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Toyota models, especially the marque’s hybrids, boast competitive fuel economy for the sedan and SUV segments. However, fuel economy figures can be much better with good driving discipline and efficiency-minded features like EV or Eco mode. Better yet, a recent Toyota study of the automaker’s vehicles with an “Eco button” reports a regular decrease in tailpipe emissions. So what does Eco mode mean for your car? Also, what are the positive impacts of driving with fuel-saving technology? 

What does ‘Eco’ mean in a car?

Eco mode is a setting in your vehicle that typically reduces engine and throttle responsiveness for easier, less labor-intensive cruising. As a result, the car accelerates less aggressively and uses less fuel. Many new cars have the feature, especially small engine or hybrid applications. 

A Toyota RAV4 Hybrid model uses its Eco mode to reach a car path at a vineyard.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid | Toyota

How much fuel can Eco mode save?

Driving in Eco mode typically has a negligible impact on city fuel efficiency. Moreover, using a vehicle’s Eco button or EV mode won’t guarantee any savings if a driver doesn’t shake poor driving habits, per WCNC Charlotte

However, Toyota recently collected data from over 2,000 of its namesake and Lexus models over the course of nearly 500,000 miles. In the study, the automaker reported that driving with an Eco setting allowed test cars to save 5,091 gallons of gasoline. Additionally, Toyota states that the settings reduced 45,235,623 g of CO2 emissions compared to the baseline. Moreover, the Japanese marque says that using the Eco button in Toyota models could reduce tailpipe emissions by up to 26% by optimizing throttle response and HVAC for efficiency. 

A Toyota car model shows off its Eco button and fuel economy drive modes.
A center console with drive modes | Toyota

For a more tangible representation of the findings, Toyota’s Newsroom says that the 2,000 models saved “the equivalent of 748 trees sequestering carbon for 10 years.” Brian Kursar, TCNA’s chief technology officer, asserts that fuel-efficiency settings can make a difference in total tailpipe emissions. “If everyone drove in Eco mode, it could help greatly reduce our collective CO2 output,” Kursar said about the study’s results. 

Is it OK to drive in Eco mode all the time?

While it might not be a magic solution, it is OK to drive in Eco mode all the time. However, doing so doesn’t guarantee any noticeable results without behavior modification. 

A white Toyota Corolla compact car model uses Eco mode to cruise urban streets.
A 2023 Toyota Corolla | Toyota

For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says proactive spark plug replacements could save up to $450.00. Moreover, driving too quickly and stopping abruptly can dramatically alter fuel economy.   

Which Toyota models offer an Eco button or mode?

Eco mode is standard on most Toyota models for 2023, from the Prius to the Highlander. Even corner-carving models like the GR Supra have settings to dampen throttle response and save fuel. However, some models, like the hulking 4Runner, don’t prioritize an Eco button.


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