consider buying gasoline or diesel-powered cars. Between the two, diesel cars are the best when it comes to highway driving, but some countries have a limited amount of diesel cars on offer.

That being said, if you can buy a diesel-powered variant of the car you are interested in, go for it. Diesel engines are known to have superior torque figures compared to gasoline cars which further improves fuel efficiency on highway speeds.

Diesel engines are characterized by increased cylinder pressures and overall higher engine temperatures which lead to superior heat efficiency. Gasoline-powered cars on the other hand are better at shorter journeys, and that’s also the reason why many hybrids cars use gasoline and an electric engine.

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Electric cars for highway driving

Highway driving usually entails high-speed driving at a constant rate which is not ideal for electric vehicles for a few distinct reasons. First of all, EVs are limited by their range which is nowhere near what a diesel or even gasoline car can do.

Besides range issues, charging an EV up can add countless hours onto your cross-country trip even if everything does go according to plan. However, many EV experiences are characterized by unavailable charging stations which are out of order or don’t even exist sometimes. This might not be a huge issue while daily driving, but it is while on a long journey.

The good thing about EVs is that they are smooth and quiet. To maximize efficiency, EVs tend to be aerodynamically slippery which further decreases air resistance thus making the car extremely quiet.  While some EVs can come close to 300 miles of range, most of them are still not good enough for long-distance driving.

FAQ Section


Is long-distance driving good or bad for your car?

Long-distance driving is actually preferable compared to short-distance driving. Something like a 700-mile constant speed journey is better for your car than a 7-mile journey in certain instances. It’s worth mentioning that if you don’t maintain your car correctly, every amount of mile is going to be bad for the car.

That being said, cold weather can be a bit of a problem for engine wear and tear. Whenever your engine runs in suboptimal conditions it wears the engine down faster, this means that regular stop-and-go traffic which usually includes start-stop systems is the worst situation for most cars, especially manual cars.

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How often should you stop while on a long-distance journey?

Staying sharp while behind the wheel is essential in order to protect yourself and your occupants from risky situations. As such, be sure to take a rest at least after every 2 hours or 100 miles or so. Don’t even drive tired even if you think you can because you should be well-rested before a long-distance trip.

Truck drivers can drive as much as 11 hours in a 24 hour period, which roughly equates to 715 miles if traveling at a constant 65mph.

Which cars are best for long-distance driving?

As mentioned previously, powertrain-wise a diesel is the best long-distance car out there. As far as car segments are concerned, you should opt for a larger sedan because they are the best at staying comfortable and isolated for extended periods of time.

Large sedans like the Mercedes S-Class, the BMW 7-Series, or the Audi A8 are prime examples of great long-distance cruisers. Some larger SUVs are also good for highway driving, but nowhere near as good as large sedans are.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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