You’ll likely get worse mileage when keeping the transmission in its Sport mode. Sport modes are designed to eke the most performance — not gas mileage — out of an automatic transmission.
Depending on the car, Sport mode can differ from a clutchless-manual mode where a separate shifter allows you to select gears. Sport modes can be activated by the push of a button or as a separate gate in the regular shifter.
When in Sport mode, the transmission will take longer to shift and rev the engine higher, consuming more fuel. The advantage is you’ll be ready to accelerate quickly because the transmission won’t need to downshift.
In our unscientific mileage testing during our Mileage Challenge, we tested two luxury compact SUVs with Sport modes — 2009 BMW X3 and 2009 Land Rover LR3. Sport mode cost the LR2 about 3 percent in highway mileage compared to when the SUV was in Drive, and the X3 lost 11 percent.
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